The Grey Album: Copyright Law and Digital Sampling
Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy, No. 114, pp. 40-53, February 2005
14 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2005
In the field of digital sampling, disk jockeys have shown a recent enthusiasm for 'mash-ups' - new compositions created by combining the rhythm tracks of one song and the vocal track of another. Most famously of all, DJ Danger Mouse remixed the vocals from Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' White Album and called his creation The Grey Album. The Grey Album poses a number of difficult issues regarding copyright law and digital sampling. Does such a 'mash-up' go beyond the de minimis use of a copyright work? Is The Grey Album protected by the defence of fair use under copyright law because it provides a transformative use of copyright works? Can such remixes be compulsorily licensed? Does a 'mash-up' raise issues concerning the moral rights of attribution and integrity, which are recognised in Europe and Australia?
Keywords: Copyright law, musical works, sound recordings, digital sampling, mash-ups, de minimis use, defence of fair use, creative commons licences, compulsory licensing, moral rights of attribution and integrity, DJ Dangermouse, The Grey Album, Jay-Z, and The Beatles
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