The Amen Break, creativity and copyright [video]

The Amen Break, creativity and copyright





The Amen Break, creativity and copyright


Tony Hallett
Managing director

Tony set up Collective Content in 2011 so brands can more easily become publishers and tell stories. This built on 15 years in media, from reporter to publishing director at Silicon Media Group, CNET Networks and CBS Interactive.

We wanted to post this video because in part because it’s a fun insight (if you’re interested in hip hop, dance or a lot of other music) but also, more appropriately for these pages, because it makes us think about issues around copyright and creativity.

The above video – really more of an extended audio thought-piece – is about the Amen Break, a six-second drum loop from a song in the late 1960s by a group called the Winstons.

You’ll have heard it. It’s in a lot of contemporary music, TV commercials – lord knows where. By the late 1980s, after the sampler was well and truly a part of many artists’ make-up, the likes of Mantronix and NWA (Straight Outta Compton is a strong memory) were using it.

Where it gets really interesting is when Nate Harrison explains how another outfit, which in 2002 put out a CD of various samples, then copyrighted the Amen Break, over 30 years after the Winstons first published it (as part of a song, Amen Brother).

As the piece points out, there’s a fine line between not protecting your work and a society allowing things to be nailed down so hard that future creativity is stunted or even punished.

There’s more about this most famous of samples over on Wikipedia.