The Wu-Tang legend says copyright holders should get a 50 percent royalty maximum.
After Pharrell and Robin Thicke were forced to pay a $7.3 million sum to Marvin Gaye's family for copyright infringement, many producers, Pharrell included, are worried about what the verdict means for hip-hop's future. A keynote speaker at SXSW, RZA recently shared his thoughts on the "Blurred Lines" verdict and provided a solution that might curb a potentially slippery slope.
In the case of "Blurred Lines", RZA isn't exactly sure who's side to take: "In that particular case, that song does sound pretty, pretty close to the original, yo. And in a case like that, the best thing to do is give compensation to the original copyright holder." Some compensation is necessary, but there needs to be a limit.
"Art is something that inspires the future. If you utilize somebody’s artistic expression blatantly, to [the point] where it’s an identifiable thing, then there should be some sort of compensation to the person who inspires you,” says the legendary Wu-Tang producer. But RZA himself has been in situations in which copyright holders have demanded excessive compensation: “I’ve been in situations where I’ve sampled something and the original copyright holder took 90 percent.” The sampler is, indeed, an instrument, and it's unfair to demand maximum compensation based on a sample alone.
RZA's solution: "So if I was in a situation of political power, I would be like, 'Look—there’s a 50 percent statutory maximum, and then we work our way down from that based on the context of the song and based on its usage.'"
Someone get the RZA in office, please.
[via The Daily Beast]