Mashing Down the Mashups: The Effect of Legal Threats on an Emerging Genre

Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts Blog

ImageBy Evan Brown

In recent years, mashups have gained quiet prominence in the hip-hop and dance music scenes. As sample-based music has proliferated, many producers have done what artists and students in many media have done—tried their hand at reimagining influential and interesting works by other artists. This sometimes takes the form of combining—“mashing up”—the songs of different artists in musically pleasing ways. This was a logical extension of both sampling and a tradition among DJs of mixing a capella tracks with instrumental tracks. But in decades past most of these attempts were either ephemeral performances or never distributed beyond the producer’s own social circle. But online distribution via personal websites, YouTube, and newer platforms like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and DatPiff has made it easier than ever to get mashups to the masses—and to copyright holders.

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