Monday, June 14, 2010

More on Music Loops and Samples


Dear Rich: Thanks for the information you provided about vocal samples. If you don't mind, can I ask you why music sample CD's include a clause that their material is copyrighted when you've made it clear that you can't copyright short music samples and vocal samples?
Last time we wrote about music samples, we were at an altitude of about 34K feet. Since we're approaching that altitude again, we might as well talk about them again. BTW, what's the story about touchpads on airplanes. Does the lack of moisture make it harder to use them? Should I lick my fingers? Or is that going to make me seem suspicious to my seat mates?
Right, you had a question. As we mentioned before, samples (or "loops," as they are sometimes called) are short sound snippets -- perhaps two measures of drums, or a vocal phrase ("ice, ice, baby"), or a bass riff -- that can be inserted as a 'standalone' audio file or repeated ("looped") to create a song. The advantage of using repetitive loops (such as in programs like Acid -- above) is that you can get exactly the same sound and intensity -- for example, a snare hit or a vocal pitch -- and not have to worry about pesky recording artists doing it different each time. Loops, and their technological friend, quantizing, guarantee that everything falls exactly on the same metronomic beat and never speeds up or slows down. The Dear Rich Staff is grateful for loops because without them we wouldn't have today's repetitive, fungible, beat-driven pap, err...pop music. And without that pop music, we wouldn't have anyone to sue for ripping off that music. Wait, that doesn't sound right?
Sorry, you had a question Part II. Yes, you can copyright loops and samples. First, you can get a compilation copyright on your unique collection of loops. Second, individual loops of music may be protected under sound recording copyrights. Third it's possible that a loop that is long enough and that demonstrates sufficient originality may be the subject of a music composition copyright. Our previous explanations regarding loops and copyrights had to do with whether someone using someone else's loops -- a customer or purchaser of a loop collection -- could claim copyright in the loop. In that situation, the user is similar to that of a user of a clip art collection. They are prevented from claiming copyright in the loop or art, by itself, either (1) because they are subject to a license agreement, or (2) because they are not the authors of the loop (and didn't create it), or (3) the individual loop can't be subject to a music composition copyright.
Attention Virgin America. Also, if any executives from VirginAmerica are reading this, why can't Main Cabin Select travelers use the First Class bathrooms? I mean, we're like in this no-man's land where the tickets cost more (okay, I cashed in my points for this one) but we're the furthest away from the main cabin bathroom and just a few feet from the 1st class bathrooms. Or what about this ... what if you could pay for first class bathroom privileges? I know the airlines are into charging for everything so why not that? Okay ... what about this. You can buy a first class bathroom key (that's somehow tied to fingerprint technology to prevent it getting passed around). So that way the attendants won't have to keep track of who has first class bathroom rights. Anyway, just sayin'.