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...


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    pegr, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Why ask?

    And why ask EMI at all? Just buy a copy and stash it away. Meanwhile, send your copy off on it's way. I mean, space shifting is fair use, right?

    (sry, couldn't help myself! ;)

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Why ask?

    With today's laws, they could reasonably fine NASA for all the money in the world for lost sales in the rest of the universe, especially since they didn't even bother to set up a notice-and-takedown system.

     

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  3.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 12:37pm

    I don't understand

    Why was there a requirement to obtain the rights at all? What were the rights? I would think that this sort of thing is covered by first-sale. If I buy the music, it is perfectly legal for me to shoot my purchased copy into space without obtaining further permission. Why is it different for NASA?

     

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  4.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Wow, two stories about brain farts in one day. How are EMI still in business? They should have died years ago considering the stupidity of those working for them.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 12:41pm

    Re: I don't understand

    If they were launching the album that they purchased, then it would have been covered by first sale, but they needed to make a copy of it to put it on the golden record. This is where EMI refused to grant a license.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 12:42pm

    .....

     

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  7.  
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    Jim, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Why ask?

    I don't think you used 'reasonably' quite right in that sentence... :)

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    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!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

    Re:

    EMI is (was in the 1970s anyway) British. The RIAA would have fucked it up if they'd had the chance, but this was fucked up without their assistance.

     

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  10.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 1:16pm

    Re: Re: I don't understand

    But format-shifting is legal. They could have satisfied the legal restrictions by shipping the original record along with the golden record.

     

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  11.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: I don't understand

    Format shifting wasnt even a consideration yet.


    Meanwhile, raio had been beaming the song to the stars for years already.

     

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  12.  
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    Tunnen (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 1:46pm

    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)

     

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  13.  
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    Duke (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    How are EMI still in business?
    They're not. They have been making significant losses (in bns) for a few years now, got taken over by their creditors and are now being split up, with the biggest chunks going to UMG and Sony.

     

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  14.  
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    Beta (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    not intelligence as we know it

    Those probes will have to go a long way to find minds more alien to me than the executive who wouldn't leap at such a once-in-a-thousand-lifetimes chance.

     

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  15.  
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    Lord Binky, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:22pm

    I'd be pissed too if I missed out on money that I could use to buy a round of pan galactic gargle blasters.

     

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  16.  
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    fb39ca4, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 2:50pm

    What about the radio stations all broadcasting out into space? Now they owe royalties for every planet that it reaches!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 3:11pm

    Re: I don't understand

    They had already granted monopoly right on sale of music in space to SETI. Of course they couldnīt let NASA exploit that potential market by parralel import! That would be immoral!

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 27th, 2012 @ 4:29pm

    "You do know Paul is dead, right?"
    "No, he's not dead. He just went home."

     

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  19.  
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    MahaliaShere (profile), Sep 27th, 2012 @ 5:52pm

    Re:

    "I also wouldn't be surprised if they tried to redefine year as a galactic or cosmic year. (225-250 million Earth years)"

    Oh you know they will. Just wait till a single human being sets foot on Mars.

     

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  20.  
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    The eejit (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 12:35am

    I'm not saying it was aliens running the MAFIAA
    ...But it was aliens.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 28th, 2012 @ 3:35am

    I propose this:

    1. Launch a spacecraft full with IP-lawyers carrying cease and desist notes.
    2. Have the ship's PA play "Here comes the sun" in loop and at max volume for the whole trip.
    3. Aim the ship at the sun.

    Anyone feel like starting a band named "Disaster Area"?

     

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  22.  
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    Niall (profile), Sep 28th, 2012 @ 6:19am

    Re: I propose this:

    Then you'll get C&D'd from Douglas Adams' estate... oh wait, that lawyer just went FOOM!

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 29th, 2012 @ 10:38am

    Earthlings beware

    Earthlings beware

    We the Alien Worlds cannot tolerate you anymore.

    You are polluted the universe, so prepare to be cleansed.

    Without love for you:
    E.T.

     

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  24.  
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    JasonLG, Sep 29th, 2012 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I don't understand

    Contrary to what most people think the radio signals emitted by us earthlings are so weak that they don't make it much past our solar system before thy're drown out by the cosmic background radiation.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2012 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Earthlings beware

    Wow, who taught you all that? When you left Earth the most you could say was "E.T. phone home" and a few other simplistic things.

     

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  26.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), May 5th, 2013 @ 4:06am

    Re:

    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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