Thursday, July 03, 2008

Is Torture by Music a "Performance in Public"?

Certain collectives are quick to collect money from those in nursing homes, hospitals, prisons etc. on the basis that these are "public" places. Never mind that the audience is captive and it's their home, like it or not.

Well, it turns out that music is used at Guantanamo for torture purposes, according to the BBC.

Singer David Gray has warned that US interrogators playing loud music as a form of torture - including his own song Babylon - is no laughing matter.

"Only the novelty aspect of this story gets it noticed... Guantanamo greatest hits," he said.

"What we're talking about here is people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them.
Leaving aside the legal niceties about whose law if any applies in that dreadful place, one can only wonder if ASCAP might not want a piece of the action. After all, it went after the Girl Guides not so long ago. And if it could try to make a buck off Girl Guides, who are nice people, why not alleged terrorists? Why should terrorists enjoy free music?



  1. One could ask whether, under European copyright law, artists, whose music is used for torture, could claim a breach of their moral rights. A question raised in a
    2007 article of the Register

  2. Very good point, Nicolas. But the USA doesn't have moral rights for composers or performers - and managed to get moral rights carved out of the dispute resolution mechanism in TRIPs in any event.

    Anyway, I am certain that EU law will have no weight in Guantanamo.


  3. The US Goverment must to pay the royalties...
    They protect its economical interests, like Iraki petroleum, with war and tortures, paid billons of euros (dollar is a joke) in fuel and ammo.
    Why they no paid the royalties, if they use the music like a weapon in his torture sesions...?

  4. Unless you are RETARDED, you cannot refute the wisdom of Jeeezuz, Godddd, or Saaaaa-tan: Mr. Swenson is the ULTIMATE musical torture device. My torture album, released by the UK's Cherry Red Records PROVES THIS. And it should be used. Especially against CHRISTIANS. Against everyone, really, no matter their proclivities. You see, we are all microfascists (READ: Deleuze and Guattari) and YOU are a microfascist, too. _The Sensuous Man_ underscores this by offending EVERYONE via the employment of Manson's "Mirror Man" techniques. Check it out (minor advertisement):

    Ole! Long live GG Allin!

    -- es

  5. this was not a public performance. It was at their home, and there were no profits at any rate.

    I personally find Army cadences sung by choir (there are hundreds of CDs of this) to be much more annoying, so perhaps a switch is in order.

    Just another lame attempt to grab more money for replaying music. Some people do not live in a house or apartment. They get to listen to music too, without it being a public performance, or our copyright system ceases to make sense.

  6. On a slightly different note- is music chanted during football matches Performance in Public? A friend was noticing that the "Seven Nation Army" riff was sung for hours and hours during the World Cup. Certainly it's not possible to collect royalties for that, is it?

  7. If I was a recording artist, I would be absolutely HORRIFIED to hear my music was being used for torture.

    I agree that this copyright thing is getting waaaay out of hand, but I think they deserve the royalties. Radio? Royalties. Musak? Royalties. Political campaigns? Royalties. Stereo too loud in a McDonalds? Royalties. Just because your audience is a captive audience doesn't mean that it's not a 'public broadcast' Buck up!

  8. while we're on the topic, it would've been, uh, nice if the BBC had fessed up to the fact that the original story for this was published months ago in Mother Jones:

  9. I bet those torturers love LimeWire just as much as I do.

  10. I do like the idea of making torturers pay everything that they owe - it's a nice ironic move on people who are seriously taking liberties with the law and morality to make them pay for everything they can be legally held to owe.

    I think we would see an overnight end to any US state support of the RIAA should they go after the Limewire shared folders of Gitmo staff, but they so should. I never understood the point of going after students etc, why are you trying to get money out of some of the lowest earning people around? But the US army has no end of money so that makes a lot more sense to chase them for punitive damages.

    And, also, some solatium damages for using someone's brand to torture people wouldn't go amiss. Can you imagine what this would do to an artist's confidence? "Your music is so [brilliant] people will tell us everything they know to get away from it" - that's gotta hurt someone's feelings.

    Also: arguing that it's technically a performance in their homes got a ghoulish laugh from me.

  11. Does anyone here know that the copyright for "God Bless America" is owned by......

    get ready.....


    I Shit Thee Not!

  12. You mean, why should Alleged terrorists enjoy free music? But anyway, the U.S. owns the venue, so they would have to pick up the tab.

  13. Very interesting
    I'm adding in RSS reader

  14. When I hear the words “music” and “torture” together, the two year debacle when my daughter Rebecca and I took violin lessons comes to mind. I’m not sure who was tortured more-the two of us who had to play, or those who had to listen. :)