Usually, if you sample George Clinton, you wind up in court. A circuit court decision in fall 2004 ruled that an unlicensed George Clinton sample was illegal regardless of context, length, or recognizability in a decision so sweeping even the record industry opposes it. (See my article below; the details are quite complex.)

For once, though, you can sample legally. Creative Commons’ ccMixter project is encouraging composers and remixers to employ interview samples from George Clinton — and Chuck D (Public Enemy), De La Soul, DJ Qbert, Matmos, Coldcut, and Negativland — in music submissions to a contest. The interviews come from Copyright Criminals, a new documentary on sampling and legality. The winners get their music on a CD distributed with the film, with the top choice on the documentary’s DVD. In addition to adding George Clinton and Chuck D to the mix, the contest’s organizers have extended the deadline to March 14, so you’ve got time — get (re)mixing!

Creative Commons Copyright Criminals Remix Contest [ccMixter]

Step Away From the Sampler: Court rules all digital sampling illegal and the record industry objects — but you still have options [January 2005 Keyboard Magazine — I wrote this story, though it’s curiously missing my byline.]