Documentary Tuesday: “Copyright Criminals”

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The genre of hip-hop music was built on the practice of sampling.

With few musical instruments and little or no studio time, hip-hop artists and producers created new sounds on the bones of existing songs. From the stacked and layered compositions of De La Soul, Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy to the far less nuanced borrowing by the likes of Puff Daddy, rap has a long history of sampling.

But in the early ’90s, lawyers, record labels, and other artists decided to get litigious and, through the courts, put an end to the rampant sampling that had helped to build hip-hop. It’s no accident that there was a shift in the sound and the culture at this time. The original artists claimed ownership, but newer acts claimed that they weren’t copying, but creating something new.

Is it really possible to own a sound? Copyright Criminals attempts to answer that question.

Previously in Documentary Tuesday:

Room 237 | Exit Through the Gift Shop | The Death of Superman Lives | 30 for 30: The Price of Gold | Paradise Lost | 30 for 30 Short: The Deal – Alex Rodriguez to the Boston Red Sox | The World’s Most Expensive Stolen Paintings | Imagine…From Pencils to Pixels | Behind the Music: Nirvana | Planet B-Boy | Soul Survivor | The Cheshire Murders | Sound and Vision | Welcome to Death Row | Einstein | 30 for 30: Broke | The Thin Blue Line | Surviving Alone in Alaska | American Meth | Born Rich | 30 for 30: No Crossover – The Trial of Allen Iverson | The Story of ‘The Day the Clown Cried | The True Story of Che Guevara |Stephen Hawking – A Brief History of Time | Style Wars | The Secret World of Lewis Carroll | The Imposter | The Show | Eating with Cannibals | The Day After Trinity | John Wooden: Values, Victory, and Peace of Mind | Andy Warhol: A Master of the Modern Era


Christopher Pierznik’s eight books are available in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, and many more.Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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