Intellectual Property Hypocrisy?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Roberto Carlo, Aug 22, 2002.

  1. Roberto Carlo

    Roberto Carlo Second Unit

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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47321-2002Aug21.html
    Here's the lede:
    "This is how jazz flutist James Newton found out -- eight years after the fact -- that he was on a popular rap recording: A student strolled into his class and said hey, prof, I didn't know you performed with the Beastie Boys.
    Newton wasn't happy. A six-second snippet of his song "Choir" was a featured attraction in the 1992 Beastie Boys hit "Pass the Mic." He says that he's never received any compensation for the band's use of the recording and that the Beastie Boys never bothered to ask his permission.
    Finding out that the song had made it onto a "Beavis & Butt-head" cartoon only fueled his ire. Newton, a professor at California State University, Los Angeles, says that if he'd been asked, he never would have granted his permission. So in 2000 he sued the Beastie Boys, charging the group with copyright infringement. And, to his surprise and rage in June, he learned he'd lost the case."
    I find this issue interesting. Let me be clear: I'm not defending piracy in any form whatsoever. And I do understand the different legal issues involved in this case as opposed to the Napster and Napster-like cases.
    But I do think that cases like this one make the RIAA's protestations about the sanctity of copyright and compensating artists ring more than a bit hollow. It's a selective sort of concern at the very least.
    Pause to put on asbestos clothing[​IMG]
     
  2. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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    Well I think we first have to know how come he lost. The legal issues are important IMO...
     
  3. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    From the article:


    Personally, I would come to the same conclusion, but for a slightly different reason:
    A six-second snippet would amount to the equivalent of a quote, IMO. I don't think you should need permission to quote someone. Don't know if that was the reasoning behind the verdict, but that's how I'd reason.

    /Mike
     
  4. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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  5. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    I think the grey area is who holds the rights to the "recording" over the rights to the "composition," thereby limiting whose permission is required for reusing the recording. I don't think this marks open season on composers, but the basis of the judgement is key to its use as a precident.

    I don't agree that there shouldn't be compensation provided however, since this would technically be part of the mechanical licensing of the recording, and therefore subject to royalties.

    I would hope that consideration is made for the case where the "sample" provides the primary hook for a new work. In such a situation, I believe the original artist should be compensated, since it is their creativity which principly allowed for the exploitation of a new work.
     
  6. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    Let's keep our personal opinions on what constitutes theft out of this please...
     
  7. Charles J P

    Charles J P Cinematographer

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    Don, I'm assuming your refering to me, and while my comments were somewhat tounge-in-cheek, it does seem like this ruling flies in the face of what we have seen as for as IP laws recently. I guess I wouldnt really call this theft, but I wouldnt be surprised if the ruling is overturned.
     
  8. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    6 seconds?
    $500,000 of court costs?
    Maybe he (the professor) should regard it as 15 seconds of fame, and be grateful
    [​IMG]
     
  9. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    If not to use a personal opinion, how would we discuss what we feel is theft? After all, we're not Supreme Court justices, so our word isn't law, and this is the After Hours forum, where the things discussed are largely based in opinion.
    If it was an original work, then why is it not "composed?" This is where I'm lost. If I compose it, then record it, what I've recorded is my composition. So, according to the article, shouldn't he have been ASKED at a minimum? Particularly if his beliefs directly clash with those espoused by the Beastie Boys?
    This reminds me of that 9/11 montage with the Enya song that got sent to what seemed like everyone on the 'net. I bet she cringes at the thought, since everyone I know associates that song with that montage.
    As an aside, it seems that the Beastie Boys are getting ripped off by their counsel.[​IMG]
    Todd
     
  10. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    If the goal is to keep this thread going, then it would be best to exclude one's opinions on what constitutes theft since another might choose to refute said opinion. Hypocrisy and theft, and certainly copyright law, are controversial subjects and are bound to attract strong opinions.
     
  11. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    There is a difference between ownership of a recording, and ownership of the composition. The creator has a right to first publication (ie if they write something and hate it, they have the right not to make it public), after that, if someone else wants to record the work, no matter what their beliefs have in common with the creator, they are free to publish their version, assuming of course that proper compensation is provided (not extra, just standard rate mechanical and performance royalties).

    Recordings need to be licensed to be reproduced, and I think this is where the problem lies in this case. If the Beasties got permission from the record company, then they presumably properly licensed the work, since in all likelyhood the record company owns the recording.
     
  12. John P Grosskopf

    John P Grosskopf Second Unit

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    Whose do we use then? [​IMG]
    If I can't use mine, I will have to use somebody elses. Then I'll owe them monetary compensation for theft of their intellectual property. [​IMG]
    P.S.: BTW Ron (Mr. Forum Owner & Master of Info-flow), how do you track how many units of a disc are sold as a result of advertising on the forum? # of "hits" do not equal sales.
    I'm just curious, as I can honestly say I've never bought a disc because it was advertised on the forum. I know that's not true for others.
     
  13. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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    Don,
    You're itching to say something- spill the beans, man.[​IMG]
     
  14. Jesse Leonard

    Jesse Leonard Second Unit

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  15. Don Black

    Don Black Screenwriter

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    Todd: =)

    Jesse: Well, given the recent warning from the mods (e.g., two days ago), and a desire to keep the After Hours Lounge going, I think it might be better to ere on the side of restraint.
     
  16. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  17. John P Grosskopf

    John P Grosskopf Second Unit

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  18. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    as Jeff pointed out, there are two sets of copyright in issue here: the composition itself, and the recording. or put another way (in pop examples), the song, and the actual specific recording itself.
    so for instance, take "Look Away" by Peter Cetera as an example: the song itself was written by Diane Warren, and recorded by Cetera (I use this example as it's the only one that comes readily to mind, you can substitute, say, Frank Sinatra and the specific songwriter of, say, "My Way" instead, if you wish). she gets the songwriting royalty, Cetera, or presumably his record label, gets the royalty for the recording itself. if someone wants to record Look Away again (for whatever misguided reason[​IMG] ) they need to deal with Warren, not Cetera or his label.
    I assume that Cetera's label owns the copyright on his recording, not Cetera personally -- I believe this is fairly typcial of most recording contracts. now, if the new guys want to sample a bit of Cetera's recording, they need to deal with Cetera's label, and depending on how much of the song gets involved, Warren as well.
    back to Newton, I assume the "song" performed was something in the public domain, i.e. written by a long-dead composer. the only existing copyright is therefore in the recording, which is owned by the label. since the Boys got permission and paid the label, they have not infringed the copyright. alternatively, even Newton does hold a songwriting copyright for "Choir", the Judge appears to have ruled that in sampling, the only relevant copyright is the recording one, and not the songwriting one, presumably because only a small sample was involved and not the entire song.
    sounds to me like a dispute between Newton and his label, in reality.
     
  19. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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    I feel really bad for Professor Crybaby and his missing six seconds. I'm sure that's dearly cost him in life. [​IMG]
     
  20. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

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    At what time was this intellectual property removed from it's former position and in the complete possession of the thief? In other words, when, exactly, was the artist without said stolen item? The answer is never, thus, we are dealing with copyright infringement here. Not theft.
    My opinion? Why the hell is this guy able to sue the Beastie Boys for this? They went through the proper channels and licensed this from the studio. If the studio didn't pass on any of the profits from this to the artist, sounds to me like he has a beef with them, not with the Beastie Boys...
     

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