Cause I´m Slim Shady, all you other Slim Shadys are just imitating
We are at the Chicago rap scene. It is January this year (2015) and Raymond Jones from the rap trio Hot Stylz is filing an 8 million dollar lawsuit against Marshall Mathers (more commonly known as Eminem) and the American Record Label Interscope Records.
The reason? The reported central issue of the lawsuit is the Eminem track Rap God from the album Marshall Mathers LP 2,released in September 2013. The song has a part, namely almost twenty- five seconds, where the Hot Stylz song Looking´Boy is claimed to be sampled without permission (see attached videos).
If you listen to the songs, one can easily hear that the particular segment in Rap God sounds remarkably similar to the Hot Stylz song from 2009 (the segment starts in Rap God 2.16). So, what is the deal about sampling and the law? In simple words – one can say that sampling in the music industry is when an artist “borrows” an another artists work to use in a different song. It is covered in the field of copyright law as it applies to e.g sound recordings and compositions.
The way to make a sampling legal and not constituting a copyright infringement is by asking the right- holder (in this case, Hot Stylz) for the permission to use the certain music piece. If the answer is Ok, the borrowing artist usually pay an up front fee and / or a cut of the royalties to the original artist. The procedure is more commonly known as clearing in the music industry – to make an actual copyright infringement legal.
In the US there is also a doctrine called “fair use” which can sometimes be used as an exception from the phenomenon of sampling (or copyright infringement). If one can prove that the use of another´s work (note: in the US) is subject to fair use such as part of reporting, research, criticism or parody, there is a chance that the use will not be considered as sampling. In this case it must be stated as debatable if the doctrine of fair use can be applied, though.
In this case, it is claimed that Eminem never asked the original artists Hot Stylz for permission. By this “mistake”, the opportunity for a legal sampling passed the rapper (and the Interscope Records) by.
The price of this error? Well, it seems like Eminem & Hot Stylz will meet in court.
Then it will be shown whether Slim Shady really is real, or if he, in this case,
is just imitating.
(The segment starts in 2.16)