Movie About Jimi Hendrix… Won't Use Any Jimi Hendrix Music Due To Licensing Issues

from the purple-haze dept

Ah, the insanity of music licensing. There’s apparently a biopic of Jimi Hendrix being made, starring Andre Benjamin (better known as Andre 3000 from Outkast) in the leading role. Of course, with a Hendrix biography, you’d think that the real star would be the music — but in this case, there won’t be any original Jimi Hendrix music in the entire movie, because Hendrix’s estate has said that it won’t license songs unless it has some sort of say in the production. The producers don’t want that, so they didn’t even ask to license the music. The film, instead, will make do with new versions of cover songs that Hendrix did along the way.

This is, in many ways, ridiculous. Part of the point of recording and retelling our cultural heritage is the use of the actual music that made it happen. Even the Hendrix estate finds the moviemakers’ position confusing (though, it doesn’t indicate if it would license the songs without creative say in the flick). Part of the problem is the ridiculous setup of music licensing today. You can do a cover song with compulsory licenses (i.e., without permission), but that’s only for audio. Doing video gets you into sync licenses and other issues that require permission. And this is what you get in a society that locks up culture: a movie about Jimi Hendrix that features exactly none of his original music.

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Comments on “Movie About Jimi Hendrix… Won't Use Any Jimi Hendrix Music Due To Licensing Issues”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

will replace the covers with the Hendrix originals

He covered them, there is no ‘Hendrix original’, and it will still potentially feature most of his biggest hits. (e.g. All along the watchtower, Hey Joe, Born under a bad sign, the national anthem..)

Maybe they looked at the tracklist they wanted and realized there was no need for estate bias in the production.

Anonymous Coward says:

You need to pay attention to understand the issues at play here. There is a feeling that the biopic isn’t going to be friendly to the Hendrix history, and may take some liberties to make the story more interesting and relevant to the 21st century. The estate doesn’t want the reputation ruined, and refuses to take part without some control over the content of the movie and how the music is used.

Basically, THEY ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO SHARE. They don’t have to allow the music to get used. It’s their music, they can do what they want with it.

What is a shame here is that people trying to do a biopic are apparently not willing to come to terms with the rights holder of the music (and those most interested in making sure the story is told right).

I suspect we will get a competing, much more complete biopic sometime in the future. That is the nature of competition. Quit trying to force people into doing things they don’t want to do.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

and those most interested in making sure the story is told right

Who gets to decide what the correct version of history is? The owner of a government created monopoly on a music recording?

I can see it now: “The Official Biography of Abraham Lincoln, as approved by the noted historians at Sony Music”

Quit trying to force people into doing things they don’t want to do.

Err, copyright is force. So you’re saying they should be able to use the music without permission?

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s their music, they can do what they want with it.

It needs to be repeated because you and yours don’t really understand copyright. Hendrix created the music. At that point it was his. He then shared it. Now he had his, and the people he shared it with had theirs. His estate now coming in and telling the people that they can’t play the music that is on the producer’s CD, harddrive, mp3 player, etc, is a restriction on the producer’s property rights. Copyright holders take rights from others in order to have the exclusive right to copy and distribute. It is not that the estate doesn’t want to share. Hendrix already shared. The estate now wants to have control of what was already given away. Briggs and Stratton doesn’t get to tell me what to do with the lawn mower I bought from them. GE can’t tell me what to do with the light bulb I bought from them. I can copy those items, I can sell those items, I can even sell the copies of those items. But suddenly copyright holders get to tell me what I can and cannot do with the work they already gave away.

In order to keep from infringing your copyright, I must necessarily have my rights infringed. In order to respect your copyrights, I must necessarily disrespect my own rights. In order for you to even have a copyright, I must give up my rights. Copyright is infringement.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“There is a feeling that the biopic isn’t going to be friendly to the Hendrix history, and may take some liberties to make the story more interesting and relevant to the 21st century.”

Wait, so you’re saying a movie about a real person may not be entirely accurate? I am shocked! Shocked!

Geez. Also, “friendly to the Hendrix history”, is ridiculous. How did he die again? Oh, that’s right, he OD’d So, to make things “friendly to the Hendrix history”, I’m sure the family might want to change that to “he smelled a flower and dropped dead” or something. Sorry, but makings things friendly is a stupid reason to hold something up. And even the majority of “based on a true story” movies have a nice amount of creative story telling. I wouldn’t expect any different of a biopic.

“Basically, THEY ARE NOT OBLIGATED TO SHARE. They don’t have to allow the music to get used. It’s their music, they can do what they want with it.”

I see, so they don’t have to share but if they feel like sharing, the people involved in the movies production suddenly are obligated to share their creative production? And this makes sense to you? One group doesn’t have to do anything it doesn’t want to, but the other group does. And you wonder why people laugh at you and your like. Hint, it’s because of your blatant hypocrisy. You make demands of others that you refuse to do yourself first.

“I suspect we will get a competing, much more complete biopic sometime in the future.”

No fucking shit sherlock. Heck, I have a dvd already that is essentially a bio of Jimi Hendrix. Complete with a great scene featuring Little Richard who appears to be wired to the gills. And that dvd isn’t a biopic, so much as interviews with people who actually knew him and then photos and whatnot of Jimi, as well as performances done by him.

“That is the nature of competition.”

So what you’re saying is competition is all well and great when you can dictate to others what they can or can’t do, but the moment it’s free reign, as in legitimate competition, well fuck that. Someone best put a stop to it, right?

“Quit trying to force people into doing things they don’t want to do.”

Can you point to who is being forced to do something in this? I read the article. No mention of forcing anyone to do anything. Just an article stating it’s ridiculous that because one group now wants creative control to some extant in a movie about Jimi Hendrix, and is being refused the opportunity to do so, they are withholding his music from being used in a biopic about him.

No forcing at all. However, it could be interpreted that the ones being forced (or attempted to be forced) to do anything are the ones involved in the creation of the movie. They’re being told, “You want to use his music, do this or fuck off!”

God man, your type seriously grasp at straws to try and paint Mike and others here as the bad guys. Seriously though, show us who’s being forced to do what.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“It’s their music, they can do what they want with it.”

Err…how does one “own” music? The music in question was performed/recorded/written/whatever (someone tell me which verb to use, please!) by Jimi Hendrix. Not his family. How can these people “own” music? If Jimi had walked up to me years ago and performed his music in front of me, does he still “own” it? Do I, having heard it?
If you want to get technical, music is an idea, knowledge. The knowledge of arranging musical notes and/or lyrics in a specific order. We don’t grant copyright or ownership status over recipes (arranging ingredients in a specific order). We don’t say that my Aunt Martha thought up and wrote down a recipe for chocolate cake, therefore, even if prepared and baked in front of me, she somehow still retains “ownership” of the idea and is solely entitled to prepare it.
So…rebuttal please?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Jimi died 42 years ago… I lived through that era and he was part of my life. I made him and his estate wealthy by buying his music. What gratitude do I get in return. O sorry Jimi’s music is now ours (i.e. his freeloading surviving relatives) and no you deserve nothing in return for making Jimi an iconic musician and appreciating his music.

maclypse (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The man’s been dead 40 years, and you are not allowed to make a historical film, documentary, series, or anything without permission and paying royalties. This is just one of the problems with copyright; it’s not just our culture that’s being held hostage for 70 years, but in fact our very history is being held hostage.

You can’t make a Vietnam-war documentary without paying royalties to the estates of the long dead musicians who wrote their music as a protest against the establishment in the first place! Funny how that turned out, isn’t it?

The thing about “documentaries” produced under the watchful eyes of the copyright holders, is that they inevitably turn out whitewashed, scrubbed clean of actual history. Elvis turns out slim and clean. Malcolm X ends up liking white people. When the time comes, Schwarzenegger’s bio will contain no steroids, nor any embarrassing bits from “Pumping Iron”.

You are right though: with support of the law, they basically own the music, the history, and dead-man-Hendrix himself. Legal though, doesn’t make it right. Everyone should have the right to record and interpret history, not just the people who think they own it. Let’s hope things change. Things have to change; the current state of it all is perverted.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“They don’t have to allow the music to get used. It’s their music, they can do what they want with it.”
That’s the problem right there. It’s part of the culture yet it’s their’s and they can stop it from being shared?

Copyright was not unreasonable in the US once. It recognized it’s own point and limitations were time-reasonable. Under that regime, the baby-boomers youth-culture would not be locked up and it’s a crime against humanity that it is locked up under this regime.

The generation whose youth culture is at issue are around retirement age. That their culture cannot be freely reflected in artistic expression that explores that time period and/or its icons makes a sham of copyright. In the US it is for the advancement of the arts and sciences, not for locking down culture to this insane extent.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The estate doesn’t want the reputation ruined”

He was a drug addict and womaniser who died ridiculously young due to his wild lifestyle. His reputation comes completely, 100%, from his music.

If they’re worried about his reputation, why won’t they allow the use of the thing that made his reputation?

“It’s their music, they can do what they want with it.”

It shouldn’t be. They didn’t make it. They didn’t write it. They didn’t contribute to it. Why should they be in custody of it and profit from it?

“What is a shame here is that people trying to do a biopic are apparently not willing to come to terms with the rights holder of the music (and those most interested in making sure the story is told right).”

Define “right”. I consider the right way to tell the story to be the TRUTH, no matter how embarrassing it might be. You seem to consider the “right” way to be to lie about it. Liars in defence of copyright holders, what a surprise…

“That is the nature of competition.”

…and this is one of the stupidest things you’ve ever said, considering that removing competition is the entire basis of the copyright you’re defending.

evostick says:

Re: I wonder what Hendrix would do?

Why does Hendrix have to re-record them? Why not get a (very talented) set of musicians to cover the songs. You could even film their hands whilst doing so and add edit it in. It would allow you to “recreate” outtakes and unrecorded live gigs.

If you can use a cover license for other peoples songs, then why not use it for Hendrix’s own.

John Baker says:

There is a feeling that the biopic isn’t going to be friendly to the Hendrix history

Its funny how people think that control would automatically make it better or more accurate not just more arbitrary. Making a film is a different thing entirely from looking after an estate.

Maybe the film will turn out shite but that shouldn’t stop them trying and having a chance to do it their way. No one else should be stopped either from competing with it. You seem to advocate only approved competition which is not really competition.

Control could for instance be removing stuff they are not comfortable with – he was hardly an angel eh?

If its not accurate, reviewers will slate it all over anyway if claiming to be a biography. You shouldn’t slate something before it made!

MrWilson says:

Once again, if presenting reality as it truly happened is stopped by intellectual property laws, there’s something wrong with those laws.

In reality, Jimi Hendrix wrote and performed his songs. If you can’t depict that without paying someone a lot of money, that’s a violation of free speech in my opinion. It’s not like they’re shooting a movie about the Doors and wanting to use Jimi’s music. It’s relevant to the project and, in my opinion, fair use. A project like this would only drive music sales for the estate. You’re declining free advertising and, arguably, curtailing the adding of value to the music by letting people have a more emotional connection when they see the circumstances of its origin.

jason says:

Re: Re:

I agree with much of what you’re saying, but I’d venture to guess that the people making the film just wanted to avoid the estate as much as possible. The Hendrix estate looks to be another one of those “relatives trying to make bank off of dead star” situations, complete with will revisions and other hijinks. It is a sad situation when people that had very little to do with the creation of the music are doing such a disservice to the actual creator’s legacy. Very sad.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“A project like this would only drive music sales for the estate.”

That is, of course, one of the dumber things here. If they’re just concerned how the movie will alter peoples’ perceptions of his music and thus sales of said music, they’re barking up the wrong tree. There will be many, many people who will watch the movie for Andre or other reasons who have never heard Hendrix’s music before (as, for example, my first introduction to The Doors’ catalogue was Oliver Stone’s biopic). However he’s portrayed in the movie, the music speaks for itself.

Otherwise, what they’re admitting is that they’re not interested in the truth. They don’t want to support any film that doesn’t present a bland, whitewashed version of history that glosses over the man’s many flaws (which were what made him an interesting enough character to film in the first place). That’s pretty sad.

Anonymous Coward says:

that’s what happens when little plastic disks are thought more of/worth more to humanity than anything else. just think, without those disks, there wouldn’t have been steam trains/diesel-electric trains, ships, televisions, bicycles, radios, cars central heating or a million and one other things. in fact, without those disks, life as we know it would never have happened and we would still be struggling to get out of the swamps!

Anonymous Coward says:

Tempest in a Teakettle

Maybe it’s just spin, but according to the original article, the producers say they’re making a movie about Hendrix before his first album, back when he was doing mostly backing for other bands and covers of other bands’ music. They argue that licensing isn’t an issue because (a) they have licenses for the songs they’re covering and (b) Hendrix’s “Hendrix” music is anachronistic in the part of his life they’re presenting.

So, I’m calling tempest in a teakettle here. (Even though I agree with Mike’s basic argument that the existing licensing structure is stupider than stupid.)

dwg (profile) says:

Here's one:

Make it anyway, and use all the music you want. Then get sued into bankruptcy, but know that you made the movie you wanted to make and that that’s more important than the money. If you truly believe that, then god bless you and show the estate where to shelve it.

No /s/ here. Totally serious. No one can stop you from making a piece of art–they can only come for you after the fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

All you freetards are missing the point. If you allow the music created by someone to be used in a biopic of him that could be associated with him and reinforce this association with said person, the pirates will win. I don’t know how, but I’m pretty sure it infringes the holy life + 70 years thing. What, the guy only died 42 years ago! Can’t you freetards wait another 18 years before the copyright automatically passes on to his descendants or something so they can tell you you can’t use this music?

Also, the new boss is worse than the old boss, and it’s too funny. There are no monsters under the bed, and when we’re done with Dotcom my sleeping giant artist friends are coming for you, Chubby Chicken Little Pirate slimeball weasel Mikey.

S7 says:

The Wrecking Crew

Denny Tedesco is currently going through the same issue trying to release a movie about his Father, Tommy Tedesco’s time with The Wrecking Crew. Taking donations to pay off the labels.

Music Film Is Delayed by Fees for Songs

failed friend says:

Hendrix family ruins projects they are involved with...

I am from Seattle, and know four different artist that did work either with or for the Hendrix family. They all complained about Janie Hendrix’s input and micromanaging of their projects…

In every case, when the Hendrix estate was involved, they managed to get the projects scrapped, delayed, or otherwise ruined. I had a friend that did a life size bronze sculpture of Jimi for his grave, the Hendrix estate totally screwed him over,broke their contract, and managed to confiscate the sculpture. I am sure if you asked these guys, they would agree with the filmmakers decision to proceed without interference from the family.

That being said, it is a pity they didnt use his music in the film.

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