In Phoenix Before The Dust Storm, the Birthday of & John Lennon & Listen to Moses


One year ago today (October 9, 2012), I wrote my first blog post on I knew October 9 was John Lennon’s birthday and thought that my new effort should coincide with a day that had meaning to me.  All things John Lennon have always been important to me.  I would not have become a musician if not for The Beatles and Lennon was my favorite Beatle.  (If you were alive in 1964 when The Beatles invaded my continent, you had a favorite Beatle.)


I did something similar back when I was a graduate student at the University of Miami.  I needed to set a deadline to finish my orchestral composition that would be at the center of my master’s thesis.  I thought that the summer would be the best to time to complete a project this large, thought about what are my favorite dates, and then chose July 2, the date in which Thomas Jefferson finished writing the Declaration of Independence .  So, on July 2, I successfully pulled off something as responsible, mature and adult-ish as completing a large project on time that loomed many months ahead.  And as an extra bonus and most importantly, I loved the music I had written.  My orchestral master’s thesis is entitled:

C H E M I C A L      F O L K L O R E

Someday I might write about it here, but not today.


Today I am in Phoenix, Arizona to speak to NARIP about my work in music copyright/IP, publishing and advertising, and to spout and rant too.  My 3-hour interactive lecture to NARIP will take place on Wednesday, October 9, 2013 at Paradise Valley Community College.  I’ve been referring this college as Paradise.  I like to abbreviate names sometimes especially when the abbreviated name seems appropriate – this area is really beautiful!

I’ll also discuss digital issues and possibly the fair and essential use of sampling as well.  By essential use of sampling, I am referring to situations when one MUST sample without permission in order to create a PARODY.  (Is Essential Sampling a good phrase?  Should it be Requisite Sampling?  Compulsory Sampling?  Sampling Because You Must?)  That First Amendment thing is important and should trump other given rights at times.

I’ll leave this topic now.  Near the end of my last talk at Harvard Law School on April 15, 2013, I first brought up this YOU MUST SAMPLE TO PARODY (in these specific examples) idea.  It was risky to talk this way then and there and maybe more so today.  But also, in three hours of interactivity today – interactivity is not the same as hyperactivity – this issue does not have to come up.  I’ll ponder another time or two between now and 2  PM and decide about this FORCED/ENFORCED sampling notion.


There is a “BLOWING DUST ADVISORY for GREATER PHOENIX AREA, AZ” today and tomorrow here in Phoenix – blowing winds, reduced vision, warnings that cars must pull over, stop and hope for the best.  People shouldn’t breathe or be outside….  And I’ll be wearing my best black suit!  Yikes – this is not Gloucester MA or Nashville TN.  I am in a real desert – the Sonoran Desert – in the real, wild American West.


And the best news for last – The BOSTON RED SOX won the ALDS last night beating Tampa 3 games to 1.  We were the worst team in baseball last year.  This year, objectively speaking, we are the best!  It was preordained.

“Listen to Moses!”


Why do musicians borrow (from other musicians)?

Why do musicians borrow? 

This will be a short list only.  I do not want to give examples below of each reason musicians borrow.  That can be done at a different time and place.  For now, I only want to list a few reasons why musicians borrow.

By use of the words, “musicians” and “borrow,” I am asserting that if one is “simply” a musician who plays an instrument (one who performs music), one is also at least one of the following –





For many, linking one of these four words to a musician might be an enormous leap of faith, and an assignment of talent, creativity and intelligence that all musicians do not, by default, possess.  I disagree and feel that a performer has to add original expression to every musical performance especially if the music being performed is notated.  This is because notation (in every system from every country I have studied) always requires at the very least a modicum of interpretation, and interpretation requires intentional creating, composing or authoring.  For example, in the most immediate situation, one has to make decisions as to the exact point when a note begins, sustains and ends, the loudness levels of the note during its three-part life – the beginning, sustain and end of the note, and even the exact temporal points of the note’s beginning and end.  And when one multiplies each decision that impacts each begin-sustain-end of a sound by the number of those events, one has done much more composing, creating or authoring than many consciously consider.

These thoughts also, however, can be elaborated at another time and cyber-venue.

One final thought in this short preamble –  I intentionally used the verb, “borrow,” rather than copy, steal, lift, appropriate, misappropriate or other verbs that often are more pejorative.  Whether or not “borrow” is the correct term is not important to me in this post.  I am, instead, pondering the reasons why borrowing occurs.


Why do musicians borrow? 

They like the sound.

They like all or some of the melody, harmony, rhythms, instrumentation, loudness levels, sounds, etc. isolated or in combination.

The borrower believes that the borrowed material will sound good in the new music.

They borrow/copy accidentally, unconsciously or unintentionally, i.e., they believed their music was original and not borrowed.

To pay tribute to or honor an artist and/or an artist’s music.

To make a cultural or musical reference – to “signify.”

It is a rule/one MUST borrow – if the tradition or culture dictates that some amount of new music has to come from a prior source (“cantus firmus” as a melody line that must be used in a new composition – the new  composer creates additional new melodies to the composition;  “parody” mass of the Middle Ages/Renaissance, etc.)

To answer what the original material may have addressed, i.e., answer song.

To give the borrowed elements new meaning by placing them in a new context.

To comment, criticize or ridicule the borrowed material, i.e., parody.

To use the material to comment, criticize or ridicule something other than the borrowed material, i.e., satire.

To draw attention to one’s own music because the new author believes her/his new music is an improvement on the original source.  The new composer is asserting that if the original had been better, it would have sounded like this.

To draw attention to an “opportunity” to spend money on a product or service.  This is especially common with music used in television commercials as the company wants to draw your attention before your eyes and/or ears leave the “messaging area.”

To draw inspire action that is not commercial in nature but instead a “call to duty,” engagement or involvement.

To draw attention to your own song (especially so if the borrowing occurs at the opening of the new song).

The borrower was capable of original expression but felt that borrowing from a few to many sources could result in original expression, i.e., the borrower aimed to make original expression out of earlier or contemporaneous expression.

It may have worked well the first time – it is good music and will work again (This leads to the worst reasons for borrowing – the next few reasons;)

The borrower has run out of ideas and needs to borrow, copy or steal from elsewhere.

To ride the coattails of a better artist and/or better music.

The borrower was never capable of original expression and chose to copy others’ expression.

I welcome others’ ideas on the subject of borrowing.  I hope your September 11 is a great day.





Jonathan Coulton, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Glee and Whose Baby Got Back?


I heard about the Jonathan Coulton v. Glee thing all day yesterday, last night and this morning.  As usual the Hollywood Reporter account is the best.  Coulton took Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back and transformed it into a much different composition. Coulton’s radical revision is in the same league of radical revision as The Residents’ The King And Eye in which they (The Residents) wildly re-imagined famous Elvis Presley songs.  Here is one of the tamer re-imagines – The Residents’ version of Don’t Be Cruel.  (I use the word, “re-imagine,” so as to heap praise upon this practice which goes far beyond the normal, reserved arranging one often hears in popular music.  Earth, Wind & Fire’s take on The Beatles’ Got To Get You Into My Life is another example but not as wildly reimagined as those by The Residents or Coulton.)

I have very strong opinions on all of the above, as well as the U. S. Copyright Act that allows some good things to take place but at the same time fails to protect or even recognize other “authors,” such as Coulton.  (Coulton might not be an author of Baby Got Back despite the superb job of authorship he lavished on Baby Got Back.)

There has been so much talk on the Inter-Tubes about the injustice done by The Fox TV series, Glee, to Jonathan Coulton.  Here is what Coulton thinks.

Here is a version found on YouTube of Coulton’s Baby Got Back.  Here is a Glee version of Baby Got Back.  Jonathan Coulton has substituted a “quack” for the F-word in the original Sir Mix-A-Lot.  It is heard at 2.40 into the song.  At the 2.40 mark of Glee, one hears_____?  Are the tempos of Coulton and Glee identical?  Did elements of the Coulton master recording find their way into the master recording of Glee?

This post is unstable, i.e., dynamic, and will be altered one or more times very soon.

Laugh, Wince & Wonder Why – Eduard Khil, Eric Idle, Barbara Boxer & Paula Abdul


I couldn’t bring myself to do one of those thoughtful, retrospective, introspective pieces about what took place in 2012  –  who died and the value of what they left behind, etc.  I like to read, view and hear those introspective, retrospective thoughtful year-end pieces but didn’t want to write my own. I thought, instead, to quickly find five (5) of my saved YouTube videos to view today, only one of which would be apropos to 2012.  The five (5) of these as a totality epitomize my day thus far.

The cloudy sky of the cover is as vague and indefinite as my December 31, 2012 and view of 2012.  The colors of the photo do not seem real  –  the place, time of season and day also seem as untrue and uncertain.

As for the following five (5) videos  –  they make me laugh, wince and wonder why.  I hope you’ll like them too and try to make them comport to your New Year’s Eve’s desire(s).  Only the first video, featuring Eduard Khil, is appropriate as a reminder of people who died in 2012 and left behind a legacy.  In the large list of great people who died this year  –

George McGovern, Daniel Inouye, Dave Brubeck, Ravi Shankar, Adam Yauch, Etta James, Robin Gibb, Jack Klugman, Andy Griffith, Sally Ride, Nora Ephron, Phyllis Diller and more  –

I never saw the name of Eduard Khil.  That is one of the reasons I had to include Mr. Khil here.  And as we like to say in Cambridge, “Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой.”

Now, to the uplifting audio and visual.

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This is the famous Eduard Khil performance which became one of the greatest Internet memes in 2009.  He seemed so happy by the success of this video  –  to me, Eduard and the video were quite heartwarming:

Eduard Khil  –  “I Am Glad, ‘Cause I’m Finally Returning Back Home”

This might be the story of Sonseed.  This is one of those famous-for-the-wrong-reason bands and memes.  Get down with your bad white-boy authentic reggae Christian self:

Sonseed  –  Jesus Is A Friend Of Mine

One can never get enough of The Rutles, a great, pre-Spinal Tap rockumentary.  I love the issues of parody, satire and copyright infringement that float throughout “The Rutles.”  The witticisms get even better when one studies the entire film and especially the cameo appearances in the film by particular Beatles, Rolling Stones and others:

The Rutles  –  I Must Be In Love

Barbara Boxer is deadly serious in this video. Paula Abdul is not.  Congratulations to the creator of this mashup:

Barbara Boxer & Paula Abdul duet  –  How About A Lot Of You Coming In?

“Always looks on the bright side of life.”  This is one of the most renowned happy endings to a mass crucifixion:

Eric Idle  –  Bright Side Of Life

*          *          *          *          *

Just the audio and visual:

Eduard Khil  –  “I Am Glad, ‘Cause I’m Finally Returning Back Home”

Sonseed  –  Jesus Is A Friend Of Mine

The Rutles  –  I Must Be In Love

Barbara Boxer & Paula Abdul duet  –  How About A Lot Of You Coming In?

Eric Idle  –  Bright Side Of Life

*          *          *          *          *

Wishing you a great 2013!

Harvard Law School Lecture – December 5, 2012


I will be speaking at The Harvard University Law School today between noon and 1:15 PM in Wasserstein Hall 3036.  The subject will be my work in, and take on, music copyright, intellectual property, tech and entertainment issues.  This is a great honor and I am very happy to have been invited.

(If you haven’t been to campus, there is a magnificent statue of John Harvard.  It has always looked like this, except for a few hours in 1996 when MIT students dressed him up to look like the Unabomber.)

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This blog post will also double as my notes or at least a guide to the order of subjects.  I’ll be able to see this post on a monitor or my iPhone while my iPad plays the music.  I’ll also bring a DVD or two, unless I choose to access the same material on the Very Wide World Spider Web.

Videos I will use:

Excerpt from film, “BASEketball”  –  Joe Cooper says the name, “Steve Perry, Steve Perry!”  He then sings the opening line  –  “And I should’ve been gone”  –  from Steve Perry’s “Oh Sherrie.”  Did this need to be licensed?

And Woody Guthrie’sThis Land Is Your Land.”  In 2004, Greg & Evan Spiridellis created a video parody of Jib Jab – Woody Guthrie.  Their docile, innocent not-for-profit two-minute video went viral becoming the first Internet mega-hit and drew the wrath of a publisher.  I was involved in the defense of this.  I might talk about it  –  maybe give my take on whether this is a parody, satire, parodic satire, satiric parody, or some of more of those words, as well as other issues that arose.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

As of now, my first Harvard Law set list will cover:

Tracks 1 – 7   Infringement?  Not Infringement?

Tracks 8  –  16   Parody?  Not a Parody?

Tracks 17  –  27   Mashups

Tracks 28  –  36   Sampling

Tracks 37  –  48   Advertising, Right of Publicity, Copyright

Tracks 49  –  74   Evidence/Exhibits I will use

Tracks 75  –  78   Licensing issues

Tracks 79  –  80   Co-Writing/Joint Works

Tracks 81  –  96   Originality, Copyright Myths

Tracks 97  –  118   Big Publishing Mistake

This is not firm and these examples vary in length from 2 seconds to 120 seconds.  I might jump around (I’ll resist the urge for a Jump Around link as it is too predictable).

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Most significantly and solemnly to me, my Dad, Edward F. Harrington, died on December 5, 1991.  This day is always very important to me.  I was the luckiest person to be his son.