Interesting story in today's NY Times re: Girl Talk and copyright law. Because his samples are short, GT asserts his usage falls under "fair use," just like someone quoting a newspaper article or passage from a book in another media outlet.
Strangely enough GT's congressman, Pennsylvania's Mike Doyle, has weighed in on issue, backing the argument:
"You have to look at the length of those samples," Mr. Doyle said in a phone interview. "Case law gets built as cases are brought to court, and I think that more case law is going to fall on his side as this becomes more mainstream."
And of course, if you read End Hits regularly, you know I think Girl Talk is an absolute hack, so I got a chuckle out of this passage from a lawyer on the other side of the issue:
"Fair use is a means to allow people to comment on a pre-existing work, not a means to allow someone to take a pre-existing work and recreate it into their own work," said Barry Slotnick, head of the intellectual property litigation group at the law firm Loeb & Loeb. "What you can't do is substitute someone else's creativity for your own."
The article goes on to mention that some of those sampled may be fearful of bringing the lawsuit against GT because, if he wins, it could set dangerous precedent.
This is possible, but I think there might be something more to it: Perhaps artists are simply happy to be appearing in these mashups. It's good press, right? And how far is GT's application away from simply having one's songs spun in a club? How could it be, in any way, bad publicity?
As much as I loathe Girl Talk, I'd rather he get away with the whole "fair use" argument. I think he does "substitute someone else's creativity for (his) own," but the judgement on creativity, in the end, rests in the ears of the listener.
That being the case, I loved it when GT says: "I want to be a musician and not just a party DJ" (emphasis mine). Read in to that what you will...