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September 23, 2002
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Silence is Golden: A bizarre legal battle over a minute's silence in a recorded song has ended with a six-figure out-of-court settlement.
posted by LinusMines (24 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
It needs to be asked: Is there an MP3 floating around out there of either "A One Minute Silence" or "4'33""? I'd love a copy, thanks.
posted by laz-e-boy at 8:46 AM on September 23, 2002


I guess we'll finally be free of those annoying long silences between the "last" track on a CD and the "hidden" track.
posted by me3dia at 8:47 AM on September 23, 2002


"Mine is a much better silent piece. I have been able to say in one minute what Cage could only say in four minutes and 33 seconds."
That is classic.
posted by Fabulon7 at 9:04 AM on September 23, 2002


I find this a very odd conclusion to a very odd story. I wish the cnn piece was a little more developed.
posted by anathema at 9:13 AM on September 23, 2002


I am completely baffled - is this the next generation Nigerian scam?

How about the compulsory 2 seconds of silence on the first track of an audio cd - are we safe?
posted by FidelDonson at 9:13 AM on September 23, 2002


Absolutely Bizarre. "1 minute silence" is a scathing attack on the media; a political piece that accentuates the desire for a constant televisual commentary which at the same time must reflect the worst excesses of social peer pressures. 4"33' is a celebration of science, a nod to the particle pressures which occur in an absolute vacuum at a temperature of absolute zero. Oh, and I'm a pretentious Hack, and this is the silliest piece of litigation in the world. Ten quid that somebody outs this as a piece of performance art in the next month or so.
posted by seanyboy at 9:17 AM on September 23, 2002


How about the compulsory 2 seconds of silence on the first track of an audio cd - are we safe?

As was noted in the original thread, the problem was with Mike Batt crediting Cage, thus turning his recording into a performance of Cage's piece. So as long as you don't credit your silences to Cage, I'd guess you're safe.
posted by hyperizer at 9:38 AM on September 23, 2002


Has anyone heard Bloodhound Gangs The Ten Coolest Things About New Jersey . Same Thing.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 9:47 AM on September 23, 2002


It must be pointed out that this is further proof of the rapidly decaying attention span in this postmodern capitalist society. In 1952 consumers were willing to listen to over four minutes of silence, but in today's world there is no hope of topping the charts with silence of that length-- thus the shameful artistic sellout of a mere 60 seconds of silence.
posted by donovan at 9:48 AM on September 23, 2002


"A One Minute Silence" has now been released as part of a double A-side single.

Alternatively, you can find it pre-installed on any CD-R.
posted by rory at 9:49 AM on September 23, 2002


Artists can be so pretentious.
posted by saturn5 at 10:24 AM on September 23, 2002


I think it would have been more fitting to have settled for a blank check.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:29 AM on September 23, 2002 [2 favorites]


I sometimes think that copyright should end upon the author's death. Too often the "executors" of the author's estate are talentless, parasitic leeches who become extraordinarily litigious and paranoid because their deceased author's legacy is their only means of survival, and their only claim to fame (and buckets of cash).
posted by evanizer at 10:46 AM on September 23, 2002


Great plan, Evanizer. You would turn copyright from an incentive to create into a reason to be very, very afraid. "The members of Metallica were murdered by a mob today, settling once and for all the issue of whether it's OK to exchange the band's music on file-sharing services."
posted by rcade at 11:04 AM on September 23, 2002


<derail>

Evanizer: I sometimes think that copyright should end upon the author's death.

Too true. Actually, the copyright laws tend to protect corporations and not artists' estates. Furthermore, some copyright ownership stories are absolutely bizarre.

</derail>
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:14 AM on September 23, 2002


This point was made in the original thread (before my time here), but so far it hasn't been on this one, so I'll oblige:
The essential difference between Batt's and Cage's pieces is that Batt's is simply a pointless track on a CD; Cage's was explicitly intended for performance. The audience at such performances did not hear silence. What they heard was the ambient noise occuring during those four minutes and 33 seconds in whatever venue it was performed in. In other words, Cage the "composer" was taking credit for whatever happened, sonically, during that time. Batt isn't doing that. Not that this bears at all on the ridiculous copyright suit; I just wanted to be sure all the people mocking Cage understood that the piece wasn't as nihilistic or meaningless as most people - including Batt - seem to think.
posted by soyjoy at 12:11 PM on September 23, 2002


So, let me get this straight ... the silence ... it vibrates?!
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:13 PM on September 23, 2002


Furthermore, some copyright ownership stories are absolutely bizarre.

And some are just stoopid.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 12:35 PM on September 23, 2002


The audience at such performances did not hear silence. What they heard was the ambient noise occuring during those four minutes and 33 seconds in whatever venue it was performed in. In other words, Cage the "composer" was taking credit for whatever happened, sonically, during that time.

If I were Batt I'd get an attorney to put together a class action suit against Cage suing him for stealing the intellectual property rights of his audience members!
posted by RevGreg at 2:48 PM on September 23, 2002


I've noticed this topic appear two or three times now in MeFi, but it's always about the copyright focus. Like who cares about a modern day hack siphoning off Cage's brilliance? One minute of silence compared to 4'33"? No comparison. Why is there so little talk about the composition itself? 4'33" may be a joke to most on the surface, but it was never a joke to Cage.

As soyjoy pointed out previously, Cage was trying to make a point that was more buddhistic than nihilistic. He wasn't trying to annoy, but point out that music never really stops. It's our perception of music that alters, but there's constantly sound happening all around. Nature is singing. The first time Cage performed 4'33" it was in a covered bandshell partially open to the elements. The first moment of his performance included wind rustling trees outside. In the second moment there were sounds of rain starting to drop on the roof. By the end of the piece there were the sounds of people murmuring, and sounds of people getting up to leave. As he ended his performance, the audience grew into an uproar of dissident cacophony. Lord, it must have been beautiful.

Cage was experimenting with the sound he couldn't control. He was proving that music doesn't stop at the edge of the symphony stage. When someone coughs in a concert hall, they are unwittingly contributing to the performance to anyone in the room within earshot.

Cage didn't break down the boundaries of sound but he did break down the perception of those boundaries. Mike Batt is a hack. John Cage was a visionary.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:07 PM on September 23, 2002


I've always loved this speech on copyright by Mark Twain.
posted by anathema at 3:51 PM on September 23, 2002


Heh, Soundgarden has made a "One Minute of Silence" too (track 13). Though, their version is not really silence.
posted by epimorph at 8:48 PM on September 23, 2002


The Soundgarden version is actually listed as a cover of John Lennon's "One minute of silence." Type O Negative's "The Misinterpretation Of Silence And Its Disastrous Consequences." is also quiet, although it clocks in at a minute and four seconds.

I used to call this girl I liked in high school and sing these songs to her.
posted by Jart at 10:20 AM on September 24, 2002


It says he made a "gesture of a payment".

If that six-figure out-of-court settlement was for $000,000.00, I love him.

I was thinking today that since 4'33" is against CRTC and FCC rules to play on the radio, all royalties must stem from recordings or live performances. I can't see either of those avenues being worth any six figures that had different integers.

Or, wait... Recordings, performances, and sheet music! Reams and reams of it, in the copiers and printer trays of the world. There you go.
posted by Sallyfur at 4:56 PM on September 24, 2002


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