Shocked the story didn't mention the Fogerty suit - the strangest copyright -music case of all
Something weird going on with that page! The article number in the URL changes back and forward between 2 numbers as you scroll! Makes coming back to HN a bit tricky!
Interesting read though
In my case it changes when the next article comes up. This is a really weird page format some online news magazines have adopted, where they simply add different articles at the bottom of your original page, infinite scrolling style. If you scroll back up though, it switches back.
I hate it when pages do that.
That page put about 1000 entries of itself in my history
My (least) favourite example of this is that Iggy Azalea gets a song-writing credit for Classic Man. http://www.mtv.com/news/2215334/iggy-azalea-fancy-classic-ma...
If you listen to the two, you can spot the similarity but... it’s nowhere close to sampling or plagiarism. They’ve got different melodies, different feels, just a similar prominent keyboard sound.
But no-one wants a court case, so the writers of Fancy get a cut.
My least favourite was Quentin Tarantino demanding a songwriting credit for Fun Lovin' Criminals' Scooby Snacks, just because it sampled a few seconds of dialogue from Pulp Fiction.
Would you prefer he demanded royalties instead, as their label would if he used a few seconds of their output in one of his films? Or that they just be able to use the sample without credit or royalty?
In a (more) perfect world, they would've paid a reasonable license fee to use the sample and been done with it.
He did demand royalties, he gets a 40% cut as well.
Roughly 40% of the lyrics are dialogue from two of his movies or describing scenes from those movies (Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs), so a 40% cut of the songwriters' share of royalties is appropriate.
He didn't write any of the song. He just made something that contributed to it.
Saying he wrote part of it is like the person who mixed Davinci's paint claiming to have painted part of the Mona Lisa.
It's more like if Mona Lisa incorporated a background from another artist.
Sets a pretty stupid precedent.
This song's lyrics solely samples audio from Indiana Jones - 100% of the royalties go to Disney? Morally, I don't think Disney have any right to it, but I could maybe tolerate some payment - however, proportionality?
Maybe a quick Google before going on the attack next time:
At least in that case and the Blurred Lines case there was some component that was verifiably the same.
(But yeah, QT was and is a jerk. Especially when you consider how he ripped off City on Fire.)
What component was veritably the same in the Blurred Lines case? I've listened to both songs and the 'sameness' to my ears is akin to two rock tunes using similar power chords and drum beat.
Okay, so this is annoying but I could swear there was a component (backing vocals?) that was the exact riff that “I know you want it” was, but now I can’t find it.
Whether or not it exists, the Blurred Lines decision was dumb and dangerous, even if Marvin Gaye >>>> Robin Thicke.
Not exactly an unusual or highly distinctive sound, either. I could see it being a preset on any number of synths. Weird.
NYT draws the wrong conclusions. In each of these cases, the jury sided with the more popular and well known party. These were all jury cases where perceived career accomplishment is the common thread, as the law itself twists in any way necessary.
The “Dark Horse” case didn’t seem to break for Katy Perry...
I wonder how well the 1987 album  would do in this new climate?
I've told this story before. In the early 1990s I worked for Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond's record label, back when they were dominating the UK and European pop charts as The KLF (https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2017/07/20/537708922/...).
One day we received in the mail a cassette tape and a letter from a law firm representing a composer or publisher (I can't remember which) of a famous Broadway soundtrack from the 1960s. The letter accused the KLF of infringement. The cassette contained one of the songs on the Broadway soundtrack, an instrumental section of which repeated a three note riff that sounded a lot like the same three-note sequence from one of the KLFs biggest hits. The rhythms and song structures were otherwise nothing alike.
It didn't seem like an obvious example of copying, and it was quite possible it was a coincidence or some obscure influence on The KLF or their core musical collaborators, who would have been youths when the Broadway soundtrack was released.
"Are you going to fight this?" I asked the label's president.
Her answer: "No."
From The KLF's perspective, it wasn't worth a long, expensive legal fight they might lose. I think a lot of it related to the problems it encountered with the "1987" album you mentioned, which had been partly done to ridicule the record industry but really took a lot of energy to deal with when the legal troubles emerged.
Also, the label president didn't say it, but potential bad press could have also been on her mind. At the time, the KLF had the British music press eating out of their hands, and a public legal fight could change the narrative of the KLF as being brilliant pop iconoclasts to something less favorable.
I need to tell you this: in the 2000s we worked off the strategy and tactics outlined in The Manual and had a string of global chart topping successes
I can only assume others did the same...do u know the bigger story?
I would love to hear more.
I've heard of at least one other band that had this kind of success, and it does not surprise me in the least. Drummond knew how the industry worked as a musician, manager, and skeptic, and in that book outlined a formula that could work. It was a bit of a piss-take but there were nuggets of wisdom and truth.
Trying to keep this account disconnected from my real life persona so won’t name names.
But we had a series of number ones around the world in countries like the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan, Brasil, France, Italy, China, Australia...really every country you have ever heard of.
Of course some of the tactics had to be translated into 2000s world but I still recommend aspiring music artists to read it when they ask me for advice today.
It’s of course not the only strategy that works...but I’d say it’s the easiest to execute if what you want is commercial success
So in either case the book levels the expectations (“sex, drugs and money will always be a problem”) and establishes some fundamentals...and it’s of course a really fun weekend read.
Many of the general ideas also translate 1:1 to startups or really any kind of endeavor and have served me very well in my career
I always remembered the line from the book about finding a bass line being like a "panther on the prowl" and IIRC mentioning Billie Jean or some other Michael Jackson song as an example. It really made sense.
The same section also warned against hiring some "thumb-slapping dickhead" to play bass which made sense from their perspective (The KLF never used bass players) but doesn't hold true for all types of songs, even dance music.
I remember now
One of my takeaways was to not try to do everything yourself...if fact to try to do nothing yourself except piecing together existing stuff in novel ways
I just watched a YouTube video of one of the producers of Demi Lovato and he frames it like this:
“What makes a great producer is not the ability to play any instrument or be a good engineer or anything. You can find others to do that for you. What makes a great producer is the ability to know how to tell a compelling story with your work!”
Paraphrased from here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kre17S89-j8
I think this is true for any product...your are selling people on a story/vision...of what could be, not what is!
What are some of those general ideas that have served you well?
It’s been a while that I read it but generally speaking:
1. How to strip things down to their essence and focus on that. 2. What to expect and not to expect from Being successful 3. Being scrappy as fuck
Just read it...it’s available for free online as pdf...it’s quick and super fun read
The elements which stuck in my head were:
1. Steal the drum and bass from an old soul record, don't try to engineer your own.
2. For lyrics, use things you hear shop clerks saying.
3. (from the opening of the book) "Start off skint and on the dole."
Did you do any of those?
Did all of them
We would usually program the bass ourselves for the type of music we made but the progressions were battle tested decades earlier
If anybody else is wondering: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manual
Scooter did that too. And there was "Bring Me Edelweiss" but that was a single hit.
Yep, also Chumbawamba
Absolutely, I don't see why it wouldn't have worked.
I doubt it would work today however.
Why do u think it wouldn’t work today?
I think the strategies in the book are timeless
Well, I was thinking specifically about the instruction to use ABABCBB form for a song, which was great in the 80s and 90s, but would produce a song that was way too long for today's tastes, I think. I believe you when you say there are many timeless lessons in the book.
Was it Jesus Christ Superstar? I actually do hear the similarity but I wouldn't call it a ripoff either. I love the KLF!!
Riff starts on the beginning of both tunes.
Jesus Christ Supertar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqoeM18vCaU
What Time is Love? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28w2LVzxVkU
Sounds a bit like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVxXbTk-zsQ&feature=youtu.be... Das Boot U-96
In the 80s sampling was kinda a gray area. But by the 90s all samples were cleared, or too obtuse to figure out the source.... I guess the British were ahead of the US in this.
"In 1991, songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan sued rapper Biz Markie after he sampled O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)" on the album I Need a Haircut. The court ruled that sampling without permission infringed copyright. Instead of asking for royalties, O'Sullivan forced Biz Markie's label Warner Bros to recall the album until the song was removed.
Nelson George described it as the "most damaging example of anti-hip hop vindictiveness", which "sent a chill through the industry that is still felt". The Washington Post wrote in 2018 that "no court decision has changed the sound of pop music as much as this", likening it to banning a musical instrument"
At least with streaming you won't have to go through the trouble of pulling physical copies from stores and destroying them.
It's sad though that file sharing is no longer a big thing, since that allowed illegal remix culture to really thrive.
I find plenty of remixes on YouTube now. Yes they get taken down but there’s ways to take those offline.
Zeppelin have long been known to be notorious plagiarists:
They outright covered songs in those early albums, but refused to pay royalties. I don't remember what their argument was.
Actually listening to a Robert Johnson album, I was surprised to discover a some Zeppelin rifs were taken from him. Its not the same though (Robert Johnson is a hard listen.). Blues is slightly harder as the chord progression is similar across songs, similar scales. Its seams that sometimes they gave writing credit to the original song writer, sometimes not.
(Songwriters get paid per radio play, which mattered a lot before streaming..)
Wikipedia has a list of Zepplin song "inspired by others": with a list of listed song writing credits.
The Beatles covered a lot of songs in the early days. (I think they must have paid royalties). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_songs_covered_by_the_B...
Since when do cover artists pay royalties?
Anyone can cover any song without permission as long as they pay compulsory royalties.
There's a difference between covering a song in a recording and being a cover artist. With the latter I don't find a consistent answer. I've read venues pay a licensing fee, and that depending on prop use it could cost more, etc. If you cover a song in recording, re-arrange it, whatever, you pay royalties to the original songwriter.
> With the latter I don't find a consistent answer. I've read venues pay a licensing fee....
IIRC, the licensing fee paid by the venue doesn't necessarily grant the performers any rights, it just waives the venue's liability. The nature of the relationship between the performer and venue is context dependent and it isn't always clear if the performers are covered or even could be covered by the venue's license, anyhow.
In practice the licensor associations will leave the performers alone as long as the venue has a license, because what's the point of the venue license if artists face legal jeopardy for playing there.
Alot of copyright works this way: the edges are very blurry and the incredibly broad scope of claims and defenses effectively corrals everybody into quasi-legal arrangements. Were it not for criminal liability and potential for ruinous monetary damages, this would definitely be a feature more than a bug. It's certainly deliberate. No law could ever be precise enough to properly balance such interests a priori.
I think I saw a news recently that they've been dismissed for gateway to heaven
Stairway is not a ripoff of Taurus and it never was going to be, but there are plenty of other accusations against Led Zeppelin that are more credible. I have Spirit’s eponymous album, the part in question that is “ripped off” is so basic and found in so many songs you’d die before you could list them all.
(FYI—You the news you “think you saw recently” is in the linked article above the fold, which features a photo of Robert Plant right next to the headline.)
Stairway to Heaven has contrary motion in the top voice of the guitar arpeggio, which I consider a really substantial change. They did grab lots of blues songs, occasionally gave some form of credit, otherwise not.
It's an interesting question: blues is mostly delivery, so if you take a concept like 'lemon' or 'leave me' and deliver it in shrieky overwrought British rock star fashion, aren't you rewriting it, perhaps significantly? You can't copyright the pentatonic scale. It'd be like someone copyrighting the monotonic drone and then filing suit against half of EDM. I performed for a livestream recently and used a riff from Plastikman 'Marbles', except that riff is only note-note-rest-note-note-rest repeated infinitely on one note. Part of it is the tone and context, and I wasn't cloning that, just the way the extremely brief three-note chunk cycles over a 4/4 beat. Plagiarism? Plagiarism because I know of 'Marbles' and found it inspiring? What if I picked a simple repeating pulse because I'd heard that in some minimal techno, and intentionally did my own take on that because I'd liked it?
the one riff is vaguely similar, but the Taurus song includes a simple descending riff that sounds like something from a guitar intro book. All music has similarities to something. Even Bach and Mozart borrowed ideas from other composers and later ones did to same to them. You can't just take a snippet and go aha! No different than the Oracle attempt at Google over Java.
I agree with all the arguments in this thread about Stairway to Heaven but also feel like for similar reasons the Blurred Lines case should have been dismissed.
Repeatedly ripped off Robert Johnson, refused to pay royalties and dragged Johnson's family through the courts.
This might be one of the stupidest arguments I've ever heard:
“Thin copyright might apply to a doll or a painting because, for example, there are just so many ways to paint a tomato,” Busch said. “Creative choices are limited. It has never applied to music because there are literally an infinite number of creative choices in creating a song.”
... So you're saying there aren't infinite ways to paint a tomato?
It is indeed stupid. Color and space exist on a continuum whereas musical notes and rhythms are discrete (at least within a given musical tradition), so if anything there are more creative choices in painting a tomato than in creating a song.
That there is continuum is irrelevant when the human comprehension is discreet. For example, panton colours contain less then 2k values.
That's a terrible argument isn't it? There's a finite number of musical notes, a finite structure to them and a finite number of effects. We're guaranteed to end up with doppelgänger choruses and melodies sooner rather than later.
> We're guaranteed to end up with doppelgänger choruses and melodies sooner rather than later.
Technically that's fine. Copyright only protects originality, not novelty as with patents. Coincidentally creating the same melody as someone else doesn't violate their copyright. If they sued they'd have to prove that it wasn't coincidental with evidence that you heard the original melody, a prerequisite for proving that your melody was derivative.
That's the theory. In practice the first person to publish the melody often wins, especially if their version was popular--e.g. a radio hit, which by itself provides circumstantial evidence that you had heard it.
Wow - never knew that!
Technically infinite, there's just finite number of notes and intervals that are generally considered pleasing to the human year (and perceptible by the human ear for that matter).
You can construct finite sets of melodies but when you start to consider rhythm (Loads of pop songs use basic polyrhythms!) and more exotic intervals it's way way bigger than you might imagine.
This also completely ignores there is not a finite number of notes - ever heard someone play a theremin? - and even you restrict yourself to finite tuning systems, there are many to choose from. These can also be used in a pop context - if extremely rarely.
I hear what you are saying but 'finite' isn't that restrictive. There are some pretty big numbers that are still finite.
What really interesting about Blurred Lines is that it was more the feeling of the music than the actual note for note, which was the center of the discussion. If you don't understand music and what it entails you could be convinced that it was the same.
Such an interesting case.
Yeah, it was getting close to copyrighting a genre.
Very dangerous stuff.
Exactly, I immediately thought of all the bog standard country, rock and blues songs.
A reasonable thing would be to consider "fair use" as any clip less than, say, 10 seconds.
Would it? Could a movie include a 10 second clip from Star Wars without trouble? Even something iconic like the title card?
Probably. Would it hurt Star Wars?
Nope. In fact, it would be good advertising for Star Wars.
What about small promos or jingles or a ringtone? Would they just not be copyrightable? I think this is harder to define when you consider that "music" expands further than just the traditional 5 minute song on Spotify or the radio.
> Would they just not be copyrightable?
(BTW, short stuff can be trademarked, as long as you use it as branding in commerce.)
Does it matter? Getting granted a "limited-time" (ha) monopoly is only because it encourages the arts, commerce, and advancement. That monopoly is oppressive, so the public better be getting something out of the deal.
I don't see how that is helpful. Blurred Lines was about the whole song, but where it had similarities, not an exact copy.
What if the entire piece of media is really short and 10 seconds is most or all of it?
I'm not sure there are simple and reasonable solutions like this. Everything will be gamed or cause terrible edge case issues
> What if the entire piece of media is really short and 10 seconds is most or all of it?
If the creator cared, he'd make it longer. Seriously, why should a 5 second movie be worthy of major copyright protection?
For example, if I wrote a 100 line computer program, should that be worthy of copyright protection. I'd say "no".
A creator of a 10-second movie should consider it advertising for his skills, and hope and pray people copy it and use it all over the place.
I've also made my code Boost licensed, which is equivalent to "no copyright protection". If people use it for whatever, I figure it's great advertising for my (very expensive) consulting rates.
>I f the creator cared, he'd make it longer.
I'm sorry, and would like to know how to put it another way to not sound aggressive, but this point is absurd.
Length (in this case runtime) of the resulting product has little to no relation to the amount of work or value put into it and its development.
1- I'm not even sure why'd you use code as an example, because it is the easiest counterexample to your point. Hundred-line programs can be trivial exercises or crucial pieces of engineering that make or break entire products or businesses (if code should or not be copyrightable is another discussion).
2 - Somehow this discussion also reminds of the time a bureaucrat asked me why I was taking twenty hours to 'read a paper' when it was only a few pages long. I told him it likely took the authors a hundred hours to write six pages rather than sixteen so I could read it in twenty hours instead of two hundred.
You can already do "fair use" of text under a certain amount, and the world hasn't ended.
> a hundred hours
This is the Labor Theory of Value, which is discredited. The value of something is not necessarily related at all to how much labor was put into it. The value of something is what someone else is freely willing to pay for it.
Nobody has ever asked me how many hours I put into X. They couldn't care less. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the value of what I created.
> crucial pieces of engineering
That's what patents are for, not copyrights.
I heard (and have no idea if it is true or not) that back in the 80s Microsoft was not particularly concerned about piracy, because it was great advertising and often led to people buying the product.
DOS was indeed pirated all over the place, and Microsoft rose to be the biggest company in the world. Cause and effect? Who knows!
All of these NYT stories bring up a blocking modal dialog requiring me to log in or create an account (I guess this is a slight improvement from making me pay). Is this the same for everyone else? Why do other sites that show a dismissable overlay get raked over the coals as if they are criminals?
What value is there in posting a link on HN if it's behind a pay (or temporarily free) wall? This goes double for the WSJ. Let's not debate business models here, but asking what's the intent/requirements, and why the double standard?
This is a good point that Hacker News aren't generally aware of (judging by the number of comments about it, it's good to know I'm not alone). I'm not sure why it was flagged.
Hit escape as it's loading to shut down the script that blocks the screen.
There is no rule against pay walled content, and most NYT stories have numerous people complaining about it. The NYT and WSJ posts still get votes because they're large enough that many people are subscribers, and their paywalls are trivial to bypass.
The workarounds for WSJ do not work anymore for me, eg the redirect from FarceBorg will still get the "subscribe" page. Also FT. They appear to have removed workarounds. Are they STILL valid HN submissions ... even when there is NO workaround?
Or maybe there is one and i haven't twigged to it yet:-)>
Ah yes, "Bypass Paywalls" i do have this extension installed and have been using it for months. WSJ seems to have wizened to his workarounds, and others like the FB redirect. Eg it does not work for
But i will submit a request at his github site.
In the meantime, AFAIK, there is no workaround for WSJ. Is it still OK to submit them to HN? i do notice there have been few recently.
The latest release notes from seven days ago say they fix the WSJ, but there's also a commit saying that they are temporarily reverting while they wait for Mozilla to sign the update. So there seems to be a way to bypass it still, though I'm not sure what it is.
Clear your cookies
If you’re paywalled on NYT you’ve already viewed many articles.
You can clear your cookies or you might be interested in subscribing since you seem to enjoy their content.
I don't buy this, there must be some false positive rate in some of these sites. I've been told that I've viewed too many articles on sites I've never visited before.
It's happened at home too where I live alone and have not seen my IP address change in a very long time.
I was specifically talking about NYT, not other sites.
I responded the way I did because it’s a common (annoying) trope for people to complain about paywalls in one breath, then in another breath complain about ads/tracking/lack of independent journalism.
If I repeatedly linked to my own site with a title that interested you but all you could see on my page was an unskippable ad demanding that you sign up and pay for my unrelated product, wouldn’t my site be banned from HN? Why do sites like nytimes get a free pass with their paywalls?
Paywalled articles are accepted on HN if there's a known workaround:
If it's hard paywall with no workaround, it shouldn't be on HN and you should flag it or email the mods.
I feel the same way. My intuition tells me only some small percentage of HN readers have a NYT subscription, so these posts are of little use. Though the posts keep appearing, so perhaps I'm wrong, and it's really substantial...like at least 25%? What's the threshold where it makes sense?
The value in HN is mostly in the comments, not in its role as a link aggregator. A good 90% of the time when the link is to something I cannot access I can still get all the salient points necessary to understand and benefit from the discussion just from reading the comments. (Also, if it is a story on some reasonably current event or some well known subject there is a good chance a quick visit to a search engine will find some other article that covers nearly everything in the submitted article but that I can read).
I think of HN as like a social gathering. Each discussion thread is like a small group of people at a party standing around talking about some topic. It's a big party, and there are dozens of such small groups, constantly forming and breaking up, as people move from group to group.
If I'm at a party, and I see a group discussing a book they have read and I have not, I'm either going to ignore their discussion completely if I'm not interested in the topic or am planning on reading the book later and want to avoid spoilers, or go ahead and join in if I'm interested in the topic and and not worried about spoilers and they are discussing it in general enough terms.
I'm not going to try to tell everyone at the party that they should only talk about books that everyone there has read.
If there is some particular site(s) that someone just does not want to see on HN at all, it's easy to address that with a couple bookmarklets. Here's one that will hide NY Times articles from the listings:
It would be easy to expand it to cover multiple sites.
Here's one to unhide them:
Stick those bookmarklets someplace easy to invoke, and then at the cost of one click per page of 30 links you don't have to see the site(s) again.
Papers of record/highly reputable sources should be held to a different standard.
I'll take the bait. It's 2020, is the NYT still considered highly reputable? Or is it just a "loveable brand name" at this point?
Fair question. My response wasn’t meant to be trollish or beg the question. You can read a summary of the New York Times’ reputation in its WP article. In summary, it is still well regarded for accuracy and thoroughness by its peers. Popular opinion is still high relative to its peers but has lowered. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_York_Times#Reputation
The WP article also links to the paper of record article. Papers of record can be important even if they are disliked because of the sources they have access to, and the extent to which they influence stories by reporting on them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newspaper_of_record
That is a fair question, in my opinion. Depending on the topic, the New York Times isn't always reputable.
I have never seen a nyt article that wasn't an op-ed or maybe magazine that wasn't reputable.
I wonder why they had to "rededicate [them]selves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism" after Trump was elected?
I don't pay for this site, but can see the full article just fine. I don't know what the rules are exactly, but some of us do have access (and ublock takes care of ads)
what browser, etc are you using? I'm on FF with uBlock in Canada and always get the NYT's own login/subscribe overlay that while not an ad is essentially a redirect to a login or register page.
I guess it works though; I'm not about to sign up to the NYT or WSJ and I don't even bother clicking their links, so mission accomplished!
Thanks - I run ublock origin but haven't really played with options like that. Worked great!
> Why do sites like nytimes get a free pass with their paywalls?
> Why do sites like nytimes get a free pass with their paywalls?
Because the pass probably isn't free.
Count the number of unicorns ycombinator has invested in and compare those returns to the returns that could be generated by trying to secretly take payment from advertisers. Why would ycombinator waste even a single minute of a single employees time on such an unprofitable activity when it could instead have that same employee spend that same time helping to find and grow the next unicorn. No one is getting rich selling ad space on their own website. Pg is more than smart enough to know this.
Can't read the article. I feel like this just encourages low effort comments from people skimming the headlines.