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Center for the Study of the Public Domain Little men

Music and Theft: Technology, Sampling, and the Law : Conference

Room 3043

1:00 PM Saturday, March 30

See a video stream of the conference: (Panel I | Panel II)

Funded by grants from the Ford Foundation and the Center for the Public Domain and with additional support from Information Science + Information Studies, Graduate Program in Literature, the Film and Video Program, and the Duke Law School Intellectual Property and Cyberlaw Society

Conference Overview

Conference Overview

Recording devices, and digital technologies in particular, turn prior recorded sound into the raw material for new work. Samplers have replaced electric guitars as tools of the trade for many musicians; remixes and sonic collage are musical staples from the Top 40 to obscure electronica and hip-hop.

But the law has not looked kindly upon unauthorized sampling. In the first sampling-based copyright infringement case, the court's opinion began with scripture - "Thou shalt not steal" - and ended with a referral for criminal prosecution.

Is recorded sound simply private property, and is its re-use simply theft? Or is recorded sound the raw material of creative expression, a resource without which artists' voices would be stifled? Sampling raises copyright law's characteristic tensions: the sound recording is both private property, enabling an author or musician to get paid for her work, and an element of communication and culture. But the fair use doctrine, statutory compulsory licensing, and the First Amendment, which may permit unauthorized creative re-use of copyrighted materials in other cases, have never been brought to bear on sampling. The only clearly legal sample is an authorized sample.

The Music and Theft conference will bring together artists and experts on the technological foundations and the artistic and cultural implications of sampling, along with experts on copyright law and licensing arrangements, to discuss ways in which the law does and should affect sample-based music.


First Panel: The Technology

Room 3043

Musicians on this panel will demonstrate the digital manipulation of preexisting recordings and MIDI files and discuss the impact of digital technology on music production and music theory. An experienced music attorney will discuss the legal consequences of the particular practices demonstrated by the musicians, as well as the law's overall responses to digital music.

Confirmed Panelists: Anthony Kelley, Scott Lindroth, Tim Mandelbaum

Second Panel: The Culture

Room 3043

This panel will explore the expressive and cultural significance of sampling. Panelists from diverse academic and practical backgrounds will bring to bear the perspectives of cultural theory, music history, music production, legal theory, and legal practice.

Confirmed Panelists: Dick Hebdige, Daphne Keller, Fred Koenigsberg. Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky, David Sanjek


Burdman Lounge

Affiliated Event

DJ Spooky at the Cat's Cradle
03.20.2002 | Carrboro, NC | 8PM.


orange bar
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