February 3, 2002
5:27 PM   Subscribe

I hate posting a link from the much-derided Fark, but as a musician myself, actions like this by the music industry really burn me. Basically Limp Bizkit held a "Nationwide Guitar Audition" to find a new guitarist to replace Wes, and (so the main link says) proceeded to rip off the original, uncopyrighted tryouts from hundreds of guitarists. What do you other musicians think of this? Was it really a ploy?
posted by pheideaux (34 comments total)
That's pretty low. While I'm a proponent of freedom of sampling, this isn't free. The fact that the participants were required to waive any rights to their work is pretty damned deplorable.

Another reason to hate Limp Bizkit, indeed.
posted by sigma7 at 5:36 PM on February 3, 2002

Whoa up: rumor control here...

1) Any band like Limp Bizkit (any band with a large financial stake) that decided to pull one of these cattlecalls Needs to put in place protection against future charges of copyright infringements. They're gonna go through 15,000 would be rock-stars, all of whom may recognize a C-D-A chord transition as coming from "Their Song". The sign-off (I personally believe) was not in order to steal songs, but to protect from future spurious lawsuits. That makes sense to me.

2) The auditions weren't called off across the country; just at this location. I had read that Durst got pied at one - maybe this was it. If so, the band got pissed and picked up and left. Kinda pissy, I agree - but not the Grinch that stole Christmas, neccessarily.
posted by Perigee at 5:38 PM on February 3, 2002

A "Chandler falls in love with a black girl" script. Now that's just silly. When's the last time you saw a black person on Friends?
posted by UnReality at 5:57 PM on February 3, 2002

I feel that the contract went a little beyond protecting them from the E-A-B progression. According to the article, the contract allowed Limp Bizkit to take a song written by one of the applicants, use it on their CD for free, and not mention the writer in the liner notes. Whether this is an exaggeration by the author is a judgement call.

Who knows, Limp Bizkit may have really been looking for a new guitarist...
posted by pheideaux at 5:58 PM on February 3, 2002

It's called covering your ass depending on the wording...

I've read some contracts from contests like these... Guess what? The wording does cover their ass - but it also makes it entirely possible and legal to totally fuck the contestants in the ass.

Take for example the Maverick Records "Unlisted.com battle of the bands tour"....

I had a big part in helping bands get a shot at playing that tour in a venue here where I live. The only reason I endorsed their participation is because I spoke to a Maverick representative on the phone about what I felt was wrong with the contract. She sweet-talked me into believing that it wouldn't be used in a harmful manner. So far, it hasn't.. but that's not the point. The point is, it COULD be.

One example that was particularly scary: The contract forced artists to allow Maverick to use any portion of any performance for whatever purpose they wish, regardless of if it is copyrighted.

They also reserved the right to cancel the competition at any time, without relinquishing any of the rights they reserved in the rest of the contract.

Are these things meant to cover ass? Yes.

But they're specifically worded by lawyers in ways that let them do a LOT MORE than just covering one's ass.

There's no reason limp bizkit's lawyers couldn't have said int he contract "no playing copyrighted material that is NOT YOUR OWN" - this keeps them safe from copyright infringement if they play it later in some montage of contestants... they could have said "we reserve the right to use the recorded material for exhibition purposes".. instead they specify that they want stuff that's totally unprotected in any way, shape, or form.

This is shady business practice at absolute BEST. Conspiracy? I don't know. I'm always skeptical about conspiracies. But the contract wording, at least from what's vaguely described, is SCARY.
posted by twiggy at 5:59 PM on February 3, 2002

If it isn't just a case of CYA, I'm not surprised. Now that monkey boy has left the band, who's going to write their songs? Fred Durst? hahahahahahhaha (oh, I kill me!)
posted by eyeballkid at 6:03 PM on February 3, 2002

I hate posting a link from the much-derided Fark

Actually, you might be surprised at how many people here like to Fark around.

As for Limp Bizkids, I blame them entirely for the scourge of dopey mid-calf denim shorts that plagues our once-great nation.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:08 PM on February 3, 2002

It reminded me of a Lou Reed story from Rolling Stone... A waiter gave Reed some of his songs on tape and then asked Reed where he got his ideas, Reed replied that he just stole them from anyone who gave him music, and that he just claimed them as his own.
posted by drezdn at 6:46 PM on February 3, 2002

I think the question here is not just the contract itself or how it might be used, but how it was forced upon the participants with little to no warning. According to Beast's account, he was there for seven hours before he even knew there was a waiver to sign at the front of the line. Had the event been properly organized, this information would have been made clear to everyone once they got on the line, or it would have been explained in the publicity that there would be a three page contract to read and sign before participating. Then he wasn't told about further "rules" until ten hours into it. After investing that much time and effort with no recourse but to either sign or walk away, few people would give up the ghost regardless of the consequences, if they believed there was a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

I've never been a fan of Limp Biscuit, but these proceedings were obviously organized poorly. And the band then didn't hold up their end of the bargain, by backing out at the end of the evening and not even playing for the people who put all that time in to show up.

If the intent on Limp Biscuit's people was to steal from hard working musicians who haven't achieved national stardom, this was the worst way to go about it. I personally wouldn't give Limp Biscuit the benefit of the doubt. I don't think he's smart enough to come up with that. His lawyers probably just insisted on the contract, to cover the ass not of Limp, but the record company that represents him. I doubt they got any good material to steal from, if they were only allowing people 60 seconds on shoddy equiptment to strut their stuff. This was obviously a poorly conceived publicity stunt that was executed even more poorly.

And yet again I find myself wondering how "artists" like Limp Biscuit get all the glory, while real musicians are constantly struggling to get the attention they deserve. I guess as long as so many musicians out there allow themselves to be treated this way, this sort of stupidity will continue. That pot at the end of the rainbow looks so appealing, but more often than not it's just a mirage, and people like Limp Biscuit are just wolves in sheep's clothing.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:23 PM on February 3, 2002

Did someone say black girl on "Friends"?
posted by allaboutgeorge at 7:27 PM on February 3, 2002

Dude, Fark's awesome.

Anyone who bothers to deride Fark needs to mellow out, possibly with Photoshop, possibly with Boobies, possibly with Photoshopped Boobies.

Y'all with your conspicuous outrage can go fark yourself.

posted by effugas at 7:36 PM on February 3, 2002

Uh... If you've recorded something on a CD, Fred Durst can't copyright it if you give him the CD. Once you've recorded it, the copyright belongs to you. You don't have to register something for it to be copyrighted.
posted by oaf at 7:44 PM on February 3, 2002

The fact that a black woman guest-starring on an episode of Friends is news should give you a sense of how infrequently it happens. But that, is of course, an entirely different topic.
posted by UnReality at 7:55 PM on February 3, 2002

anything bad enough for limp bizkit to want to use it in a song prolly isnt so great anyways
posted by Satapher at 7:57 PM on February 3, 2002

"As for Limp Bizkids, I blame them entirely for the scourge of dopey mid-calf denim shorts that plagues our once-great nation."

Sorry, MrBaliHai. Those godawful things have been a mainstay in Utah for a long, long time. Have to cover the garments, you know.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:17 PM on February 3, 2002

UnReality: I agree with you, on both counts. o:-)
posted by allaboutgeorge at 9:04 PM on February 3, 2002

would be rock-stars, all of whom may recognize a C-D-A chord transition as coming from "Their Song".

There's no copyright on chord progressions (C-D-A, huh? not bad...)
posted by Bearman at 9:09 PM on February 3, 2002

Damn, my favorite pair of shorts is being derided here. And no, I don't much care for limbizket and I'm not LDS.

I'm never gonna look at them the same...
posted by mutagen at 9:11 PM on February 3, 2002

People are getting ansi

To their credit, at least they didn't get Unicode.
posted by milnak at 9:43 PM on February 3, 2002

Unrealty: I would consider it news if people would stop insinuating that Friends is somehow racist, as if any single television show has to adhere to affirmative action quotas. (The fact that the slavishly multicultural The Single Guy -- which had an interracial marriage and various non-white token roles -- failed miserably ought to be indication enough that such cookie-cutter strategies are doomed.) Meanwhile workaday sitcoms like My Wife and Kids from the unquestionably iconically black tv comedian Damon Wayans keep on winning viewers and awards, showing up the multiculti snipers as the goons they are.

The guitarist's article contains one significant error of understanding. The US has been signatory to the Berne Convention on copyright since 1988, and since then all works are automatically copyrighted on publication, whether or not you register. (Registration is still recommended to establish legal ownership, though.) The mere fact of non-registration is not, in itself, sufficient to permit someone else to rush in and copyright work that you legally own.

I'm with perigee and skallas on this one -- the legal eagles were simply making sure that they couldn't get sued for one day publishing a song that "sounds like" someone's audition. The idea that they are patiently sitting through 15,000 one-minute guitar solos and actually remaining sane, let alone carefully noting the choicest licks for future use, is nonsensical.

Star Trek is one of the few TV series that has ever produced stories sourced from fandom, and they are very careful about denying any and all "transom" scripts. If you have an agent and the right connections (and every once in a while they've held a competition), you can get an opportunity to do a "story pitch" -- which is to writing what this one-minute guitar solo is to Limp Bizkit. "So Captain Kirk wakes up with the green Rigellian prostitute and can't remember how he got there, and we follow him through the alien city as he tries to convince people he's a starship captain and not a bum." Similarly for the opportunity -- the VERY CHOICE opportunity -- to pitch, you must sign away the rights to those ideas. They don't want to tell you "no" and then have you sue them because next year one of their house writers comes up with a story where McCoy is addled by drugs and living in a flophouse in Earth's past with Joan Collins. Hey, it's almost the same, right?
posted by dhartung at 10:03 PM on February 3, 2002

dhartung, Joan Collins and a green Rigellian prostitute are close enough for me. Copyright granted.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:10 PM on February 3, 2002

If nothing else, this just proves how fucking corporate Limp Bizkit are. If they're genuine, they don't need to worry about people suing them, because they have the whole copyright establishment behind them and enough money to pay for a whole harem of lawyers and musicologists. Famous bands audition and play with outside musicians all the time without any contract of this sort. But musicians (like any artists) also steal work quite often (what did Picasso say?), either consciously or unconsciously - see George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord".

Anyone who's listened to a Limp Bizkit song will know that they all sound pretty much the same. And if they have trouble not plagiarising their own work, it's safe to assume they'll find it tough not plagiarising other peoples'.
posted by skylar at 2:03 AM on February 4, 2002

wow. i always think it's amazing when a major act like limp bizkit has to do things like hold auditions at a guitar center or put ads in a free weekly paper to find a replacement. haven't these guys ever heard of networking (and not the LAN type either)? oh wait, that would insinuate that fred durst has friends.

*pats self on back for tying together two non-related parallel threads within the comments of this topic.
posted by mb01 at 3:53 AM on February 4, 2002

This doesn't prove "how fucking corporate Limp Bizkit are." It proves how fucking little the common guitar-god wannabe knows about copyright law.

This is standard boilerplate legal language that's used in nearly every contract involving "open" calls to copyrightable material, whether music or writing or web pages or whatever.

To whit: take a look at the Slashdot TOS: "the submitting user grants OSDN the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed." Do you really think Slashdot is trying to hijack your content?

This same flap happens every six months or so over one web service or another. Why are we surprised that it's happening over something offline?

These kinds of boilerplate contracts are not there so the Little Guy's work can be hijacked, but (as someone said earlier) to prevent the Little Guy from exploiting the wealth and fame of the Big Guy. Limp Bizkit (or Slashdot, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc etc etc) don't want your work. You're really just not that good, dude.

But when your face and music show up in a promo for their guitar-audition tour (or your web page shows up in corporate marketing materials) they don't want to be sued by your scrawny, uncreative, never-gonna-make-more-than-$7.50-an-hour-at-Blockbuster ass.

This is the joy of a litiginous society.
posted by monkey-mind at 4:04 AM on February 4, 2002

My way or the highway! <nyuk nyuk>
posted by greensweater at 6:28 AM on February 4, 2002

If Slashdot made a book of the posts to its site and sold that book for profit, I imagine users would be pissed off. And they would have a right to be, regardless of the so-called contract they had signed with Slashdot. Just because it's an industry-standard "boilerplate contract" doesn't mean it's right - in fact, such 'standards' have been used to hold back the rights of artists for decades. In short: if an artist or a site isn't planning to make use of someone else's work, they don't need to demand copyright in that work. But copyright's a one-way stream, isn't it, flowing from the almighty river of corporates like Disney and Limp Bizkit. They can do what the fuck they want with your material, but you can't do anything at all with theirs.
posted by skylar at 8:07 AM on February 4, 2002

It's a boilerplate contract because that's the only way Limp Biskit can listen to the original work of thousands of musicians without taking a ridiculous legal risk.

No one was forced to sign it. It would have been better for the band to make the contract available on the Web or through other means before the auditions, but even if they didn't, anyone who agrees to a complex contract without understanding the terms deserves any consequences that may result.

This isn't an issue of how genuine the band is, or how the little guy always gets screwed, or how corporations are taking over the world. It's a matter of whether Limp Bizkit's record company has competent lawyers.

dhartung: My understanding is that the Star Trek shows are the only ones that will consider unagented scripts over the transom, but you have to accompany them with a waiver. Trek has always been considered unusual about its slush pile, and there's nothing noteworthy about looking at agented story pitches and spec scripts.
posted by rcade at 8:57 AM on February 4, 2002

Read the letter again. It says that Limp Bizkit take the right to use music from the performances on their CD, without paying the guitarists in question, but they will get a credit in the liner notes 'if possible'. This isn't legal ass-covering, this is a contract which demands the hand-over of rights with no payment. It would actually probably be illegal if tested in court.
posted by skylar at 10:15 AM on February 4, 2002

You've gotta be kidding me. You're ready to declare a contract illegal based on the sketchy details provided by a wannabe guitarist with an axe to grind?
posted by rcade at 10:53 AM on February 4, 2002

I just wanted to validate this post. I live in Hampton Roads Virginia. (The 7 cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, and Hampton. Anyways...) Limp Biscuit had their "Put your guitar where your mouth is" contest at a Guitar Center in Va Beach. The 2 radio stations that play Limp Biscuit down here were talking about it for weeks, running contests and hyping everything up. The day came, everything was going fine, and then they just packed up and left after hearing everyone play. They were suppossed to pick a person to jam with at the end of the day but didn't. They just left. Now I don't know why; I don't know if their was some legitimate reason as to why this happened, but it seems really fucked up. The earlier poster didn't say what city he lives in, but it sounds like the same thing that happened here. And what he said about the waivers sounds true also.

One of the radio stations involved, FM99, aired a promo for the contest they had where they call the winner up and tell them that they won. The girl starts screaming cause she's so excited and then the announcer cuts in and says "We interrupt this promo for a special announcement: Fred Durst is a dirty goat humper" and then continue on about how Limp Biscuit's parole officer called and they had to cancel their special event. They went on about how LB let down everyone, especially the contest winner and promised to make it up to her. "And in another FM99 exclusive, we have a statement from Fred Durst himself: (sound of Goat bleating.)

Personally I could give a shit about Durst and the rest of the boys in LB, but I wanted to point out that Durst became the vice president of the record company that they're on right around the time that 'Nookie' came out. He's partly responsible for the success of Staind and Puddle of Mudd. While I feel that the latter are great bands, I think that Durst's whiny little voice and what he has done are part of what is wrong with commercial music these days. I'm am just totally saddened that the sorry state of commercial radio is still keeping Fred and the boys in the playlists and on the air once every 3 hours.

posted by daHIFI at 1:02 PM on February 4, 2002

This contest has come to Jacksonville and is covered by the local paper today. There's a little bit about the contract and more kvetching from angry guitarists about "stealing someone's sound." These guys are trying out for the wrong band. They should be blues musicians.
posted by rcade at 9:27 AM on February 5, 2002

Limp Bitchkit has guitar in their "music?" who knew? oh...wait- that's where that droning, distorted E major is coming from...
It is sad and frustrating that poor wannabe's even show up for these events to try and get a taste of the thing they have been dreaming of their entire pathetic lives, all the while perpetuating the giant corporate rock machine- the thing that has been keeping them down the entire time. All Top 40 music is jerk-offs with no talent rehashing the same crap over and over- a big cycle...(yeah- I said no talent...based on his guitar endorsement ads, the guy that left played a 7-string...uh- why? I'm certain he's never heard of a D minor 7th- he really only needed a 2 string)...truly sad- I would love to see the "winner" of this event...poor sucker.

another funny point is that LB has no real musicain friends, apparently...no real players will play with them because their "music" offers no challenge- only a paycheck and a stupid suburban wannabe b-boy uniform....no networking in the industry....why? I'm mean geez- they are mall rat tough- that's gotta count for something!

I guess the real winner here is the original guy that stood there with a guitar in his hands- he cashed out with royalty checks- these losers are done...he'll get cash...and so it goes on...

[ I've been playing in a band for over 12 years...done the whole big label thing- didn't get signed- but, saw the contracts and all of the bs- they wanted us to change our material and do this and that to get a "development" deal...we declined- that was 7 years ago- we're still playing to large crowds of nearly 26 people every few weeks- but we have our integrity and families...no- you've never heard us, and you probably won't- we don't care... there are many more like us- we play and make records for sheer enjoyment and for the people that like music- go out and see REAL bands in your area! Stop the corporate rape of musicians... ]
posted by ayukna at 9:24 PM on February 6, 2002

Sumting tells me Fred would be laughing his ass off at this thread. :)~
posted by oh posey at 10:59 AM on February 10, 2002

Oh slap me silly... I really meant this one. It hurts not to be perfect all the time. :)
posted by oh posey at 11:01 AM on February 10, 2002

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