#1 By: Cory Doctorow, November 23rd, 2013 22:01
#2 By: Jardine, November 23rd, 2013 22:33
If it wasn't an advertisement, I think the case would be a lot stronger.
In TufAmerica's original complaint, the plaintiff stated that "only after conducting a careful audio analysis" was it able to "determine" that the Beastie Boys had sampled its music.
Using samples in such a way that "careful audio analysis" is required to determine what was sampled seems like a much stronger case than taking the entire melody and changing the lyrics to fight the patriarchy via capitalism. It still makes The Beastie Boys seem like hypocrites though.
#3 By: tedsmitts, November 23rd, 2013 22:38
The only moral capitalism is my capitalism.
#4 By: Torn Paper Napkin, November 23rd, 2013 22:43
This makes me a little sad.
#5 By: Alex Kemmler, November 23rd, 2013 22:44
Just because it's a message you agree with doesn't make it not copyright infringement. It's an obvious copy of the Beastie Boys song, and everyone familiar with the original noticed right away. It's also commercial use, I don't see what case they have if they didn't license this beforehand. AFAIK I don't think parody or fair use apply when it's just a freaking advertisement.
#6 By: mkirkland, November 23rd, 2013 22:45
You can't copyright a melody and they're not using the lyrics.
#7 By: Spocko, November 23rd, 2013 22:51
Good news everybody. Streisand effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect
How many more people will see than because of the "controversy?" If I was a smart creator of this ad I would say, "Good News! Beastie Boys are threating us. We are in the news now. Lose the case, settle. pay the fees. How many additional views did they get with out spending ad dollars?
If it was a mistake and not a calculated ploy for "earned media" well, think of Spocko's PR motto, "Never let a good mistake go to waste."
#8 By: hi-endian, November 23rd, 2013 22:52
If 2 Live Crew can sample and parody "Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison, I don't see how this can't be legit.
#9 By: Mike Isacson, November 23rd, 2013 22:54
Wow, this is loaded. In legalfuck, being an ad, it probably is infringement. Karmically, I'm happy to see the misguided satire of this song turned back on itself. I cringe every time I hear it on the radio, because regardless of the Beasties' intentions, I'm sure the majority of male listeners don't take it as satire (I'm also sure the band never expected it to be a staple of "alt-rock" radio 25 years later). Plus, there is that whole sampling thing...
(I remember a quote from one of the Beasties years ago, about the "Licensed to Ill" period. Something along the lines of "You have to be careful what you parody or else you might become it.")
And besides, it's one of the most overrated albums ever. They got way better immediately after, give me Paul's Boutique over it any day.
#10 By: Mellivora Capensis, November 23rd, 2013 22:56
Does Weird Al pay royalties on the songs he records? Honest question.
#11 By: TheGlitchEcliptic, November 23rd, 2013 23:00
For the record, I'm fine if somebody wants to take something I've made, and chop it up so it's like their own new thing... That's interesting to me.
#12 By: Chuck V., November 23rd, 2013 23:00
You can't copyright a melody? Where were you when George Harrison desperately needed your legal advice?
#13 By: awjt, November 23rd, 2013 23:01
Exactly. Time & money for girls covered in honey.
#14 By: Mark Dow, November 23rd, 2013 23:02
Yes he pays a percentage of royalties, and also asks for and almost always gets permission.
#15 By: fireshadow, November 23rd, 2013 23:02
US Code Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 115(a)(2)
A compulsory license includes the privilege of making a musical arrangement of the work to the extent necessary to conform it to the style or manner of interpretation of the performance involved, but the arrangement shall not change the basic melody or fundamental character of the work, and shall not be subject to protection as a derivative work under this title, except with the express consent of the copyright owner.
Why would US law specifically mention melody if it is not copyrightable? (LINK: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/115 )
Also, The Verve got in trouble for sampling too much of a Rolling Stones song ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitter_Sweet_Symphony ), so despite the fact that the lead singer (Ashcroft) wrote the lyrics, the song is now credited to Jagger/Richards/Ashcroft.
#16 By: awjt, November 23rd, 2013 23:02
I really don't know. Does parody have to be "direct"? As in parody is ok, if you are parodying the original, but what if you use someone's stuff to parody someone ELSE? What's the law say about that?
#17 By: Jardine, November 24th, 2013 00:10
As I understand it, there's a mandatory licensing scheme for releasing cover versions.
Say for example that I decide to record my own version of Imagine by John Lennon with the same melody and lyrics and release that on CD. No one can stop me from doing that, but for every copy sold, I have to pay whoever owns the author rights a certain amount. I'm sure there's a complicated formula for determining that amount.
I could also decide to release Imagine with my own changes to the melody and lyrics. It's still obviously Imagine by John Lennon but with my own special touches. Same deal there. I release it commercially and send Yoko Ono an amount determined by a formula.
Another possibility is I do a Weird Al type song. The melody is obviously Imagine, but with entirely new lyrics about how good waffles are. I release that commercially, but now I only have to pay for the use of the melody since I used my own lyrics.
That's all for releasing just a cover version of a song. Performing that at a live event means the venue has to pay BMI or ASCAP a fee for public performances. Broadcasting it on TV as a performance is another thing. I believe using it in an advertisement is an entirely separate thing and not mandatory. When it comes to advertising, the original author gets the right to say they don't want their work to be used to endorse something.
We can see examples of this when the next election season comes up in the US. Some politician will use a song at their rallies and the singer/songwriter will make a big deal about how they think that politician is a moron, but it's not clear if they can stop them from using it at rallies. Then some politician will use the song in a political TV ad. Charlie Crist had to apologize on Youtube as part of a settlement for using one of David Byrne's songs.
#18 By: Usekh, November 24th, 2013 00:12
Not a very well researched piece. The issue is not that their work was remixed, it is that it was remixed for an advertisement, against the wishes of their late member Adam Yauch. Which is disrespectful at best.
Good on the remaining members for pursuing his wishes.
#19 By: len, November 24th, 2013 00:23
from the Adam Yauch wikipedia entry:
In his last will, he left instructions that his music could not be used in advertising, though some legal experts said that might not be valid.
#20 By: awjt, November 24th, 2013 00:34
I my last will and testament, all of the rich people's money gets taken and handed to the poor. I'm pretty sure it will hold up in court.
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