Copyright Criminals: This Is a Sampling Sport (2009)
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A documentary about the issues with sampling in music, the film looks more on the positive side of these artists, interviewing a smorgasbord of samplers from the start of hip-hop which sampled funk and soul, and then into the prosecution and copyright infringement that came from other artists' lust for money, and the samplers' lack of perception to an industry with stringent laws and regulations. The film itself is quite short and the scope isn't truly broad, but a mash of interviews and scenes that include rappers and other musicians' work. The filmmakers never put themselves in front of the camera, which I think weakens this overall. It's such a one sided view of the industry and it doesn't even cover the past decade in terms of the genre. The history was covered pretty well, including the evolution of Public Enemy, the lawsuit against Biz Markie, the work of the Beastie Boys, and the short lived and ridiculous career of one MC Hammer and his sampling of Rick James. That in itself was an interesting detail of the film. They did give us one sad sack of a narrative about James Brown's funk drummer who is sampled in many rappers' work but isn't paid or given name recognition on the album's credits, the only thing he really wants. It's not researched enough to be a thorough documentary, but what is shown is pretty entertaining and finger snapping good.
Short but sweet. Definitely biased towards the artists but so am I. Interesting interviews and a fun look at the history of sampling.
Interesting question: I'm sure all the samples (audio and video) used in this film were never cleared. If the film was strictly not-for-profit I could see a "fair use" argument holding up. But the film is for sale on their website and on iTunes and Even with the imprimatur of PBS involvement, how is this legal? Whatever the case, I really enjoyed it.
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