June 26, 2012
OpenMedia original article
New York Times: Copyright restrictions limit innovation
TufAmerica, which manages the rights to the catalog of the go-go band Trouble Funk, sued the Beastie Boys this month, saying they had illegally used samples from Trouble Funk’s classics “Drop the Bomb” and “Say What” in several tracks on their 1980s albums “Licensed to Ill” and “Paul’s Boutique.”
To fans of 1980s hip-hop, the suit was a bitter reminder of how copyright law changed the music they loved.
Back then, a new generation of artists rapped over elaborate musical mosaics made of brief samples from other songs. “Paul’s Boutique” included hundreds of samples from artists ranging from the Beatles to Afrika Bambaataa. A series of court decisions in the 1990s, though, made this kind of musical collage all but impossible, forcing artists to get permission for every snippet they used — a logistical and financial nightmare. Lawsuits flew against several rappers, and a form of cultural expression virtually disappeared.
Hip-hop may have little to do with high tech. But its experience carries a stark warning for the future of technology. High-tech behemoths in a range of businesses like mobile computing and search and social networking have been suing one another to protect their intellectual property from what they see as the blatant copying and cloning by their rivals. Regardless of the legitimacy of their claims, the aggressive litigation could have a devastating effect on society as a whole, short-circuiting innovation. Read more »
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