Anybody who has ever listened to early Pizzicato Five records will know that sampling law was essentially non-existent in Japan for a good part of the 1990s. Now, however, things are getting much stricter. For example, I just got the new Oricon numbers for 2005, and the songwriting credits for Orange Range’s lackluster hit “Locolotion” are attributed to Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Yes, the song does rip off sections of the ’60s classic “Locomotion,” but I would hardly call it a “cover.”
I gather that the Japanese recording/publishing industry is now forcing songs with obvious samples to be handled as cover versions as a way to appease the “samplee.” Supposedly, the same thing happened with the last m-flo single, and I assume that this will now be standard industry practice. I’ve always hated Orange Range, but knowing that a portion of their earnings is going to Goffin/King — writers of The Monkees’ “As We Go Along” and other amazing songs — I may just become a fan.
In related news, I just got the new Go! Team CD single “Bottle Rocket” from Vroom Records, and they have apparently had to clean up their sample usage for a U.S. release. (Although using “Soul Time” by Shirley Ellis seems to be strangely decriminalized.) The new versions still retain the same flavor, but a lot of the old incidental samples are gone and were not replaced with soundalikes.