Sad copyright story: Barrett Strong, who first wrote and recorded “Money (That’s What I Want)” for Motown, has never seen a penny of royalties for the song, because Motown executives had him removed from the copyright registration. (The single was Motown’s first big hit, and sold over a million copies, but you could probably live off the publishing from the Beatles’ cover alone…)
In 2009, Mr. Strong had a stroke, limiting his ability to play the piano and sing. He now lives in a retirement home here, and hopes that by recouping rights to “Money” he will more easily be able to pay his medical bills and residence fees. But he also wants his accomplishments properly remembered.
“Songs outlive people,” he said, with a mixture of sadness, resignation and anger. “The real reason Motown worked was the publishing. The records were just a vehicle to get the songs out there to the public. The real money is in the publishing, and if you have publishing, then hang on to it. That’s what it’s all about. If you give it away, you’re giving away your life, your legacy. Once you’re gone, those songs will still be playing.”
Dean alleged that some Avatar production workers had studied and referenced Dean’s art as they worked on the movie. The lawsuit claimed the film copied “floating mountains,” “stone arches” and the antennae and markings on flying creatures.
With an equally ridiculous statement by Cameron’s lawyer:
Cameron lawyer Bert Fields called Cameron the “most original and creative person in the motion picture business today” and said he doesn’t need to copy from anyone.
I wrote a little something about fair use for the New York Times last year. Murky waters:
Of course, one man’s fair use is another’s infringement, and unfortunately, the burden of proof in a fair use case is on the defendant, who, often lacking the money to fight in court, has no choice but to cease and desist. Many artists have suffered this fate, and so I continue making the blackouts with fingers crossed for a litigation-free future.
The primary objective of copyright is not to reward the labor of authors, but ‘[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts’ [according to the US Constitution]. To this end, copyright assures authors the right to their original expression, but encourages others to build freely upon the ideas and information conveyed by a work.”
I wrote a little something about fair use for the New York Times this morning:
There are four factors that determine whether a work can be considered fair use, and I’ve found that these legal constraints can actually be turned into artistic constraints. Rather than limiting my creativity, these constraints make the poems better.
The existential questions that your generation gets to answer are these:
Why do we value the network and hardware that delivers music but not the music itself?
Why are we willing to pay for computers, iPods, smartphones, data plans, and high speed internet access but not the music itself?
Why do we gladly give our money to some of the largest richest corporations in the world but not the companies and individuals who create and sell music?
Many in your generation are willing to pay a little extra to buy “fair trade” coffee that insures the workers that harvested the coffee were paid fairly. Many in your generation will pay a little more to buy clothing and shoes from manufacturers that certify they don’t use sweatshops. Many in your generation pressured Apple to examine working conditions at Foxconn in China. Your generation is largely responsible for the recent cultural changes that has given more equality to same sex couples. On nearly every count your generation is much more ethical and fair than my generation. Except for one thing. Artist rights.
It’s the inside back cover I did for Crap Hound No.5. It’s a summary of the idea of Fair Use, and it addresses common questions and misconceptions. Feel free to pass it along to anyone if you think it’ll help. It was made about ten years ago, so it should probably be passed along with that warning, in case any new details have changed in the law.
While in the music store, Wayne (Myers) tries out a guitar by starting to play “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, and is stopped by a salesman (often falsely credited as Dana Strum from the band Slaughter), who points to a sign on the wall of the sales floor, which says “No Stairway To Heaven”. The joke references the fact that in a number of guitar stores in the UK, the song is banned from being played due to the fact that so many people tried to play the guitar portions of the song after its release, employees became sick of hearing it.
Something that has always bothered me in the guitar store scene: Wayne doesn’t actually play the first four notes from “Stairway To Heaven.” Turns out, for a reason:
Wayne’s performance existed in original 35mm theatrical prints, but, due to the band’s licensing restrictions, the notes performed were changed for home video and television broadcasts and bear very little resemblance to the original, and the point of the joke is lost.
See, the first time I saw Wayne’s World, I was in the 4th grade, laid up with chicken pox, watching it on VHS.