The other day, a client mentioned the song “911 Is a Joke” by Public Enemy. Since the song was released after 1980, I had not heard it. But I was pleased that I actually knew who Public Enemy are. That probably has a lot more to do with their politics than their music, although I certain have heard “Fight the Power.”
“911 Is a Joke” is about the situation — probably as true today as it was then — of very slow response times for paramedics when calls came from African American neighborhoods. As with most music of that time, the song is haunted by its use of electronic sounds that were great then but over used. But it is still catchy and enjoyable.
I read something painful on Wikipedia, “According to law professors Peter DiCola and Kembrew McLeod, if the samples used on ‘911 Is a Joke’ and the other tracks on Fear of a Black Planet had been cleared for copyright under 2010 rates, each copy of the album would have generated a loss of five dollars per album sold, instead of a profit.” As regular readers know: I think our copyright system is out of control. Here is yet another example of how copyright decreases innovation and creative work.