Girl Talk (Part II)

If the music doesn’t blow your mind, the contradictions will…

It’s been a while since I asked the question What is Girl Talk? and since the criminal mastermind behind Girl Talk has a new album, I figured I should take a look…

Head on over to and play along if you’d like…

As you may know, Girl Talk is completely reliant on other artists for source material. Artists who actually write and play music. Meaning, Girl Talk’s music would not exist if it were not for the artists which he takes things from. My understanding is that he does not actually pay these artists for their work. That’s OK, because he has this bit that thanks them.

This album is a free download.
Girl Talk thanks all artists sampled.

Please remember to thank me the next time I punch you in the face and take your wallet. Also, remind me to make a nice list of all the people who I punch in the face and steal wallets from.

Now, I’m a fan of Creative Commons, and I’ve been know to call people out when they use a Creative Commons license inappropriately, including re-licensing other’s work when they have no right to.

All Day by Girl Talk is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license. The CC license does not interfere with the rights you have under the fair use doctrine, which gives you permission to make certain uses of the work even for commercial purposes. Also, the CC license does not grant rights to non-transformative use of the source material Girl Talk used to make the album.

Consider my mind blown… How does this even work!? As I understand it, Girl Talk uses all of the samples without permission. I’m going to guess that over 95% of the samples he uses are “All Rights Reserved” and do not fall under a Creative Commons license. So… how does one take a bunch of “All Rights Reserved” materials (without permission) and then re-license it under a Creative Commons license? What am I missing here? Am I just not understanding it?

Also, you should note that it’s a Noncommercial license. I mean, Girl Talk doesn’t want you making money from his hard work! (Was that sarcastic enough?) Also, Girl Talk will be in Milwaukee next month, tickets are just $30 (not including the service charges.)

Well, all I know for sure is that this Girl Talk guy is a rebel… He’s all about breaking the rules! He’d never tell you what to do. He’d never tell you how to listen to his album.

All Day is intended to be listened to as a whole.

I’m willing to be schooled on this whole Girl Talk thing… Am I completely backwards in my reading of all of this? Is this guy a champion of artist’s rights? A model citizen of the Creative Commons movement? Let me know…

5 replies on “Girl Talk (Part II)”

I think that last sentence about not transferring rights on the original material invalidates your whole paragraph after that. Beyond that, I think Gabe covered it well last time. Yes, he’s almost certainly infringing on copyright. But it’s easy to frame him as championing artists’ rights when few of those copyrights are still held by artists. Because he targets well-known songs, the copyrights are generally held by big record companies who make it really hard to side with them.

If you start arguing Girl Talk should compensate those record companies, you quickly get into talking about what that compensation should be, and the record companies (or their lawyers) will come up with a ridiculous number like $12,0000,000,000,000,000 and oh, by the way, his grandma also owes that much, because she listened while he did the remixing. This all makes Girl Talk a lot more sympathetic than the RIAA, and our tendancy to boil everything down to good vs. bad puts Girl Talk on the good side simply because the ways in which he’s bad are a lot more complicated than the ways in which the RIAA is bad.

No one wants to hear their enemy’s enemy isn’t their friend, perhaps even less so if it’s true.

Gabe, you’re right! Remind me to thank you after I punch you in the face…

Scott, I sometimes forget that artists give up their rights to large corporations. I want to just say that those artists are stupid, and deserve what they get, but that’s probably not fair either. And the sad thing is, the record companies have their own interests in mind, not those of the artists they represent, or used to represent. I know the system is all screwy, but coming from the DIY music scene, I never seem to remember that it’s all backwards in the “real” music world.

Maybe Girl Talk should find a way to compensate the actual artists rather than a bunch of lawyers or corporations. I mean, does he support any organizations that are attempting to change copyright law? I’m really hoping he’s not just doing a money grab and getting rich off of this…

I will agree with the spirit of what scott was saying in regards to it’s not black and white and the machine of music is getting more than they deserve in relation to the artist. That’s where the biggest + for GT comes from, he made something new. Furthermore I believe the use of his clips are fully protected under every provision of fair use.
That being said you are totally correct in your re-licensing under CC, legally that is a joke.
My last point is on the performance rights to use the samples in a live show. Now we are in a different set of rules and licensing bodies, who in the past have sued.
So ya, this guy is all kinds of gray, good post to get the conversation up.

I also find it interesting that over the past 40 years we’ve gone from artists not really sampling anything at all (creating the music on their own) to samples being used sparingly here and there (early rap/hip-hop) to this new form that is 100% samples of past work. If we continue down this path, will the future just be samples of samples of samples? Will there be any original work to sample anymore?

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