This essay describes and compares American and Australian media policy in regards to musical remix culture with respect to the copyright issues. Walter Benjamin, an eminent German critic, argues that a work of art loses its originality and authenticity through the mechanical reproduction of art…
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Burton defended himself saying that it was an artistic project, which had no commercial purpose, and stopped the distribution. However, Downhill Battle organised an online protest, which was called “Grey Tuesday” and the copies of “the Grey Album” were posted on the internet6. They declared that “We cannot allow these corporations to continue censoring art; we need commonsense reforms to copyright law that can make sampling legal and practical for artists”7. The controversy over the Grey Album accelerated as EMI together with Sony/ATV Publishing tried to stop online distribution of the Album. However, EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) analysed the situation and concluded that there was no federal copyright protection for sound recordings before 1972: “Because the White Album was released in 1968, it appears that EMI has no federal copyright rights in the sound recording”8. The dispute over mash-up of Grey Album poses a number of legal issues with regard to copyright law and digital sampling. The American Copyright Law limits the exclusive rights of copyright owners in a number of ways including “fair use” and “licensing”. Fair use, which means “reasonable and limited use of a copyrighted work without the author’s permission”, added to the copyright statute in 1976.9 Furthermore, licensing allows anyone, who wants to record their own version of a musical composition, to get a licence for it. 10 However, this compulsory licensing cannot be applied to sound recordings. As Vrana notes “to this day, a record company’s right to duplicate the recordings it has produced may not be exercised by others without the company’s permission; the protection is airtight, and, unlike...
This "The Work of Remix in the Age of Digital Reproduction" contemporary American and Australian Law on musical creativity. Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd v Miyamoto is one of the rare cases in Australia with regard to the digital sampling. A number of recording companies sued five DJs for copyright infingement due to their remix CD. DJs defended themselves by stating that they did the CD in order to satisfy consumer demands. Since the DJs took entire songs to make a remix CD, the Court did not take “substantial part” into consideration and the judge found five DJs guilty for the infringement of copyright law. This case cannot be considered as a precedent for smaller amounts of digital sampling, since the entire songs were taken. American and US courts have been allowing very small portions of digital sampling for years, but a recent decision in Bridgeport Music Inc v Dimension Films Inc span the wheels of justice into the opposite direction. In Bridgeport case, two seconds of a rap song was copied for the movie called “I Got the Hook up” and repeated five times for the duration of seven seconds each. Although a District Court and Middle District Court held that the amount taken was de minimis, thus, it cannot be considered copyright infringement; the Court of Appeals overruled this decision by declaring “even where a small part of a sound recording is sampled, the part taken is something of value”. The decision clearly blocks further samplings and it makes it impossible for creative artists to experiment with sample music without a licence.
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