Tuf America, the record label currently representing DC-area go-go band Trouble Funk, filed a lawsuit a few days ago against the Beastie Boys over alleged sampling. This filing was poorly timed because it happened one day before the death of founding member Adam Yaunch. According to documents, two of Troubled Funk’s records were sampled decades ago by the Beastie Boys–it took so long for the sampling to be found because it was effectively unrecognizable to the naked ear and took the thorough sound analysis to find this alleged sampling. The album Paul’s Boutique, one of the albums said to contain illegally obtained samples, allegedly uses 300 samples, most obtained legally.
I have a few questions about this lawsuit: If it is unrecognizable to the naked ear, then how do you know it’s your sample? Furthermore, do you legally own the idea of a beat? Isn’t there a statute of limitations on this? I know that there have been new copyright laws since this, but Licenced to Ill came out before I could walk, and one cannot file a suit on something using a law that didn’t exist when that law was broken in the United States. Is this suit legitimate and ill-timed or is this band trying to drum up publicity? Am I helping by writing a blog post about them?
With all of these laws coming through the Senate like SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, CISPA, and others that I don’t even know about, will all the Godfathers of rap be put on trial because of the rampant sampling they did in the late 1970s and early 1980s?