"Dame dame dame, que te voy a dar ... una guayabita de mi guayabal."
Artículo El Tiempo
Hoy se firmó el TLC entre Colombia y EE.UU, después de meses de negociaciones y protestas.
Este imagen es el más antiguo que tenemos de la marimba en Colombia. Es de Barbacoas, en lo que hoy es el Departamento de Nariño, un pueblo que en su tiempo era bastante importante para la extracción de oro. El imagen es de la Comisión Corográfica de mediados del Siglo XIX. Lo interesante aquí es que el marimbero es blanco o mestizo. Esto sugiere que la música de marimba, aunque indudablemente de orígen africano (historiador Germán Patiño la cree indígena), sufrió varios procesos de sincretización, y a lo mejor llegó a ser una música popular entre la población general de la zona, aunque puede ser que fue popular sobre todo entre las clases populares, los esclavizados, y los negros libres. Pronto, la marimba entre los indígenas Cayapa...
These dudes do corporate ethnographies. So if this ethnomusicology thing doesn't work out for...
Jay-Z Versus the Sample Troll
The shady one-man corporation that's destroying hip-hop.
By Tim Wu
Posted Thursday, Nov. 16, 2006, at 1:50 PM ET
Last week, a mysterious company, Bridgeport Music Inc., sued hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, accusing him of breaking the law when he recorded his 2003 single "Justify My Thug." The song is an obvious nod to Madonna's "Justify My Love," but she is not the plaintiff. Instead, Bridgep! ort is suing because Jay-Z did something that is normal in hip-hop: sampling. He took a few notes, looped them in the background, and produced the tune. Bridgeport claims to own those notes, and is demanding a fortune in damages and a permanent ban on the distribution of the song.
Bridgeport is an unwelcome addition to the music world: the "sample troll." Similar to its cousins the patent trolls, Bridgeport and companies like it hold portfolios of old rights (sometimes accumulated in dubious fashion) and use lawsuits to extort money from successful music artists for routine sampling, no matter how minimal or unnoticeable. The sample trolls have already leveraged their position into millions in settlements and court damages, but that's not the real problem. The trolls are turning copyright into the foe rather than the friend of musical innovation. They are bad for everyone in the industryâ€”includin! g the major labels. The sample trolls need to be stopped, either by Co ngress or by court rulings that establish sampling as a boon, not a burden, to creativity.
Bridgeport is a one-man corporation formed in 1969 and owned by a former music producer named Armen Boladian. It has no employees and no reported assets other than copyrights. Technically, Bridgeport is a "catalog company." Most catalog companies are in the relatively quiet business of licensing rights for television commercials, cover songs, and selling sheet music to interested fans. But Bridgeport has figured out a far more lucrative business modelâ€”trolling for sampling cash.
George Clinton is otherwise known as the King of Interplanetary Funk and, along with the late Rick James, the world's most famous funk musician. In the 1970s, Boladian and Bridgeport managed to seize most of the copyrights to Clinton's songs. How exactly they did so is highly disputed. However, in at least a few cases, Boladian assigned the copyrights to Bridgeport by writing a contract and then f! aking Clinton's signature (as described here). As Clinton put it in this interview, "he just stole 'em."
Bridgeport, if a thief, stole the winning ticket. The Clinton sounds it acquired went on to be among the most widely sampled in the rap music of the 1980s and 1990s. Sampling is as elemental to the genre as beats, beefs, or bragging, and Clinton's sonic creations were a major part of Public Enemy's debut, and were also used heavily by N.W.A., Dr. Dre, Biggie Smalls, and other rap pioneers. Often the sampling is virtually impossible to detectâ€”listen to this sample in this N.W.A song.*
The rise of rap presented a golden oppor tunity for Bridgeport. After years of demanding fees, in 2001, Bridgeport launched nearly 500 counts of copyright infringement against more than 800 artists and labels. The company, suing in Nashville, Tenn., located every sample of Clinton or other owned copyrights it could find. It took the legal position that any sampling of a sound recording, no matter how minimal or unnoticeable, is still a violation of federal law. Imagine that the copyright owner of The Lord of the Rings had sued every fantasy book or magazine that dared used the words elf, orc, or troll. That gives you an idea of the magnitude of Bridgeport's campaign.
Since 2001, Bridgeport's shotgun approach has led to many dismissals and settlements, but also two major victories. First, in 2005, Bridgeport convinced Nashville's federal appellate court to buy into its copyright theory. In that case, Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films, the defendants samp! led a single chord from the George Clinton tune "Get Off Your Ass and Jam," changed the pitch, and looped the sound in the background. (The result is almost completely unrecognizableâ€”you can listen to it here). The Sixth Circuit created a rule: that any sampling, no matter how minimal or undetectable, is a copyright infringement. Said the court in Bridgeport, "Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way."
Then, in March of this year, Bridgeport cashed in. It convinced a court to enjoin the sales of the best-selling Notorious B.I.G. album Ready to Die for illegal sampling. A jury awarded Bridgeport more than $4 million in damages.
These troll lawsuits may sound unattractive. But is Bridgeport perhaps serving the goals of copyrightâ€”foste! ring creativityâ€”in some less obvious way? One idea is that Bridgepor t is more Robin Hood than troll, stealing from lazy, rich rappers like Jay-Z to channel money back to deserving artists like George Clinton. That argument would make some sense if making rap music were easy, or if Clinton or other artists were in some way the beneficiary of the lawsuits. But neither is true. Bridgeport and other trolls do take from the rich. But they keep the money.
If the benefits are abstract, the costs imposed are obvious. Sample trolls have already changed the face of hip-hop. Early rap, like Public Enemy, combined and mixed thousands of sounds in a single album. That makes sense musically, but it doesn't make sense legally. Thousands or even hundreds of samples, under the Bridgeport theory, mean thousands of copyright clearances and licenses. Today, Public Enemy's breakout album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, would cost millions to produce or, more likely, would never have been made at all.*
The kicker is that while sample trolls are bad for artists, they're also bad for mainstream record labels. Record labels want to get out new music at minimum cost. But if clearing rights in the Bridgeport world costs a fortune, production becomes that much more expensive, and innovative music that much riskier a bet.
What, if anything, can be done? In the big picture, copyright must continually work to ensure that the basic building blocks of creativity are available to artists and creators, especially as new forms of art emerge. We already know what this means for novelists: freedom to use facts, borrow stock characters (like Falstaff) and standard plots (the murder mystery). For filmmakers, it means the freedom to copy standard shots (like The Magnificent Seven's "establishment shot"). For rap music, it means the freedom to sample. Rap's constant reinvention and remixing of old sounds makes it what i! t is; now is the time for the copyright system to get that. Vibrant cu ltures borrow, remix and recast. Static cultures die.
Legal solutions to the sample-troll problem are relatively easyâ€”much easier than fixing the patent-troll problem. First, there's only one appellate court, the 6th Circuit, that takes the ridiculous position that any sample, no matter how minimal, needs a license. Most copyright scholars think the decision is both activist and bogusâ€”in the words of leading commentator William Patry, "Bridgeport is policy making wrapped up in a truncated view of law and economics." Other courts can easily counter Bridgeport. They just need to say that the infringement rules for sampling are the same rules that apply for the rest of copyright. Dumbledore may resemble Gandalf, but he's no infringement. Similarly, if you can't even recognize the original in a sample, it shouldn't violate federal law to use it.
Congress could also easily ! act against the sample trolls. All that is needed is a "sampling code": a single section of the law that declares the usage of some fixed amount of a sound recording, say, seven notes or less, to be no infringement of the copyright law. That would give artists a simple rule to live by, while still requiring licenses for big samples that would compete with the original. It's a win-win scenario. With a single line of code, Congress can make this problem go away.
In the end, it's probably wrong to suggest the sample trolls are evil or hate rap music. The trolls simply look for profit, like any business, and are rational and predictable, like the mold that grows on rotten meat. None of these problems would be quite so severe if artists actually controlled their own copyrights. George Clinton's copyrights end up blocking sampling, when he himself favors sampling. "When hip-hop came out," said Clinton in this interview with Rick Karr, "I was glad to hear it, especially when it was our songsâ€”it was a way to get back on the radio."
Copyright is supposed to be the servant of artists, but today that is all too often just a pretense. The vast majority of the nation's valuable copyrights are owned not by creators, but by stockpilers of one kind or another, and Bridgeport is just a particularly pernicious example. We need better devices to keep the control of the most valuable of artist's rights with artists. For, to paraphrase Judge Learned Hand, copyright was born to protect and liberate musicians, but it all too often ends up enslaving them.
Click here to see the complaint in the Jay-Z case.
Correction, Nov. 16, 2006: The article originally and incorrectly stated that It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back was Public Enemy's first album. In fact, it ! was the group's second. (Return to the corrected sentence.)Who Controls the Internet?
Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2153961/
Según una reciente encuesta, en Semana, la popularidad de Uribe y las FF.AA. han caído mientras la de las ONGs de derechos humanos han subido, entre otros resultados. Una fotografía interesante de las actitudes de los colombianos. Véase también aqui.
According to a recent poll in Semana magazine, President Uribe's and the Armed Forces' popularity fell, while that of NGOs working with human rights rose, among other results. An interesting snapshot of the attitudes of Colombians. See here.
Traditional medecine, bio-prospecting and intellectual property in Colombia/Medicina tradicional, bio-prospección y propiedad intelectual en Colombia
Workers on the set in Cartagena of the film version of Gabriel García Márquez's "Love in Times of Cholera" are on strike because their employers call them "monkeys," "indians," and "ignorant," and, worse yet, make suspicious deductions from their paychecks. The best of all is the entertainingly obnoxious reader comments on ElTiempo.com (begging for an ethnography), like: "Don't worry, those people in the coast are lazy."
is offensive to the city where Fernando Botero, the famous painter of fatness (fat prists, fat kids, fat horses, fat fruit, fat houses, fat guitars) is from. Puh-leez, sometimes there's something very tetchy and kind of pathetic about Colombian - or is it just paisa? - nationalism.
A mi grupo punkero favorita de Colombia, Odio a Botero prohibieron, y despues permitieron su participación en festival del punk en Medellín por que a algunos paisitas no les gustó el nombrecito. Por Dios, a veces el nacionalismo Colombiano - o será nomás el paisa? - es un poco patético.