Copyright Criminals

Copyright Criminals

By Benjamin Franzen


Copyright Criminals examines the creative and commercial value of musical sampling, including the related debates over artistic expression, copyright law, and (of course) money.

This documentary traces the rise of hip-hop from the urban streets of New York to its current status as a multibillion-dollar industry. For more than thirty years, innovative hip-hop performers and producers have been re-using portions of previously recorded music in new, otherwise original compositions. When lawyers and record companies got involved, what was once referred to as a "borrowed melody" became a "copyright infringement."

The film showcases many of hip-hop music's founding figures like Public Enemy, De La Soul, and Digital Underground--while also featuring emerging hip-hop artists from record labels Definitive Jux, Rhymesayers, Ninja Tune, and more. It also provides an in-depth look at artists who have been sampled, such as Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown's drummer and the world's most sampled musician), as well as commentary by another highly sampled musician, funk legend George Clinton.
United States 54 minutes 2009 English
  • IFC Stranger than Fiction 2009 (New York, United States)
  • Toronto International Film Festival 2009 (Toronto, Canada)
Displaying 1 of 3 Read All Reviews


  • 80.0/5 Stars.

entertaining, fun, but got stuck in the end a bit

by mc2 on Mar 11th, 2018
A nice, playfull, fun and entertaining documentary about sampling culture.

In the end i missed a turning point or a twist, but anyway fun to watch. T

he filmmakers were a bit to much fokused to make a music-video-like film, to have fancy cool pictures and cutting, but didn`t show so much the process, making music and the creative process of the artist. - so that`s why four stars

Write A Review

More Films Like This One