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Silence is intellectual property

12
MeriadocPerson was signed in when posted
07-01-2002
02:30 AM ET (US)
The article does too make reference to credit, Cory. The credit read "Batt/Cage", and unless you want to follow Mark's line and claim that "Cage" has nothing to do with John Cage, it's a significant fact that should have been mentioned. There are enough genuine jaw-dropping copyright hogs out there, it doesn't help the cause of fighting them to distort less shocking cases that might actually have a point to them.

Yep, there sure is a difference between constructive criticism and an attack, and it's too bad that you've misidentified a criticism. You must not get many genuine attacks. Read Tom Tomorrow's hate mail that he posts: those are attacks. My original comment specifically identified what was distorted about the original post, and the constructive part of the criticism is: next time, do better! If you're going to get this truculent, this quickly, over this mild a criticism (again, see Tom Tomorrow's - or almost anybody's - hate mail), the problem's yours, not mine.
Edited 07-01-2002 02:32 AM
11
Cory DoctorowPerson was signed in when posted
07-01-2002
02:17 AM ET (US)
You'll also note that the article referenced in the post makes no mention of credit, nor has anyone offered a reference to a page that mentions credit.

It was sarcasm, and it was by way of response to a post that I saw as little more than an slam. There's a difference between constructive criticism and an attack.
10
MeriadocPerson was signed in when posted
07-01-2002
01:49 AM ET (US)
That's disingenuous, Mark. It's a perfectly reasonable assumption that John Cage the composer is the Cage to whom Batt refers - an assumption good enough to base a suit on. If Batt really wanted to claim that he meant somebody else (a claim he does not make in the article), he can make it in court. Listing songwriters by last name only is standard practice in the record industry.

Re-reading the original Boingboing blog post, I notice no mention was made of any credit. The strong implication is that Cage's heirs are claiming copyright ownership of any track of silence. There is nothing in the original article supporting that. If that's the case, it comes from further evidence not printed here.

I'm not sure if Cory is sincere in thanking me for setting him straight, or is retreating into sarcastic truculence; in either case, I hope he does better in the future. Mark, however, is inventing my distortion while committing his own.
9
Mark SlutskyPerson was signed in when posted
06-30-2002
02:06 PM ET (US)
Actually, Meriadoc, Batt credited to the track to "Batt/Cage," which doesn't neccessarily imply it was written by John Cage; just by someone named with the last name Cage. Unless he specifically credited JC I doubt he's liable for any royalties. I'd say you've distorted this story just as much as anyone else here.
8
Cory DoctorowPerson was signed in when posted
06-30-2002
01:46 PM ET (US)
Lucky for us we've got you to set us straight then.
7
MeriadocPerson was signed in when posted
06-30-2002
01:22 PM ET (US)
I agree with Gordon. If Batt lists Cage as co-author, he's liable for royalties - and, by altering the "work" without permission, he's violated droit moral as well. Batt's use of Cage's name wasn't a mistake, or a "mistage", as Chris puts it. According to Batt, it was intended as a joke. But it's not obviously a joke, any more than Cage's original 4'33" was. What he should have done was something like writing "(after John Cage)" as a subtitle. Then he could have claimed it as a parody or an homage, which is what he evidently intended. If you claim that somebody wrote something, then by gum you're responsible for any changes or inaccuracies you make.

This is not the first time that boingboing has posted what looks like an outrageous story that, when you actually go and read it, turns out to be something quite different. Thanks for the object lessons in distorting the news.
6
Mark SlutskyPerson was signed in when posted
06-30-2002
12:36 PM ET (US)
And "4'33"" was a performance, not a recording.
5
Chris SmithPerson was signed in when posted
06-30-2002
01:40 AM ET (US)
Just to be exact ... 4'33" and how many frames 0? 74? somewhere in between?

Normally I'd say it doesn't matter, but under the circumstances...

Anyway - I'm sure the credit to Cage was a mistage, and that Mike Batt
can find the individual silences in the original classical works that he
strung together to get his 60 seconds.

Those works are long in the public domain now....
4
Mark SlutskyPerson was signed in when posted
06-30-2002
12:07 AM ET (US)
The article made me want to create a 4'33"-long MP3 with nothing in it and stick it in my music library.
3
Gordon MohrPerson was signed in when posted
06-29-2002
11:18 PM ET (US)
The notice was actually triggered by the fact the new guy actually *lists* Cage as the co-writer of the new silence. So in fact, the new guy is capitalizing on Cage's name, in fact claimed the derivation himself, so it's not as cut-and-dried as you might first think.<p>

I also think that it is possible for legal nastygrams to themselves be self-conscious avant-garde art, and that possibility should not be ruled out. To the extent that this incident makes people once again contemplate "silence", it is performance art.<p>

Finally, remember that artists, celebrities, bloggers, and so forth often have spats and rivalries and accusations not because of any true, deep disagreement -- but because contention is interesting, it draws audiences. So tiny slights, mistakes, and differences get magnified. Manufacture contention, get more famous. Manufacture contention with someone more famous than you, boost fame bilaterally, siphoning off more than your pre-contention share for yourself.
2
Patrick Nielsen HaydenPerson was signed in when posted
06-29-2002
10:36 PM ET (US)
Did you know that John Cage used to part of the same poker circle as Fred Pohl?
1
MothrafuggerPerson was signed in when posted
06-29-2002
10:05 PM ET (US)
God damn, that cracks me up. They'd never get away with that shit if Cage was alive.

Just in case the guy needs it as a legal defense: The point of the piece, or one of the big ones, is that the listener is supposed to listen to the ambient sounds, whether at the individual performance or wherever one is listening. Those are part of the piece. Since Batt's silence incorporates from start to finish any number of original sounds, it's impossible for Cage's and Batt's "silence" to match. Batt's silence is a completely original work.

However, if he needs more leverage, I suggest that Batt head over to those Australian artists at http://www.magnus-opus.com/index1.html who copyrighted the musical sequences of telephone numbers. He can search out the telephone numbers for the lawyers who are suing him, buy the rights to those tones, and countersue the bastards for copyright violation.
Edited 06-29-2002 10:06 PM

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