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«Principal Editor Professor Brian Fitzgerald Head of School of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Australia With the assistance of Jessica ...»

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The implication is we need to move, that the changes in technology need to dictate a move more towards the Commons and away from intellectual property. The second, a vague sort of term, but some content can be given to it – we need to focus more on creativity and less on rationality. As a professional dealer in rationality that is maybe not such a good thing for me. There is the implication that the kind of rational processes that have dominated public debate, particularly in Australia, in the past 20 years, are not going to be well suited to promoting creative innovation. A supporting rather than a leading role for the State is implied. The state, after all, funded the creation of the Internet and did lots of good things, but it’s unlikely that state, that centralised state activity, is going to play a leading role.

Finally, a relatively peripheral role for market activity, is to see the market sector retreating from being the centre of so much innovation and instead picking up on innovations that have been generated outside the market sector, or to a lesser extent, users, rather than being generated within firms.

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Introduction The purpose of this article is to examine the extent to which we are lawfully allowed to draw upon our cultural environment as part of our discursive practices. To what extent are we ‘free’ to access and reutilise that which surrounds us?

At the Straight Out of Brisbane Arts Festival in December 2004 a participant explained that they could go out into the forest and paint a picture of the trees without breaching any intellectual property laws, yet to paint a picture of the human made environment of billboards that line the M1 Highway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast could breach the law.

They explained that sampling their environment was like using the English language in the process of talking and billboards as much as the trees were part of their cultural environment. What right did they have to ‘jam’ with these artefacts of modern day life? What right did they have to sample music or culture more broadly as part of their creative activity?

The fact that people want to utilise their environment in their creative activity is not the only point to note here. Nowadays technology is making this even easier to achieve. New digital technologies along with the Internet have opened up enormous potential for what has become known as ‘remix’ – cutting, pasting, mashing, sampling etc. No longer are end users or consumers seen as passive receptors of information, but rather in the process of distributed and peer production, consumers can take on the role of producers to become what Creative Commons legal counsel Mia Garlick calls ‘content conducers’. 46 Specifically, this article will consider the legal issues that arise in relation to the distinct yet related creative and social practices of remix known as digital (music) sampling and culture jamming. The picture is not particularly encouraging. There appears little scope for sampling music without the permission of the copyright owner under fair dealing Lawrence Lessig, Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity (2004) New York, Penguin Press, 283-4.

(Australia) or fair use (USA) doctrines, especially in relation to the sound recording and especially where there is no ‘transformative’ use. 47 While Australian law will still consider whether a ‘substantial part’ of the original material has been reproduced through the sampling, the approach in the recent US decision of Bridgeport Music Inc v Dimension Films Inc, 48 applying a somewhat similar quantitative/qualitative test is to suggest that any copying of the sound recording will amount to an infringement. It is unclear to what extent Australian courts would follow this decision and decide that copying any amount of a sound recording is a reproduction of a substantial part of the original material. The suggestion is that Australian courts should not adopt the Bridgeport approach as a rigorous ‘substantial part’ doctrine informed by an understanding of the creative innovation system 49 - especially in its digital and remix aspects – is vital to allowing flexibility in our copyright system and innovation in our information society. The limitation of fair dealing doctrine in promoting innovation makes this even more apparent. The implementation of a more tolerant doctrine of fair use so as to facilitate creative innovation (through the current review of fair use by the Commonwealth Attorney-General) 50 and widespread use of modalities such as permission in advance Creative Commons styled licences provide hope for the creative class that some sampling will be allowed. The expectation that every second or note of recorded music must be paid for and therefore cannot be utilised without permission is too rigid and ignores the fact that the creativity of today builds on that of the past quite often without any compensation being paid. 51 In relation to culture jamming and copyright and trademark law, once again Australian law is deficient in providing clear guidance as to the extent to On the notion of “transformative use” see Campbell v Acuff-Rose Music Inc 510 U.S 569 (1994).

401 F 3d 647 (6th Cir, 2004), en banc rehearing and revised opinion 410 F 3d. 792 (6th Cir. 2005).

On this notion see A Fitzgerald and B Fitzgerald, Intellectual Property in Principle Chapter 1; John Howkins, The Creative Economy: how people make money from ideas, (2001) London, Penguin; John Hartley (ed.), Creative Industries (2005) Oxford, Blackwell, 2005; DCITA, Creative Industries Cluster Study Volumes 1-3 (2004) ww.dcita.gov.au.

See further, B Fitzgerald “Fair Use for “Creative Innovation”: A Principle We Must Embrace. A Submission in Response to the A-G’s Issues Paper on Fair Use and Other Copyright Exceptions” (2005) http://www.law.qut.edu.au/about/staff/lsstaff/fitzgerald.jsp Emerson v Davies 8 F. Cas 615 at 619 (C.C. Mas. 1845); W Landes and R Posner, “An Economic Analysis of Copyright Law” (1989) J. Legal Stud. 325 at 332.

which creativity can draw upon the surrounding environment. US copyright and trademark law permits a degree of culture jamming by way of trade mark parody, yet Australian law is largely silent on this issue. To this end Australian law needs to clearly define the extent to which trade marks, particularly well known marks, can be utilised without the permission of the copyright and trademark owner for political, social and creative activity. In a vibrant democracy we deserve the right to remix and jam with these cultural artefacts to ‘some degree’.

Music Sampling

Introduction The term music sampling refers to the process by which a producer or artist making a recording, samples a sound or series of sounds from its original context and then makes a new use of it. In its more technical sense this process is referred to as digital sampling, which involves the use of digital technology to enable the recording and storage of sounds and their reproduction in a host of aural formats. 52 This process is achieved by breaking down the wave forms that characterise the different sounds and converting them into a precise numerical form. 53 This information is then coded into a digital synthesiser, enabling the artist or producer to manipulate the sound bites (samples) in a number of different pitches, echoes, speeds, tones and rhythmic combinations.54 The courts have taken a similar approach to these generic industry definitions in considering what music sampling and digital sampling encompass. Most recently in Bridgeport Music Inc v Dimension Films Inc, 55 the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit held that digital sampling is a term of art, in adopting the definition commonly accepted within the music industry. In Newton v Diamond, 56 Schroeder CJ held that ‘sampling entails the incorporation of short segments of prior sound recordings into new recordings.’ Similarly, in Jarvis v A & M Records, 57 Ackerman DJ held that digital sampling involves the conversion of analog sound waves into digital code. Elaborating on this process Ackerman DJ described it ‘as Paul Weiler, Entertainment, Media, and the Law (2nd ed, 2002) 412.


Ibid 413.

401 F 3d 647, 655 (6th Cir, 2004); 410 F 3d 792, 798 (6th Cir 2005).

349 F 3d 591, 596 (9th Cir, 2003).

827 F Supp 282, 286 (DNJ, 1993).

similar to taping the original composition and reusing it in another context.’ 58 This notion of sampling is not a novel or new one, indeed it may well be argued that it is something which is a part of culture and freedom of expression that has been alive for centuries. However, the origins of sampling in its current musical and digital context can be traced to the reggae musicians of Jamaica in the 1960’s who in turn influenced the rap and hip-hop culture in urban New York in the late 1970’s.59 It was here that an African-American musician from the Bronx, Afrika Bambaata pioneered the practice we now know as music sampling. 60 Through sampling the electronic beats of German pop group Kraftwerk, Bambaata was able to lay the foundations for an entirely new culture of music, which embraced the use of sampling. 61 Today this practice of music sampling is not only confined to rap and hip-hop culture. Its influence can also be seen in movements like pop, funk, dance, house, techno, trip-hop and acid jazz. 62 An ability to sample lawfully yet without the permission of the copyright owner is an important part of a dynamic creative innovation system because it allows content (e.g a portion song) to be negotiated instantaneously and without friction. Under copyright law we are entitled under certain conditions (including payment of a statutory licence fee) to record a song without the permission of the copyright owner of the song 63 but we cannot copy a sound recording of a song unless we have the permission of the copyright owner of the sound recording. If we are allowed to sample a sound recording without permission then a road block or veto power over creativity is removed and a space for re-use or free culture is opened up. Having to pay for samples might also prove expensive for an artist who merely wants to experiment with sounds in a process of creativity. 64 The focus of this article then is to ask - when can sampling be undertaken without the permission of the relevant copyright owner and without the need to pay compensation?

Jarvis v A & M Records, 827 F Supp 282, 286 (DNJ, 1993).

Rachael Carnachan, “Sampling and the Music Industry: A Discussion of the Implications of Copyright Law” (1999) 8(4) Auckland University Law Review 1033.

See also Newton v Diamond 349 F. 3d. 591 at 593 (6th Cir 2003).

Rachael Carnachan, supra at 593.



Copyright Act 1968 ss 54-65.

“A New Spin On Music Sampling: A Case For Fair Play” (1992) 105 Harvard Law Review 726 at 727-8.

What Does Copyright Law Allow?

In determining what copyright law will allow in relation to music sampling, it is first necessary to identify the relevant rights which may exist in original material. Under the Copyright Act a single composition of recorded music may give rise to a number of different types of copyright. These include economic rights in the literary work (lyrics), musical work (score), sound recording and performance of the song as well as moral rights in the lyrics, score and more recently performance of the song. Each of these rights will be considered separately below.

In regards to the literary and musical aspect of recorded music, s 32 of the Copyright Act provides protection for an original literary and musical work.

In the context of music sampling, song lyrics are recognised as a literary work and are therefore afforded protection under the Copyright Act. 65 There is no definition of a musical work however, it is generally accepted that this category protects the method of production, rather than any artistic or aesthetic qualities of the work. 66 Under this any combination of sounds and noises will be protected by copyright, provided it is in a fixed form. 67 Copyright infringement in either the literary or musical work will occur where the sampler does any of the acts within the copyright owner’s exclusive rights. 68 In the case of music sampling this will most often occur where the literary or musical work is reproduced in a material form. 69 In order to prove infringement in either the literary or musical work the copyright owner will need to show that the infringing sample was a reproduction of the original work, and that a substantial part has been reproduced. 70 These two requirements are discussed in detail below in relation to copyright in a sound recording. 71 Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) s 10(1).

Anne Fitzgerald and Brian Fitzgerald, Intellectual Property in Principle (2004) Thomson Sydney 99.


Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) s 36 - including the right to reproduce the work in a material form, to perform the work in public, to communicate the work to the public, or to make an adaptation of the work: s 31 (1).

Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) s 31(1)(a)(i).

Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald, supra, 144.

Note that the Bridgeport decision suggests that this analysis be undertaken separately for the lyrics/music and sound recording as reproduction of a substantial part of a sound recording brings into play different considerations: 401 F. 3d 647 at 655 (6th Cir, 2004).

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