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Copyright Battle Over Nothing

chrisd posted more than 12 years ago | from the sound-of-one-hand-clapping dept.

Censorship 479

An Anonymous Coward writes: "In this story reported at The Independent is "one of the more curious copyright disputes of modern times." It appears that the key question is "which part of the silence was stolen." If only this was April First. This is a lawsuit suing over the sound of nothing, no sound, silence, nada, zilch, bupkiss.

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Polka time! (-1)

Linus Turdballs (558038) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797865)

By Serial Troller [] , 2002-06-25
Is das nicht ein early post?
Ja! Das ist mein early post!
Is das nicht ein Goatse [] ghost?
Ja! Das ist mein Goatse [] ghost!
Early post, Goatse [] ghost,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Slashdot sucks!
Is das post at minus one?
Ja! Das ist at minus one!
Is das trolling so much fun?
Ja! Das trolling is so fun!
Minus one, trolling fun,
Early post, Goatse [] ghost,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Slashdot sucks!
Is das nicht ein big crapflood?
Ja! Das ist mein big crapflood!
Is it worthless Linux FUD?
Ja! Das ist mein Linux FUD!
Big crapflood, Linux FUD,
Minus one, trolling fun,
Early post, Goatse [] ghost,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Slashdot sucks!
Is das nicht der CowBoiKneel?
Ja! Das ist der CowBoiKneel!
Is dis nicht his manchode meal?
Ja! Das ist his manchode meal!
CowBoiKneel, manchode meal,
Big crapflood, Linux FUD,
Minus one, trolling fun,
Early post, Goatse [] ghost,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Slashdot sucks!
Is das nicht ein WIPO Troll?
Ja! Das ist der WIPO Troll!
Is das nicht ein Goatse [] hole?
Ja! Das ist der Goatse [] hole!
WIPO Troll, Goatse [] hole,
CowBoiKneel, manchode meal,
Big crapflood, Linux FUD,
Minus one, trolling fun,
Early post, Goatse [] ghost,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Slashdot sucks!
Is das nicht Jon Katz slave boys?
Ja! Das ist Jon Katz slave boys!
Und are they not Tacos sex toys?
Ja! They are Tacos sex toys!
Katz slave boys, Robs sex toys,
WIPO Troll, Goatse [] hole,
CowBoiKneel, manchode meal,
Big crapflood, Linux FUD,
Minus one, trolling fun,
Early post, Goatse [] ghost,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Slashdot sucks!
Is das nicht ein trolltalk thread?
Ja! Das ist ein trolltalk thread!
Is it nicht now FUCKING DEAD?
Ja! Is really FUCKING DEAD!
Trolltalk thread, FUCKING DEAD,
Katz slave boys, Robs sex toys,
WIPO Troll, Goatse [] hole,
CowBoiKneel, manchode meal,
Big crapflood, Linux FUD,
Minus one, trolling fun,
Early post, Goatse [] ghost,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Oh, du schöne,
Slashdot sucks!


Change Log:

  • Subtle changes to most verses. It sounded really gay before.
  • Removed all references to Tacos pud. May have been high at time. Will investigate further.
  • Finally think I have goat sex written correctly in German. I think. Arschficken?

© 2002 Serial Troller. Permission to reproduce this document is granted provided that you send all the bukkake porn you can find to [mailto] .

Re:Polka time! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798245)

As a psychologist, I would highly recommend that you take care of yourself and an evaluation. You can feel better!


L.Torvalds (548450) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798310)

To your post.

LOL (2, Funny)

Quasar1999 (520073) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797869)

Now I can be in trouble too... "............"

Re:LOL (2, Funny)

yintercept (517362) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798203)

And in the end
the love you take
is equal to the love you-oo make.

Well, the Beattles should jump in here. For awhile they had the longest silence on any major recording album...but I really am not sure if you can compare the quality of the silences. I mean, a digitally mastered silence has the potential of being leap years ahead of the lower quality vinyl silences of yesterday.

cack post! (-1)

YourMissionForToday (556292) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798313)


  • Cack?

  • Cack.

  • caaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

Trolling Battle over Nothing (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3797870)

Trolls vs. Goats [] : Everybody wins!

The wisdom of Paul Simon (2)

Chardish (529780) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797871)

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, "The words of the prophets
are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls."
And whisper'd in the sounds of silence.

Re:The wisdom of Paul Simon (1)

Luggage (250884) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798261)

Unfortunately, due to the current moratorium on the performance, creation, and distribution of silence, white noise, or their subsidiares, this song may not be transfered, coppied, or played before an audience without first contacting both the estates of Paul Simon, and, more recently, that of John Cage. Thank you for your co-operation.

LoL (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797873)

corperate greed at it's best. when will the madness end!

If a tree.... (5, Funny)

websaber (578887) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797876)

If a tree falls in the forest..... is it liable for infringement?

Re:If a tree.... (1)

alien_tracking_devic (579685) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798110)

Only if no one is there to here it.

beautiful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3797879)

simply beautiful. awe.

That's my song! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3797881)

But mine was called 'Mic level left at zero'.

Insider's scoop: Why BSD is dying (-1)

pwpbot (588025) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797882)

The End of FreeBSD ed note in the following text former FreeBSD developerMike Smith gives his reasons for abandoning FreeBSD When I stood for election to theFreeBSD core team nearly two years ago many of you will recall that it was after a long seriesof debates during which I maintained that too much organisation too many rules and too much formality would be a bad thing for the project Today as I read the latest discussions onthe future of the FreeBSD project I see the same problem a few new faces and many of the oldgoing over the same tired arguments and suggesting variations on the same worthless schemes Frankly Im sick of it FreeBSD used to be fun It used to be about doing things theright way It used to be something that you could sink your teeth into when the mundane choresof programming for a living got you down It was something cool and exciting a way to spend your spare time on an endeavour you loved that was at the same time wholesome and worthwhile Its not anymore Its about bylaws and committees and reports and milestones tellingothers what to do and doing what youre told Its about who can rant the longest or shout theloudest or mislead the most people into a bloc in order to legitimise doing what they think is best Individuals notwithstanding the project as a whole has lost track of where its going and has instead become obsessed with process and mechanics So Im leaving core I dont want to feel like I should be doing something about a project that has lost interest in havingsomething done for it I dont have the energy to fight what has clearly become a losing battleI have a life to live and a job to keep and I wont achieve any of the goals I personallyconsider worthwhile if I remain obligated to care for the project Discussion Im sure that Ive offended some people already Im sure that by the time Im done here Illhave offended more If you feel a need to play to the crowd in your replies rather than make asincere effort to address the problems Im discussing here please do us the courtesy of playingyour politics openly From a technical perspective the project faces a set of challengesthat significantly outstrips our ability to deliver Some of the resources that we need toaddress these challenges are tied up in the fruitless metadiscussions that have raged since wemade the mistake of electing officers Others have left in disgust or been driven out by theculture of abuse and distraction that has grown up since then More may well remain availableto recruitment but while the project is busy infighting our chances for successful outreach aresorely diminished Theres no simple solution to this For the project to move forwardone or the other of the warring philosophies must win out either the project returns to itslaidback roots and gets on with the work or it transforms into a superorganised engineeringproject and executes a brilliant plan to deliver what ultimately we all know we want Whatever path is chosen whatever balance is struck the choosing and the striking are theimportant parts The current indecision and endless conflict are incompatible with any sortof progress Trying to dissect the above is far beyond the scope of any parting shotno matter how distended All I can reallyask of you all is to let go of the minutiae for a moment and take a look at the big pictureWhat is the ultimate goal here How can we get there with as little overhead as possibleHow would you like to be treated by your fellow travellers Shouts To theSlashdot BSD is dying crowd big deal Death is part of the cycle take a look at yoursoft pallid bodies and consider that right this very moment parts of you are dying SeeIts not so bad To the bulk of the FreeBSD committerbase and the developer community atlarge keep your eyes on the real goals Its when you get distracted by the politickersthat they sideline you The tireless work that you perform keeping the system clean andbuilding is what provides the platform for the obsessives and the prima donnas to have theirmoments in the sun In the end we need you all in order to go forwards we must first avoidgoing backwards To the paranoid conspiracy theorists yes I work for Apple too No myresignation wasnt on Steves direct orders or in any way related to work Im doing may domay not do or indeed what was in the tea I had at lunchtime today Its about real problemsthat the project faces real problems that the project has brought upon itself You cantescape them by inventing excuses about outside influence the problem stems from within To the politically obsessed give it a break if you can No the project isnt a lemonadestand anymore but its not a worldspanning corporate juggernaut either and some of the moregrandiose visions going around are in need of a solid dose of reality Keep it simple stupid To the grandstanders the prima donnas and anyone that thinks that they can hold the projectto ransom for their own agenda give it a break if you can When the current core were electedwe took a conscious stand against vigorous sanctions and some of you have exploited thatA new core is going to have to decide whether to repeat this mistake or get tough I hope theylearn from our errors Future I started work on FreeBSD because it was funIf Im going to continue it has to be fun again There are things I still feel obligated todo and with any luck Ill find the time to meet those obligations However I dont feelan obligation to get involved in the political mess the project is in right now I tried Iburnt out I dont feel that my efforts were worthwhile So I wont be standing for electionI wont be shouting from the sidelines and I probably wont vote in the next round of ballots You could say Im packing up my toys Im not going home just yet but Im not going toplay unless you can work out how to make the project somewhere fun to be again

I've heard that track... (3, Funny)

The Chaotician (64066) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797885)

and it was the best one on the CD.
Isn't that always the way with cover songs?

My copyright... (5, Funny)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797886)

I hereby copyright the sound of a tree falling in the middle of a forest when no one is around to hear it. This is in addition to my copyright on the sound of one hand clapping. These copyrights shall be persued by the fullest extent of the law.

Re:My copyright... (1)

charlie763 (529636) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798136)

I believe Bart Simpson beat you to the one hand clapping.

Re:My copyright... (1)

tg_schlacht (570380) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798185)

I do hereby declare copyright on:

"Hear ye, hear ye" - being an arrangement of "letters" which form "words" which draw attention to the imminent beginning of a legal proceeding.

"This court is now in session." - being an arrangement of "letters" which form "words" which draw attention to the actual beginning of a legal proceeding.

"Guilty" - being an arrangement of "letters" which form a "word" which betides happiness and financial rewards to some persons and shame and financial ruin and possible imprisionment to other persons.

"Not Guilty" - being an arrangement of "letters" which form "words" which bring relief and a sense of vindication to some persons and chagrin and a feeling of inadequacy to other persons.

Liscensing fees: 10,000 USD per letter plus a 25,000 USD surcharge per word.

Prior Art (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798244)

I hereby copyright the sound of a tree falling in the middle of a forest when no one is around to hear it.

Dear AmigaAvenger:

I produced this before you did. Unfortunately I have to witnesses for obvious reasons, but I have a recording--which, by the way, and not obvious to the casual listener, is NOT a copy of John Cage's 4'33" or any track from Mike Batt's album. You are hereby requested to turn over all rights licence fees to me and cease and desist any new licensing of said work and claims to rights of said work.

Would this be... (2, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797888) avant-garde lawsuit?

Silence (3, Interesting)

Vought 28 (584320) | more than 12 years ago | (#3797889)

Silence isn't the absence of noise...noise is simply the absence of silence. Uncork any bottle and you will likely release the trapped silence within. It's time people really started respecting other's property rights.

Let us all.. (5, Funny)

MisterBlister (539957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798109)

Let us all bow our heads for a minute of silence while we mourn the passing of common sense in the legal system.


Done? Ok suckers, that will be $1000 per person for infringing upon the silence copyright made payable to FU Attorneys At Law. Pay up or else!!

Re:Let us all.. (1)

AndrewRUK (543993) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798133)

Common sense in the legal system?????

Since when was there are of that, eh?

Silence! (1)

chennes (263526) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798120)

From the article: "But my silence is original silence, not a quotation from his silence." Ah! My brain is melting!

FAG :) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798123)

SC0RN you moron!

Copyright the sine wav of silence :-) (1)

kyoko21 (198413) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798128)

Can I copyright the sine wav of silence?

How.. (5, Funny)

Renraku (518261) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798135)

How can the absence of something be called a copyright violation? Unless you're looking at the quantum superstate of blank media (which would mean that anything that can exist on blank media would exist on it until it was observed), which would further enrage the RIAA and push them to sue people who produce blank media.

Re:How.. (5, Funny)

quintessent (197518) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798183)

Hey, maybe that's why the RIAA gets a payment whenever I purchase a blank CD. And I thought it was to pay for the music which they were planning for me to put on it after I bought it.

Re:How.. (2, Funny)

rat7307 (218353) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798301)


Don't give them any ideas....


Phantom Tollbooth (2)

Eryq (313869) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798142)

A wonderful passage (about different kinds of silence) from this classic novel can be found here [] .

Cage and Ping Pong balls (1)

Kinchie (260645) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798144)

I had a composition teacher who, while playing a new Cage composition in a small ensemble under the direction of the composer, was instructed to play a prepared piano [] filled with ping pong balls "until there are no more left. Then stop."

Would have made a great companion piece to 4'33".

Don't be quiet! (2)

red_dragon (1761) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798146)

Don't shut your mouths up! You'll be in violation of yet another stupid copyright!

Silence? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798150)

Of course, when you think about it, can silence truly exist on Earth (outside of a vacuum chamber)? As long as it has a medium, sound will carry, and being a waveform, and motion will create sound. Seeing as how absolute Zero is impossible, that means there is always motion, thus always sound.

Of course, I never really payed attention in Physics...

lawsuit ?? (4, Insightful)

tiwason (187819) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798152)

Unless i am not reading the entire article, it doesn't say anything about a lawsuit...

its 4 paragraphs and only says "I've received a letter on behalf of John Cage's music publishers. I was in hysterics when I read their letter."

and the guy credited them anyways.....

fun fun

I'll right your copy! (5, Funny)

delta407 (518868) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798153)

#include <stdio.h>

void main()
short silence[60*44100];
memset(silence, 0, sizeof(silence));

FILE * out = fopen("silence.pcm", "w");
fwrite(silence, sizeof(short), 60*44100, out);

Music piracy at its worst, I tell ya.


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798250)

buffer overrun!

Re:I'll right your copy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798272)

Grrr... main should return int.

Here's the story, it's not long... (1, Redundant)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798155)

Big noises at odds over the sound of silence By David Lister Media and Culture Editor 21 June 2002

'The Sound of Silence' may have prompted engaging harmonies from Simon and Garfunkel - but a more literal appreciation of the absence of noise has prompted one of the more curious copyright disputes of modern times.

Mike Batt, the man behind the Wombles and Vanessa Mae, has put a silent 60-second track on the album of his latest classical chart-topping protégés, the Planets. This has enraged representatives of the avant-garde, experimentalist composer John Cage, who died in 1992. The silence on his group's album clearly sounds uncannily like 4'33", the silence composed by Cage in his prime.

Batt said last night: "I've received a letter on behalf of John Cage's music publishers. I was in hysterics when I read their letter.

"As my mother said when I told her, 'which part of the silence are they claiming you nicked?'. They say they are claiming copyright on a piece of mine called 'One Minute's Silence' on the Planets' album, which I credit Batt/Cage just for a laugh. But my silence is original silence, not a quotation from his silence."


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798267)


Freedom of Speech replaced... (1)

Thoth Ptolemy (110353) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798156)

by Requirement of Speech?

Won't people have to always be saying something or infringe on Cage's song without properly licensing the song?

Re:Freedom of Speech replaced... (2, Insightful)

pboulang (16954) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798219)

I think the real issue is how it is arranged. John Cage had a piano piece and had notations indicating exactly how to rest, half rest, etc. Now, if you were not at a piano, or were in fact a full piece orchestra playing something COMPLETELY different (different notations, different key, different tempo, and different length) then there is nothing being copied whatsoever.

Re:Freedom of Speech replaced... (2, Interesting)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798228)

The seeming definition of Speech is "meaning". Anything that can be construed as Speech must have a meaning, a thought to be conveyed. Another way of saying this is Expression. Therefore Freedom of Speech is Freedom of Expression. That's why flag-burning is Speech, it is the expression of some meaning. If one was to spout gibberish in the town square, that too would have some meaning, though possibly only "this is gibberish for its own sake".

So if we come to the conclusion that Speech is defined as some manner of expression that connotes a meaning, we can assume that pure silence is also Speech. Therefore we are only required to deduce Cage's meaning of 4'33 and compare it to Batt's intended meaning of One Minute's Silence. Since we have no other method of determining copyright infringement, as silence is indivisible (you can't musically interpret silence, only lengthen and shorten it), the meaning behind the pieces is the main question.

Consider the legal ramifications... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798157)

and imagine a beowulf cluster of those!!

okay... my turn!!! (5, Funny)

erroneus (253617) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798160)

As long as people are throwing out one-liners:

"You don't have the right to remain silent. Anything you don't say will be used against you in a court of law..."

The avant garde (2, Funny)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798164)

What gets me is that these people can actually claim fans. If you go to a concert, do they sit quietly onstage miming shushing to the audience?

wasnt that also .... (1)

3rd_Floo (443611) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798169)

...a BloodHound Gang Song? The Ten Coolest Things About NJ????

If you've not listened to that song, its on the Hooray for B00bies CD, and its worth a quick listen, believe me, its short... hehe.... and yes I'm from Jersey, and I'm humored not offended by it...

My only comment is this: (5, Funny)

gvonk (107719) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798173)

© gvonk, 2002, all rights reserved, etc.

Supreme Court opinion on this (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798179)

"The standard of originality for copyright is low, but it exists. - Feist vs. Rural Telephone Company.

Jeez... (2)

smoondog (85133) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798180)

Damn, I wish I could get a letter like that so I could sell lots of copies of empty mp3's. . .

prior art? (2, Interesting)

sysrequest (325177) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798182)

as rediculous as this may sound, couldn't someone claim prior art?

"I've been silent long before that"

Or is that something that only works with patents?

The Independent is not to be trusted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798184)

If this [ jsp?story=310553] is anything to go by the quality of news from this site is very low.

Re:The Independent is not to be trusted (1)

ogre2112 (134836) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798276)

Yes, a 404 error. You're right, very low quality. Thank you.

MP3's? (2, Funny)

jagilbertvt (447707) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798187)

Where are the mp3 versions of the 2 tracks in question? Perhaps then we can judge who's in the wrong here more acurately.

Okay.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798188)

Well, i had a post i wrote when this showed up on the front page about 20 minutes ago.. then when i hit "submit", the story disappared from the front page and my post was lost. But i'll try again.

What i wonder is why they're going after this guy, but not, say, Boards of Canada. Their "Geogaddi" album from the end of last year ended with a track called "Magic Window" that is 1:47 of silence. Or Korn, for that matter. "Follow the Leader" began with 13 tracks containing 4 seconds of silence.

Perhaps it's because of just intent-- look at it this way. Magic Window (BoC) was there to make the album more inscrutable, and to bump the running time of the album up to 66:06 (Boards of Canada has been on a kick lately of littering references to Satan and David Koresh in their albums). The Korn album, meanwhile, had the silence there because they wanted to be "edgy", because they want to be like Nine Inch Nails and Tool (the "broken" EP contained a bunch of 1-second silent tracks between tracks 6 and 97, so that the two hidden tracks would be 98 and 99 respectively; Korn's "undertow" album pulled a similar trick, but it resulted in the hidden track being at 69), and because they hate their listeners (this should be apparent if you listen to the rest of the album).
The Mike Batt track, meanwhile, is there solely for ironic value-- the same reason for the existence of 4:33. In that way, the Mike Batt track is a rip-off of the idea of 4:33 in a way that the others are not. I guess the idea is that silence can say a lot, and all those other cases were saying something different than 4:33 was. The Batt track, meanwhile, was saying the same thing.

Anyway, i'm certain i've heard of many more instances of silent songs being tossed onto albums. The CD version of Absolute Elsewhere [] , for existence. So even were the copyright valid, wouldn't they have no legal leg to stand on, since they've in the past failed to defend this copyright? (Is that just an urban legend? Maybe we should come up with a new word for urban legends that are born and propigated via slashdot. "Slashdot Myth"? Nah, that sounds silly.)

Maybe this case is just because he credited Cage in the liner notes? If so, he should still be safe, since that would be satire.

I don't know. I can't honestly help but wonder if the estate of John Cage isn't pulling this as some kind of massive, destructive practical joke / performance art piece. It wouldn't be that far out of character; Cage was, after all, the man who did a live performance of Vexations [] .

(Well, OK, or this is a silly record company thing by nonsentient biological humans who are aware of no concepts other than profit motive. But that's such a dull explanation!)

--super ugly ultraman

Good quote (2)

interiot (50685) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798189)

  • My silence is original silence, not a quotation from his silence.
There you go. We're talking (hopefully not too loudly, mind you) about two completely different silences here. There was no stealing of silence involved.

Ooooo... (2)

Soko (17987) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798190)

As stupid as this is, let's hope no-one gets any brighter any time soon. Heh - follow me here...

Let's say they apply one of thier DRM methods on that track. If my thinking is correct, overlaying any DRM data on silence means the DRM scheme is laid bare. Instant hack, and Linux is now hapilly playing music encrypted with the DRM scheme. Sound plausible?

Awww, c'mon. Somebody speak up. The silence is deafening... *rimshot*


Re:Ooooo... (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798241)

I don't know how serious your post was, but assuming their DRM isn't based on security through obscurity, then putting the DRM on a track of all zeros won't give up any security.

However, considering the idiocy of the past choices in DRM and copy protection, who knows.

Re:Ooooo... (1)

muon1183 (587316) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798288)

If the DRM is based on security through obscurity, it should be fairly easy to reverse engineer. I mean, it's not like binary is unreadable, algorithms are recoverable, it's just that they are not likely to be in their original state, but it will work nonetheless.

.sig, what's that?

huh? (1)

bastard01 (532616) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798195)

Honestly, I would like for more artists to go through and record silent tracks on their cds, they would give us a welcome break from that crap they call "music". I actually remember a cd that my sister has, it has about 12 silent tracks at about 5 seconds a piece, so I guess the artists that recorded that should run like hell, now the lawyers will be after them.. the next question would be what can you do that will not break copyright laws?

I love that song... (5, Funny)

BlueFall (141123) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798196)

The song (both versions) is one of my favorites. It's so catchy. I've had it stuck in my head whenever I didn't have another song stuck in my head... ;-)

Hmmm (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798199)

I'll just copyright white noise by releasing a CD with a one minute track of white noise. Then I can sue all the TV manufacturers and cable networks for royalties, after all, they are playing my works on hundreds of channels, 24 hours a day.

What? (1)

nickgrieve (87668) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798201)

Let me say that again, What?

Infringement. (2)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798204)

(Imagine this post is blank. I tried to do it, but slash won't let me. It thinks it knows better than I do what I'm trying to say. No, the cat doesn't have my tongue.)

It must not be any good (2)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798205)

I could not find the Silence Pattern in my GOF book.

Bad title! (4, Funny)

delta407 (518868) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798207)

Copyright Battle Over Nothing


Silence isn't nothing, at least not on a CD. The infringing track is sixty seconds of silence, which is not sixty seconds of zeros. (Which would still be something, mind you.) In any case, the track in the suit is 5,292,000 '0111111111111111's on the CD. (60 seconds, 44100 samples per second, 2 channels, at "zero", but recall digital audio is signed so that's 2^15-1 = 32767.)

Even if one of the two decided to use 32768 instead, the prosecution could argue there was a DC bias...

Re:Bad title! (2, Interesting)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798282)

Interesting point, with two channels, 16 bit samples for each channel, there are a shitload of different silences. Just imagine a single sine wave, 1 minute in duration, 1/60th Hz.
Technically not silence in the strictest sense, but not audible in any case. I bet some car audio bass freaks would argue with me, laws of physics never seem to stop them from arguing something. :)

An argument for validity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798208)

This isn't over the idea of silence, it's the idea of making a track of an album - a "song" -out of silence, and then naming the track with the length of time (thus indicating, to arty people, that the silence is what 4 minutes 33 seconds sounds like). It *is* an original idea. And Batt acknowledged he copied the idea when he jokingly credited the track to Batt/Cage (Cage being the original author).

I don't think it's worth suing over or anything, but the argument isn't totally without merit on at least moral grounds. Batt *did* copy an original idea from Cage - moreover, someone who did want to pick up a copy of Cage's original experimental work could be confused and think this new album was related.

Other than the obvious.... (4, Informative)

gmaestro (316742) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798211)

There are serious problems with this claim. First of which, Cage scorned the idea that 4'33" was a "silent piece." First, there are theatrical elements of David Tudor's premiere that I'm guessing are absent from this recording. Also, 4'33" is a piece in 3 movements of random length, provided that the sum their lengths equals 4'33".

Also keep in mind this piece was premiered in an open air theatre in the forest. There would likely have been much more than silence heard.

And this isn't even getting into the idea that it is impossible to actually hear silence.

Strange Patents (1)

charlie763 (529636) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798212)

This is a link to a site with links to other sites that have information on absurd patents. I know it's not coopyrights, but it will have to do.

Wacky Patents []

a simple defense (2)

alizard (107678) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798216)

Disclaimer: IANAL, this statement is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel and is not intended as legal advice. If you need legal advice with respect to copyright law, buy some.

Any Cage recording would have been from the analog days... all that has to be done is to demand that the representatives produce the original master recording... crank way up until the noise content which is there regardless of what Cage's intent was is plainly audible, and run a copy of the noise-free recording that's allegedly in breach of copyright.

Silence A != Silence B. Of course, there are even more sophisticated ways to differentiate the two, depending on the conditions that were used to generate the respective "silences".

End of case, and hopefully start of new case where Cage's people get countersued for damages.

One can copyright the concrete expression of an idea. Nobody can copyright an idea, and it looks to me like Cage's people are trying to claim copyright of the idea of silence in the context of a musical composition.

Any Blank Medium (2)

DumbSwede (521261) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798218)

Wouldn't any and all blank medium before recording, violate this copyright?

If he can get the first suit to stick, then watch out for the second suit he brings -- now with precedence ;-)

This story should have been called... (-1)

DivineOb (256115) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798221)

People on /. have no sense of humor... Jesus Christ... I'd recommend that none of you give up your day jobs...

It's bupkis, not bupkiss! (2)

nedron (5294) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798223)

I hate to make a big tsimmes out of this, but it's spelled bupkis (or sometimes bobkes) in English.

Monastic precedent.... (2)

jejones (115979) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798226)

It's time for the Trappist monks to sue Cage's publisher. (For that matter, you'll recall the final track, "The Monks' Vow of Silence" on the Chantmania CD [] . If Cage's publisher didn't sue the Benzedrine Monks of Santa Demonica, then clearly they have not been vigorously protecting their copyright, have they?)

Prior Art anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3798232)

My grandmother frequantly tried to get her children to compose a song much like it. something titled "SHUT UP, before i have to spank you!" though it rarely was sung for more then a minute....

i'd say i sing it every night for ~8 hrs, but then i snore... and it is not very silent....

also applies to paintings (1)

mr_exit (216086) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798233)

so paintings painted on a blank canvas are just derivitave works from my copyright on "Ode to nothingness" which stikes an uncanny resemblance to a blank canvas.....

I think not. (1)

kawaichan (527006) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798235)

Slience? Human ears are crappy compare to other ears. If you hear nothing, that doesn't mean it doesn't have any sound, it just means that your ears can't pick up those frequencies.

So what is slience here? nothing nothing, or nothing for humans?

I heard from somewhere that absoulte slience could drive people insane, may be we could shove that gun and his lawyer to try that out :)

John Cage's 4'33" (5, Insightful)

BlueFall (141123) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798236)

I think the theory behind John Cage's 4'33" is not so much that it's a silent piece, but rather to get the audience to listen to ambient "noise" around them. The music is produced by the environment, not by the piano. You could call it conceptual art. There's a good article here [] .
With this in mind, I wonder what direction the legal case should take...

Re:John Cage's 4'33" (2)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798294)

Wasn't Cage just using a machine that spit out random notes, and it happened to spit out nothing for 4 minutes and 33 seconds?

John Cage and 4'33" (5, Insightful)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798240)

John Cage's piece, 4'33", was actually very clever and quite a novel idea for its time.

One of the themes of his work is to let sounds be themselves. To that end, he composed a piece which involved a pianist holding his hands over a piano keyboard for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. The music was not silence, but rather the sound of the audience slowly realising to what was going on.

As such, this piece can never really be recorded (unless you actually record an audience listening to it, and even then, it's not the same thing; once the sound is recorded, it is no longer the same kind of performance), and claiming that a recording of silence is even close to being the same thing as 4'33" is ludicrous.

Mike Batt's problem is crediting Cage on the album. Yes, he did it for a laugh, but by doing so, did he inadvertantly claim legal liability?

Personally, I think John Cage would have gotten a real kick out of the whole proceedings. It would have appealed to his sense of whimsy.

Probably a mistake... (3, Informative)

alphaseven (540122) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798242)

From this [] L.A. Times article: Gene Caprioglio, a representative of Cage's American publisher, explained that the British organization that collects royalties had sent its standard license form to Batt. No one had sent a letter to Batt, he maintained--enraged or otherwise.

So it looks like this was just a standard form letter that was sent out because Batt jokingly credited cage as a composer.

In other news.... (2)

unformed (225214) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798243)

I henceforth copyright the entity known as 'whitespace', From now on, anybody who utilizes this so-called 'whitespace' as a breaking symbol in between words, numbers, and/or other symbols, and is of the color 'white', and has not licensed such use, will be used for $1000 per cm^3 of the previously defined 'whitespace'.

Seinfeld (1)

CNeb96 (60366) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798251)

Weren't George and Jerry going to make a show about this?

So... what about Maranda rights? (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798252)

Do we still have the right to remain .... silent? Or will that right now cost us royalties? At least until silence is in the public domain?


Silence is art? (1)

thelinuxking (574760) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798253)

If famous musician's consider silence worthy to be a track on a cd, I can sell that stack of blank cd's I got for a fortune!

Memories of Abbot & Costello? (1)

aarondsouza (96916) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798254)

Anybody else out there thinks that the proceeding's of this case would be a great sequel to the Abbot & Costello classic "Who's on first?"

Judge: So you say he stole what?


Judge: Do you think I have all day?

lawyer: I just told you!

Judge: So what did you say he stole?

lawyer: He stole...[silence]...

Judge: Cat got your tongue?


Add Type-O Negative to that suit (1)

Krutontar (557803) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798266)

Track 6 on their first album "Slow Deep and Hard" is called "the misinterpretation of silence and its disasterous consequences" and it is 1:04 of total silence. What an appropriate track name. It also appears in remix form on their greatest hits CD.

Prior art (2)

mikosullivan (320993) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798269)

There are at least two examples of prior art in this case. In the 1960's someone released a single titled "Three Minutes of Silence" that enjoyed a brief popularity. The record actually provided a valued service: patrons at diners could purchase three minutes of relief from the jukebox. In the 1970's a copycat (who shoulda been SUED!!!) released a single titled "Silent Knight" that enjoyed no popularity at all.

My source on this is a bit of trivia mentioned by Mr. Top 40 himself, Casey Casem on one of his shows.

Sure it makes sense. (1)

joel8x (324102) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798275)

When you really, really think about it, this makes perfect sense! I mean, its outrageous that we can claim ownership of noise, so why not the absense of it? If I can put a bunch of sounds together and call it "Music", I can claim ownership and groups like the RIAA will "protect" my interests. So, what if I don't want to hear anything at all? Shouldn't I pay for that? Maybe I should charge you for it! I'll form a protective group to make sure you don't try and share it over some P2P computer network too! The NRIAA (Non-Recording Industry Association of America) is born!

And while we're on the subject, I just recorded and copyrighted the various sounds of breathing, so if you want to continue to breath, you will have to send a check to ASCAP or my bretherin in the RIAA will kill your first born child. I wish I had my own island.

What lawsuit? (2, Informative)

Durindana (442090) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798278)

What did I miss? I saw "dispute" and letter received on behalf of, but I saw nothing that indicated a lawsuit had been filed.

Why is this assumption made? That is damned ironic, that we immediately project this concept called "lawsuit" onto any dispute, argument, disputation or disagreement.

From my reading of the (very brief) blurb, this has not and may well not end up in court. So please reserve judgment on the "legal system" until it's been called in.

There's no silence in Cage's 4'33" (4, Informative)

dirkmuon (106108) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798290)

It appears that John Cage's publisher has a clueless lawyer posting letters. Cage's 4'33" isn't 4 minutes, 33 seconds of silence. It is, instead. an early example of performance art in which a pianist comes onstage, sits at the instrument, and does not play for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. There is never any silence--the audience makes all sorts of noise, and there will be other noise in the room, e.g., from lights, air handling, outside traffic. One of the points of the piece, obviously, is to promote awareness of these ostensibly non-musical sounds. Another point may be to poke fun at the conventions of "classical" concerts.

I met John Cage and performed one of his pieces for him. He would have laughed at this nonsense along with the rest of us (and he would have told his publisher to stop sending foolish letters).

Clean Room? (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798293)

Has Batt heard Cage's piece? If not, he may have just independently implemented it from the spec.

Devil's Advocate (5, Insightful)

WEFUNK (471506) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798298)

From the article: "They say they are claiming copyright on a piece of mine called 'One Minute's Silence' on the Planets' album, which I credit Batt/Cage just for a laugh. But my silence is original silence, not a quotation from his silence."

This sounds very silly, but maybe there is a valid point to be made. Mike Batt has a silent track on his album, apparently in something of an homage to avant-garde, experimentalist composer John Cage. To reinforce the connection he even co-credits Cage on the track (but presumably isn't giving out any royalties).

If he simply left a minute of silence on his album (without the credit) then I'd definitely think that there's nothing there. However, by crediting Cage (even as a joke or a tribute) he has opened himself up to charges of copyright infringement and/or misrepresentation.

Without even "listening", one would get the impression (from his liner notes) that his work either draws from Cage, or is co-authored by him. This goes beyond copyright - for instance, even if Mickey Mouse became public domain, no one using should ever be allowed to pretend to be either Disney or to be authorized by Disney (without their permission).

IANAL, but to me there are two valid reasons for IP laws. The first is to encourage dissemination of ideas by rewarding creativity. This is the one that is generally criticized, since the method of reward (monopoly etc.) is somewhat arbitrary and frequently abused. The other reason for IP protection is to prevent misrepresentation. This concept should always be upheld, even regardless of whether a copyright, patent, or trademark has expired.

I appreciate the subtle satire achieved by crediting Cage, but in this case it leaves the potential for confusion and the impression that Cage has contributed to and is getting reimbursed for the work. The lawyers might not agree, but Cage should either pay up, remove the credit only, or (my preferred choice) clearly identify the work (including the credit, which has artistic merit) as a non-derivative tribute/satire.

PS. Sorry about the pun's (unintentional, honest).

Kim Crimson and etc. (1)

dawnsnow (8077) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798300)

King Crimson's first album In The Court Of The Crimson King also include quite a long silent moment. And they made this album in 1969!

Korn's Follow The Leader album has first 12 tracks with no sounds.

About the Cage composition (2, Informative)

spaten-optimator (560694) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798302)

Cage's 4'33" (4 minutes, 33 seconds) was mostly an experiment into the nature of silence.

Cage actually spent a lot of time researching Zen teachings. His research into silence eventually led him to Harvard University and a visit to its Anechoic Chamber - a closed environment supposedly complete free of noise.

"While he literally expected to hear nothing, after leaving the chamber, Cage explained to a nearby engineer that he had heard two sounds in the chamber, one high, and one low. The engineer told Cage that the high sound was his nervous system in operation, and that the low sound was his blood circulating"

The point of 4'33" was to state that there is no such thing as silence. For more info, check out this paper [] by Andrew Schulze on the subject.

Track 1 (1)

Anonvmous Coward (589068) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798305)

I've set up a Paypal account so you all can pay me for reading this.

Korn didn't get sued... (2)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798309)

...their 1998 album "Follow The Leader" featured 12 tracks of silence before the music began.

Observe. []

Obviously this is going to be thrown right out. Interesting though is the "composer" of this particular "silence" credited Cage's 4'33" (see this post [] ). Coudl that alone do it? IANAL...

The most ludicrous Copyright ever! "Have Fun!" (2, Funny)

puto (533470) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798312)

As a former employee of Pat Obriens in the French Quarter in New Orleans I can let you in on a little known fact.

They have the phrase "Have Fun!" copyrighted. So I guess you cant say it or have fun without dire results.

If you check their web-page out, look at the very bottome and you can read it in the blurb there.

Just thought of something, if we slashdot their box, it is almost the equivalent of what their booz has been doing to people for years.


Silence (1)

nukeade (583009) | more than 12 years ago | (#3798314)

Oh no! It seems that I've already pirated this song and that I've been listening to it for quite some time! I hope the RIAA doesn't find out. I guess I have to buy the CD if I want to listen to nothing now. Damn you RIAA!

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