In a post last Wednesday, Techdirt founder Mike Masnick discussed the lack of consideration for non-white musicians who fell foul of sample copyright laws and the change in attention for white musicians who are getting caught out. It’s relatively short so here’s a small excerpt:
[…] But there seems to be something worth noting when the industry is only starting to come around on this because of a bunch of lawsuits targeting famous white songwriters. Because for all the talk about how “music is so different” today, we went through another period of time when a whole bunch of brilliant musicians were sued over copyright infringement… and the response from the industry was a lot more muted.
This has been a bugbear of mine for as long as I’ve been running Sampleface and I agree with Mike here. I’ve also noticed how when artists like The Avalanches, Daft Punk, and Mark Ronson sample, critics applaud their creativity (even if those samples may be uncleared, but hey, they’ve used 600 of them so it’s not worth the fight). But for a lot of Black hip hop producers, they’re “rightly” pulled up on their copyright infringement. Now, that’s no disrespect or shade to The Avalanches et al because I enjoy all of their music but there’s a lack of consistency here. One can’t be creative while the other is called “lazy” (something I’ve written about before). If you don’t clear a sample, you are subject to a lawsuit regardless of how good it sounds, who you are, who your daddy is and what he does. Changes should be made, but those changes should work for all musicians, not just the ones we cherrypick because they’re white, popular, and don’t cuss.