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Topic: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

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  1. #1
    andyt
    Guest

    Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    I would like to provoke some thoughts on the morality of sampling.

    It does seems to me that we in the sampling community do \"have our cake and eat it\". All libraries come with extensive Terms & Conditions limiting their use: in library music, re-selling, borrowing, number of PCs to be installed on, ownership versus licensing etc, etc.

    And I agree with these. It is perfectly right and proper in a capitalist society that people can protect and be identified as the authors of their intellectual property.

    But it would be intellectually lazy (or just convenient)to ignore the MORALITY of sampling. (Please, I am not discussing the LEGALITY.)

    I cannot be honest with myself and say that the sampling of a Steinway Piano, or Gibson Bass guitar, or Yamaha set of drums is not in some way COPYING some essential and highly desirable essence of these instruments without the original manufacturers permission, compensation or support.

    We\'re legally allowed to sample the hell out of an original piece of musical equipment, but we don\'t allow the re-sampling of our libraries or virtual instruments. (I\'m using the royal \"we\" ... I am not a developer.) Probably because we got smarter lawyers than the instrument makers at this point in time.

    Has it always been this way ?

    I own a Roland VG8, which is a piece of hardware that through electronic physical modelling ... replicates the sound of some very famous brand name guitars, pickups, amps and speakers. Roland seem to have gone to great lengths to \"allude\" to the original instruments, but always avoid mentioning specific brands.

    In the sampling community itseems to be the opposite. It is almost essential to state the make and model of instruments (especially solo instruments).

    However, I think I noted that new Yellow Tools bass library seems to be following the Roland strategy ... and gives descriptions rather than brand names.

    Tascam\'s GigaPulse brochure names brands and models of micophones .... are they doing this with their approval or condonance.


    Now that Convolution technology is about to become very, very common .... and that this technology allows the \"sampling\" of not just sounds, but of spaces, resonance and even electronic equipment, I wouldn\'t be surprised to see the equipment manufacturers trying to get their legal teams to somehow figure out ways of putting copyright on essence and sounds of their equipment.

    Before I get flamed for raising an awkward subject, I was hoping for some serious thoughts on it (well semi-serious will do just as well). Most of us have very clear and strong opinions on piracy ... but do we have cogent line argument underlying the whole sampling phenomena ?

  2. #2

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    I have often wondered the very same thing. Example: I paid for the rights to sample both women on DIVA and the three men on Phantom Voice. That\'s a done deal and both parties agreed to terms.

    I have plans on a bass library. Do I contact Fender for permission? Can you make a drum library using a Yamaha kit without speaking to Yamaha first?

    Flames or not - this is definitely food for thought and I wish to further my education on the subject.

  3. #3

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    I\'ve always wondered the same thing. I would normally expect the maker of a highly desirable product (such as Steinway, etc.) to enforce its brand property on anything that would bear its name. I\'d at the very least expect royalty demands or some such thing. Is this perhaps a case of a \"grace period\" where sample library makers are grabbing the low hanging fruit while they can until some day soon the actual instrument manufacturers wake up and start litigating?

    I know in the early days of software, piracy was not only very common but done in the wide open because the whole industry was new territory (and legal territory) for everyone. Could this be the case here? Will we wind up seeing a series of litigations? Will sample libraries eventually have to be licensed from the makers of the original instruments?

    It would seem to me that this could be the case. Steinway, for instance, is not a technology company - at least not in the modern sense. Could it merely be a techno-culture rift that has thus far prevented them and others like them from seeing the true economic and industrial impact of sampling, thus prompting them to take action to control derivative works?

    But there is an intersting legal distinction here:
    Samples are considered intellectual property. And as such, are subject to licensing restrictions. Physical products such as pianos are physical goods that are sold to customers. When a customer receives the product, they\'ve traditionally had rights to record whatever sounds they produce with this instrument. If they perform a classical piano piece, they have a copyright on recordings of that performance, and thus this is a very similar situation to sampling. So when you look at it this way, profit from selling recordings of instruments is nothing new by a long shot. And in addition, the piano is sold as a physical product, not as a licensed piece of intellectual property.

    But where it would seem to be different is that the sample libraries are often sold using the exact product name of the instrument sampled - which would appear to be a violation of trademarks. Especailly since they\'re being sold as a type of instrument.

    Thanks for bringing up this interesting topic!

  4. #4

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    A \"sample\" consists of many components/stages -the sound source, the performer, the recording equipment, the acoustic space it is recorded in, the recording engineers, the sound designers, the editors, the patch programmers. Obviously, in every sampled sound, there is a huge difference in the contribution of each component....so it\'s impossible to apply any blanket statement on morality that would cover every kind of sound or library.

    There is creativity and skill involved at every stage. There are thousands of creative choices that have to be made on every sampling project. It is certainly a craft of its own -which is why different companies have unique personalities. Nick\'s stuff sounds different than mine, Herb\'s stuff sounds different than Peter Siedlaczek\'s, Gary\'s approach is different from Jennifer\'s. The variety of approaches and the fact that the art of sampling continues to evolve is proof that there is a great deal more to sampling than the source.

    I would propose that the more creativity and uniqueness that is involved in each component of the process, the more ethical/moral sampling becomes. The converse is probably also true. In cases of high degrees of creativity and uniqueness, sampling is not only moral....but absolutely essential.

    (as the hundreds of forum members here will confirm...:-)

    spectrum

    PS. That\'s leaving off any discussion of the trademark issue/marketing the original brands, etc....which is a completely different topic and has been extensively covered here on the forum already.

  5. #5

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    Okay everybody, calm down. The last thing I need is a dongled set of drums.

  6. #6
    andyt
    Guest

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    Hi Spectrum,

    So you\'re suggesting that if there are sufficient stages in the creation of a sample library, then there is sufficient \"added value\" that makes it morally acceptable.

    Okay ... lets play Devil\'s advocate. What if someone re-samples an existing library, and goes through the same stage you described ... i.e chooses a performer to play them back, records them acoustically in a carefully chosen environment, creates new patches ...... how many stages would it require before sufficient creativity had been added to make that a moral activity ?

    So its a preposterous scenario, but it might serve to test the principals behind you\'re asertion. (When I studied my for engineering degree, I was always told take a problem to its extreme to look for solutions and to test principles.)

    By co-incidence, I was looking at window shopping for Trilogy when I started thinking about this issue. I\'m no expert on basses, but it seems that your patch list is \"non-specific\" when talking about instruments, but quite specific about naming elctronic bass sounds.


    Bela D
    Yeah I tend to agree that sampling a person singing seems to be a fairly clear moral issue. The performer is the instrument and fully able to give permission for its sampling.

    Brady
    I think you have hit part of the issue quite squarely on the head. The sampling issue is high-tech and has been -ultra senstive to problems of un-authorised copying. Musical Instrument companies are for the most part old-tech, and perhaps haven\'t had to face this before.

    And besides when these instruments were originally sold, they didn\'t come with any T&C\'s attatched. I doubt you can retrospectively apply T&Cs.
    But I am falling into my trap of mixing up legallity with morality.

    Cheers

  7. #7

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    All

    I’m always amazed when this subject and debate comes up, again and again. As though there is a higher respect and deification reserved for instrument manufacturers………and “space owners” so to speak. I believe too many people on this soap box are confused about what is really being done with regard to using samples.

    Let me ask this question. When you PLAY a Stratocaster should you give Fender a royalty? When you PLAY a Steinway, should Steinway get paid? Same thing when you PLAY samples derived from a sample library. You are playing recreations of the “SOUND” the instrument makes…..not a work performed on the instrument. Why don’t people get this and put this argument to rest once and for all.

    You paid for the “MANUFACTURE” of the sample library when you bought it which demands protection from copying……a no-brainer. But, until you create something by putting the sounds of the sample library together IT IS NOT A WORK……and therefore not entitled to any copyright protection. You can’t copyright a name, a title, an idea.......... or “POTENTIAL”.

    Same with the space sample. Its just a room……it has no intrinsic value until someone creates something utilizing its parameters. (can you copyright the SOUND that you get from a Lexicon PCM 90…..or a Manley pre?). You get the idea.

    Sorry….had to get my 2 in.

    Larry

  8. #8

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    I do think that this is a somewhat mixed issue of legality and morality. But I think the moral component really only comes into play if the maker of the instrument explicitly expresses a desire for their instrument to not be sampled without their permission or licensing PRIOR to selling the instrument and under conditions where the purchaser is made fully aware of these restrictions.

    Since it\'s implied that the purchaser has the right to play and record the instrument (since that\'s pretty much the whole point of having an instrument), I don\'t think there\'s much of a moral issue. Again, the only caveat here is if a manufacturer sold an instrument under the legal condition that it would not be recorded or have recordings distributed in certain ways.

    Now that still leaves the trademark issue. And unless this has already been addressed and we just haven\'t heard about it, this will probably come up sooner or later.

  9. #9

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Hi Spectrum,

    So you\'re suggesting that if there are sufficient stages in the creation of a sample library, then there is sufficient \"added value\" that makes it morally acceptable.

    Okay ... lets play Devil\'s advocate. What if someone re-samples an existing library, and goes through the same stage you described ... i.e chooses a performer to play them back, records them acoustically in a carefully chosen environment, creates new patches ...... how many stages would it require before sufficient creativity had been added to make that a moral activity ?

    So its a preposterous scenario, but it might serve to test the principals behind you\'re asertion. (When I studied my for engineering degree, I was always told take a problem to its extreme to look for solutions and to test principles.)

    By co-incidence, I was looking at window shopping for Trilogy when I started thinking about this issue. I\'m no expert on basses, but it seems that your patch list is \"non-specific\" when talking about instruments, but quite specific about naming elctronic bass sounds.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I wasn\'t suggesting a certain number of stages, but the creativity in any one of those components can easily make something completely original and unique. You\'ll note that I was very careful not to say a specific point when something becomes moral or ethical....that\'s pretty difficult to find an exact point. (why is why the law is based on far simpler principles that can be measured) Creativity is a very subjective thing, so it\'s nearly impossible to nail down a precise point like your attempting to do. However, you could find widespread agreement among a majority of people in the extremes.

    Ignoring the law (and our license agreement) completely for a moment, in the case of Trilogy you would likely find widespread agreement that if the end product sounded similar or derivitive to the original it would be considered not very creative...therefore less than \"moral/ethical\" to release. However, if the end product was entirely different (let\'s say Trilogy was turned into a beautiful acoustic piano library), then you\'d find widespread agreement that it was extremely creative and therefore much more \"moral/ethical\" to release.

    Of course, all of this discussion is moot in the case of Trilogy, since it\'s sound recordings are protected under SR copyright law from derivitive works being released without prior permission. Also, it is very clearly unethical to sample it without permission because we HAVE been so clear about what is and is not allowed.

    (BTW, if someone is interested in creating an acoustic piano library from Trilogy, I\'d love to hear it and would likely agree to it\'s resale!)

    As another side note, instrument makers actually can protect the sounds of their instruments under current law, using a \"Soundmark\". It\'s a new part of Trademark law that is just beginning to be explored. For example, if Bosendorfer wished to protect the sound of their instruments, they could technically protect them under the law.

    So my point is that sampling is not inherently evil or bad. Like every other technological advance it can be used positively or negatively.

    spectrum [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img]

    PS. We were careful to check with the legal status of all the names we used....always very important to do.

  10. #10

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    Re: Sampling is Legal, but is it Moral ?

    No, sampling is a tool of the devil. Doing so can disease the mind and cause violence, homosexuality tornadoes, earthquakes and even meteors !!!

    In an ongoing effort to rid the world of this sickening fate I have organized several \"sample cd burnings\" at local church meetings, with great success. Church bell sample cds seem to burn pretty well. Some so-called \"scientists\" (most likely evil\'utionists too) have said the evil stench these vile human creations give off is simply plastic fumes, but we know better thanks to the glory of the LORD!!

    These \"scientists\" go on and on about \"macro-sampling\" and \"micro-sampling\", they claim they are the same thing but on different time scales. Our Faith-Based Scientists\'(tm) own investigations have found otherwise. \"Macro-sampling\" is the spontaneous growth of sample cd work with little or no effort, we feel this is impossible much like a tornado in a junk yard will never produce a sampe cd of junk sounds. We believe in \"micro-sampling\" but \"macro-sampling\" has never been observed; it is a belief based on faith!! \"Macro-sampling\" is a RELIGION!

    Let me hear an \'Amen\'!!

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