Music

The Copyright That Should Not Be

“The Thing That Should Not Be” from Metallica is inspired by H.P Lovecraft and the story of Cthulu the Apocalyptic Elder God lying in a dream state within his sunken kingdom of R’lyeh.

Today, “The Thing That Should Not Be” is the story of Copyright, the Monopoly Elder God, awakened from its dream state to lobby hard again so that politicians get laws extended once again.

In 1998, the US Congress agreed to grant another 20 years of copyright protection to every film, book and song in the land. Now those same laws are under review once again.

“Messenger of Fear in sight
Dark deception kills the light”

That is what the Copyright monopolies are. Messengers that spread a fear that doesn’t exist. Deceiving people by selectively quoting from studies that they have paid for. Telling people that Copyright needs to be locked away

“Cyber children sharing free
Pray for Freedom, liberty”

The media portray it as piracy. The children see it as culture. With all the supposed rampant piracy doing the rounds, box office returns for 2013 has eclipsed the previous years returns. So what do the esteemed leaders and lobby groups do, conduct a review of copyright laws. It’s happening in America and in Australia. Politicians are debating, along with interested lobby groups, new laws to stop piracy by extending copyright terms, so that works don’t fall into the public domain.

“Fearless kids
Are downloading
Copyright
Watches, lurking to see
Courts blockade
Forbidden sites
Google search
Hunter of the wealthy is rising”

Hollywood and the music industry are the ones that hold the monopoly on copyright. However, Tech companies like Google who are in favour of an expanded public domain, now have increased lobbying efforts. Other Public Domain not for profit organisations have also risen.

“Corruption
In payments leaders dwell

Crawling Chaos, underground
Corporate summons, evil goes round

Monopolies fight tooth and nail
Copyright falls, time to fail”

The world needs a sensible copyright policy. Current terms need to be shortened and any punishment for infringement needs to be sensible. The whole process of songwriter royalties vs performance royalties vs publishing royalties vs licensing fees, needs to be sensibly re-written. The whole process of copyright take downs sent by machines to machines needs to be looked at and sensibly re-written. Look at the recent issue between Lawrence Lessig and Liberation Music.

Liberation is not the only music label to enforce their copyrights robotically. Go to the Google transparency report and have a look.

Musical rights organisations, BPI and the RIAA are leading the way.

“Enforcing rights by machines
Copyright as censorship
The Copyright That Should Not Be”

Copyright in it’s current form allowed John Fogerty to be sued. Seriously, the court case was about John Fogerty plagiarising John Fogerty. Copyright in it’s current form neglects to compensate Andy Summers, while Sting rakes it in because he is listed as the main songwriter for “Every Breath You Take” however it was the main guitar line that Puff Daddy sampled.

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Music

Every Sample You Take

This is part of the music business that I really hate.

Everyone knows the song, “Every Breath You Take”. It is from the mega selling “Synchronicity” album from The Police and it is credited as a Sting composition. Now as a songwriter, I believe that Sting wrote the song and should be credited as the song writer. However, it is the Andy Summers guitar riff that is even more iconic and the way Summers chose to play a simple A-F#m-D-E chord progression is what made the song a “super hit”. However Sting is credited as the songwriter, so he gets all of the publishing royalties.

So when Puff Daddy appropriated the iconic riff, along with the Chorus vocal melody for his hit song “I’ll Be Missing You” it was Sting that got paid the royalties. Due to Puff Daddy not asking for permission to sample to the song, Sting used copyright law to have the song listed as 100% to him. So from the Puff Daddy version (which sold seven million copies and won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group) Sting earns $730,000 a year in royalties from only one song, ‘Every Breath You Take.’

So what did Andy Summers get. In the end, both versions have the defining guitar part and that part was created by Andy Summers. From the “Puff Daddy” version, Summers got zero. A big fat zero. The reason is that he does not have a co-writing credit on “Every Breath You Take”. Whatever band agreement “The Police” had when they were in operation would have focused on their songs only and it would not have taken into account profits made from sampling.

It is a ridiculous process because Sting as the song writer had to give his permission and received payment for its use however Summers did not and it was his actual piece of music that was sampled.

Summers said in an interview with the A.V Club that the popularity of the track made it even harder for him to swallow his inadvertent participation.

“He actually sampled my guitar, and that’s what he based his whole track on,” he notes. “Stewart’s not on it. Sting’s not on it. I’d be walking round Tower Records, and the thing would be playing over and over. It was very bizarre while it lasted.”

This is what Summers said in a Guitar World interview about “Every Breath You Take”.

“When Sting first brought that song in, I didn’t think we could do it. What he came in with was something completely different from what we ended up with. He had this thing that sort of sounded like “sub-Yes” with all of these huge rolling synthesizers. He made a demo, but it didn’t sound anything like us at all. But that was what the story was with much of the material. Our word was that we had to “Police-ify” it, which basically meant the chemistry of the three of us playing on the track, each guy doing his own thing. That’s what made it sound like the Police. The thing that’s so great about all of those tracks is not just the song writing, but also the way they’re played. It was a sound only the three of us could get across.”

That is a crucial world, POLICE-IFY.

2013 marked the 30th anniversary of “Synchronicity”. The album made “The Police” kings of the world. It went straight to number 1, by knocking out Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. The music will live forever with us and the iconic music in “Every Breath You Take” is played by Andy Summers. But Sting gets all the royalties. Next time, someone tells you that Copyright is great for artists, remember this example. Copyright needs to be re-written not re-extended. It is out of touch with the world.

Former Police Guitarist Andy Summers on His New Band, Circa Zero: “It’s What I Thought the Police Should Have Done, But Didn’t” http://www.guitarworld.com/former-police-guitarist-andy-summers-discusses-his-new-band-circa-zero

Sting Earns $2,000 a Day Because Puff Daddy Didn’t Say ‘Please’ Back in 1997 – http://ultimateclassicrock.com/sting-puff-daddy-2000-a-day/

Andy Summers of the Police Calls Puff Daddy’s ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ a ‘Major Rip-Off’ – http://ultimateclassicrock.com/police-puff-daddy-rip-off/

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