Guest Post: Hip-Hop Is Dead: Understanding the Issues Regarding Digital Sampling in the U.S. and Germany and the Potential Demise of an “American” Genre

23 09 2018


Guest post by Mark Edward Blankenship Jr.

Sept. 19, 2018

In creating the album “Hip-Hop Is Dead”, Nasir Jones, better known by his stage name Nas, postulated that hip-hop artists can help rebuild America by having more control in their music in response to a dying culture and a decline in innovation and political outreach. Yet, in subsequent interviews leading up to the album’s release, the title’s meaning began to shift and change as he responded differently at various junctures, eventually concluding in 2016 that “hip-hop is in a “better” place than it was a decade prior. Yet during that same year, the United States would end up facing a circuit split regarding the legality of digital sampling, which is still currently up for debate.

Back in 2005, the Sixth Circuit in Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films applied a per se infringement standard for sound recordings and digital sampling which many scholars criticized as being the death of hip-hop.  . . .

The de minimis defense is neither a novel nor recondite concept of copyright law, especially outside of the United States. In Kraftwerk v. Pelham (also known as Metall auf Metall), Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court [hereinafter BverfG] applied a similar standard for sound recordings two days before VMG Salsoul. . . .


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