With the issue of sampling and the legal ramifications behind it becoming more and more prevalent in Hip Hop, a new documentary produced by Benjamin Franzen and Kembrew McLeod seeks to answer the question of who truly owns music created through samples.
Titled Copyright Criminals, the documentary features over a dozen interviews with some of Hip Hop’s most recognizable figures, including Pete Rock, El-P, Chuck D of Public Enemy, De La Soul, and Bobbito Garcia.
Along with artists who have sampled during their careers, Copyright Criminals also highlights a handful of artists who themselves have been sampled. One musician in particular is drummer Clyde Stubblefield, who played in James Brown’s band during recording sessions. “I didn’t know anything about sampling until people came up and said some other artist is using your drum pattern…So many groups have sampled my stuff,” explains Stubblefield in the documentary. “They say I’m the world’s number one sampled drummer; I haven’t got a penny for it yet though.”
Copyright Criminals will be available January 26 via Amazon.com and iTunes, as well as in select local retail DVD stores. View the trailer below.
UPDATE: PBS has announced that Copyright Criminals will appear on their award-winning program, Independent Lens on the week of November 29. Local listings vary.