“Recycled Music” and Copyright

Recently, internationally recognized music icon, Will.i.Am has caught some attention for something other than his music; he has found himself in the middle of a copyright dispute.  Local musician Matt Gonzales says, “music in general has been recycled for years,” however he also believes that there are some instances in which borrowing music can be problematic. For instance, “If you take something and make it your own and say it’s your own then I would find a problem with that.”

Copyright is more than the © icon that you see in many places including websites, books and CD’s. Copyright is the protection of published and unpublished work that you have created through any concrete form of expression. Gonzales is not only a local musician who has registered his own songs in the past. He is also a promoter, technician and producer. To him, copyright “just means being able to protect your creations, your artistic creations. Whether that be music or art or anything like that.” In his opinion what you are protecting your work from is others who could potentially make large amounts of money off of it or claim it as their own.

Arty and Mat Zo of the record label Anjunabeats have accused Will.i.Am of using their song “Rebound” on the song “Let’s Go” which features Chris Brown. Gonzales admits to sampling music himself, but always giving credit where it is due. “Everyone’s gonna sample, I do a lot of sampling stuff with music and I see no problem with this just because your getting the music out there, I mean, as long as you credit it.” In a statement released by Anjunabeats this past week, one of the claims that they make is that while Arty was “credited in the sleeve notes,” Mat Zo was not. The statement goes on to make clear that giving credit “is not the same as obtaining permission.” Gonzales believes that “If you’re making serious money off of it, then hey, let’s talk about maybe giving a percentage to the artist.”

According to the Huffington Post, in the past rock stars such as John Lennon, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead are a few of those on their list of ten prominent artist who have been accused of copyright infringement.


Everyone’s a Critic: How the Opinions and Fair Comment Privileges Protect California Journalists

Vincent Cortez

Oakland, Calif. (April 14, 2013) — Vincent Cortez, local filmmaker checks the IMDb movie rating for his unreleased film The Hush, which has already received negative ratings from unknown reviewers. (Photo: Natalie Rodriguez)

There is an old saying that everyone’s a critic, however, with access to social media and blogging, being a critic may well cost you a defamation lawsuit. The Internet gives you an instant audience that can, and will, both admire and criticize your work, and in some instances your personal life. Bloggers beware; writing statements that could damage a person’s reputation could land you in a lot of legal trouble. In California, journalists are protected from potential defamation lawsuits through several privileges, among them the opinion and fair comment privileges under which you can state opinions about others as long as they cannot be proven true or false. Vincent Cortez, local filmmaker of Mitchell Street Pictures, says, “Defamation can be a concern because that is when it becomes about someone trying to make you, the artist, look bad.”

In February 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle published the article titled “Web 2.0 defamation lawsuits multiply,” in which business reviews on popular websites, such as Yelp and college gossip sites were under fire for statements alleged defamatory reviews and statements. Five years later, in January 2013, a contractor who received a bad review on Yelp filed a $750,000 defamation lawsuit in Fairfax County, VA. Yelp’s Terms of Service specifically warn that the users are responsible for the content that they chose to publish and that they may be exposing themselves to liability if the content “contains material that is false, intentionally misleading, or defamatory.” Those same terms of service include and indemnity release and state, “California law will govern these terms.”

Cortez who currently is experience low ratings on the IMDb page of his unreleased movie, The Hush, comments on how direct access to

information allows for any comment or opinion to be attached to your name and work in search engines. The opinion and fair comment privileges protect online journalist in that the context and the circumstances under which statements are made are taken into account in a legal case of defamation. For example, in the case Global Telemedia International, Inc. v. Doe 1, statements made in a chat room were dismissed as opinion and protected under the privileges because the statements were full of exaggerations and “language not generally found in fact-based documents,” amongst other things.

While the first amendment protects our freedom of speech and the opinion and fair comment privileges make sure that journalist are protected from defamation lawsuits, we should not forget that when we write reviews we do so at our own risk. Cortez tells us that, “negative reviews can turn away potential interest in your project and even potential work for you as an artist.” Opinion and fair comment privileges do not protect against facts with the preface “in my opinion,” nor do they protect from false facts that may be implied.

Infographic created using www.easel.ly by Natalie Rodriguez.

Created on www.easel.ly by Natalie Rodriguez