MusicRadar’s Joe Bosso reports that the long-simmering controversy over alleged 8-bit music intellectual property theft has come to a lawsuit:

Timbaland, Nelly Furtado sued for plagiarism [MusicRadar]

The suit is being brought by the Finland-based Kernel Records, which acquired the song Acidjazzed Evening. The case again puts musical sampling in the spotlight. Timbaland’s response in 2007, which you can read in the MusicRadar article, basically amounted to “I didn’t know where it came from, so it’s not theft.”

Oh, and then there’s this gem:
“It’s from a video game, idiot.”

That’ll be Timbaland demonstrating that he doesn’t understand what 8-bit music (this tune is, of course, not from a video game) nor how sampling law works (video games aren’t subject to some different set of ethical and legal rules). I mean, if Timbaland were going all radical on us and declaring all content should be free, that’d be another matter.

One has to wonder if a different kind of sampling culture is possible, a third option, in which artists knowingly release work as Creative Commons so they provide explicit permission for people to sample — and get credited. Of course, that’s a touchy subject with the likes of a Timbaland or Nelly Furtado, whose massive commercial success at least implies that they may be able to afford to pay for their samples.

So much has been said on this particular case, let alone the underlying issues, that I’ll leave it to you to discuss.

Whatever your opinion, though, the message is clear that 8-bit music is not simply free for the taking.

Previously: Crystal Castles gets caught up in a similar sort of “we didn’t know, so it doesn’t count” (though unlike Timbaland/Nelly Furtado, their track was not widely released, let alone a huge chart hit). Original story / Crystal Castles responds to allegations.

  • http://truechiptilldeath.com peter

    Actually it was a bit worse than that. "it's a video game.. jerks"

  • http://truechiptilldeath.com peter

    I dont know what i thought jerks.. idiots is bad enough though :D .

  • http://www.indamixx.com ronald stewart

    Straight Rip!

    Don't worry I will rip Timbaland and Aliyah's 'R U That Somebody' so well and twist it old school remixer style and lets see what happens!

    Just edit each element and repaste it in different places like a beat slicer… and see what we get.

    I'll just speed it up and say "I found it on the editing room floor" Like Lenny Kravitz did when he stole Public Enemy sample for 'Justify My Love' on Madonna's Album. Worked for Lenny maybe Timba should use that excuse again.

  • workingit

    we live in a era of crap music! thieves and pirates

    of course corporate clowns and industry hacks are out to steal all forms of original music.

    Glad your out there finding this stuff, other big mags get payed to not talk about it.

    some 1 needs to turn down the suck!

    every thing is getting very mediocre.

    but not on our end.

  • ob1kn00b

    But she's attractive, she can do whatever she wants, you geeks, what does it matter what you think?

    I bet she's got more friends than you.

    Just reading the comments is enough to put you in schizophrenic catatonia.

    sing sing. wiggle wiggle. mucho dinero.

  • http://www.myspace.com/bryantewell Bryan Tewell

    The unfortunate truth of this blog is that, this happens every single day. There are lawyers that specialize in only these cases because of their prevalence. I have a friend who is hired as an "Expert witness" for these cases all the time, who actually does what is seen in the video and presents it in a court of law. The problem is that this will get settled with money and in the end, Timbaland has more publicity. Good or bad, it doesn't matter because its Timbaland.

    Now, on the subject of melody. I'm sorry but melodies are really not much different these days and I don't think people need to spaz out if someone steals a melody. If people had to pay for melodies, everyone would pay for all of their melodies in my opinion.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, in fact, it used to happen a whole lot more often — I think that's part of why this case is getting some publicity. The hip hop community doesn't sample nearly as aggressively as they used to after getting burned by a rash of lawsuits — some might even argue unfairly directed at a particular genre of music. But we're talking some years ago … what makes this newsworthy is that someone of Timbaland's standing would make the absurd argument that somehow 8-bit didn't count because it's "for games" or obscure. And, conversely, there isn't all *that* much theft of 8-bit samples going on, or this particular case probably wouldn't have jumped out.

    Anyway, the other point stands. Do we continue, as artists, sampling and hoping no one notices or cares or sues? Or do we find a way to communicate our intentions to each other and actually *ask* to use samples? The latter seems like it should be happening more than it actually is. Absolutely – sampling randomly is the norm. Asking to sample is not, partly out of laziness, out of custom, and partly because it's not actually all that easy to do in some cases because of the way rights are handled.

  • http://www.isle-of-avalon.co.uk gwenhwyfaer

    Hmm. So on the one hand, we see artists and their chosen representatives pressing for ever tighter laws against individuals who share music with their mates; and on the other, we see that they're quite happy to rip off someone else's music wholesale – as in "use it for financial gain without compensating the original author" – unless and until someone takes them to court over it.

    Here, have a slice of that cake you just devoured…

  • Joe P

    Peter, I'd say it's because the way people make music, hear a sample, try it out in their tune and think "oh my gawd awesome!". From there the artist is then stuck between 1) Asking permission, getting an affirmative and paying royalties. 2) Asking permission, getting denied, and then needing to remove their hit-making sample. 3) thinking "ah whatever", getting their hit out and hoping for the best.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Joe P: Well, yes, that's correct for the independent individual artist. Of course, when you get to someone with Timbaland's power, then it does get into the category of hubris. And, anyway, back to what's happened with hip hop — a lot of those artists have figured out that they can recreate the samples themselves and steer clear of some of the nastier IP claims.

    I'm not saying it's something that gets fixed overnight. Let's say — as a massive understatement — there's room for improvement.

    Also, if your position is not to comment on something for legal reasons, trash talking is not advisable. ;)

  • http://celibacyclub.com celibacyclub

    why cant timbaland make his own chiptunes?

    maybe he realizes the publicity he gets from steal ing things is valuable. ive heard of timbaland stealing someones track, usually a 8bit chip somthing or other several times. seems its the only thing i hear about timbaland is that he steals stuff.

    what kind of message does this send? its ok to steal someones art if you pay for it IF your caught.

    maybe if everyone stole timbalands tracks..

    if caught we could give the excuse that "its just timbaland, nothing original… does copywright even apply to timbaland?"

  • http://celibacyclub.com celibacyclub

    i think timbaland is kinda flame baiting us nerds.

    most of us could probably make him 12 loops like the one he stole and be glad to be paid 100$. that gets him no free press though.

    yes thats right, hes stealing in order to get caught… pretty sneaky. artist probably call him up asking if hes got any hot stolen chiptunes. timba takes the blame, still gets paid.. artist claims they had no idea.

  • http://the-beep.de Beep

    Sure he sampled. He heard this song, liked it and thought "hey i flip that". i do that too and im cool with that. But in timbas case he really made huge money from it and didnt really add much creative work! He could at LEAST slice it up like pete rock.

    I'd say: Timbaland got the money and the connection to clear samples. Why not do it?

    Or at least give credit… and come on timbo, be honest. you're not a gamer like blaze or ohno.

  • robin parry

    if music is free it has no value. and becomes worthless

    i rather pay for music that does hold value/ meaning

  • Esol Esek

    keep burning the hip hop and r&b 'communities'. Hiphop was good until about 1992, then it passed its shelf life. R&B stopped being good after disco and MJ. Good riddance to the attitude more than the music, the attitude that clowns who cant play a note on a real instrument can take whatever they can grab (similar to their criminal upbringings).

    Timbaland makes music for Justin PencilNeck – nuff said…

    btw, if you're dumb enough to upload your music to istock or any of the other stock audio services, dont cry when it ends up in a hit song….

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    I think probably what happened is that this track was in a compilation of chip music (or whatever you want to call it), the kind that gets passed around. Very likely, Timbaland didn't pay attention who made it. Not a defense; just saying.

  • B

    I don't have that much against sampling (I'm a fan of Burial) but that is just overdoing it!

  • mike

    The suit is being brought by the Finland-based Kernel Records, which acquired the song Acidjazzed Evening.

    Funny. They licensed the song AFTER the rip to sue Timbaland? How lame is that?

  • workingit

    Nice gwen!

    Joe P., there not really hits are they.

    its called brand expansion, they sell music

    because of their brand name thats it, not because the music's good. so if they need to steal instead of putting in a little effort they deserve to pay.

    "royalties" i dont think they would bother to ask.

    but the answer would probably be, sure why not.

    although in their minds video game music is not art, but sampling is.

  • rhowaldt

    don't start that crap about people not being able to play an instrument, or you can go bash steve reich or whomever as well, and it's simply a sign of a very narrow mind. there's sampling and sampling. we've known and loved many a sampled song, but this stuff is just talentless. that's all.

  • rhowaldt

    oh sorry i was referring to steve reich's sampling-work, maybe he plays instruments i don't know.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Steve Reich definitely plays instruments. He also samples very artfully. I certainly never meant to criticize the art of sampling – have I ever done that, or was that addressed elsewhere? My intention is generally just to say, you know, there is more to life than sampling. And this business of recreating the same material on different instruments really *is* a form of sampling — just one in which the artist has more control and is less subject to copyright law, which sometimes borders on the arcane (like getting down to a couple of seconds of a sample as in recent US court decisions…)

    Also, I think it is possible to overblow the notion that somehow without freedom to sample, music can't progress. We got by for millenia without recording.

  • B.C. Thunderthud

    I'd like to see something like mechanical licensing for samples, take the permission part out of it, but I think the problem is with the publishing. As it is there are three people credited for that song and none of them want to split the royalties four ways. The problem with not getting clearance up front though is that now they'll probably have to give up 50% or more of the publishing if they want to keep the record in print (or license the song for TV, commercials, etc.).

    I have no problem with sampling and I think people should be able to do it without permission but you've got to credit and pay for it if you actually expect to be receiving royalty checks.

  • Micah

    Here is my opinion if you are are an artist.. and a musician then you shouldn't have problem with creating your own samples…

    I am sick of this attitude that we didn't know about it so it isn't theft… no if you are making music.. or you have a producer making music for you then it is yours and their responsibility to ensure someone else didn't make it!

    So if I heard a Timbaland song and didn't know who it was (which honestly would be the case because I don't know one single track that he made).. and just decided to sample the vocal and say oh since I didn't know it was his.. then it isn't theft..

    Bull… the lawyers would be contacting me the next day….

    I am all about legal samples.. samples with permission and so on… but you have no right to take a lead sounds… or any type of sound that you didn't create and use it in your song make millions and not even give the person credit.

    BULL

    If any top 40 hit were sampled without permission the record labels would have their lawyers on you in a heartbeat (that is if you are making profit off their work).

    However Mike:

    mike

    The suit is being brought by the Finland-based Kernel Records, which acquired the song Acidjazzed Evening.

    If that is true… then Kernel has no right to sue…

  • Micah

    Let the full part out Mike sorry

    mike

    The suit is being brought by the Finland-based Kernel Records, which acquired the song Acidjazzed Evening.

    Funny. They licensed the song AFTER the rip to sue Timbaland? How lame is that?

  • el capitan

    When Hip Hop and rap music became mainstream (mid-late 80's) beat maker and producer were using tons of samples for making albums without permission and clearance… I think in a Beastie Boys case the word sample was used in the first time…Some Public Ennemys, ATCQs De La Soul albums contains more than 40 songs sampled/ album http://samplesets.blogspot.com/ After that labels started to clear samples ask permission etc some producers started to recreate samples etc… I believe that the main issue with sample are ethic and integrity… it's like when peter kirn post an article from another source he names is source, he gives credit I think in music and everywhere it must be the same… The problem is not sampling it's crediting the originator

  • Jules

    As much as I find Timbo's attitude despicable, chiptune/old video game music artists have been covering (ok, that's not sampling, but it's still a copyright infrigement) in large amounts. Have a look at the STIL info file that comes with the HSVC sid archive. Not to mention the countless covers of Jarre's stuff or New Order's Blue Monday. It makes me a little wary of calling anyone a "thief" in such cases.

  • joseph

    Well, my girlfriend happen to show me these also she found on youtube. I think Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin" is very clear see listen to it for yourselves.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpisW9gwbqo&fe

  • bliss

    The solution is that artists should decide how much of a work they produce another could sample. 30 seconds, one minute, etc. Publish that with the release of any track, and the problem is solved. Every artist should just do that with every track. Copyright law regarding sampling is then rendered moot, lawyers and judges become powerless (which is a good thing as far as creating works of art is concerned) and everyone can sample everyone else's work without being held liable, and without having to pay exorbitant fees.

  • Zoopy
  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Wow, it's really kind of shocking the amount of bile in the clip. I mean, you know, artists — we get upset, emotional about things, so to some extent I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I'll even grant him some of this argument about sampling; I think that's a point of view. But this attitude about it being just a video game — the message is really, you know, this isn't musically valuable. Fine — but that begs the question *what was it doing in your song, then, man*?

  • http://www.loozabeats.de LZR

    LOL, Jules , your argument is to utterly stupid. "Because musicians who made similar sounding music like Janne Sunni did do a few covers (for fun, not money) it is okay for timbaland to steal samples from Janne and earn a shitload of cash with it." Uhm… sure.

  • Jules

    To LZR: I think you misunderstood my comment. I never said what Timbaland did was either Ok or lawful. As I wrote, I find his attitude pretty despicable. I was only pointing that one shouldn't adopt a holier than thou point of view everytime those matters are concerned.

    From a legal point of view, a cover, whether released for free or not, is a copyright infrigement if it's made without the consent of the original artist.

    Now that does not mean that Janne shouldn't try to get Timbaland to clear the sample and pay him and his label, but that what applies to Timbaland also applies to chiptune artists (even when they release their music for free).

  • Mallyone

    I'm more curious where he would hear the track much less remember it. Either he's an old school mod-tracker hacker, or there is some ghost writing going on behind the scenes?

    m1…

  • http://www.jorgebarrientos.com Jorge from Madrid

    I've got a concrete question for you: I'm creating music under the name of Laguna and on of my songs contains 2 bars taken from jazzist Michael Franks (Objects Of Desire, 1982) published by Warner Brothers USA (nowdays Warner USA and Warner Europe, as EMI, for example, could be 2 almost separate corporations).

    So, how, me, a bedroom musician and sampling geek, could get in touch with THE ARTIST and say "Sir, I really love that loop since I was 14 and this is my humble tribute with an AKAI and some drum machines. Hope you don't mind. I did it because I love your songs, not getting a cent of it"

    I think lot of sampling musicians feel deep respect and admiration for their sources. Others won't share this idealistic point of view but, that said, I personally try to simply sample something I really love AND it's completely unplayable by me (Philadelpia sound , rare dusty 60's sound… harps and flutes of a symphonic records… anyone with me?). I can't say if I'm good or bad as musician, but I try to inprove everyday composing my own stuff and sampling less.

    Like someone said before in the thread:

    "There's sampling and sampling"

  • Hurrr

    “It’s from a video game, idiot.”

    "…songs with Lo-Bat samples were left off the CC album because we didn’t have the sample clearance. Many songs were left off the CD because we needed more time to clear the samples. We are hoping to have the songs on a future release (maybe a rarities/demos/remixes compilation) and would love to clear this with Lo-Bat."

    Ignorantia legis neminem excusat.

  • http://www.indamixx.com ronald stewart

    Hey Jorge,

    You can thank Biz Markie for your problem. He used a similar argument on a obscure and LAME sample from a guy in 1972 and that guy held his feet to the fire and now we have sample clearance statutes. 2 bars? I'm not sure but 2 bars might be ok? Do what everyone else does and put it out and wait for your first cease and assist by the label and then you DO have a point of contact to get permission. Say 'sorry' slap your own hand and give the guy $1500.00 and keep on going.

  • mr big

    Good luck defeating timbaland's big time lawyers……chip boy will not win the case.

  • workingit

    i like what Mallyone is saying, Timbaland does not know how to use a computer, there is no way he makes music. He pays people to make it for him. i think it may be fare to say Timbaland does not know how to operate a coffee machine, or how electricity works, but he does know how to text.

    do you think Timberland should sue Timbaland for decreasing the value of there brand name?

  • Timbalame

    Timbaland's career is almost over anyway. I'm surprised he's held on this long and I don't really believe anyone will remember his name two years from now. Due to a complete lack of originality, it's safe to assume his work won't be sampled by others in the future either, as the only recycling it will be subjected to will be for plastic.

  • http://no Smelly-Fur-Taco

    Timmmmber…

    Sampling is one thing, people like Dj Shadow have turned it into a true art. But to release something as your own created by a group of musicians from another country that can actually play music is just self dooming and shows no integrity or talent.

    Oh well Tim, you were banking on the the Middle East to live in the dark for the next 1000 years… guess they got the internet sooner then you thought.

  • workingit

    i get what your saying Timbalame, but do you think if some one sampled one of these CD's Timbaland would sue that person?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpisW9gwbqo&fe

    not saying it would or should happen, just that Timbaland may think he own's this music because he found it(purchased the CD)?

  • workingit

    NICE! Smelly-Fur-Taco

  • http://no Smelly-Fur-Taco

    Don't they cut off your hands in some countries when you get caught stealing?

  • nocturnus

    Interesting, somewhat related story. I was looking at all the YouTube videos on this Timbaland subject again, found a clip about another sample he used, uncredited, for his "Indian Flute" song.

    The original source – "Curura" by Toto la Momposina – was also used even more liberally by Michel Cleis for his "La Mezcla" track on Cadenza, which has been quite a big hit in the tech house/minimal world in the last year.

    I'm not sure if Cadenza cleared the sample, however the bigger and more commercial dance label Strictly Rhythm has recently licensed it and they in fact credit the original artist, leading me to believe they must have cleared the sample and/or will pay royalties to the copyright/publishing owners.

    So at least someone is doing the right thing, if not Timbaland.

  • workingit
  • http://www.loozabeats.de LZR

    @Smelly-Fur-Taco: I was actually shocked when I heard some of the original tracks DJ Shadow sampled. Especially the Entoducing-Album is very, very lame production- and sample-flipping-wise.

  • http://www.loozabeats.de LZR

    sorry, late addition: Check here:

    http://www.whosampled.com/artist/DJ%20Shadow/

  • lematt

    i'm a big fan of Timbaland as a producer… but i don't approve the '8 bit theft' though.

  • http://www.jorgebarrientos.com Jorge from Madrid

    @ Ronald Stewart

    " He used a similar argument on a obscure and LAME sample from a guy in 1972 …"

    Well, thing is Biz Markie, the "sampling hero", didn't take an obscure sample at all. "Alone again naturally" by Gilbert O'Sullivan is a classic pop tune much more famous than Biz's work. It reached #1 in the bill board for 6 weks.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alone_Again_(Natural

    He, in fact, take EIGHT bars and most of the chrorus.

    And please, calling "lame" and disrespecting the author as "uncool" so we "the electronic generation" could do whatever we want is not the same as Timbaland is doing with his "it's from a video game, idiot"?

    Biz Markie's court CASE was historical from a sampling-policy point of view, yes, but I meant in my comment that usually unsigned or independent musicians could not contact the ARTIST. They can contact the LABEL, and that's very different.

    I bet a lot of musicians have different opinions about sharing than their layers.

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