The copyright degenerations (2)

Categories: Copyright, Mercato, Musica
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Published on: 27 August 2006

London, September 23, 2002.
British composer Mike Batt found himself the subject of a plagiarism action for including the song, “A One Minute Silence,” on an album for his classical rock band The Planets.
He was accused of copying it from a work by the late American composer John Cage, whose 1952 composition “4’33″” was totally silent.
On Monday, Batt settled the matter out of court by paying an undisclosed six-figure sum (in UK pounds) to the John Cage Trust (note: John Cage is dead in 1992). Batt gave the cheque to Nicholas Riddle, managing director of Cage’s publishers Peters Edition and credited “A One Minute Silence” to “Batt/Cage.”
Riddle said: “We feel that honour has been settled. We had been prepared to make our point more strongly on behalf of Mr Cage’s estate, because we do feel that the concept of a silent piece — particularly as it was credited by Mr Batt as being co-written by “Cage” — is a valuable artistic concept in which there is a copyright.”
[from CNN]

Very interesting. There is a precedent in art: the white painting drawn on a blank canvas by Rauschenberg is copyrighted.
As the white paintings, the silent piece is a concept, but if a composer could patent musical concepts, there would be no music at all.
Cowell could have patented piano clusters, Schoenberg the 12-tone system, Debussy the 6-tone scale and so on. And what about the sonata and other forms?
Not to speak about pop music. I can imagine a never ending lawsuit between Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin about hard rock invention.

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