copyright laws

copyright laws

Negativland - Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (Special Edit Radio Mix)

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In 1991, Negativland released this Special Radio Edit which featured extensive samples of the U2 song 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' as well as samples from a profane lapse in professionalism by US Top 40 host Casey Kasem. The cover featured "U2" in massive letters and a picture of a lockhead bomber. Island Records took immediate umbrage with it and insisted the cover and the title breached copyright laws, as did the song. Versions of the story conflict, as one would expect in a legal case worth close to $100,000 in damages that had the potential to destroy careers and livelihoods (and did - most of the band were left practically destitute). In June 1992, R. U. Sirius, publisher of Mondo 2000, was contacted by U2's publicists regarding the possibility of interviewing Dave "The Edge" Evans as a means of promoting the colossal multi-million dollar Zoo TV Tour. Now, it must be noted that this tour was known for its liberal use of sampling and found sounds, without a hint of irony following the legal proceedings with Negativland just a year earlier. The interview began innocently enough, though Sirius decided to have his friends Hosler and Joyce (members of Negativland) to conduct the interview for him, without Evans' knowledge. They began asking him of U2's thoughts on the ideas surrounding found sounds and sampling copyrighted material. At this point, they revealed their identities. An embarrassed Edge purported that U2 were bothered by the sledgehammer legal approach Island Records took in their lawsuit, and furthermore that much of the legal wrangling took place without U2's knowledge: "by the time we [U2] realized what was going on it was kinda too late, and we actually did approach the record company on your [Negativland's] behalf and said, 'Look, c'mon, this is just, this is very heavy...'" Island Records reported to Negativland that U2 never authorized samples of their material; Evans' response was, "that's complete bollocks, there's like, there's at least six records out there that are direct samples from our stuff." Although it's clear U2 have very little support in the matter, morally speaking, Negativland have been ruined by "a matter of principle". One that is both sketchy and subjective. To give you a breakdown of just how financially shafted Negativland were, one of the conditions issued by Island Records and Warner-Chappell music (aside from returning all 692 promotional copies, any of the equipment used to press the records and, of course, reassigning all of Negativland and SST's copyrights pertaining to the record) is that they must pay $25,000 and half the wholesale proceeds of the 6951. Furthermore, the cost to SST has led to a huge amount of bitterness on their part and they subsequently tried to recoup their losses from the band, taking all royalties from the band's records. - James Keith