Kembrew McLeod on copyright and hip-hop sampling

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August 2, 2011

Kembrew McLeod, independent filmmaker and Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa, discusses his new documentary with Benjamin Franzen called Copyright Criminals. Digital music sampling is used throughout several genres of music but it is probably most prominent in hip-hop music. Hip-hop artists like Run-DMC began using snippets of other artists’ songs to create sounds of their own. This process, according to McLeod, helped facilitate creativity, but it also brought a flurry of lawsuits within the music industry. Now, as McLeod demonstrates in his documentary, artists are hesitant to use samples of music in their songs because they fear potential legal consequences, and as a result, a lot of musical creations that use sampling may never reach our ears.

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