Does The US Government Pay Royalties When It Blasts Music As A Weapon?

from the just-wondering dept

There have been plenty of stories about how the US military uses music as a weapon. For many years, the military has blasted certain songs, hoping to annoy certain people. It's not clear that this "acoustic bombardment" is particularly effective, but it hasn't slowed down its use. The Register has an article quoting someone suggesting that musicians who are against the war might want to use their copyrights to stop the U.S. military from using their songs. No matter what you think of the war or the use of music in this manner, it doesn't seem like this would be a particularly effective effort. At most, it would just force the government to switch to other music -- and there's no shortage of music out there that people might find annoying. However, it does raise a second question that isn't clearly answered in the article: is the U.S. government paying performance royalties when they blast music in this manner? It certainly would seem to qualify as a "public" performance of sorts. Or, as with some patents, does the government itself get to decide when it can ignore the intellectual property laws it forces everyone else to use?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Danno, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 12:49am

    Why bother with loud music? Just blast a really, really loud square wave.

    Or, even more effectively, a randomly changing sequence of square waves.

    They'll be begging for mercy.

     

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  2.  
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    Layne, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 1:48am

    War Music

    I think that it is a waste of time. But, if they use it, they should pay for it. I have looked around and don't see any mention of royalties, and there is also a lack of any noise being made by the music industry. I guess it is probably just another case of, "we won't charge for the music if you leave us alone and help us route out piracy." Which, is just another indication of how corrupt the government really is.

     

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    John, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 2:03am

    I don't think the gov't owes a cent; first of all it takes place in a foreign land...and I doubt the gov't provided any of the CDs that get blasted...methinks some of the military guys are like, "hey let's blast some Enter Sandman on these dudes!"

     

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  4.  
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    Nick Jones, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 2:31am

    I'd've thought that any music - or noise for that matter - played repeatedly at high volume would have the desired psychological and, possibly, physical effects, i.e. hearing loss. Presumably they play metal or 'rawk' because of its loud & discordant nature and because it's pretty much alien to those being detained.

    To be honest, I find it a bit surreal; they are using something which, to Muslim extremists, might possibly embody some of what they apparently find wrong with Western civilisation - I'd venture that it only serves to reinforce their perceptions, so those in charge are to be congratulated for their clarity of thinking. Still, you're not gonna use the speeches of Bush, Rumsfeld and Bush are you? That'd just have 'em rolling in the aisles...

     

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  5.  
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    uhm.., Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 4:17am

    How can musicians use copyrights to stop soldiers from blasting music, when the soldiers most likely bought the cds/tapes themselves? It's not like they issue AC/DC tracks in bootcamp.

     

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  6.  
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    David Canton, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 4:33am

    Wonder if the artists could block this use by asserting their moral rights?

     

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  7.  
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    CDL, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 5:26am

    Re:

    Have you ever been forced to hear a rap song, I'd prefer the square wave.

    On a serious note, it would just sound like a loud hum, or with random a loud hum that starts and stops probably similar to a hearing test.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 5:42am

    unwanted Public Performances ...

    If the gov't has to pay, then I can think of a few people with car stereos who should be paying for providing a 'public performance' as well ...

    In fact, maybe we could ship some of those youngsters over with their cars and CD collection and have them drive around Sadr City ... let 'em do what they do best.

     

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  9.  
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    fuse5k, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 6:02am

    annoying noises

    i would say that very low frequency noises would be most effective if they were not to use music.

    something about 70-80 hz would be confusing if it was played for long periods of time, as because of the mechanics of the sount its disorientating. the waves are longer than the distance between your ears, so you have no sense of direction for the sound.

    either that or pink noise

     

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  10.  
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    TDizzle, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 6:28am

    Music Types

    I have a friend who was in the special forces when the government was trying to force Noreiga out of his compound in Panama. They played Barry Manilow over loud speakers for days on end. I don't think that was some soldier's mix tape they had, but rather a calculated choice to annoy those inside and be more likely to deal with them.

     

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  11.  
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    Mark, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 6:37am

    Brown tone

    All that is needed.

     

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  12.  
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    Stute, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 6:44am

    I have an even better idea...

    Hook up Hillary Clinton to a microphone...


    Then again, I think congress would get upset because it would be a form of torture...

     

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  13.  
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    GoblinJuice, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 6:51am

    @CDL - Same here, man. ;-)

     

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  14.  
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    Overcast, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 6:55am

    Hook up Hillary Clinton to a microphone...


    Then again, I think congress would get upset because it would be a form of torture...


    So very true...

     

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  15.  
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    Jack, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 7:32am

    Wagner is public domain

    "I love the smell of napalm in the morning..."

     

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  16.  
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    Andy Wendt, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 7:34am

    DMCA problem?

    If the music was not played direct from a store bought CD I wonder how many violations of the DMCA occurred and would anyone take action against some resourceful Second Lieutenant with a Lime Wire account?

     

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  17.  
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    Some Dude, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 8:00am

    I wonder if the artist of the music could be tried for treason if they demanded that US forces stop using their music?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 8:05am

    The anecdote supporting this is over 20 years old now, so things may have changed, but I believe that the U.S. Federal government claims an exemption from royalty payments because it is source of the copyright protection in the first place.

    My recollection is fuzzy, so I may have that wrong. I remember, however, asking the question specifically in reference to an album made by one of the military bands.

    The international aspect is interesting - once you enter a foreign country, you are no longer the provider of the copyright, the other country is. Whatever treaty is in effect may have some bearing on royalty payments.

    But given that we're talking about use of music in a PsyOps manner, we can assume that some form of hostilities are underway. War has its own set of rules.

    Best the musician can probably hope for is a bunch of publicity when they gripe about it, but the way copyright legislation is going, who knows.

    Maybe Congress will add a "Would you like your music used in war?" check box to the submission forms in the next copyright extension. That bill will also be the one that requires us to leave our HD tvs on at all times and activates the internal cameras installed in every set. :)

     

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  19.  
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    jeremy, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 8:05am

    Re:

    forget square waves or sine waves... use this program i made... it is maddeningly fun and ANNOYING. It creates system beeps based on a formula using (R G and B) that you use.

     

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  20.  
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    Known Coward, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 8:46am

    Music as a weapon

    The US military blasted "I fought the law and the law won" by the Bobby Fuller Four repeatedly until Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega came out of the papal nuncio. It worked.

     

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  21.  
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    RandomThoughts, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 9:46am

    I doubt if music is used as a weapon, although some "music" could be considered deadly.

    I hope someone moves forward, would love to see an artist serve a C&D on someone holding an M-16.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 10:41am

    "I want to see you in pain..."

    "Play some rap music"

     

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  23.  
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    jeff, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 11:03am

    wtf

    less music, more bombs, what the fuck happened to my military :(

     

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  24.  
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    Tony, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 11:35am

    Wow hilary on a mic would be awful...

    i think however blasting metallica in someones face with some big speakers would be annoying as hell...
    ----------------------------------------------------

    however the comment above has a point... screw the music... lets see some real blastin

     

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  25.  
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    Chris Grooms, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 11:51am

    Since when does anyone have to pay to PLAY music through speakers for someone to hear no matter what the reason?

    Yea, next thing you know they will try to charge us for the oxygen we breathe while listening to music just because it keeps us alive so we can listen to their shitty product. As if that makes any more sense.

     

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  26.  
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    jimf, Mar 23rd, 2007 @ 9:08pm

    music as a weapon

    I would think that high volumes of American Idol would cause mass surrenders.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2007 @ 12:05pm

    lol pseudo-intellectuals...

    Get enough of them in a room and you may have enough brain power to light a flashlight. Maybe.

    This is no different than suing a kid over playing a song on a boombox. End of story.

    Besides, since when are enemy combatants "consumers" subject to exposure rights?

     

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  28.  
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    Claver, Mar 25th, 2007 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Music as a weapon

    ...until Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega came out of the papal nuncio...

    I beg your pardon ?

     

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  29.  
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    Jane N. Singleton, Nov 23rd, 2008 @ 8:35am

    Response on music as weapon

    I don't know about music as a weapon. What about the way a case is allowed to be handled? What about conspiracies? What if they could get a whole community to turn against you and try all sorts of psychologically damaging actions intended to benefit them financially? I no longer have any doubts as to where our country is headed and how warped some of the officials are.

     

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  30.  
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    Jane N. Singleton, Nov 23rd, 2008 @ 8:39am

    Re: Response on music as weapon

    I mean the whole thing is to get submission. These are not my suggestions !!! They are just my observatons of the 1984 mentality of the government (democratics and republicans) that is taking place in our country. Why not just use the same tactics on innocent civilians in order to win a case? Drive the plaintiff or the defendant insane -- who cares I just don't want to be held accountable for anything?
    Why stop at music? Why not put hidden cameras in their homes and perhaps you could blackmail them in some manner. These ARE NOT MY SUGGESTIONS !!!! THEY ARE OBSERVATIONS 1!!!! WHY CAN'T PEOPLE SEE WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHAT THE FUTURE IS GOING TO BE INSTEAD OF WORRYING IF THEY HAVE TO EAT TURN INSTEAD OF FILET MIGNON?

     

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