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Sony is told to shove Bizarre Tribe copyright claim

Indie label Gummy Soul posts open letter
Thu Jun 06 2013, 09:52

MUSIC MACHINE Sony Music has been told that it can take a copyright claim it made on an independent music label and forget about it.

Sony sent the independent label Gummy Soul a copyright claim over the Bizarre Tribe album, a mashup of hip hoppers The Pharcyde and A Tribe Called Quest sample sources.

It is made by Amerigo Gazaway and if you want to hear it, you are out of luck. In its place is a recorded message about Sony's claim.

The letter goes into more detail, and thanks Sony for its interest. However, it says that it is unwarranted, and that the larger label has no real claim in the content.

"Thanks for reaching out. The fact that our small independent label warranted the resources of your legal team speaks to our work ethic and we appreciate the validation. In response to your copyright infringement claim over Gummy Soul's Bizarre Tribe; A Quest To The Pharcyde by Amerigo Gazaway, understand the vast majority of the samples used to create Bizarre Tribe were not taken from the catalog of A Tribe Called Quest ("ATCQ")," it says.

"What your diligence failed to uncover is that Gummy Soul is not in the business of merging one artist's instrumentals with vocals of another. Had one of the six Sony attorneys copied in your email deemed it necessary to listen to Bizarre Tribe before pursuing legal action, you would know that our projects are much more nuanced."

According to the letter Gazaway, like the artists before him, has taken the original samples to make his recording, and where ATCQ content was used, it was short and only part of a documentary style presentation. It should, says Gummy Soul, count as "fair use".

"With the defense presented in your statement, either Gummy Soul and Sony Music are both protected under our shared interpretation of fair use, or you believe the law should apply differently to small, independent record labels than it does to giant, mega conglomerates like Sony Music," it added.

"As to your charge of offering this product for sale, we do not, and have never, sold the album in any capacity be it physical or digital. We bear no responsibility for the vinyl bootlegging of Bizarre Tribe, nor do we receive any monetary benefits from their sales. The majority of our digital products, including Bizarre Tribe, are offered free of cost and is stated as such on any platform for which we control and have made Bizarre Tribe available."

We have asked Sony to comment on its involvement and the letter. Gummy Soul said that it has taken the content down to "avoid a meritless and costly lawsuit". µ


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