Blatant sampling and DJ Girl Talk

Thank you, Miri Frankel, for drawing the attention of the IPKat to this fascinating snippet from the New York Times. It's all about DJ Girl Talk (real name Gregg Gillis), who makes danceable musical collages out of short clips from other people’s songs; apparently there are more than 300 samples on “Feed the Animals,” the album he released online at this June.

Right: the IPKat's own take on sampling and "Feed the Animals"

Gillis doesn’t seek copyright clearance since he argues that United States copyright law entitles him to do so under its fair use doctrine (and perhaps, suggests the NYT, because it would be prohibitively expensive to do so ...)

According to the article, the DJ's music is pulled from more sources than most hip-hop hits, which often use a loop of music taken from a single song. Where Gillis is different from many others is that he does not radically reconfigure songs or search out obscure samples. Instead he mixes clips of contemporary hip-hop artists and classic rock riffs from groups like Aerosmith, Cheap Trick and AC/DC. The article then goes on to discuss both the content of his works and the US copyright perspectives on it, observing that, while he has not yet been sued, he is getting the cold shoulder from some sections of the industry itself.

The IPKat cannot help pledging loyalty to anyone who puts together a title like "Feed the Animals", though he is equally sensitive to the feelings of those whose works are cannibalised.

Right: DJ Girl Talk and a sample of his adherents

Merpel says, you can't have it both ways: either it's an infringement of another's rights or it isn't -- however creative it may be in its own right -- and a "right-to-use-plus-a-duty-to-pay" solution, which could be made to work well in practice, doesn't exactly have the historical pedigree of the Berne Convention to underwrite it. Having said that, there is a good case for saying that, while Berne, Protection, Collective Licensing and Royalties governed copyright attitudes in the 20th century, Burn, Share, Sample and Free Access govern copyright attitudes in the 21st.
Blatant sampling and DJ Girl Talk Blatant sampling and DJ Girl Talk Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, August 08, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. Works created by piecing together small elements of cultural artifacts, proprietary and not, is how culture is now finding expression. Unless the copyright law is prepared to adapt, we will produce a generation with little respect for the enforcement of intellectual property rights and the law, and continue to breed extremists on both sides of the IP good/bad debate.

  2. Burn, Share, Sample and Free Access govern copyright attitudes in the 21st.

    With this very blog one practitioner of this philosophy? ;)

  3. I thought paul jakma was namedropping - the famous law firm of
    Burn, Share, Sample & Free.

    It would only be natural if that firm accessed government copyright attitudes in the 21st century (or District?)

  4. Just thought to let you know - I've listened to this album and it contains a sampling of a certain disputed Procal Harum riff... small world eh?


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