The debate over the legality of sampling isn't new (How did Fatboy Slim's lawsuit over "Praise You" ever turn out anyways?), but with the RIAA's crusade against fair use through the guise of attacking piracy in full swing, few established businesses are willing to risk music that might bring down the lawyers upon them. Record companies, CD pressers, distributors, stores and even Internet-based music promoters are all saying "No", so what's a bunch of proud and sample-happy artists to do when they can't get their audio collages out?

Droplift them. Shoplifter karma is being lifted from the human race as an elite group of anti-thieves infiltrate record stores. Once inside, they put the CDs in the relevant rack and leave. It's up to the employees and consumers now. Anyone can become a droplifter, since they have all the songs in mp3 format on the website along with detailed CD burning instructions and illustrations for the cases. As you might guess, all of the bands are relatively unknown, but people have bought the CDs so far. Employees have even gone so far as to barcode and shrink-wrap the CDs (and put them in anti-theft cases - heh). Storeowners like the idea, and the LA director of Tower Records said they'd treat any Droplift Project CDs as regular stock.

The Droplift Project has been in effect since July 28. Not suprisingly, it grew out of a discussion on Negativland, and there's a decent amount of philosophy/politics behind it - these are artists who understand the full amount of liberty behind the First Amendment and the ideal of Fair Use.

Check it all out at www.droplift.org

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