The website for Independent Lens, PBS' independent film arm, has some great online features to go along with their new film about what was once called "borrowed melody". In the 1980s and 1990s, it became easier for musicians to "borrow" from existing recordings of other musicians, and a case for copyright infringement came to light. But, this thoughtful PBS film is not just about a legal battle, it "examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law and money." To understand the complexity of the debate over sampling and copyright law, visitors should check out the link "Sampling" near the top of the page, which provides "Sampling: an Overview", a "Timeline", which can be viewed as a flipbook, list, map, or traditional timeline, and a "Glossary of Terms". The "Classroom" feature for the film is for 9th-12th graders, as well as for college students. Video modules explain the different issues in the debate, such as "Can You Own a Sound?", "Sampling in Other Forms of Media and Industry", and "Hip Hop Sampling Theft or Tribute?" All the "Educational Materials" including "Educator Guide", "Teacher and Student Handout", and "Discussion Guide" are available below the video modules, and are free to download.


  • Arts > General
  • Arts > Music
  • Social Studies > General
  • Social Studies > United States History

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