George Clinton Explains How Bridgeport Allegedly Faked Documents To Get His Music Rights

from the cut-and-paste,-yo dept

We recently wrote about George Clinton speaking out about Bridgeport Music, the copyright troll that Clinton alleges forged paperwork to get the rights to Clinton’s works, and then went on a rampage suing hundreds of (mainly hip hop) artists for sampling Clinton’s work (something Clinton is in favor of allowing). As we noted, we were a little disappointed in the lack of clarity from Clinton on the details, but more of the picture is coming out, thanks first to a comment by people associated with Clinton, claiming:

Bridgeport claims ownership to the majority of P-Funk’s music by using a forged document from 1983 dealing with the transfer of the Malbiz catalog of songs. Armen Boladian has admitted in court that he signed George’s name, changed wording of the contract w/o notification, and practiced these same tactics on numerous other documents. Essentially Bridgeport acquired the music through theft, coercion, blackmail & other highly dubious actions.

Clinton has also put up a new video that appears to show Armen Boladian being deposed concerning these issues, implying strongly that he altered documents (the edits make it difficult to confirm the full accuracy of the questions Boladian is answering — but assuming the edits are accurate, that’s the picture the video paints).

Both the comment and the video suggest that Clinton is working on a RICO lawsuit against Boladian/Bridgeport. The video also suggests additional backroom dealings between record labels and Bridgeport, to avoid paying artists. Unfortunately, yet again the details of what Clinton is accusing the labels of is quite murky, but hopefully we’ll get more details soon.

Of course, all of this seems to highlight the sheer insanity of “ownership” around “rights” in a song. You can’t see it. You can’t hold it. You can’t block it off. The “rights” are fictions. They’re whatever is on a piece of paper, and people can edit and change the paper. That’s not property. It’s an imaginary figment.

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Comments on “George Clinton Explains How Bridgeport Allegedly Faked Documents To Get His Music Rights”

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46 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

” They’re whatever is on a piece of paper, and people can edit and change the paper. That’s not property. It’s an imaginary figment.”

That just isn’t a very good argument. The property line between your house and your neighbor is just on paper. There is no physicial line painted, nothing of the sort. The paper can be edited, changed. That’s not property, that’s just property.

It’s incredibly poor logic to say because someone may have committed fraud that the underlying concept is defective. By that logic, we wouldn’t have money, commerce, or any other dealings with each other because someone at some point committed fraud in each of these areas.

You were doing good until you got near the conclusion. Then the post turned into a head shaker.

TOG says:

Re: Re:

I have to completely agree with this post (as I was about to post something very similar).

Mike says “You can’t see it. You can’t hold it. You can’t block it off.” But seeing or holding only ever applies to tangible personal property and real property, and then only to the existence of such property. Rights in property are ALWAYS a figment, something on paper or simply “known” and adhered to. Otherwise you might end having to change the old maxim “possession is 99% of the law” (which really isn’t all that true, which is why it is only an expression) to “possession is 100% of the law” or “possession = ownership” which, I think Mike would agree, is not an intended goal in a capitalist society.

RobShaver (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“You can’t see it. You can’t hold it. You can’t block it off. The “rights” are fictions.”

I agree with most of what Mike says but this is not a valid argument. The idea of ownership of material things is the same fiction and I can see why people have extended the historic idea of ownership of material things into the realm of immaterial things also.

Mike’s argument has mainly been that this extension of the idea of ownership has many unintended consequences and needs to be rethought. I agree with that. I don’t agree with the idea he put forward here that if you can’t touch it you can’t own it.

PopeRatzo (profile) says:

End of the line

This was a period when a lot of music executives thought they could still take advantage of black artists, since they’d been doing so for years with blues, jazz and R&B musicians.

But enough time had passed and the Civil Rights Act had made artists realize that they weren’t just living on a plantation any more and could assert themselves as businessmen on equal footing with the white executives who made a living preying on them in the past.

Today, with P Diddy and JayZ and others becoming the big executives themselves, black artists are not as afraid as they once were.

But even taking race out of it entirely, there’s just no reason for the big record/publishing companies to exist any more. Why do I need Sony or BMG or whoever just to listen to music? I can go directly to the artist.

I would be happy if every major record label (and movie studio) disappeared tomorrow.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Yes, but in the end, if the paper says X and the marker says Y, the paper wins. The marker ain’t worth much.

What is equally funny in this story is that nobody explains why Clinton has been not dealing with this issue for 20+ years, and suddenly he is all over it. I can imagine one of those copyright hating lawyers pushing him on it.

AJ says:

Give me the deed

I’ll bite… when you hand me a song, not a cd or the sheet music, a physical song, I’ll hand over the deed to my house.

I bet he left out a word….

“and “when” people can edit and change the paper. That’s not property. It’s an imaginary figment.”

Even if it was a typo or whatever… I would like to know how one can own the rights to something that doesn’t physically exist? The concept itself defeats me…

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re:

There are probably multiple documents that show where property lines are…it would take quite a bit to forge, the property owner’s deed, the neighbor’s deed, the city/county property record of the owner and neighbors, any planning documents, ie. subdivision plats or site plans.

But, of course, I don’t think that is the point of Mike’s comment. Property documents show ownership of tangible/physical goods or property. A song/idea/thought can not be possessed or contained while being simultaneously shared.

Huph (user link) says:

Re:

What? I can certainly let people come to a BBQ on my property and still own it. I can “possess” my land while sharing it with others. I can rent out a section and still own the entirety. You know this.

And how is a song lumped in now with “ideas” and “thoughts”? Ideas and thoughts are intangible activities of the mind, songs do exist in the physical world. They’re not imagined. An idea for a song or a thought about a song is not in itself a song. And of course they can be simultaneously possessed and shared. When I’m performing, are you suggesting that the music the audience hears is no longer in my mind?

Karl (profile) says:

Re:

The property line between your house and your neighbor is just on paper.

So, when I’m looking at my fence from my window, I can’t see it? When I’m leaning on that fence, and standing in my yard, I can’t touch it? Most importantly, if I can’t block it off, why is my fence there in the first place?

Note: Mike did not say these things aren’t significant. Some of the most significant things in life cannot be seen, felt, or blocked off – like love. I would not, however, call love “property.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

Mike is just playing word games here. He is attempting to move the lines to frame his point of view, but it is a long reach.

Let’s start with your property line. You see the fence? Is it really on the property line? Or did the surveyor get it wrong by an inch or two? Did someone make an error when the fence was built? Was there an error on the original documents? Did someone modify them to correct the error, now making your fenceline to be in error? Just because you see a fence doesn’t mean that the underlying truth (which is only on paper) agrees.

You cannot compare emotions to music. While music may be driven by emotion, or played in an emotional manner, the underlying song, the music, the performance are all as much a product as is nailing together two pieces of wood, or building that fence between your properties.

Trying to classify anything that isn’t physical as “not property” is to ignore all that goes into them. It is an attempt to reframe the universe, but fails in even the most basic view.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Think harder, because you are falling for simple misdirection.

Is a computer chip design physical property, or just an idea?

Is mechanical design property, or just an idea?

They are not copyrighting the concept of music, they are copyrighting the music that is produced. Yes, produced, as in product.

Everything that is ever discovered, built, or created for the first time is an act of imagination.

To try to draw a distinction because you can hold one in your hand and cannot hold the other in the same manner is entirely misleading. Record the music, and you can hold it in your hand (and they can copyright it). Write it down as sheet music, and you can copyright it. You can also hold both of those in your hand. Does that make them more real for you?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Not the point Jay. Just because you see someone’s house doesn’t mean they own your eyeballs either. It’s a non-issue. You are attempting to add a whole bunch of fog to a clear issue where Mr Techdirt pretty much blew it. He knows that ideas can’t be copyrighted, but work product can be, and music is a work product.

You can copyright a book, you can copyright an article, you can copyright a website and yes, you can copyright a song.

If he is in denial about those basic ideas, you can imagine why so many find the rest of his concepts laughable. You have to wilfully ignore reality to make it all work out in your mind. Just ask Marcus how to do it, he’s an expert!

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

” He knows that ideas can’t be copyrighted, but work product can be, and music is a work product. “

But how music is used, and distributed, the copyright is for… what? Does it protect the distribution? Does it add value to a song?

Without the tangible medium, the song still exists to be heard by the artist. While you’re using the utilitarian implementation of copyright, (where the “labor” of one’s efforts is protected by the government), that doesn’t make your point valid.

If you remove the medium and merely had the song, what exactly is there to protect? The artist can perform it again, or someone else could learn to do the same.

That isn’t the same as a piece of paper for a plot of land. You still have a tangible medium to use for bartering as you see fit. As the article looks into this use, it should be noted that the “rights” of this song:

The right to perform this song
To enforce others not to perform this song
The right to have samples and licenses based on this song

These are some of the supposed rights that are being faked. Now we have a LOT of songs being made by artists and musicians worldwide. Having someone in control of who gets to use that material is probably what Mike’s intended meaning is criticizing.

“If he is in denial about those basic ideas, you can imagine why so many find the rest of his concepts laughable. You have to wilfully ignore reality to make it all work out in your mind. Just ask Marcus how to do it, he’s an expert!”

His “concepts” are more normalcy is copyright law instead of the one sided idiosyncrasy it’s become today. Perhaps more research into the matter, where economic data could be quantified, similar to the “Media Piracy in Emerging Economics” research, the “GAO report on Piracy”, or even NBC’s report where we find out that piracy is the fault of the industry itself, could shed some light on this subject.

Jimr (profile) says:

possession and ownership

Ownership of anything is me saying it is mine and other people believing it is so.

Ask any two year old and they will claim everything is theirs.

Look at many military conquests. Look at the Europeans coming to America who basically claimed the land for their home country and everyone accepted it (but not all the local inhabitants though). Even some people, still to day, claim they own their wife (as in property).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re:

I think laws should exist for the common good. This applies to both real property laws and imaginary ‘property’ laws. Just like real property laws are not exempt from this requirement, neither are IP laws.

However, the common good is also somewhat determined by what people value. I value my right to copy more than I value someones privilege to prevent me from copying. So it is in my best interest to have these laws abolished. If enough people agree with me then a publicly representative government should abolish these laws. It’s called democracy. My vote is that these laws get abolished.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Of course you do. In the same manner, we personally value being able to use the neighbors parking spot than we value their right to own it. Their right to own the spot (and stop you from parking there) has little value to you. Being able to use it without restriction would have value.

If you want to abolish copyright, be ready to have all of your property rights revoked. Why should you be able to own a house if others do not? Can the majority who are homeless or renting vote to revoke your rights to own anything?

Some laws aren’t there because they are popular, but because they form the framework under which our systems operate. Take those away, and you haven’t got much left.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“In the same manner, we personally value being able to use the neighbors parking spot than we value their right to own it. Their right to own the spot (and stop you from parking there) has little value to you. Being able to use it without restriction would have value.”

Being against copy protection laws doesn’t make one against property laws.

“If you want to abolish copyright, be ready to have all of your property rights revoked.”

Why?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Of course you do. In the same manner, we personally value being able to use the neighbors parking spot than we value their right to own it. Their right to own the spot (and stop you from parking there) has little value to you. Being able to use it without restriction would have value.”

and if you can get enough people to value what you value, perhaps you can get elected politicians that will pass laws that favor a free for all parking system.

“If you want to abolish copyright, be ready to have all of your property rights revoked.”

No, I’m ready to abolish copy protection laws without revoking property rights.

“Why should you be able to own a house if others do not?”

Because I can pay for it and others can’t. Because society sees that such a systematic configuration best serves the public interest as a whole.

“Can the majority who are homeless or renting vote to revoke your rights to own anything?”

Absolutely.

“Some laws aren’t there because they are popular, but because they form the framework under which our systems operate.”

Anti-Free speech laws in China aren’t there because they’re popular, but because they form the framework under which their system operates. Laws that govern those oppressed by a tyrannical government aren’t there because they’re popular, but because they form the framework under which their system operates.

“Take those away, and you haven’t got much left.”

Abolish tyrannical governments and wanna be tyrants have nothing left.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“and if you can get enough people to value what you value, perhaps you can get elected politicians that will pass laws that favor a free for all parking system.”

Doesn’t work like that. Any new law would have to be in respect of existing laws, the constitution, etc. Not only would I have to get elected to make such a change, but a majority of members of the house and senate would each have to agree, and the President would have to sign.

“No, I’m ready to abolish copy protection laws without revoking property rights.”

Copyright is a type of property law. If you are for dropping that one, be hopeful that your neighbors aren’t planning to drop the one about your title deed to your house.

“Because I can pay for it and others can’t. Because society sees that such a systematic configuration best serves the public interest as a whole.”

You answered the question. Why does copyright exist? Because some people can create new music, new writings, new whatever and others can’t. Because society sees that such a systematic configuration best serves the public interest as a whole.

“Anti-Free speech laws in China aren’t there because they’re popular, but because they form the framework under which their system operates.”

A truly pathetic deflection. The laws of America (and the constitution) are all about “we the people”. The people of China didn’t get to vote. Your entire line of thinking just sucks, a total fail from one end to the other. Why not address the point instead of pulling the old “in communist China” bullcrap?

“Abolish tyrannical governments and wanna be tyrants have nothing left.”

Abolish bullcrap, and your post disappears.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

Re:

What!? If you perform your song of course you still have it in your mind…now everyone who has heard that song can replicate it if they have the skill to do so. You can share your land with people but you can control how it is shared. If you give your land to somebody then you lose possession of that land. And how is a song tangible?

TOG says:

Re: Re:

But you can also give your land to someone, lose possession of that land, and still retain OWNERSHIP of the land. It’s called a lease.

Regarding the physical objects that hold ideas (i.e., tangible media upon which is placed a recording), I give you a better example:

An artist paints a picture or sculpts a sculpture. Although I may buy that physical manifestation of the artist’s idea I am not the owner of the art I am merely the owner of the physical manifestation. The artist (or his or her heirs) remains the owner of the art and the idea of the art and the artist may make additional physical manifestations of his or her idea either in the form of similar works, additional castings (with regard to a sculpture), or lithographs, prints, posters, etc (with regard to an image).

Don’t try to discount the value of an idea to its creator simply because its expression may be shared and experienced by others.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

All you’re doing is reallocating resources to make something more valuable. Music becomes more valuable upon replication.

A book becomes more valuable as it’s read to an audience.

A movie becomes more valuable as it’s seen and discussed with a community.

The artist using stone could decide to reallocate the concrete stone (a scarce resource) into a statue. The idea of someone else to make a separate statue in another area, is still plausible.

And just a small hint: The “originality” argument doesn’t always apply. Some of the best inventions came about while trying to fix technology or make it somewhat better.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Yes, the best inventions come from trying to fix something. But they rarely involve taking someone else’s product, putting an “oh yeah” sticker on the outside, and claiming originality.

Value is one of those slippery concepts. Valuable to who? Does your listening to a song make it more valuable to me? To society? Did the total value of something increase because you listened to it, did you generate value out of thin air? Or was that value applied to something else, and now applied to the new music you are listening to right now? Is the current song you are listening too more valuable than the one that played just before it? Is value an ever increasing endless thing, or is it like conservation of mass, there is only so much value that any one person has, and to add value to one you take away from another?

Talking in vague terms like “value” is incredibly misleading. Cancer patients make Oncologists valuable (without patients, they would be nothing). Would we make them more valuable if we found a way to give more people cancer? Would there be a net increase in value overall? That is the sort of twisted logic that makes using “value” a meaningless measurement.

Originality exists even in recovering music, as an example, as everyone plays differently. Playing a sample of an existing recording isn’t very original. Anyone can do that, and it will always sound the same. Adding “oh yeah” or whatever in the middle of it isn’t particularly original, and doesn’t offset the incredible lack of originality in using the sample.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Yes, the best inventions come from trying to fix something. But they rarely involve taking someone else’s product, putting an “oh yeah” sticker on the outside, and claiming originality.”

So you’re denying that Nikola Tesla came and made alternating current work for electricity, effectively building modern society…

Or the incredible number of remixes being created, for *FREE*, through other people’s spare time…

Or the amount of work that DJs do in their “art form” that is all about originality. Have you ever heard of Paul Oakenfold? Darude? Do you not understand that originality comes through building materials based on what’s before?

Else, you might as well say that because all music uses a guitar and string, it’s a copy of something else. That’s a false assertion that seems to take your logic to its natural conclusion.

“Value is one of those slippery concepts”

Actually, no, it’s not. I value my time in debating with people on this forum. Other’s find value with editing wikipedia. Some value it by working on music and not being hindered. I have artists that I value enough to actually listen to more, and other artists I won’t pay attention to. I go to concerts where there are thousands of people, and record the events and post the concert on Youtube. Though it’s an abstract concept, you can add value to almost anything, which makes people want to buy from you. Concepts such as “brand loyalty” can have value in their own right, especially considering most people find music that they like , sharing it for no other benefit but seeing if others enjoy it.

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