May 6, 2013

Twenty Years Later: Anniversary of a Lawsuit

Today on NPR: Oliver Wang looks back at the 1991 copyright infringement lawsuit that composer/singer Gilbert O'Sullivan brought against singer Biz Markie. Mr. O'Sullivan alleged that Mr. Markie's sampling of Mr. O'Sullivan's song "Alone Again (Naturally)" was an impermissible use. Mr. O'Sullivan had previously denied Mr. Markie a license to use the infringing material. The judge in the case ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and even thought the matter was a criminal one. Here's more background from Copyright Casebook. The case made legal history, since sampling was a tradition in hip-hop.

Two years later, Mr. Markie released an album, without the infringing song. The album's name: All Samples Cleared. Indeed.

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