Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, No. 01-00412—Thomas A. Higgins, District Judge (2005).
This case involves N.W.A.'s song "100 Miles and Runnin" which has a two second sample from George Clinton Jr. and the Funkadelic's song "Get Off Your Ass and Jam". N.W.A. just took that 2 second clip, lowered the pitch and looped it on their song. Since this was done without getting consent from Bridgeport Music, Dimension Films was brought to court because N.W.A.'s song was featured on the soundtrack of one of their movies, I Got the Hook Up. Bridgeport, however, entered into two agreements with two of the owners of "100 Miles and Runnin", which granted them the license to sample so Bridgeport was originally ruled against by the U.S. district court. Bridgeport argued that "(1) that the sample was not protected by copyright law because it was not "original"; and (2) that the sample was legally insubstantial and therefore does not amount to actionable copying under copyright law." Then the case was taken to the Sixth Circuit. Here the court used the factors for exclusive rights in the Copyright Act of 1976 and ultimately ruled that Bridgeport's copyright rights had been violated.One of the most important issues here would be that of de minimis. It is defined as something that is so small and insubstantial that it can be overlooked, which three notes seemed to be initially. The Sixth Circuit ruled that this and substantial similarity should not be factored in when ruling on a sound recording. Since there was no debate about whether or not part of "Get Off Your Ass and Jam" and was copied, which it was, the court ruled in favor of Bridgeport Music. This ruling ties heavily into the rap industry as de minimis is often relied upon by producers. While Vanilla Ice shouldn't be able to get away with using virtually the same song as another group without permission, it was often acceptable to take a small piece of another work and build off that. This ruling causes the prevention of this in many cases. Producers would not be able to borrow anything due to de minimis becoming outlawed in a sense for sound recording cases, which is where hip hop music needs it. If the law were to continually make rulings that further narrow the range for sampling, those rappers/producers without much money would be scared off because they could not borrow even the tiniest bit from another song, stifling their creativity due to a ruling against one of the conventions of their genre of music.
Go to this site: http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/courts/6th.html and search for Bridgeport. Click Bridgeport v.WB Music Corp.
Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Warner Bros. Music Corp., 2004 FED App. 0233P (6th Cir.)
Bridgeport once again claims that due to sampling by Ice-T of the opening three notes of George Clinton's "Get Off Your Ass and Jam" in his song "99 Problems" on the Home Invasion album, their copyright rights had been infringed upon. A key factor that differentiates this case is that there is approval of the sampling, but Bridgeport believed it was entitled to more money than they initially received due to profit being made after the limitations period. UPIP, the label under which Ice-T recorded the song, had a mechanical license for the song and received royalties for it. This is not an issue because Bridgeport never asked for the license to be revoked, and thus could not be considered infringement. Bridgeport also targeted Ammo Dump Music and Carrumba Music, which it ultimately failed to win anything from.This case is different from the others in that it is one that is both positive for the rap industry and for the evolution of copyright case law. Essentially, this case helped to solidify the fact that once rights are obtained to do something, such as sample music and make money off that new music, then it is hard to be taken away. Bridgeport received money to let the rights for "Get Off Your Ass and Jam" go, yet they were not satisfied with just that and attempted to glean more money off of the success of the derivative work. This case prevented them from doing so by outlining how the distribution of money and rights are once sampling is allowed. The immediate label Ice-T was part of here had 66.7% of the rights to his song while UPIP managed to acquire the other 33.3%. Bridgeport wanted that 33.3%, but was denied. This helps to further the rap industry because with its large amount of sampling, there has to be a certain amount of security in order to protect the money received from the money acquired after the rights for the sample are acquired. A label should not be able to get extra money off of a product unless it was agreed upon initially.