No copyright blurred lines

The Robin Thicke/Pharrell Williams vs Gaye estate verdict is a complete joke. The judge said that the case was to be decided on the ‘sheet music’ aspects of the song, and they are completely different. Different melody, different harmony. You can’t play those two songs on a piano and say one’s a copy of the other. That’s rubbish.

Of course Thicke and Williams ripped off the vibe. You don’t need to be a musician to tell that. The whole feel of the song, the drum beat, the electric piano sound (and a bit of the e. piano bassline), the high vocal, the party atmosphere in the background, they’re obviously all very similar, and you might feel that Thicke and Williams deserved to lose for that reason alone. But decisions like this don’t just concern those in the trial, they concern every composer in the world. If two songs that are so dissimilar are said to be copies, then disaster lies ahead. I really hope this verdict gets overturned on appeal (I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t). It never should have gone to trial. Why didn’t the court consult some compositional experts beforehand, who could have told them to throw it out?

Bob Stanley has a good article in The Guardian about this.

I was also amused by this article. In it, E. Michael Harrington from the SAE Institute (one of the best sound engineering schools) says the verdict is a bad one. For the other side of the argument the journalist turned to… the Gaye estate’s lawyer!

Update: Apparently the Gaye estate had some musicologists in who testified that the ‘sheet music aspects’ were very similar. Looks like Thicke and Williams made a big mistake in not getting their own musicologists in to testify that this was BS.

Todd Rundgren – Black Maria

Good videos of Toddles are hard to find, but we thought we’d put this one up, despite the average sound quality, because his outfit is so similar to what Jake wore last weekend to Mrs Wintours’s little get together. She’s a style leader, Mrs Wintour, the neighbours say, but eyebrows were raised, and Jake lacks a… shall we say, ‘lightness of touch’? when it comes to wearing these things.

But you need only look at the video of handsome Mr Rundgren and not concern your pretty little heads with trying to imagine the terribly gauche efforts of our own lumpen Mr Simmons, with his amusing ‘small talk’ of the latest biochemistry laboratory advances and South American bank fraud strategies. Suffice it to say, at the next Coralspin New York Christmas party Jake will be confined to the back room.

(As will a certain Mr. Mick Wilson, who can’t be trusted around expensive liquor. And God forbid those barbarians from Red Bazar should turn up. One moment you’re trying to talk to Dave Eggers, the next moment that drummer is drinking from three Remy bottles at once like it’s some supreme TV talent show skill. “100 paradiddles don’t buy you class”, as William Bruford liked to say).

Creative destruction, Moog-style

Moog have announced a limited re-release of three of their big modular synths from the 70s: the System 55, the System 35, and the Model 15. They’ve been lovingly re-created, conforming to the original product specifications, and using the original manufacturing processes (such as ye olde hand-wiring).

So what are you going to do about it? You’re going to buy me the System 55, that’s what. It’s only $35 000, so don’t be stingy, have a whip-around and get me one before some one-fingered investment banker who thinks he’s God’s gift to electronic music blows his bonus on it, before losing interest three days later.

In return I promise to take it on stage, play some amazing solos, and then stick knives in it so it makes funny noises and then blows up. Not even Keith Emerson stuck knives into his Moog modular (I think — or did he?)

If you can’t stretch to the System 55 then at least get me the Model 15 (a snip at at $10k), so as not to embarrass yourself and to prevent any funny looks at the club. Come on, 10k is just pocket money, so stop pulling that face.

If you really insist on spinning me some sob story about how money is tight and you’ve had to sell off another yacht then I’ll also settle for you just buying a CD, okay, spare me the details, just buy the CD, but bear in mind that Jake’s vintage guitar collection doesn’t grow on trees. (Made out of trees, sure, quite a lot of them in fact, but someone has to make them, preferably 50 years ago.)


The dead hand of government is in action again, with some new VAT legislation from the EU (involving VATMOSS), which threatens to make life very difficult for the many musicians and artists who sell products digitally from their website. There’s a petition here to try to stop this new legislation.

It looks like even selling only via third-party websites like Bandcamp will not solve the problem.