Why doesn’t Girl Talk get sued?

I listen to a lot of Girl Talk. If you’re unfamiliar, he makes extensive mashups of old pop songs and hip-hop. Here’s a sample (and you’re welcome):

A typical album (which is more like one long “song”) contains many hundreds of samples, which would cost, like, a bazillion dollars to sample legally.

Girl Talk does not do what he does legally. Proudly so.

Yet the record industry doesn’t sue the bujeezus out of him. Why?

The Priceonomics blog has a theory: the record industry might lose the case and would rather not take that chance. The full article has some great history on copyright law, sampling, and hip-hop and is well worth a read.

Also linked from that piece is this exploration of the ubiquitous “Amen” drum break, a four-bar fill that’s been sampled in everything from NWA to the Futurama theme song. I’ve heard that probably a thousand times and I had no idea.

Am I doing it wrong?

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