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Hip-Hop Fridays: Hip-Hopping Mad Artists Rap Copyright Ruling by Casey Ross

The Man is trying to kill rap again.

That's the worry of Hub hip hop artists after a federal court ruling clamped down on the practice of sampling from other artists' work in the creation of new music.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that using even unrecognizable snippets from an existing work is illegal without a license and compensation to the original artist.

``Essentially, this is an anti-hip hop law,'' said Boston producer and lyricist DJ Fakts One. ``The basis of hip hop is taking music from different cultures and making it dope by putting it all together.''

The court's ruling centers on a song by the rap group NWA that lifts a three-note guitar riff from ``Get Off Your Ass and Jam'' by George Clinton and the Funkadelics. The case was one of 800 filed in Nashville, Tenn., over the lifting of music snippets.

Local hip hop musicians and academics say they support compensating artists when their work is clearly recognizable in a new song, but they say the court ruling went too far in requiring compensation for even tiny samples.

``Hip hop has always been a derivative form of music,'' said Akrobatik, a Boston-based artist. ``I just don't like it when the federal government gets involved in things like this . . . and defines what music is supposed to be.''

The court's action means musicians will be required to undergo long and costly negotiations to get approval for all work that contains material from other artists. Some believe the judge's ruling is unenforceable because of technology that can make original samples nearly impossible to recognize.

``It's a nuisance and a shame,'' Peter Alhadeff, a professor at the Berklee School of Music, said of the ruling. ``I'm wondering if it hinders creativity more than it helps it, as copyright law is supposed to do.''

Copyright by the Boston Herald

Note: This article first appeared in The Boston Herald

Friday, September 10, 2004

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