The Bittersweet sample debate
Our friend Hubert wrote us back to add some more thoughts to the question of the “Bittersweet” sample in the new live version of Don’t Tell Me. He says:
“I just wish to add some information about this “controversial” issue :
In this week’s French magazine “Les Inrockuptibles“, there is a review of a new compilation named “The Andrew Oldham Orchestra / The Rolling Stones Songbook“, re-issuing The RS hits instrumental versions recorded by this orchestra. They also talk about the Verve and all the “Bittersweet Symphony” fuss. More to come about that.
Madonna Tribe reader Viper667 said that if Madonna had sampled the “Bittersweet Symphony” track, The Verve should get the credits. I haven’t heard the “Don’t Tell Me” version (in Bercy, obviously, we had the French “musette” version), so I can’t tell which sample comes from which recording. But I am sure of two things: I don’t think Madonna or her artistic crew would sample a litigious track for the world tour, they don’t want any legal problem with The Rolling Stones.
Regarding the copyrights law, you can’t sample a sample. When you play a melody someone else wrote, the credit goes to them, no matter who covered or sampled it before you. It’s as simple as that. See what I mean? Even if Madonna‘s band plays a sample from “Bittersweet Symphony”, the credits go to the original interprets and writers (the copyright holders): The Andrew Oldham Orchestra and the composers, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger.
This is very technical: “covering a tune” (singing a song someone else wrote) and “sampling a record” (playing a part from someone else’s CD) do not lie under the same laws, but people get confused with it. That’s why you have over-specialized copyright and intellectual property lawyers. But of course, most of the people in the audience immediately thought of The Verve and their hit, which came out only a few years ago.
In the end, and I think this will close the debate, it is most likely that the tour band actually plays this melody live, or that it has been especially re-recorded for the show. So you can’t call it a sample, but just a re-interpretation or “interpolation” of a song written by the two old buddies, Guitar King Keith and Sir Mick… These guys are tough, don’t mess with them.”
To read Hubert‘s first article on this issue click HERE
To read Viper667‘s article on the same matter click HERE
Special thanks to Hubert for sharing his thoughts with The Tribe