A True Story Of 'Copyright Piracy': Why The Verve Will Only Start Getting Royalties Now For Bittersweet Symphony

from the the-things-copyright-does-to-people dept

For all of the traditional recording industry's claims of how important copyright is for "supporting artists," the most egregious examples of legacy industry folks screwing artists over tend to involve copyright -- and especially cases involving sampling. The law around sampling is particularly stupid, and has been for decades. Musicians can pay a compulsory license to cover a song, but if you just want to sample a bit, that's a whole different story. And even if you try to do it right... well, copyright will fuck you over. Perhaps the most egregious example is what happened with the Verve's hit song Bittersweet Symphony. Unless you've lived under a rock for the past two decades, you've heard this song. And you may have heard variations on the story of how it used a sample from the Rolling Stones, who were then credited as co-songwriters, giving them a cut of the publishing (which has become a common practice these days when songs are sampled). At least that was the story I initially heard years back. But the full story is truly despicable, and it's back in the news now because, more than two decades later (also, two decades too late), the Rolling Stones have given back the rights. We'll get to that in a second. Because the background here is worth understanding.

There are a few different versions of the story floating around -- and not all of the details match. But at the very least, the Verve's Richard Ashcroft wrote the song Bittersweet Symphony, and the recording used a barely noticeable sample of a recording by the Andrew Oldham Orchestra. That recording was an orchestral cover of the Rolling Stones' song The Last Time. Andrew Oldham had been an early manager of the Stones, and the Andrew Oldham Orchestra was a side project (that sometimes involved the Stones themselves). The sample that the Verve wanted for Bittersweet Symphony wasn't even the same as the Rolling Stones song. It was part of the original arrangement for the Oldham Orchestra, apparently done by composer David Whitaker, who is credited in none of this. Also, the opening violin solo that is so iconic and so identified with Bittersweet Symphony is not actually from that sample. It was done by the Verve themselves, designed to flow right into it the part with the sample.

Oh, and here's the real kicker: the Rolling Stones totally copied the song "The Last Time" in the first place -- from a 1955 gospel track by the Staple Singers, called This May Be The Last Time, which itself was based on some traditional gospel songs. The Rolling Stones nowadays totally admit they copied the Staple Singers song. Keith Richards said:

"We didn't find it difficult to write pop songs, but it was VERY difficult - and I think Mick will agree - to write one for the Stones. It seemed to us it took months and months and in the end we came up with The Last Time, which was basically re-adapting a traditional gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time. I think I was trying to learn it on the guitar just to get the chords, sitting there playing along with the record, no gigs, nothing else to do. At least we put our own stamp on it, as the Staple Singers had done, and as many other people have before and since: they're still singing it in churches today. It gave us something to build on to create the first song that we felt we could decently present to the band to play..."

So... the Stones copy a recorded version of a traditional song, and then their manager makes an orchestral version of that song, arranged by David Whitaker. A few decades later, the Verve comes up with Bittersweet Symphony, and correctly licenses the sound recording from Decca Records. However, as the song was coming out, another former Rolling Stones manager, Allen Klein, who owned all the publishing rights on early Stones' recordings, insisted that they needed to license the composition as well, which he controlled. But, of course, remember, the "composition" that Klein controlled was basically a cover of a public domain gospel song (and the Stones' lyrics). But none of that was what the Verve was using. It was using Whitaker's arrangement and Oldham's recording (properly licensed from Decca).

Klein claimed that he hated sampling and basically refused to do a deal. Klein completely brushed off the Verve's manager, and then the head of EMI went to try to convince Klein to cut some sort of deal. From a book about Klein

Ken Berry, the head of EMI Records, came to New York and called on Klein. He played Klein the completed Verve album, Urban Hymns, which EMI’s Virgin label was betting would be a big hit. And “Bitter Sweet Symphony” was its obvious lead single. So Allen could appreciate how imperative it was that he grant a license.

“There’s no sampling of our music,” he said. “We just don’t believe in it.”

“Oh, f---,” said the head of EMI Records.

Klein let a day or two pass before calling Berry. He realized EMI and the band were in a bind, he said, and he was willing to make an exception to his rule and grant a license — if Ashcroft sold ABKCO his rights as lyricist and the company became the sole publisher of “Bitter Sweet Symphony.”

It actually gets worse. The initial deal was a 50/50 split on royalties with Richard Ashcroft. But soon after the song was released and was clearly becoming a huge megahit, Klein insisted that the sample was actually longer than what the band had licensed (the band has always insisted this was false). Klein said the deal for the license was voided, and sued for copyright infringement. Facing a huge expensive legal fight, the band caved and agreed to hand over all of the publishing royalties.

And it gets worse. After watching all of this go down, Andrew Oldham (the other former Stones' manager who had recorded the track that was actually sampled) also sued the band, insisting that while they had licensed the sample, they hadn't paid the mechanical licenses. As we've discussed before, with music there are many, many different licenses at play. The band settled with him as well and, years later, Oldham was still mocking the Verve and Ashcroft for the whole thing.

“As for Richard Ashcroft, well, I don’t know how an artist can be severely damaged by that experience. Songwriters have learned to call songs their children, and he thinks he wrote something. He didn’t. I hope he’s got over it. It takes a while,” Loog Oldham added.

Talk about adding insult to injury.

As for Klein, he also seemed to get perverse pleasure in screwing the Verve and Ashcroft:

The deal was as unsparing as any in Klein’s career; he held all the cards, played them, and raked in the pot. When music photographer Mick Rock happened to call Klein that day to see how he was, it was obvious to him that Allen was enjoying himself. “I was very bad today,” he said.

And then, he too decided to add insult to injury. When Ashcroft didn't want the song used in TV commercials, Klein took matters into his own hands:

ABKCO actively exploited the composition, licensing it to be used in commercials around the world for various products, including Nike shoes and Opel automobiles. When the band decided the song was being overexposed and overused, they declined to license the original recording for any more commercials. As the publisher, ABKCO instead commissioned its own recordings for commercial use.

So, yes, it's "great" that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have now agreed to voluntarily hand over their share of the royalties on the song to Ashcroft, decades too late. But this whole story is a total travesty and a demonstration of how copyright is not just used corruptly, but to lock up the public domain and to steal from actual creators.

Filed Under: allen klein, andrew oldham, bittersweet symphony, composition, copyright, covers, licensing, mechanical licensing, music industry, public domain, richard ashcroft, rolling stones, sampling, the last time


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 4:47am

    Surprised they didn't buy Ashcroft a dog and shoot it too

    No really, tell me again how those dastardly copyright infringers are the real crooks in the music industry...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 7:52am

      Re: Surprised they didn't buy Ashcroft a dog and shoot it too

      Surprised they didn't buy Ashcroft a dog and shoot it too

      I think the police hold the copyright on that one...

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 8:42am

        Re: Re: Surprised they didn't buy Ashcroft a dog and shoot it to

        They never had the copyright to that. They have the copyright to a simpler version of just shoot the dog. The purchasing aspect is something someone else added.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 12:31am

          Re: Re: Re: Surprised they didn't buy Ashcroft a dog and shoot i

          Next thing you'll be telling me is that Shiva Ayyadurai didn't invent email...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 7:58am

      Re: Surprised they didn't buy Ashcroft a dog and shoot it too

      This entire story is about copyright infringement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re: Surprised they didn't buy Ashcroft a dog and shoot it to

        Sure but they have the copyright on shoot the dog, so as this story tells us, they should get the copyright etc. on all derivative works, such as described by That One Guy

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      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 9:26am

        Re: Re: Surprised they didn't buy Ashcroft a dog and shoot it to

        No, it's about copyfraud.

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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 6:31am

    Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

    I stood up and was very surprised that I did not hit my head on the rock I live under. So I went and viewed the video/recording, and as I watched the A-hole featured I kept waiting for someone to take that arrogant bastard out. Completely out. I had heard the song before, but having seen that video, they will never get a dime from me and I could care less if I never hear that song again. All due to the character of the person featured in that video.

    It also made me wonder who was worse? The A-holes claiming rights to something that should be public domain, or the A-hole depicted in that video? It would take some pondering, if pondering that question was worth a ponder or two.

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    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 6:54am

      Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

      It's a video, AAC. By this metric you should never watch any TV show or movie if the hero behaves badly in it. What, do you really believe that Ashcroft advocates for shoving people out of the way as you walk down the street? Don't be silly.

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      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 7:07am

        Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

        Name of the song Bittersweet Symphony, action depicted in the video arrogant A-hole...don't see the correlation. So what was he advocating for?

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 7:17am

          Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

          So... you're now asking for people to be punished in case the character they play in music videos doesn't match up to your high standards. Not what they do in real life, the character they play in fiction.

          And you think this is a reasonable stance? But, hey, thanks for at least admitting you don't understand the context or the intent of the video.

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          • icon
            Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 7:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

            Communication is a funny thing. Someone puts out an expression and are not explicit in what their intent is then they should expect for that expression to be interpreted in different ways. So yes, that I interpret that video differently than you do is reasonable.

            I do find it interesting that you think my not wanting to buy one artists music can be interpreted as punishment.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 7:55am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

              Richard Ashcroft was very explicit in his intent when he made the video 22 years ago, and it was well communicated to the UK-based audience it was directed at. As was the director Walter A. Stern, who based it directly off another very famous video of the last few years.

              That fact that you, over 2 decades later and presumably many miles away, are unable to understand the context of what you were viewing is hardly their fault.

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            • identicon
              hegemon13, 28 May 2019 @ 8:05am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

              A different interpretation? Sure that's reasonable.

              Confusing fiction with reality? Yeah, not so much. Music videos are not documentaries.

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            • icon
              Thad (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 8:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

              I do find it interesting that you think my not wanting to buy one artists music can be interpreted as punishment.

              This may be because you explicitly framed it as punishment. You stated, "they will never get a dime from me [...] All due to the character of the person featured in that video."

              You stated that you were choosing not to provide them with revenue -- ie, to inflict some sort of penalty against them -- and that your decision was a direct reaction to bad behavior. There's a word for that.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 9:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

                You stated that you were choosing not to provide them with revenue -- ie, to inflict some sort of penalty against them

                An individual decision that someone is not deserving of money is not a penalty. That's MAFIAA logic to say so ("billions of dollars in losses due to piracy" etc. on the basis that every potential sale should rightly have been an actual sale).

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            • icon
              DanC (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 1:17pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

              You're really going to great lengths to justify your inability to separate a fictional character from the person playing that character.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 6:56am

      Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

      "All due to the character of the person featured in that video."

      Erm, assuming that you're talking about the 22 year old music video for the song - you do realise that music videos are not necessarily an accurate representation of the people in it, right? Also that the video itself is a reference to a previous video (Massive Attack's Unfinished Symphony), and therefore there might be some exaggeration for effect in response to its inspiration?

      I mean, it's great that you're finally catching up to late 90s music videos, but if you're going to base compensation for artists based on a character they played for 5 minutes of screen time over 2 decades ago you're going to be making some bad decisions.

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

        "Massive Attack's Unfinished Symphony"

        Autocorrect... Sympathy not Symphony...

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      • icon
        Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 7:33am

        Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

        The only thing about the artists compensation I mentioned was my participation in it, that is after characterizing the folks who claimed the public domain song as theirs.

        Frankly I prefer Jazz (but not fusion), older rock and roll, and classical, and don't watch videos associated with any of those. So yes I miss out on some of the cultural aspirations like basing an old video on a reference to an even older video, and don't care.

        I am old enough to be a bit set in my tastes and don't feel a particular need to keep up with what the younger generations think is good under the guise of being different. After all, according to Don McLean in 1971, music died on February 3, 1959, and while I don't believe that, I also don't believe that I have a need or responsibility to embrace every form of music that has evolved since then, nor necessarily all that came before.

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        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 7:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

          Good for you. So, why comment at all? If it's not for you, and you know you don't care either way if they get paid, who cares what you think?

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 8:43am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

            How else is he going to explain to you that he wants you to get off his lawn.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 8:56am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

              Well, usually the "get off my lawn" comments are aimed at music that's at least recent or currently popular, but this one's old enough that everybody born in the year it came out is old enough to drink in the US - and many who were fans of the video are likely to be their parents.

              Hence my confusion as to why it's worth paragraphs of text to someone who just saw the video for the first time about whether they'll get his money.

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        • icon
          Thad (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 8:39am

          Re: Re: Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

          Wait, I thought you were refusing to buy any of their albums "All due to the character of the person featured in that video." Now you're saying that well actually the reason you won't buy their albums is because you don't like their music?

          Why, it almost sounds like your lack of interest in this band isn't entirely based on music video from 1997 after all.

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    • icon
      nasch (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 2:56pm

      Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

      Make sure not to watch any Alicia Silverstone movies either, because she played a really mean prank on her boyfriend:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfNmyxV2Ncw

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    • icon
      robbo1337 (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 12:29am

      Re: Putting your best foot forward...NOT.

      I do believe the video was a direct reference to the 1991
      Massive Attack video “Unfinished Sympathy” in which Shara Nelson walks through West Pico Blvd, Los Angeles in a single continuous unbroken shot

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 6:44am

    For all of the traditional recording industry's claims of how important copyright is for "supporting artists,

    The artists they mean are the con artists that run the labels, studios etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    scotts13 (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 6:49am

    Never heard of the band, and if I ever heard the song, it made no impression. Totally forgettable. Looked up the lyrics, and see nothing "sweet" in them.

    (Heh) I was really hoping the four guys who walked in at the end of the video were there to beat up the singer, but disappointed there, too. And people are filing lawsuits over this?

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    • icon
      Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 6:56am

      Re:

      The lawsuits were filed and won due to the band caving in over the mounting litigation costs. I'm sure our resident trolls will be in any minute now to declare this an anomaly, along with the thousands of other anomalies TD has reported on.

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        identicon
        Harry Plank-Walker, 28 May 2019 @ 10:50am

        Re: Re: It's an anomaly until you can show HUNDREDS like THIS.

        I'm sure our resident trolls will be in any minute now to declare this an anomaly,

        After pirates have spewed their hate and misunderstanding, inviting dissent if not causing it as you do... But of course you pirates never act first to steal content and thereby CAUSE complaints, are blameless in everything, that's your pathology.

        along with the thousands of other anomalies TD has reported on.

        Out of the BILLIONS of times that copyright works properly, besdes the BILLIONS of times DAILY that pirates infringe it -- MERE THOUSANDS ARE AN ANOMALY.

        Oh, and by the way, this isn't copyright as such, it's lawyering that went beyond reasonable. And apparently it's the "Rolling Stones", which is now verifiably Satanists! Just LOOK at a recent image of those skeletons! Unlike any normal people. And by all accounts, they should have died from drugs decades ago. -- A recent image truly gave me pause... JUST LOOK at them, if can bear it.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 5:32pm

          Re: Billions and billions of anomalies

          You now owe the estate of Carl Sagan royalties for unauthorised use of his copyrighted material.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 9:36pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          And apparently it's the "Rolling Stones", which is now verifiably Satanists! Just LOOK at a recent image of those skeletons! Unlike any normal people. And by all accounts, they should have died from drugs decades ago. -- A recent image truly gave me pause... JUST LOOK at them, if can bear it.

          But you will gobble a cock because the honor of copyright might have been impugned.

          What a fucking moron.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 7:26am

      Re:

      So.. multi platinum single, leading to a massive selling album (11x Platinum in the UK, platinum in the US), a huge hit all around the world, and the compensation the artist deserves depends on whether you personally have heard it and liked it?

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  • identicon
    Glenn, 28 May 2019 @ 7:12am

    Yep, just business as usual for the recording industry (film industry ...any "creative" industry with copyrights and patents).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 7:44am

    Also, the opening violin solo that is so iconic and so identified with Bittersweet Symphony is not actually from that sample. It was done by the Verve themselves, designed to flow right into it the part with the sample.

    Wait, what?!

    I kinda-sorta understood the idea of making a claim against the song when I thought that the sample was that violin solo. The whole song is based around that riff.

    Making a claim that part of the song is somewhat understandable, if not behaviour that should be condoned. Making a claim against any other part of the song is just asinine.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 7:55am

    Theres interviews with many pop singers from the 70,s
    saying it was almost standard to be ripped off by the record companys
    if you wanted a big record deal .
    EG the record company would expect to get rights to the master recordings
    and singers would have to sign a contract to make 5 albums for the emi or warners etc
    IF the first 2 albums did not sell well the singer or group would be
    dropped by the music company .
    Even taylor swift had to fight with apple as the original deal
    with apple music was that producers might not get paid anything
    for the first 3 months of streaming on apple music .
    That was the first big hit the verve had ,
    so they were ripped off because they had not the money to go to court ,
    to prove the sample was based on a song recorded by another group
    which was based on a song in the public domain .
    the verve did not know the song would be a big hit ,
    So they probably just signed the contract because they were afraid of getting sued .
    Someone could write a 1000 page book about how how the music industry ripped of singers and pop groups in the 70s and 80s
    over royaltys and various scams that went on over bad contracts
    that singers were encouraged to sign when they were young and naive.
    Most pop singers were not legal experts or else they had bad managers
    who did not look after them properly .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 11:21am

      Re:

      Someone could write a 1000 page book about how how the music industry ripped of singers and pop groups in the 70s and 80s

      There's a great book that does this. A little over 400 pages instead of 1000 though.

      "Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business" by Fredric Dannen

      The radio and recording industry is more nauseating and disgusting that one can imagine.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 8:20am

    I'm sure the industry and copyright-smitten artists will spin this as a copyright success story. "Look at how many people profited from this song, each so much more than they would have if its public domain elements had been acknowledged as being public domain from the outset! See, it's better if things aren't in the public domain! You should try it. Oh wait, we've already claimed the rights to gobs of public domain material on YouTube and every other streaming service. Well, guess you don't get to play this time. Sorry! Back to counting our money."

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  • icon
    Rico R. (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 8:31am

    As an independent musician, I've always held the belief that unless I was signed to the big guys (which I wouldn't want to pursue anyway, for obvious reason), it would be costly and/or near impossible for me to clear a sample for a copyrighted work. This article opened my eyes that even the big guys not only don't get that right, but they screw over artists in the process.

    I first heard Bittersweet Symphony on Pandora years ago, and I only learned there was a sample when I looked it up on Wikipedia. I did not know that the iconic violin melody was NOT the sampled portion until I read this article. If it is designed to flow from the sample to the actual song, then CONGRATULATIONS! This a**hole just claimed copyright infringement on a common chord progression played by an orchestra. Mind you, this song was released 8 years PRIOR to the disastrous Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films case with this gem in the ruling:

    Get a license or do not sample. We do not see this as stifling creativity in any significant way.

    If copyright maximalists claim copyright's first purpose is to help artists get paid for their creative efforts (which it isn't), then this situation actually SHOWS the dangers of copyright protection. They got a proper license to use the orchestral recording of a common chord progression, but because the chord progression was lifted from a copyrighted composition where the lyrics are protected but the melody (which is what was sampled) are public domain, the owner of the lyrics decides that he can control everything related to the song and get 100% of the profits. In what sane copyright maximalist position is this even morally right?

    I guess the moral of the story is: If I sample in the future, I'll just stick to sampling LibriVox recordings of public domain Christmas hymns!

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  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 9:23am

    Funny how, when talking about "copyright infringement", all you hear from publishers, media and politicians is about those bad, very bad "pirates who just want everything for free and steal from creators".
    Never a word about copyright infringement actually done to make profit and do divert money away from creators.
    It's almost like there are several standards used to define infringement, and actually stealing or extorting money is the lesser evil.

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 29 May 2019 @ 12:14am

      Re:

      It's pretty transparent. We've had stories here where record labels or agents have been found to have literally stolen millions from artists. The reaction from the usual crowd who so valiantly defend the poor artists against "pirates"? Normally, they will attack the artists for signing bad contracts or attack the worth of their art. Never will they say a bad word against the people actually stealing from them, so long as they can distract with a rant about the imaginary income they could have had if the pirates didn't exist.

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  • identicon
    Avideogameplayer, 28 May 2019 @ 10:31am

    You live by the copyright, you die by the copyright...

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  • icon
    Nathan F (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 10:40am

    They want people to respect copyright laws, but then they go and pull things like this? Sorry Mr. Record Exec, this isn't a "do as I say, not as I do" society. If you can't respect copyright laws, what makes you think anyone else will?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 10:54am

    what it shows more than anything is the very reason all copyright is a travesty and a farce! it shows the greed of people who want everything after doing nothing!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 11:59am

    Perhaps the real pirates are inside the businesses just distracting everyone from how much they are looting.

    Pity we can't nudge Congress to actually pass laws that make sense, & clean up the giant mess they helped create.

    They did everything right & still got screwed by the law... how does that help artists they claim the law is supposed to protect?
    Some asshole actually stole their song & profited, while they were chasing kids who didn't want to pay for the whole cd for just 1 song. The biggest thieves are the industry, not the public.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 12:12pm

    This article is too funny. It’s pretty obvious that everyone’s favorite tech douche Mike Masnick didn’t know who Allen Klein was until he ran across this story and decided to use it to get mad at copyright some more.

    I’m now going to pass this around so more music people can giggle at Mike Masnick’s blatant ignorance of music history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 12:47pm

      Re:

      Oh shit, sharing the story and giving Masnick free advertising? That's cold.

      Whatever you do, don't buy merchandise or a subscription to the site. That would be an ice burn.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bob, 28 May 2019 @ 1:00pm

      Re:

      everyone’s favorite tech douche

      Well duh, how else are you supposed to purge your machine of misinformation if you dont clean it every now and again.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 28 May 2019 @ 1:34pm

      Re:

      This article is too funny. It’s pretty obvious that everyone’s favorite tech douche Mike Masnick didn’t know who Allen Klein was until he ran across this story and decided to use it to get mad at copyright some more.

      Very familiar with Klein and his long history of screwing people over (including the whole thing where he advised George Harrison in the My Sweet Lord dispute, before buying up the other side to try to squeeze money out of Harrison).

      Not sure why or how that supports your views that one of the most notorious crooks in an industry full of crooks is notorious for this kind of bullshit?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 5:36pm

      Re: it feels like a hug from a perennial bridesmaid

      I can feel the waves of jealousy from seven countries away.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 12:59pm

    Allen Klein was a crooked ass his whole life!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 May 2019 @ 2:30pm

    Bittersweet Symphony used a sample of an orchestral cover of the Rolling Stones' song The Last Time. That was copied from a 1955 gospel track by the Staple Singers, called "This May Be The Last Time", which itself was based on some traditional gospel songs.[Condensed]

    If it wasn't for copyright, I think I would have enjoyed this story. All art, as well as all knowledge and science, is built on top of what was already created. This shows a small slice of history that is often not talked about.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:20am

    IMAGINE

    Imagine you are a young artist.

    You created your own work, you are proud of it, you got good reactions from people, and so you are sending your demo to hundreds of different labels, hoping that this will be the good turning point of your life.

    No label ever responds to you, or the few that do just inform you that they didn't accept you.

    Then, one fine day, someone finally contacts you saying that they're interested in your work.

    You cannot be happier. You feel that rush, that euphoria which means that somebody finally recognized your worth... or so you think.

    And being a decent human being, a creative and sensitive soul, although too naive for this world, as different young artists are, you think that at the other end of the line there are just some people that only want the best for you. After all, you are not schooled in being an absolutely despicable piece of shit of a human being, and so you cannot understand how others could be like that.

    And so, intoxicated with this realization that a label has finally replied to you, you try to read the contract that they sent you.

    The contract seems alright. Your royalty rate is fair and clearly stated.

    And so you sign it.

    Some time passes. And then, your work gets published in all kinds of stores.

    You reach the top charts in some. You get highlighted in others. It seems it is doing well.

    But, after some time, you realize something is missing. It is unusually quiet from their part.

    After all, if it sold like it sold, they should have sent you the royalty statements, as was specified in the contract.

    They should have sent you something, anything.

    They should have sent you the money YOU earned.

    You ask a question in a forum. Is it normal? And yes, everybody comforts you, saying that you shouldn't worry, because they seem like serious people, after all.

    Just by pure chance, you then stumble upon a webpage where there is the face of the label owner and the words "liar, thief, scam" next to it, with a thick oblique strikethrough running through it.

    Your stomach starts churning. Your hope transforms to confusion. You think something is wrong. You read what is written there. Your confusion transforms to pure rage. You know something is wrong.

    You learn that there are at least 50-100 artists in the same situation as you, under that label. You learn that they've been repeatedly denied to examine the company's books and records, even if it was the artist's right, as specified in the contract. You learn that they are basically stonewalling every artist, ignoring any email, any kind of contact, while they keep that damn money.

    You also learn that a court case would be difficult. You don't have that kind of money for it, and you don't even know how much money/how many royalties they swindled from you.

    You then learn that the guy running the webpage is trying to organize a class action against them with all the other ripped-off artists, but without everyone willing to give it 100% you're basically screwed.

    Next thing you know, the page is unavailable. Scrapped from the net.

    You learn that the owner of the label used his "superpowers" to order the removal of the web pages which were talking badly about his scam. And not only that, he even removed the personal profiles of the people involved.

    Fast-forward to today, there are artists still complaining on his facebook page and elsewhere, and the complaints are systematically censored and deleted.

    Dulcis in fundo, since the contract is exclusive, and you signed all your rights to them, and it lasts for your entire foreseeable future, you cannot take that music elsewhere, and you cannot do anything with it anymore.

    Your child was killed, and nobody is responsible for it.

    Later, you learn that stories like yours happen all the time and with many kinds of labels and different gatekeepers, not only in the music industry. And it's terrible.

    You still think it's a good idea to sign to a label?

    You still think highly of gatekeepers?

    You still think things like Article 13/17 are sensible legislation?

    You still think the "right to be forgotten" helps good people and not crooks?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 May 2019 @ 6:44am

    Copyright is GREAT!

    More, more, more!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dave, 29 May 2019 @ 7:43am

    This sure shows just how entrenched corporate greed is in our society.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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