The Swarm

October 01, 2007

Aphex Twin in SNL 'Iran So Far' rap with Andy Samberg and Adam Levine

TDS Editors

If NBC didn’t clear that with Chrysalis Music, they’re gonna have some explaining to do.

UPDATE: A Saturday Night Live source confirms that the sample is indeed Aphex Twin. Clearances are currently in process.

UPDATE: Chrysalis Music, Aphex Twin’s publisher, confirmed that NBC was not required to get clearance for Saturday’s broadcast, and until they intend to air the show again, copyright law allows for ”ephemeral use.”

UPDATE: New York Post gets in on the story:

It seems NBC never secured the digital rights to the background music used during the video and therefore couldn’t up load the piece onto its YouTube channel or post it on its own Website.

In fact, the NBC legal team didn’t even know it had a problem until after it sent the short along to YouTube – forcing it to hastily pull it down, according to published reports.

A satirical love song to Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “I Ran So Far” uses a brief music loop, or sample, of the 2001 Aphex Twin song “Avril 14th.” Aphex Twin, whose real name is Richard D. James, is a pioneer in spacey ambient and drum-and-bass music.

James also samples music himself.

NBC‘s digital rights snafu is particularly delicious because it comes after the network and other major television conglomerates bitterly fought YouTube over controlling video content. NBC was protecting its rights but now must follow the rules to protect itself from being sued by James.

Not having the video on its site likely cost the network tens of thousands of hits.

While NBC‘s very own legal department has stopped the “I Ran So Far” upload, it hasn’t prevented independent YouTube users from recording and uploading the skit. It is still readily available on YouTube and one of the hottest views on the site.

UPDATE: Andy Samberg confirms for Stereogum what we reported two weeks ago:

To answer your question the piano loop in the beat we made is a direct sample from Aphex Twin’s “Avril 14th”, we are fans of his and love that song in particular.

Since SNL is a live show we’re allowed to use anything for one-time airing and only require permission for all other airings. Since it all comes together so quickly we will often air something and then suss out clearances in the weeks following (this was the case with a short we made that used an Imogen Heap song, which she later
cleared ). The NBC lawyers are currently trying to make a deal with Aphex Twin’s people about clearing it for future use, so hopefully they’ll come to an agreement.

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