On January 29, 2005, the Norman Lear Center will hold a landmark event on fashion and the ownership of creativity. Ready to Share will explore the fashion industry’s enthusiastic embrace of sampling, appropriation and borrowed inspiration, core components of every creative process. Presented by the Lear Center’s Creativity, Commerce & Culture project, and sponsored by The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising/FIDM, this groundbreaking conference will feature scholarly debate, fashion shows, multimedia presentations, the clash of perspectives and the cross-fertilization of ideas.
I think there might be a qualitative difference between digital music sampling and sampling as it pertains to Fashion and Fine Art. We are talking about two kinds of sampling here that are very different in character. One is hearing a cool musical phrase and learning to play it on your instrument. The other is to simply record or sample that phrase and use it.
When you talk about sampling in fashion you always talk about the former, i.e. seeing something and finding a way to re-create that look. In other words, Tom Ford does not go out, buy an Armani jacket and stitch a Gucci label on it – but he might see that Armani jacket and love the fabric and the cut of the pocket and re-create that. That kind of sampling has existed in music and art for thousands of years. It is how popular music spreads.
I think to compare the two kinds of sampling is like comparing apples and oranges – it does not work. To learn to re-play an inspiring phrase on ones instrument is mountains away from simply hitting record on your sampler – and as usual BoingBoing does not seem to see that.
However, I do think people need to discuss different types of record-sampling. In the Fine Arts, if you take somebody’s image and cut it apart and make a new collage containing elements of that image, it is considered a new copyrightable work. Similarly there has to be a difference between record-sampling a sound and record-sampling a whole phrase. The rule of thumb used to be that up to four seconds was OK, but a court ruled last year that any length of record-sampling was infringing on copyright, which I find ludicrous.
Personally I would advocate legalizing a certain sample length, measured either in time (4-6 seconds?), in note value (equivalent of two whole notes?) or beats (quarter bar?). While the first measurement is absolute, the other two would relate to the music and tempo.