Welcome to the ITVS Community Classroom lesson plans for COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS, an innovative and dynamic documentary that explores the origins of sampling culture in hip-hop music, copyright, creativity, and technological change. The film explores how hip-hop rose from the streets of New York to become a multibillion-dollar industry, and what happened when record company lawyers got involved and everything changed. Students will develop not only a deeper historical understanding of “remix” culture, but also contemplate where it is headed. Featured artists include Public Enemy, De La Soul, and George Clinton, as well as several prominent entertainment lawyers and media scholars.

These resources examine copyright law in the history of “borrowing” sounds in music, and raise provocative questions about what is creative and what is criminal. These lessons are directed toward grades 9 through 12, and college students for use in the following subject areas: media studies, media literacy, social studies, history, sociology, media production, music and language arts, business, and legal studies.

Video Modules:

1. Hip-Hop and the Birth of Sampling (5:28)
This module explains what sampling is, and how it came to be widely used in the early days of hip-hop music. It also explores the socio-economic conditions that gave rise to hip-hop as a form of cultural expression, and introduces the seminal work of the rap group Public Enemy.

2. Can You Own a Sound? (5:18)
This module examines the basic foundations of copyright law and how the music industry began to respond legally to sampling as hip-hop grew in popularity in the 1990s.

3. Hip Hop Sampling: Theft or Tribute? (5:45)
This module introduces students to the musical legacies of Clyde Stubblefield and George Clinton, two of the most heavily sampled musicians in hip-hop music.

4. Sampling in Other Forms of Media and Industry (4:43)
This module explores how other art forms such as the blues and Walt Disney movies have “borrowed” from the work of other artists, and introduces some of the artists at the front of the “remix” culture that has emerged in the 21st century.

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Educational Materials:

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ITVS Community Classroom is an educational resource providing new documentary film content and accompanying curricular materials, lesson plans, and homework assignments to high school and community college instructors and youth-serving community-based organizations. Content is grouped into subject-specific segments that correspond to lesson plans and educational activities. All classroom materials are designed with key education standards in mind.

Educational content was developed with guidance from the ITVS Classroom National Advisors: PBS Teachers, National Council for the Social Studies, National Association of Media Literacy Education, National Council of Teachers of English, Bay Area Video Coalition, ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, KQED Education Network, and National Teachers of the Year Association.

COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS is a production of Copyright Criminals, LLC 
in association with Changing Images, LLC and ITVS, 
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

ITVS Community Classroom is a product of the Independent Television Service with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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