[rumori] Rocked By Rape Update...

The Evolution Control Committee (eccATpobox.com)
Mon, 24 Jan 2000 15:02:20 -0500

     Hi folks, just thought I'd take a moment to send you a quick update as
to what's been going on:

     I sent a nice fat reply to Sanford The Lawyer, coupled with a great
missive that Don Joyce wrote. Kudos to you Don; that message is beautiful.
Thanks to everyone who's replied with comments and suggestions. The more I
think about it and the more people prod me, I really wish we could fight
this in some way. Just so everyone knows, there are more reasons beyond
money why this won't get fought, at least initially... CBS directed their
threat towards Eerie Materials, though now they've also directed a little
at The ECC. From Sanford, sent this Monday morning:

>Eerie has agreed not to distribute any more copies of the sound recording.
>I trust you will remove the infringing material from your website.

     Yeah, well, we'll think about it. :-) But unfortunately Eerie
Materials is mainly one guy, and he's preparing to move out of the country.
Getting into a long, protracted court battle is probably not in his best
interests, and I can respect that. If I wanted to actually fight this out,
I'd probably have to do my own pressing and distribute that -- which is
possible, but unless I have cheap or free legal support behind me at the
outset, it's probably just stupid.

     At any rate, I'll be updating the website with our correspondence and
news and so on soon, but in the meanwhile here's a statement I sent to CBS:

- Mark G.


Mr. Kryle,

     I am writing to you as a member of the audio art group, The Evolution
Control Committee, authors of the record "Rocked By Rape". I have been made
aware of your threat to Eerie Materials over our record and have been
forwarded a copy of your message to them.
     Frankly, I am OUTRAGED. Our piece is very obviously a PARODY of Dan
Rather and his role as (literally) the face of the CBS Evening News, as
well as his role in the lives of millions of Americans every night. It is
often said that art reflects life -- we of The ECC believe that needs to be
interpreted literally. Using Dan Rather's voice, and even using the very
words broadcast and heard by over 7 million people nightly, was an
essential element in our piece. To address issues of violence on the TV
news, we felt that to do it generically would produce a generic and
ambiguous result. Television is all about personalities, and we knew our
piece had to be about personalities too.
     As we watched Rather convey the news each night, we were struck at the
brutal violence that was delivered, day in, day out. Unfailingly, the good
news ALWAYS appeared as the very last segment of each broadcast. You may
call it dessert, but we call it empty calories -- a meaningless gesture; an
insincere smile to follow 25 minutes of carnage. How can we sit idly by,
watching that insincere smile on Dan Rather's face? When you offer a daily
parade like that, you must expect that some people will wonder just what
the emperor is wearing.
     Even going beyond this bit of common sense, the copyright law itself
allows for people to make "fair use" of copyrighted materials for purposes
of parody. "Rocked By Rape" is NOTHING if not parody. The suggestion that a
listener might mistakenly presume that CBS would have endorsed such a
recording as you suggest is simply ludicrous. The title itself, "Rocked By
Rape", is not the result of some clever editing trick on our part but was
actually spoken by Rather during one broadcast. While the context of that
phrase and others we included in our piece may differ from the original, we
feel that these "shock phrases" are often all that remain in a viewer's
mind after each broadcast. Our critique -- our parody -- makes this point
     But perhaps the real tragedy here is beyond your mere allegations --
it is the fact that we literally will probably never see our day in court
over this and the chance to defend ourselves and our work. I firmly believe
that we have broken no laws in the music we've done, but to defend this
belief in a court of law is impossible because your deep corporate pockets
would simply drown us before we got before the judge. Seeing corporations
stampede towards the almighty dollar while individual rights get crushed
underfoot is what truly makes my blood boil.


Mark Gunderson
The Evolution Control Committee

P.S.: Below is a message to you from Don Joyce, a member of the musical
group Negativland. Negativland has appeared in court before to defend their
legal rights as collage-based musicians. His experience with and knowledge
about these issues far surpasses mine, and he eloquently states many
additional relevant points.

>From: Don Joyce <djATwebbnet.com>
>Dear Mark,
>The ECC situation is ridiculous. I wrote the following reply of support if
>you care to forward it to him. (I have not.)
>Dear Mr. Kryle,
>Your recent objection to Eerie Materials use of CBS News music and Dan
>Rather's voice is ill-informed, particularly in terms of the NEED for
>modern art to be able to directly reference the world around it. Have you
>heard the record? Really, you must HEAR the work before you presume to
>crush it! You might find, as I do, that this musical collage is
>interesting, humorous, and a perfectly valid public response to the totally
>public and unavoidable media machine you happen to work for. Of course the
>CBS news is important, serious stuff and Dan Rather is a national icon
>among stone faced teleprompter readers - that's precisely why the Evolution
>Control Committee used them! If you're going to bombard us with that stuff
>every day without our permission, you can't expect that it's not going to
>make an impression on creative minds out here, no matter how much your
>network wishes we were all just complacent sponges soaking up all those
>tediously interruptive commercials like good citizens should.
>But since I'm almost sure this kind of creative logic will not cause you to
>threaten your position with CBS in the slightest, you should also be aware
>that such a usage as is found in "Rocked By Rape" is pretty clearly an
>example of Fair Use as allowed by copyright law. This is art as parody, and
>as social "commentary and criticism," and is precisely why copyright
>ownership is NOT an "exclusive" right as you mistakenly state in your
>letter. Fair Use bypasses owner's rights for a VERY GOOD REASON. To allow
>valid new works of parody, commentary, and criticism to be made when the
>owners of included material would otherwise prevent it. Grow up and try to
>enjoy art a little. It is no threat to, nor is it in competition with CBS
>News. Exactly what in the heck are you afraid of happening here? Your
>employers are in no danger of losing their global grip on... anything.
>Small, independent audio collage artists like ECC however ARE in constant
>danger from kneejerk corporate repressions of their sampled work like the
>one you are pursuing here, in which you hope to intimidate this perfectly
>valid work of art out of existence with the spectre of your bottomless
>pockets and presumed ability to legally and economically ruin their lives.
>This is an anti-art position which is being contemplated by CBS and we can
>assure you it will be publicized as such.
>Please reconsider the social, cultural, and image implications of a huge
>corporation thoughtlessly stomping all over tiny independent artists with
>comparitively miniscule distribution. You don't have to like what they do
>to want them to be allowed to do it. And in case you don't, reread the Fair
>Use clause in copyright law and try to fathom why such a concept was
>written into law. The most surprising phrase in all of copyright law is
>where it says that they are intended to ENCOURAGE new work to be created.
>(Nowhere does it say that they can or should be used to censor and inhibit
>NEW work.)
>Fair Use allows appropriated usages in new works without payment or
>permission precisely because of "owner" attitudes like those of CBS which
>suggest that "free speech" must be bought and paid for and given
>permission to exist by the subject of criticism. Misusing otherwise useful
>copyright law to prevent new work like this (as opposed to counterfeiting
>or bootlegging which is all this whole technologically antique body of law
>was ever INTENDED to prevent) leads only to the death of modern "found
>sound" critical art and to the death of free speech and free expression.
>We know CBS encourages free speech so sometimes you have to grit your teeth
>and walk the walk when it comes to unwanted criticism of CBS too, EVEN
>WHEN YOUR OWN WORDS ARE USED AGAINST YOU. This relatively new way to
>comment and criticise is not only implied, but also absolutely inevitable
>in this age when cheap capturing technology is in the hands of EVERYONE.
>This is a GOOD thing for democracy, not a BAD thing! Where in the world is
>your bigger picture hiding?
>Don Joyce

eccATpobox.com                                      The Evolution Control 
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