Skinny Puppy Invoices US Government After It Played The Band's Music To Torture Gitmo Prisoners [Updated]

from the but-was-it-paid? dept

A few years ago, after stories started appearing about the US military playing loud music to annoy prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay, we were among those who wondered if the government paid royalties on those “public performances.” We weren’t the only ones, as at least some musicians who were on the playlist wondered out loud if they were getting royalties — while, actually, being a lot more concerned about the whole situation, both the torture and the idea that their music was used as torture. Now, in a recent issue of the Phoenix New Times, in which they interviewed the band Skinny Puppy about its latest album, the band’s founder explains that the name for the new album came from hearing that their music was being played at Gitmo, but also notes that they sent an invoice to the US government:

“We heard through a reliable grapevine that our music was being used in Guantanamo Bay prison camps to musically stun or torture people,” founder cEvin Key explains by phone from his Los Angeles home. “We heard that our music was used on at least four occasions. So we thought it would be a good idea to make an invoice to the U.S. government for musical services, thus the concept of the record title, Weapons.”

The wording there is a little strange, as it may be that the album is a metaphorical invoice, but it would be fascinating to find out if an actual invoice was ever sent… and if it was paid. Oh, and, no the band wasn’t happy about all of this:

“Not too good,” Key continues. “We never supported those types of scenarios. … Because we make unsettling music, we can see it being used in a weird way. But it doesn’t sit right with us.”

Update: Aha. Via Jason Leopold, here’s the actual invoice for $666,000.

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Comments on “Skinny Puppy Invoices US Government After It Played The Band's Music To Torture Gitmo Prisoners [Updated]”

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38 Comments
scotts13 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Tomorrows news:

“That’s actually prohibited by copyright law. And under eminent domain they’d still have to pay them anyway.”

Well yes, under TODAY’S interpretation of the law. Tomorrow?

Point is, I’m quite sure it never occurred to whatever agency runs that prison that they might have to obey every little law and regulation – let alone performance rights.

Wally (profile) says:

Ok now I'm not happy

For those who have never heard any sings by Skinny Puppy…if you had the CD-ROM version of Interplay and Paralax Software’s Descent II….the song that has a part where a woman is screaming as if she were being raped…the one from the second level of the first chapter…that is a song by Skinny Puppy…Many of you have no idea how unsettling that sound really is…

Gabriel J. Michael (profile) says:

Publicity stunt. Probably nothing owed.

Why are we assuming this qualifies as a “public performance”? The MPAA claims that prisons require a public performance license, but that’s probably your classic prison movie showing situation. If they’re blasting music at one or two detainees in Gitmo, that’s not a public performance, and no license is required. If they’re using headphones, as one commenter above suggested, should be an open-and-shut defense.

If they actually want to sue, the hurdles are higher for suing the federal government for infringement than private parties. And they’ll be limited to minimum statutory damages.

Obviously they can object to whatever they want, but copyright is not a tool to silence all uses you disagree with. We might not like the use, but this is borderline copyright abuse.

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