Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Torture Royalties Redux

Well, it seems that my "presumably with tongue firmly planted in cheek" and insouciant question as to whether there should be copyright royalties paid to ASCAP and BMI (the big American performing rights collectives) for the use of music to torture prisoners in Guantanamo, originally posted here on July 3, 2008, has gained some attention on some prominent blogs and in main stream media.

Here's what I said then:
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?

This has been picked up by:

Techdirt here on July 8, 2008.

And here by Wired here on July 8, 2008.

And in The Guardian on July 9, 2008 here.

And Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing here on July 11, 2008.

And Freakonomics in the New York Times today, July 16, 2008 here.


Very interesting...

There is definitely nothing funny about Guantanamo - but sometimes there are lessons to be learned in parody, satire and black comedy...perhaps even in Canada...

To be continued no doubt...


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