MusicRadar’s Joe Bosso reports that the long-simmering controversy over alleged 8-bit music intellectual property theft has come to a lawsuit:

Timbaland, Nelly Furtado sued for plagiarism [MusicRadar]

The suit is being brought by the Finland-based Kernel Records, which acquired the song Acidjazzed Evening. The case again puts musical sampling in the spotlight. Timbaland’s response in 2007, which you can read in the MusicRadar article, basically amounted to “I didn’t know where it came from, so it’s not theft.”

Oh, and then there’s this gem:
“It’s from a video game, idiot.”

That’ll be Timbaland demonstrating that he doesn’t understand what 8-bit music (this tune is, of course, not from a video game) nor how sampling law works (video games aren’t subject to some different set of ethical and legal rules). I mean, if Timbaland were going all radical on us and declaring all content should be free, that’d be another matter.

One has to wonder if a different kind of sampling culture is possible, a third option, in which artists knowingly release work as Creative Commons so they provide explicit permission for people to sample — and get credited. Of course, that’s a touchy subject with the likes of a Timbaland or Nelly Furtado, whose massive commercial success at least implies that they may be able to afford to pay for their samples.

So much has been said on this particular case, let alone the underlying issues, that I’ll leave it to you to discuss.

Whatever your opinion, though, the message is clear that 8-bit music is not simply free for the taking.

Previously: Crystal Castles gets caught up in a similar sort of “we didn’t know, so it doesn’t count” (though unlike Timbaland/Nelly Furtado, their track was not widely released, let alone a huge chart hit). Original story / Crystal Castles responds to allegations.