A Guide Through the Legal Jungle Trivia Question
Who is the musical artist who released the album “All Samples Cleared” as a humorous response to a landmark decision forbidding unauthorized sampling?
- Beastie Boys
- DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
- Biz Markie
- Grandmaster Flash
- Boogie Down Productions
The correct answer is C. Rapper Biz Markie released the album “All Samples Cleared” as a self-deprecating (and playfully mocking) nod to the ruling in Grand Upright Music vs. Warner Brother Records.
For the title song of a prior album, “Alone Again”, Biz Markie had borrowed three words and eight bars of music from Gilbert O’Sullivan’s 1972 hit “Alone Again Naturally”. The practice of using portions of existing songs or recordings in new recordings is called sampling. Biz Markie’s sampling led to a lawsuit in which a federal court labeled Biz Markie’s unauthorized use of source material as copyright infringement and prohibited further distribution of the album.
Sampling may sometimes qualify as fair use but there is no guarantee. Sampling must go through the same fact-based fair use analysis as any other unauthorized use of copyrighted material. These days most artists releasing commercial recordings clear their samples.
(Thanks to Miguel Harvey, 2009 JD Candidate, Georgetown University Law Center, for his contribution to this trivia question.)