[rumori] Re: [plunderphonia] Every Other Byte

Steev (steevATdetritus.net)
Sun, 27 Jun 1999 11:09:15 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 25 Jun 1999, Peter Risser wrote:

>From: Peter Risser <knucklehead000ATyahoo.com>
>My friend sent me this query:
>> I wonder what the legality is of having every
>> other bit of a copyrighted song.
>> So if Person A had 1,3,5,7, etc. bits or even
>> bytes really, and then Person
>> B had the matching half.
>> Could they shut you down for that? Maybe it's
>> not their song, see?
>Anyone care to take this up?

>His concept is more like: Since neither signal itself is the song, in
>any recognizable shape or format, would distributing exactly every
>other byte (or bit) constitute piracy or copyright infringement?
>What about if you chopped it clean in half in the middle? What would
>the conceptual difference be?

I think in the realm of the law what is the key factor is whether the new
work creates confusion in the audience and/or effects the sales of the
original artist. This includes the packaging and marketing of the new
work and that is perhaps more important than whether the music itself
sounds similar to the original.

Witness the Plunderphonic case. Probably no one in their right mind would
suspect that "Dab" is a Michael Jackson song, once they heard it. But the
packaging, the Jackson visage manipulated, is what drew attention. Same
with Negativland/U2. That CD *looked* way too much like a U2 release. Of
course U2 would never release music that sounded like that, but it sure
looked like they might have.

And a more recent and close-to-home case: some stores are putting
"Deconstructing Beck" under Beck, Beck fans are buying it, getting pissed
off, and sending nasty email to Illegal Art. Exactly the sort of thing to
get sued over, if not for the fact that Beck and his managers have reined
in their lawyers to reduce negative press, apparently for good. (??)

So, to go back to the original question (no pun intended), if the
intention is to re-assemble your alternate bits to enable the audition of
the original work, and you advertise this as your intention, then, yes, i
would say you'd probably be in trouble. On the other hand if you're some
obscure avant-garde composer who does this as a conceptual art piece
and you don't make a big deal about who or what the original music was,
don't worry about it.

In a nutshell, what the corporate owners of culture care about is money,
and if your infringing work effects (to their mind) their ability to make
more money, they will care.

(disclaimer: of course, i'm no lawyer, so don't base any real important
decisions on the above. talk to an intellectual property attorney.)


Steev Hise, Would-be World-Wide Web Wizard (WWWWW)
steevAThise.org http://www.cyborganic.com/people/steev
recycled art site: http://www.detritus.net
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