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<nettime> resounds of silence digest [pieter, scotartt]
nettime's_gilded_cage on Wed, 3 Jul 2002 19:38:18 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> resounds of silence digest [pieter, scotartt]


re: <nettime> Does John Cage have a copyright on recorded silence? 
     "pieter" <smallaxe_nospam {AT} xs4all.nl>
     scotartt <scot {AT} systemx.autonomous.org>

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From: "pieter" <smallaxe_nospam {AT} xs4all.nl>
Subject: re: <nettime> Does John Cage have a copyright on recorded silence? 
Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2002 17:39:40 +0200

Interesting case... some of you may remember how back in '77 or
thereabouts, the British punk group Crass opened their debut album *The
Feeding of the 5000* with their infamous "Reality Asylum" track, a
wonderful feminist anti-Christian, basically anti-everything diatribe
holding Christ Himself responsible for the deaths of Auschwitz, among
many other subtleties. The workers at the record plant refused to press
the record (still a wonderful example of workers' control over their own
labor circumsatnces if yoiu ask me). The album was finally released with
an opening track of several minutes of silence instead, entitled "The
Sound of Free Speech". I wonder which of the two came first, Cage or
Crass, and who should now sue whom.

PB

********

"Disease and deprivation stalk the land like two giant stalking
things" -- Black Adder III

>To: nettime-l {AT} bbs.thing.net
>Subject: <nettime> Does John Cage have a copyright on recorded silence?
>From: "nettime's deaf reader" <nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net>
>Date: Mon, 1 Jul 2002 12:19:26 -0400
>Reply-to: "nettime's deaf reader" <nettime {AT} bbs.thing.net>

<...>

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Date: Wed, 3 Jul 2002 13:33:15 +1000
From: scotartt <scot {AT} systemx.autonomous.org>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Does John Cage have a copyright on recorded silence?

Hi Kai

Strictly speaking though, if a work has previously been released as a
recording, then the composer can't control who else can record and release
the composition.

If you wanted to perform or record a Beatles cover, or a John Cage
composition, they can't stop you.

The only thing they might have is a moral right to alteration of the
composition. But if you took the Lennon/McCartney composition "Yesterday",
and made a sped-up death metal version of it that lasted  55s, left out
the second verse and added a middle eight with a newly written rap on it,
I doubt that whoever it is that owns either the rights to the song could
actually stop you from doing so.

On the other hand, by some quirk of law, in my jurisdiction at least, f
you had sheet music to an undiscovered (ie unrecorded) Lennon/Mccartney
song and tried to do the same thing, the composers have some right of
refusal. But, after they let someone record and release the song, you can
make a cover version of it without any prior approval.

Seems to me people often confuse compositional rights with the rights on
the master tape (i.e. a specific performance of a composition). You can't
use a sample of the Beatles, but you can re-record their songs without
asking.

I don't see that cage's estate has any possible case, unless by some moral
rights law that might dictate how the artist could record or alter the
composition (i.e. it's not 4'33" long). But if that's the case, how do we
end up with reggae versions of Burt Bacharach / Hal David songs, in a
different key to suit the singer's range? You just go right ahead and do
it, crediting it on the record and the rights are distributed to the
correct composers by the various worldwide rights societies.

Are subsidiary works protected by having to have prior approval of the
original composer? I didn't think so ... it's how weird al yankovich works
(take a popular song, change lyrics to something humourous, release it,
and hey presto the writing credits include both the original writers and
yourself).


regs
scot.

On Tue, Jul 02, 2002 at 04:27:59PM +1000, Kai Howells wrote:

> > Big noises at odds over the sound of silence

<...>

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