While at SXSW, Wu-Tang’s RZA shared his thoughts on the "Blurred Lines" verdict and provided a solution that might curb a potentially slippery slope.
In the case of "Blurred Lines", RZA isn't exactly sure who's side to take: "In that particular case, that song does sound pretty, pretty close to the original, yo. And in a case like that, the best thing to do is give compensation to the original copyright holder." Some compensation is necessary, but there needs to be a limit.
"Art is something that inspires the future. If you utilize somebody’s artistic expression blatantly, to [the point] where it’s an identifiable thing, then there should be some sort of compensation to the person who inspires you,” says the legendary Wu-Tang producer.
But RZA himself has been in situations in which copyright holders have demanded excessive compensation: “I’ve been in situations where I’ve sampled something and the original copyright holder took 90 percent.” The sampler is, indeed, an instrument, and it's unfair to demand maximum compensation based on a sample alone.
RZA's solution: "So if I was in a situation of political power, I would be like, 'Look—there’s a 50 percent statutory maximum, and then we work our way down from that based on the context of the song and based on its usage.'"