Watching Me Walk Around Naked


Directv has created and is airing a sticky – to be more concise, “ICKY” – television commercial that only succeeds at showing a young couple in their loveless relationship.  And the “zinger” line, aired by the male, is mean spirited and aimed at demeaning the woman.  It suggests danger, discomfort and intimidation, not exactly positive qualities to connote by means of a television commercial.  When I first saw this commercial, I was shocked and thought, “he didn’t just say that, did he?  Yikes, this is one ugly and disturbing commercial.”

I’ve heard:

All publicity is good publicity.

Being bad is good for a reputation.

Hey, at least you remembered the commercial – you’re talking about it, aren’t you?

Yet I feel that these three sentences/sentiments do not apply to television commercials or a company’s reputation in the age of ubiquitous social media.  It’s a hard enough proposition for a telecom to have a good reputation and associated good will without the company airing an ugly and disconcerting commercial.

This awful 30-second television commercial is so bad:

FIRST  –  There’s no music.  Music should be in almost every TV/radio/Internet commercial as it can enhance the company or service’s message, as much as visual stimuli  –  art, photographs, video  –  can enhance text.  (Notice the visual for this post.)

To move slightly off the subject and introduce something to explore later:

Music accompanying a television commercial should

a)  herald the message (of the commercial)

b)  be supportive of the message

c)  reinforce the message, or best of all

d)  be memorable so that when the music is heard again, the audience will conjure up the commercial

e)  optimally, introduce a cool new music composition, style, musical artist, band or gangnam-like/macarena-like thing or other foolish fad

SECOND  –  these two young lovers (they were likely lovers in a distant time and galaxy) are at their worst and we the audience are watching the précis worst of their worst.

THIRD  –  the commercial opens with what looks to be the making of an Alfred Hitchcock-Janet Lee-Psycho type shower murder scene – the glass is foggy, and she is naked and cannot see the danger that is lurking just outside the shower.

FOURTH  –  the woman is vulnerable and frightened by an enormous bright billboard-like sign that is waiting for her as she exits the shower.   The unrealistic large sign indicates…

“R E C O R D I N G     C O N F L I C T” 

FIFTH  –  now for the demeaning part.   Shocked by and referring to the sign, the woman says, “OK I am sick of this thing!”  He replies, “Hmm.  Well, see we have cable and if it didn’t record your shows while I am recording my shows, we wouldn’t have to deal with this” (as he points to the huge sign).  She replies, “I just feel like it’s watching me walk around naked.”  He then stops brushing his teeth and delivers his zinger, “Well, at least somebody gets to.”  He smirks, starts to brush extra hard and walks away.  Meanwhile, she looks hurt by his callousness and stands frozen, tightly holding the towel around her body.  Just before the scene fades, a message in white letters, “DON’T LIVE WITH CABLE’S CONFLICT BOX” is briefly displayed on the screen.   Finally, an unseen new male VOICE says, “Upgrade to Directv and record five shows at once.  Call 1-800-DIRECTV.”

The commercial has reminded us that a naked woman in a shower is in a potentially dangerous situation – how can Hitchcock’s “Psycho” not be implied?  Instead of being murdered by a psychotic individual, an enormous psychotic sign is there to startle her.  The only conversation after this is meant to belittle her – she doesn’t know enough about technology for the household, but if she did, the psycho sign wouldn’t be there to scare her coming out of the shower.

As an obnoxious bonus, we are reminded that as a lover, this woman is worse than she is a technophile – she is belittled because she does not know that Directv is better than cable.  Finally, we are told that at least the scary sign is likely to see her naked –  she is more receptive to the Big Brother Recording Conflict sign than the male in the house as he never gets to see her naked.

In this, the most expensive and media-saturated election period in United States history, we have heard several infamous, idiotic and sexist utterances from certain Republican male politicians including these sledge hammers:

if it’s a legitimate rape, uh, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” (Todd Akin, R-MO)


“I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” (Richard Mourdock, R-IN)

At any time in civilized society, this Directv commercial would have been inappropriate.  But in this 2012 “legitimate rape” and “God intended to happen” election period, this Directv commercial is vile, offensive, more off base and ultimately more harmful than beneficial to the Directv brand.

Where I’m Going (By Dressing Up As A Dragon)

I could have titled this post:

Where I’m Going?   (The question mark would change things, wouldn’t it?)

Where I’m Going With The New “RESOURCES” Page On

Where I’m Going By Dressing Up As A Dragon & Standing On A Globe Looking In A Different Direction.

This could get very philosophical, couldn’t it?  But I’ve only got a few more Boca Livre songs left to hear on their Boca Livre album, so I need to get on with my points.

I love this cover photo.  When I saw it, I knew it captured my feelings on this beautiful morning here on Wingaersheek Beach.

I’m glad I’m aware (sometimes) of how many mistakes I make.  It’s paid off this morning as I remembered many sites I forgot to include in my Music & Entertainment Industry website resources.  Here are the first of them.  Notice that they are now active and embedded in my RESOURCES section:

AFM Local 257  –  the Nashville Chapter of THE UNION, as we musicians refer to the AFM, not what Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he said THE UNION.

Caetano Veloso  –  One of my favorite Renaissance people – excellent composer and songwriter, musician, singer, poet, political activist and giant from Brazil.

Hypebot  –  this site does everything right.  Excellent writing, insight and analysis of contemporary issues in music and technology and the new music business.

MTV  –  MTV was a great idea when it was launched in 1981.  Now it’s part of some gargantuan corporation.  MTV has all of the bad that comes with corporate and little if any of the good it once had.  It’s in my Resources because it probably should be there (someone will think so, anyway).  But blah blah to M blah T blah V blah.

Nonesuch  –  Nonesuch thrilled the hell out of me growing up, from freshman year in high school until I stopped (c. 2046).  Nonesuch and its superb budget classical music recordings – budget, in that they didn’t cost very much – $1.99 was normal.  And Nonesuch was daring with their avant-garde classical music (I am/was one of these avant-garde classical composers).  And as if that wasn’t great enough, Nonesuch had their EXPLORER series that brought the best ethnomusicology recordings our way.  Ethnolmusicology predates “World Music.”  And I could go and on about that and will at another time.

Putumayo  –  excellent world music recordings and packaging.  And they seem to have their heart and soul in the right place.  And they have a heart and soul unlike MTV.

Rykodisc  –  if all Rykodisc did was to sell the recordings of Frank Zappa and 3 Mustaphas 3, that would make them great a label.

VH1  –  My comments about MTV can be re-stated here.  But, I started to write several excellent world music television show episodes for a very interested VH1 back one century ago.  It was to be called OrigiNATIONS and was to be my take on the importance of world music and just how much world music had already seeped into our western popular culture.  I still have all of the materials I did.  I should turn them into a book, e-books, or some other fun expression.  If you feel moved to encourage me, please do.

I’ve included some legal/law websites in this list as well some for the most obvious reasons and others because they are friends’ websites.  For example, one should never get too serious about the creation and dissemination of music without thinking about—-



So I included the U. S. Copyright Office and the U. S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Now I am pondering a few more things with respect to the nature of my Resources:

1.  Should the Resources be more focussed and contain fewer non-music sites, or

2.  Should the Resources contain more sites that are not primarily music or entertainment industry, and if #2 holds, then

3.  Resources will be more a reflection of me as I love to connect things that some think are not so connected.  For example, all of us intersect daily with law, business, technology and communication.  That seems to give me the kind of carte blanche to just post away, and fun away!

LAW  –  What we do is either legal, illegal or somewhere in between

BUSINESS  –  How much does that cost?

TECHNOLOGY  –  We have power (electricity)/We do not have power (electricity)

COMMUNICATION  –  “Are you talking to ME?”  (I proudly used that quote without permission or attribution.)

I think I’ll go with Door Number 3.  Let me know what you think.


John Lennon – “I Got Resources On My Fingers!”

I’ve wanted to do this for awhile and now it begins.

I want to have access to information and intelligent resources.  I surround myself with great friends, music, books, gear – musical and digital – recordings, musical scores, videos, DVD’s, VHS tapes (from one century ago), cassette tapes, albums, MP3’s, MP4’s, MP5’s (when it’s their time), wax cylinders, paper from trees not welded into books and more.  (There was a joke and an intentional mistruth in the previous sentence – I love and study but do not possess any wax cylinders but I’d be happy if I did).

Tonight I’ve added a new section to – one called, “Resources.”  It will be a living document.  I’ll update it frequently and I look forward to adding readers’ suggestions as well.  I’ve been compiling resources like this for years and dividing them into categories.  I’ve posted these in various places. The College Music Society has posted my resources for the past 5 or 6 years.  I’ve also included some of these in some of my course syllabi at different universities.  As of tonight, the first installment resides here at my site.

The first of my Resources is a list of music and entertainment industry sites that I visit – almost all of which I value.  Some might be included for good reasons – because I like or love the content at the sites, others because I feel that they should be there, and still others because they will irritate or irk people.  And why not?  Doesn’t the Bible suggest that we should afflict the comfortable?

The title of this post is a paraphrase of an actual John Lennon quote.  At the end of The Beatles “Helter Skelter,” (4.25 of the song) Lennon yells, “I got blisters on my fingers!”  Tonight it struck me that he might have said “I got resources on my fingers.”  Or at least that would make for a good title of this post.

Without further delay, I present to you the first installment of my R E S O U R C E S.   I hope you enjoy and find them helpful.  This site will be updated and revised.  Please feel free to send your comments and suggestions.  Future installments of RESOURCES will include favorite books, Twitter accounts, social media services and companies and more.

If you missed the RESOURCES in that last paragraph, I’ll repeat myself.




Annuit Coeptis



Did Big Happens Here Do Digable Planets?

I love the 1993 Digable Planets album, “Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time And Space).”  Their big single from the album, “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” might have been overplayed and overhyped but I still like it.

I love seeing how others view music that is not their native music.   By “native,” I mean this is music that is not their primary music – not the music that they first performed or were “into.”  Many in hip hop came to R & B and jazz after they were first immersed in hip hop, just as many in jazz may have started in rock, and so on.  One of the things that intrigues me is how someone from outside a musical tradition can latch onto a small phrase that might seem not extremely interesting or important to those who are the REAL practitioners of a style, i.e., musicians who are inside that tradition.  For example,  what a hip hop musician might think is important in a jazz composition can be much different from what a jazz musician might think is most important.

I know that many traditional jazz players, especially in the early and mid-1980’s, would not likely latch on to a short phrase, repeat it many times and make this small and almost “throw away” motif into something big.  This tiny melodic gesture, in the hands of an outsider (with respect to a musical tradition), could become the most important part of the melody, or sometimes the only melody that matters to someone from outside of that tradition.  This “how does a foreigner view our music” idea is one I will explore later.  I’ll include myself in this – how and why did I get into hip hop, or Senegalese, Malagasy, Brazilian or Cuban music.

All of this to get back to that famous Digable Planets song that samples some jazz.  Digable Planets were not the first group to sample jazz but this song did influence a lot of people and inform others that something new was happening.  And that this new thing was happening from the confluence of more than one musical style.

I got thinking of Digable Planets a few days ago (during Hurricane Sandy) when I saw a television commercial promoting the idea that New York state is a great place to have technology companies – that New York is “home to the fastest-growing tech sector in America.”   (Massachusetts needs a “tech is our kind of place” and “we are the [tech] champions, my friend” commercial to top New York, but I digress.)

As always, I was doing something other than watching television passively.  I must have been playing on my iPad waiting for the winds to blow harder (as they did).  I heard music that seemed quite familiar – my instant thought was that this music on the tube was a “write around” aka “writearound” aka “reference” of Digable Planets’ “Cool Like Dat.”

Fortunately, the tech commercial was on YouTube, so I lassoed it and placed it here:

Big Happens Here:  Technology

Now here is Digable Planets’ “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat).”

Digable Planets – “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”

What do you think?  Do you hear a relationship between Big Happens Here and Digable Planets?

Is Big Happens Here a ripoff of Digable Planets?

Is Big Happens Here somewhat similar to Digable Planets?

Is Big Happens here not related to Digable Planets?

I think there is a relationship.  I’d rather not divulge my thoughts but read of yours.  I’ll explain my thoughts later.  Soon.  Maybe tomorrow.  But I await your responses.  :  )

Igor Got Game: A Musical and Legal Comparison of The Beastie Boys and Igor Stravinsky

Igor Got Game:  A Musical and Legal Comparison of the Beastie Boys and Igor Stravinsky

Today I am beginning my trip to New York.  It was going to begin with a stop at the Natick Mall for the only reason I go to any mall – an Apple store.  My iMac won’t play DVD’s and my 13 inch MacBook Pro won’t even turn on.  The laptop died about 30 minutes after I made the appointment at the Genius Bar for the iMac.  It was as if it too wanted attention and injured itself so they could visit the Genius Bar together.  But I canceled this as I now won’t be gone for 4-5 days as I had planned due to Frankenstorm.  I’ll bring the computers to an Apple store closer to Gloucester at some other time.

I’ll be in New York to speak at the 2012 IBS/CUNY Kingsborough Community College Media Conference.  One of the best things about this conference is its location on Oriental Blvd on the Atlantic Ocean.  My best and most expensive app, Navigon, indicates that the location of 2001 Oriental Blvd. is 3 ft. from Oriental Beach on the Atlantic Ocean.  Smile smile!!!  It is so nice to speak with a view of the ocean.  I’ll be in the building on the left in this photo.  And the water will really be that blue.  :  )

On Monday, I would have  spoken to a Corporate Social Responsibility class at 10 AM, and then to a Writing for Radio & TV class at 2 PM, both at William Paterson University.  I had prepared some really fun stuff – there really are enough examples of corporate social irresponsibility in the music and entertainment industry – but that will have to happen at a later time.

But Frankenstorm has changed that.

And now…something completely different.

This was the title of a presentation I gave at several conferences one century ago.  I loved what I was finding when analyzing the Beastie Boys new album at that time (1999) – Hello Nasty.  For one, they had sampled the music of Igor Stravinsky and Stephen Sondheim and found ways of connecting both Stravinsky & Sondheim.

I’ll return to this subject in the near future and possibly post this paper in installments.

Here is the abstract to that presentation:

“Igor Got Game:  A Musical and Legal Comparison of

The Beastie Boys and Igor Stravinsky”

E. Michael Harrington



Igor Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella” (1918) drew heavily upon music composed by Giovanni Pergolesi and others in the early 18th century.  The Beastie Boys, an extremely popular rap/hip hop music group since the mid-1980’s, in their best-selling CD, Hello Nasty (1999) drew upon the music of Stravinsky by means of the digital sampling of Stravinsky’s “Firebird.”  Both of these “borrowings” share important similarities and differences.  Furthermore, these borrowings shed light on several seemingly unrelated disciplines and fields of study.  These include music composition and the nature of creativity and originality, the intellectual property law of different times and societies created to protect authors from appropriations of their original works, the means by which borrowed music may be used and transmitted (sampling, digital streaming, MP3, etc.), and the business (financial, licensing, retail, broadcast, etc.) considerations involved in such borrowings.  Although neither Stravinsky or the Beastie Boys were alone in using preexisting music in their compositions, the manner in which they have borrowed in these specific instances is historically significant.  In addition, these borrowings, taken as a related whole, constitute an important educational paradigm by which we can better understand the definitions of creativity, and originality, and how these definitions have changed and remained the same in light of today’s legal, cultural, economic and technological developments.

Using the Beastie Boys’  Hello Nasty, and Stravinsky’s “Firebird” and “Pulcinella,” this presentation will demonstrate the advantages of a more multidisciplinary – creative, technological, legal and business – approach to the understanding and teaching of  music in the 21st century.  Classes which can be positively enhanced by such an approach include music appreciation, music theory, music composition, business, intellectual property law and technology.

As Apple Annoys Again

There are millions of Apple fans worldwide – those who will anxiously await the newest shiny silver Apple device. If it is shiny and silver we’ll buy it, or at least I love to say that given any chance.   Samsung’s new (September-October 2012) commercial for their Galaxy S-3 smartphone makes good fun of us Apple fanboys and fangirls who will wait in lines for hours and days to be the first to get the new Apple toy, most recently, the iPhone 5.

I use “shiny” in deference to my all-time favorite Onion parody – a fictional news story about a fictional new Apple product – the MacBook Wheel.  If you don’t know this genius of a parody, you’ve come to the right place!  I  consider this Onion parody on Applemania and technology reporting to be on a par with the original and quintessential “mockumentary”  – “This Is Spinal Tap.”

In The Onion’s news exclusive, “Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard,” we were introduced to the funny but too-accurate saying, “I’ll buy almost anything if it’s shiny and made by Apple.”

There were many gems in this short piece including my favorite – Apple’s new “Predictive Sentence Technology,” with its millions of sentences from which to choose:

The aardvark admitted its fault.
The aardvark admitted it was wrong.
The aardvark asked for an aardvark.
The aardvark asked for a dagger.
And so on…..

But now to the problem I have with Apple today:

I listen to KCBS’ technology expert, Larry Magid’s brief daily podcast where he gives concise summaries of important news developments in technology, new gadgets, and services, as well as problems faced in cyberspace.

Here is one of Larry’s recent posts from his “Larry’s World” blog, on an annoying “improvement” in Apple’s iOS 6.

Apple claims that its Ad Tracking is  “a non-permanent, non-personal device identifier that adverting networks will use to give you more control over advertiser’s ability to use tracking methods.”

But it is not so “non-permanent” and it might give you “more control” but certainly not enough control.  Or the ability to completely opt out of being tracked by advertisers.

As Larry points out, the opting out option is not in an intuitive place, and is nearly completely hidden.  One might think to look under “Settings” and then, “Privacy,” or under “Settings” and then “General,” and then “Privacy,” but none of these would be correct.

Instead one has to go to “Settings” and then “General.”  OK.  That’s sensible.

But the next step is bizarre – one must click on “About,” not “Restrictions,” or “Accessibility,” or another heading.  (And under “General,” there is not even an option entitled, “Privacy.”)  “About” is where one usually finds one’s serial number, device model indicator, cellular data number, wi-fi address, etc.  Not where one would dig to change a privacy feature.

Next, after one has highlighted “About,” one must scroll down nineteen (19) headings to the word, “Advertising,” which is located just below “Modem Firmware” and above “Diagnostics & Usage.”  Huh?

Next, one will click on the only option available – “Limit Ad Tracking.”  So if you then click on “Limit Ad Tracking,” you are supposedly in for some relief from advertisers.  But what kind and how much relief?  Why isn’t there an option to “Eliminate” or “Disable” ad tracking?

You have only one option – the ability to “limit” advertisers’ ability to track you.  You won’t know that advertisers have truly been limited and to what extent.  Just trust Apple on this one – you have taken firm control of your online privacy with respect to advertisers, or as much as Apple will permit.

Apple is a great company for brilliant U.I. and ease and fun of use of their shiny silver toys.  This feature and its obscure location, however, makes one realize that Apple plays by rules that aren’t benevolent or consumer-friendly (Apple loves us, don’t they?).   Apple has sold us another expensive toy, so that we can buy into an expensive monthly marriage with a telecom and then sell us to as many advertisers as possible.  And in addition, millions of us are now choosing to rent the music and books we have already purchased.

But as Kip Dynamite sang at his wedding in the film, “Napoleon Dynamite:”

“Yes, I love technology, but not as much as you you see, but I still I love technology, always and forever…”

Angie Aparo v. Five For Fighting (Part 3 of 3)

PART 3 of 3

We left off in this cliffhanger with the promise of an ending in this highly abbreviated fictionalized account of what could have been a copyright infringement action brought by Angie Aparo and affiliated parties against Five For Fighting and affiliated parties.

Plaintiff: What country song  features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant:  “Tomorrow Never Comes” by Ernest Tubb does.  Conway Twitty’s “I’m Not Through Loving You Yet” also features 1-2-3-5.

Plaintiff:  What rock song  features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant: “I’ll Follow The Sun” by The Beatles.”  The Beatles‘ “You Won’t See Me” also features 1-2-3-5.

Plaintiff: What soul/R & B song features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant:  “My Girl” by The Temptations.

Plaintiff: What Brazilian song  features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant:  “Canto Do Povo De Um Lugar” by Caetano Veloso.

Plaintiff: What song recorded in Minnesota features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant:  “Paisley Park” by Prince.

Plaintiff:  And you stated, yesterday, that you do not know a song recorded in Iowa that features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant: What is Iowa?  Is there a gas station near there?

Plaintiff:  You also stated yesterday that you do not know a 17th century popular Persian song that features 1-2-3-5?

Defendant: No, my life up until this point has been incomplete as I do not know any 17th century Persian popular songs.

Plaintiff: Is there something you want to tell me?

Defendant: What?

Plaintiff: You seem to be almost laughing, or is that a smirk?  Is there something you would like to share with us?

Defendant: Well, when you put it that way, yes, there is something I would like to say.

Plaintiff: Go ahead.

Defendant: I have the best example to show that we did not copy your client.

This is a very famous example of 1-2-3-5.  And although your client’s song and our client’s song has the same 1-2-3-5, this really famous song from the 1970’s should put an end to this foolish lawsuit.

Here’s what I want you to do:

I want you to sing three (3) phrases from the first chorus of Aparo’s song.  Or we could cue the iPad or iPod (I brought both with me today – one can never get too redundant on the preparation thing, you know? ) – to 1.21 of the live version:

Angie Aparo – “Seed”
(YouTube: )

“For every seed”   [1-2-3-5]
“once there were two”  [1-2-3-5]
“wrestle your heart”  [1-2-3-5]

They’re the same, right?  Now I want you to sing the first chorus of Five For Fighting’s song.  Or we could cue the iPad to 0.37:

Five For Fighting – “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”
(YouTube: )

“I’m more than a bird”  [1-2-3-5]
“I’m more than a plane” [1-2-3-5]

Those phrases from Five For Fighting are the same melody as the analogous phrases from Angie Aparo, right?

Now I want to introduce a new song as part of our evidence:

A fairly famous song from 1971 that your expert seemed to either overlook, or perhaps he doesn’t know this song.

“All The Young Dudes” by Mott The Hoople – their most famous single.

And as with Aparo and Five For Fighting, guess what melody is at the heart of the chorus?  Yes:  1-2-3-5.

Now I want you to sing the first chorus of  Mott The Hoople’s “All The Young Dudes”  Let’s cue the iPad to 0.52:

Mott The Hoople – “All The Young Dudes”
(YouTube: )

“all the young dudes”  [1-2-3-5]
“boogaloo dudes”  [1-2-3-5]
“all the young dudes”  [1-2-3-5]
“boogaloo dudes”  [1-2-3-5]

These three (3) songs, by

Mott The Hoople
Angie Aparo
Five For Fighting

…and these specific melodies are interchangeable!  You don’t have a case!    

Or perhaps now we should both worry that David Bowie, who wrote “All The Young Dudes,” and related parties will sue us?

No, they won’t.  They won’t sue because this melody is:

too short;
not original enough to be copyrighted, and;
has occurred in many songs/compositions in many styles of music dating back to Bach.

The short and simple melodic gesture, 1-2-3-5, is in the public domain.

This just goes to show that if not Mott The Hoople, a lot of great music can be traced back to Bach, don’t you think?

(And did you notice that the chorus of Mott The Hoople consists of two (2) nineteen (19)-beat phrases?  Four (4) measures of 4/4 plus one (1) one measure of 3/4 with that entire thing stated twice, i.e. 19/4 + 19/4.  Cool, huh?)

Anyone up for lunch?

Does Five For Fighting’s “Superman” Infringe Angie Aparo’s “Seed? (Part 2 of 3)

Chess Game

Chess Game

If accused of copyright infringement (copying Angie Aparo’s “Seed”), Five For Fighting could reply:  “We didn’t copy your song.”

(That defense should be enough, don’t you think?)

Then, someone on the potential plaintiff’s side (lawyer/publisher/manager etc.) could say, “YES you did.”

Defendant (Five For Fighting) could reply, “NO we didn’t.”

Then, Plaintiff could state, “You HAD to copy it.  You COULDN’T have written it any other way.”

Then, Defendant could state, “NO.  We wrote it without copying.  There was no copying.  Now, go away.”

Plaintiff could bring in an “expert” in music.  This expert could state that the defendant stole the song.

Defendant could bring in another expert who could state that the Defendant did not copy the Plaintiff.

(Now we will drop the conditional auxiliary verb – “could” – as we’ve got a barn-burner of a federal copyright infringement matter here.)

Experts for the Plaintiff and Defendant agree to present evidence, and to two (2) nomenclative points:

  1. Melody is indicated by numerical scale degrees: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8
  2. Time is indicated by a number, decimal point and two-digit number.  This configuration is identical to that indicated by an MP3 player or CD player.  For example, the indication, “2.31” indicates “two minutes and thirty-one seconds.”

Plaintiff and Defendant agree that the melody in question is:


and that 1-2-3-5 occurs at these points:

(It is common that there can be slight disagreements as to the exact temporal location of some of the numbers, but these are inconsequential in the determination of copyright infringement in this specific case)

Angie Aparo – “Seed”
(YouTube: )

1.21, 1.24, 1.29
1.43, 1.54
3.25, 3.35, 3.45

Five For Fighting – “Superman (It’s Not Easy)”
(YouTube: )

0.37, 0.39
1.12, 1.14, 1.21, 1.23
2.16, 2.18, 2.25, 2.27
2.51, 2.53, 3.00, 3.02

Plaintiff’s expert touts and further explains his evidence.

Defendant’s expert states that the melody in common is not copyrighted because it can be found in many songs written before the Plaintiff’s song.

Plaintiffs demand Defendants’ expert witness prove that the melody in question is not copyrighted.

Defendant’s expert witness shows that the melody is found in the music of:  Bach, Borodin, Brahms, Dvorak, Foster, Guonod, Haydn. Lear, Mendelssohn and Mozart.

Plaintiff demands specificity.

Defendant specifies:

Bach –  Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring (Cantata No. 147)
Borodin – Prince Igor
Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor
Dvorak – Sonatina in G for Piano and Violin, Op. 100
Foster – Oh, Susannah
Guonod – Mors et vita
Haydn – Trumpet Concerto in Eb
Lear – Frasquita
Mendelssohn – Piano Concerto in G minor
Mozart – Piano Concerto in Bb, K. 191

Plaintiff is not impressed and wants Defendant to give them evidence from a song written and recorded in the past 50 years.

Defendant says that will be easy and that he can find this simple melody in several popular music styles.

Plaintiff feels that the Defendant’s Expert may have gotten himself into a predicament  that could easily backfire.  Talking too much, and too large, can cause trouble.

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a country song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a rock song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a soul/R & B song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a Brazilian song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a song recorded in Minnesota that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “yes.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a song recorded in Iowa that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “no.”

Plaintiff asks, “can you provide a 17th century popular Persian song that features 1-2-3-5?”
Defendant replies, “no.”

The Defendant’s expert wasn’t as cocky as Plaintiffs anticipated.  But surely there will be enough here to discredit him.  We will ask him more tomorrow – hand him more rope.

Tomorrow we will end this discussion.  Both side are convinced that they are right.


Does Five For Fighting’s “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” Infringe Angie Aparo’s “Seed?”

Tiger in Cage

In a very good post yesterday, Kate M Singleton stated that she thinks we should be able to copy short excerpts of others’ expression.  She also brought up a potential borrowing or copyright infringement example.  She posed the question – did a song by Five For Fighting infringe a song by Angie Aparo.

I decided that her thoughtful answer to my question deserved its own post.  Here are links to both songs:

Angie Aparo – “Seed”

Five for Fighting – Superman (It’s not Easy)”

I’d like for almost all of my posts to have visual interest – you know, a photograph.  So, here’s the photo I’ve selected – a tiger behind bars.  The tiger is beautiful but possibly angry at being locked up.  Perhaps the tiger’s song has been infringed and he wants to – get ready for a rhyme – get the HELL out of the CELL.

Tiger in Cage

OK – now on to my response to her post.

I agree with Kate – I think we should be able to take expression from others and use it.  Or re-use it, as a defendant-type or one of those RE-MIX people – those COPY-LEFT’ers – might say or write.  And we should be able to take things – expression – without asking permission.

We teach our children to STEAL other peoples’ thoughts without asking permission.  (I’m referring to what some teachers and professors do – make their students write “papers” that consist of their own thoughts mixed with the (better, older and more respected) thoughts of others.  We FORCE THEM TO STEAL.   All we ask is that our students have to correctly indicate (cite) their exact source(s).  We would not allow them to even ask for permission.  (Imagine writing to Houghton Mifflin to ask for their permission to copy a short paragraph?  They’d never get back to the student in a timely manner, if at all, and then the student’s paper would be late.  Despite the student’s honorable intention and actions, the student would flunk even though all the student was trying to do was abide by the U. S. Copyright Act.  Asking permission to use copyrighted material in this instance would be harmful to one’s education!)

Kate stated her opinion well.  I’m simply agreeing with her – that one should be able to use preexisting creative expression without asking for permission.

NEXT—-  was Angie Aparo’s “Seed” infringed – ripped off, stolen, etc – by Five For Fighting’s “Superman (It’s Not Easy).”

I like Kate’s description of her metamorphosis on the subject – how she used to get angry when hearing the two songs, but has transitioned to thinking that maybe FFF  (the group, not a type of battery) did not steal from AA (the artist, not the type of battery).

(I happen to have a better, for our comparative purposes, studio recording of Angie Aparo’s song and listened carefully to both Aparo versions and the one FFF version.)

It is easy to hear the VERY STRONG similarity between the songs in the sections she describes.  They are very similar with respect to melody, and the “shared” melody is virtually identical.  (“Virtually” is one loaded word.  I’ll get into “loaded words” – I never wrote “loaded words” before just now – in a later blog post.)

This post is long enough. I think I’ll post my answer tomorrow.  For anyone reading, please post your answers today.

Does that seem like a good idea – to listen to both songs and decide whether Five For Fighting’s song infringes Angie Aparo’s song?  Want to play?  You should.  It’s only play, and if you’re an adult reading this, you likely don’t play enough.