If they choose to test the waters, artists with little to no knowledge of copyright law are faced with countless legal questions: How much of a song can I sample? What if I record my own version of it and sample that? If I give it away for free, does that make it OK? (Answers: it doesn’t matter; still illegal; and it might help your case.)
Even without overt sampling, a work can still come under attack. The growing popularity of “soundalikes” — songs written in the style of popular artists used in commercials to avoid licensing the originals — is a recent example among dozens of dilemmas faced by modern composers, songwriters, and performers. What about the Koren Ensemble, who perform orchestral, intricately-arranged medleys of popular TV theme songs?
My latest piece for BuzzFeed is a how-to on how to remix without getting sued, and what is necessary in order to encourage remix culture from a legislative standpoint.
It was co-authored with Gabe Levine, my lawyer and the co-star of one of my favorite Creative Mornings talks of all time.