EMI: Legitimately Afraid That Aliens Might Listen To The Beatles Without A License

from the wtf dept

Ah, life imitating art (or art accidentally imitating life). Earlier this year, we had Rob Reid post an excerpt and discuss his new novel, Year Zero, concerning aliens listening to Earth music for free, without a license… and then realizing that they’ve been infringing our copyrights for years, and owe the record labels more money than exists in the galaxy. Funny story, right?

Except… as Joe Betsill points out, apparently at least EMI really was afraid that aliens might listen to music without a license. In the Wikipedia entry for the Beatles’ famous song, “Here Comes the Sun” it notes the following bit of trivia:

Astronomer and science popularizer Carl Sagan had wanted the song to be included on the Voyager Golden Record, copies of which were attached to both spacecraft of the Voyager program to provide any entity that recovered them a representative sample of human civilization. Although The Beatles favoured the idea, EMI refused to release the rights and when the probes were launched in 1977 the song was not included.

Of course, just a few weeks ago, we also discussed Sagan and the Voyager Golden Record, in noting how the world is changing in that we no longer have to wait for the modern Carl Sagans to decide what gets sent into space any more. So, perhaps the story in Year Zero isn’t so far-fetched after all…

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Comments on “EMI: Legitimately Afraid That Aliens Might Listen To The Beatles Without A License”

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Anonymous Coward says:

wow! i reckon the aliens will be too scared to come to Earth now! how the hell will they ever be able to pay all the fines, damages, royalties etc? how will they manage to appease US copyright law so they can prevent themselves from being arrested and locked up as soon as they land?

stay tuned for the next nail-biting episode and how the greatest day in the history of the planet was fucked up by the idiots from RIAA!

Tunnen (profile) says:

This brings into question future copyright law. If you claim that copyright extends for 70 years (Can’t remember the actual number) how will it work when people listen to it in a system 71 light years away. Will it be public domain, or would someone try to claim that the copyright should extend 70 years from when the signal first made it to that system? =P

This also then begs the question if the copyright maximalist would try to claim that the term “year” is defined as an Earth year or a year of the new planet, whichever is longer. I also wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to redefine year as a galactic or cosmic year. (225-250 million Earth years)

Sheogorath (user link) says:


If you claim that copyright extends for 70 years, (Can’t remember the actual number) how will it work when people listen to it in a system 71 light years away?
It doesn’t work quite like that because a light year isn’t a measure of time, but distance; specifically, it’s the distance that light travels in a year. So the (rarely applied in the US) term of life + 70 could be reached in just a few light hours (granted, I don’t know exactly how far light travels in any given amount of time).

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