25-February 21, 2003, the offices of In These Times will be transformed
into a gallery to host Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate
Age, a visual, audio and video show featuring works that challenge
the expansion of copyright law and the policing of creative expression.
hours will be
Mon/Wed/Fri from noon to 6:00 pm
at 2040 North Milwaukee Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
will also be special hours during the
the Coyote art festival, Feb. 7-9:
Fri., noon to 7:00 pm
Sat., noon to 6:00 pm
Sun. noon to 4:00 pm
exhibition was organized by Stay
Free! magazine, and opened to enthusiastic crowds in New York
on Nov. 13; it will travel on to San Francisco later in the year. Further
information on the New York show (including many fine examples of illegal
art and downloadable movies) is online at www.illegal-art.org.
Illegal Art explores what is rapidly becoming the degenerate
art of a corporate age: art and ideas on the legal fringes of intellectual
property. Many artists in the show have been sued, often by major corporations,
and have ended up defending their works in court. Loaded with gray areas,
intellectual property law inevitably has a silencing effect, discouraging
art that comments on todays culture.
Where do First Amendment and intellectual property law collide?
This question and others will be explored in the exhibit and in related
- A special
showing of the film and video program will be held on the evenings of
Feb. 7 and 8 at Select
Medias gallery (buddy.), 1542 N. Milwaukee Avenue, 2nd floor.
See details at right.
- A Feb.
15 panel debate organized in conjunction with The
Public Square will feature Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law professor
and the chair of Creative
Commons. Additional artists will participate, including Dj
Spooky that Subliminal Kid and Mark Hosler, a founding member of
experimental music/art collective Negativland.
Clark at 773-772-0100, ext. 246 or email@example.com for more information.
Full sponsors: StayFree!,
In These Times,
Dix Art Mix/FOTA, The Public Square, Lumpen, and Select Media, Ellis Avenue
Studios; Co-sponsor: Around the Coyote.
portion of the Illegal Art show is available online at
www.illegal-art.org, and on a companion CD. As noted in the liner
notes below, each song exemplifies a particular battle over intellectual
property, from the sampling of music and media clips to the corporate
ownership of such cultural treasures as the "Happy Birthday"
about the free CD:
STAY FREE'S ILLEGAL ART COMPILATION CD
This free CD will be given away at exhibit events
U2: Special Edit Radio Mix (5:46)
02 Biz Markie Alone Again (2:52) *
03 People Like Us Swinglargo (5:20)
04 Culturcide They Aren't the World (4:30) *
05 The Evolution Control Committee Rocked by Rape (4:28)
06 Beastie Boys Rock Hard (4:53) *
07 Dummy Run f.d.(1:23)
08 John Oswald black (2:01)
09 Corporal Blossom White Christmas (3:19)
10 Tape-beatles Reality of Matter (2:37)
11 Public Enemy Psycho of Greed (3:11)
12 The Verve Bittersweet Symphony (4:35) *
13 Wobbly Clawing Your Eyes Out Down to Your Throat (1:21)
14 De La Soul Transmitting Live from Mars (1:07) *
15 Buchanan and Goodman The Flying Saucer (4:18) *
16 The JAMs The Queen and I (4:50) *
17 Elastica Connection (2:20) *
18 Steinski and Mass Media The Motorcade Sped On (4:26) *
19 Invisibl Skratch Piklz white label edit (5:30) *
20 Xper.Xr Wu-chu-tung (1:43)
21 Boone Bischoff Happy Birthday To You (0:28)
* used without permission
Music has always been a craft of borrowing. In traditional, or folk, music,
melodies and lyrics were handed down from generation to generation. At
every stage, musicians would change the tune or substitute words at will,
adapting songs to their own situations.
predecessors, the artists featured here have drawn from the music around
them--whether by borrowing a guitar riff or taking a digital sample--to
create something new. But unlike their folk ancestors, they all run the
risk of getting sued.
separated by centuries, have brought us to this point. First, writing
and printing gave birth to the composer and the idea that a single person
could own a piece of music. Second, sound recording allowed music performances
to be stored and replayed--again, permitting an individual (or a company)
to claim it as property.
These two kinds of musical property are reflected in present-day copyright
law: "publishing rights" apply to the ownership of written music
and "master rights" apply to the ownership of a recording of
that music. When you use a portion of someone else's recording of a song,
you need permission from the publisher and "clearance" from
the owner of that recording. When you record without these permissions--and
the exorbitant fees that go with them--you're in trouble. Not surprisingly,
only a few musicians, like Puff Daddy and Fatboy Slim, can afford to sample
For our culture to be a space for free expression and for creativity to
flourish, audio artists must be able to build on bits and pieces of preexisting
music. While the "fair use" doctrine allows artists to appropriate
other works, it does so only in cases of commentary or parody. Fair use
doesn't apply to the majority of "second-takers," those artists
who reuse sounds without directly referring to the original.
Most of these tracks would never have existed if the artists had adhered
to copyright law. Many other works might never be heard unless we act
soon to grant artists the right to create them.
"U2: Special Edit Radio Mix"
The story behind this track and why it is officially "unavailable"
is perhaps one of the best-known cases of a corporate giant record company
crushing obscure artists in the name of intellectual property. In summary,
U2s label, Island Records, sued Negativland and SST Records for
trademark and copyright infringement. The resulting fiasco inspired Negativland
to publish a book, Fair Use, which meticulously documents the entire
affair. Negativland is now a tireless advocate of relaxing copyright laws
and has often helped other artists fight off litigation; many major labels
now understand that messing with Negativland will almost certainly result
in bad publicity.
Gilbert OSullivans 1991 lawsuit against Biz Markie for the
uncleared use of 20 seconds from OSullivans "Alone Again
(Naturally)" was a major turning point in the evolution of hip-hop.
Markie lost the case; the judge told him, verbatim, "Thou shalt not
steal." With that, the era of carefree sampling was over. Sample-heavy
albums in the vein of Public Enemys It Takes a Nation of Millions
to Hold Us Back or the Beastie Boys Pauls Boutique became
impossibly expensive and difficult to release. Many artists continued
to sample but retreated into using more and more obscure source material.
People Like Us
Englands People Like Us (a.k.a. Vicki Bennett) hasnt been
sued yet, perhaps because most of her source materials are obscure. Her
work is almost 100% uncleared samples.
"They Arent the World"
In 1987 a group of artists based in Houston took the name Culturcide and
released a record called Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America.
The album had no information about who was in Culturcide or how to contact
themperhaps because what they had done could have gotten them into
legal trouble. Each track on the record is a pop hit with new lyrics recorded
crudely over the top, sometimes with bits of noisy guitar added on. The
new words are extremely pointed criticisms of the music industry.
The Evolution Control Committee
"Rocked by Rape"
Built from AC/DCs "Back in Black" and snippets from Dan
Rather newscasts, this piece was released as a single in 1999 by Eerie
Materials but then withdrawn under threat of litigation from CBS.
The Beastie Boys released this as a single in 1985, and it quickly went
out of print. The song was to reappear on their 1999 The Sounds of Science
anthology, but they had to cut it after AC/DC refused permission for the
use of "Back in Black." Beasties member Mike D reportedly talked
to the band personally on the phone: "AC/DC could not get with the
sample concept. They were just like, Nothing against you guys, but
we just dont endorse sampling."
British collagists Dummy Run make their music almost completely from other
music. Taken from their 1996 album Pink Rocket, this piece is a self-reflective
glimpse at some of the issues involved in sampling.
Oswald constructed this piece out of a dizzying array of James Brown samples,
partially as a commentary on just how often Browns work has been
reused by others. The track originally appeared on his 1989 CD Plunderphonic,
which brought Oswald threats of legal action from the Canadian Recording
Industry Association. He eventually was forced to relinquish all remaining
copies of the disc, which were then physically destroyed. Despite all
this, the album has become a cult classic in the genre of sample-based
This track, which originally appeared on A Mutated Christmas (Illegal
Art, 2001), combines various recordings of the classic Christmas carol.
None of the samples have been cleared. If Corporal Blossom were forced
to pay for all of them, the track would have to disappear.
"Reality of Matter"
The Tape-beatles goal since their inception in 1987 has been to
explore the potential of making music without musical instruments, using
only recording technology. They also believe that "recontextualization
of previously finished works can be done ethically and can
in itself constitute authorship." This example of their work comes
from their 1999 disc Good Times.
"Psycho of Greed"
This unreleased track was recorded for PEs latest CD, Revolverution.
It contains a sample of the Beatles song "Tomorrow Never Knows."
The clearance fee demanded by Capitol Records and the surviving Beatles
was so high that PE decided to pull the track from the album.
This hit pop song uses a sample from a string arrangement of "The
Last Time" by the Rolling Stones. The Verve had trouble getting a
licensing agreement from the Stones publisher, Alan Klein, who said,
"I dont agree with sampling as a matter of principle, and certainly
not on a Stones song." (This is a strange stance, given that the
Stones launched their career with covers of blues songs without compensating
the original artists.) Eventually Klein gave in, but only after the Verve
agreed to sign over all royalties to "Bittersweet Symphony"
to the Stones. Later, when Nike approached the Verve about using the song
in a commercial, the band refused. Nike then approached Klein about recording
a cover version, since he owned the publishing rights. When members of
the Verve found out about this, they agreed to let Nike use their version
and donated their fee to charity. "The last thing in the world I
wanted was for one of my songs to be used in a commercial," said
Richard Ashcroft of the Verve. "Im still sick about it. But
it could have been worse. If we didnt fight for the song, Symphony
would have ended up in a cheeseburger ad and no one could ever have taken
our record seriously again."
"Clawing Your Eyes Out Down to Your Throat"
From Wobblys Playlist (Illegal Art, 2001), this song contains samples
from a variety of sources, including several Johnny Cash songs. Like many
sample-based works that dont explicitly criticize the source material,
this track would probably not be defendable in court as Fair Use.
De La Soul*
"Transmitting Live from Mars"
This track, from the album 3 Feet High and Rising, samples a song by the
1960s band The Turtles, which sued De La Soul in 1989 and won a judgment
of $1.7 million. For its next album, De La Soul made sure to clear all
samples, which cost a total of $100,000.
Buchanan and Goodman*
"The Flying Saucer"
Released in 1956, this record is probably the first successful use of
"sampling" in popular music. It was done with magnetic tape,
as digital technology did not yet exist. Dickie Goodman and Bill Buchanan
edited together this alien invasion skit out of popular songs, for which
they were sued for multiple copyright infringements. Their record label
came to an agreement with the publishers of the original songs, and the
record went on to sell close to a million copies, spawning a whole genre
of "break-in" or "snippet" records. The hit record
also served to boost sales of the sampled songs, and spurred interest
in their creators, many of whom were African-American singers whose original
renditions had never been heard by a mainstream (white) audience. Ironically,
a recently released retrospective CD of Goodmans work substitutes
an alternative version of "Flying Saucer" (with reworked snippets)
for the original, most likely due to licensing problems.
"The Queen and I"
The iconoclastic Justified Ancients of Mu Mu released their first album
in 1987, called 1987: What the Fucks Going On? It included many
tracks that contained uncleared samples of popular music, but this one
got them into particular trouble when they were sued by the Swedish group
Abba for using almost all of "Dancing Queen." The album was
deleted and remaining copies destroyed. The records original label
read: "All sounds on this recording have been captured by The JAMs
in the name of Mu. We hereby liberate these sounds from all copyright
restrictions, without prejudice." (The JAMs are also known as the
KLF, which stands for Kopyright Liberation Front.)
The British punk band Wire thought the main guitar riff from this song
sounded too similar to its "Three Girl Rhumba," released in
the 70s. In 1995, Wire threatened Elastica with legal action, and the
matter was settled out of court.
Steinski & Mass Media*
"The Motorcade Sped On"
Steven Stein created this cut-up of Kennedy assassination coverage. His
label, Tommy Boy, was unable to officially release it because CBS refused
to grant clearance for the use of Walter Cronkites voice. It was
instead released as a white label 12-inch single in 1986.
Invisibl Skratch Piklz*
white label edit
The Piklz are a special sort of band composed of a rotating lineup of
hip-hop DJs, including Q-bert, Mixmaster Mike, and Shortcut. These highly
skilled turntablists scratch out songs together live, each using a record
and a record player as an instrument, each contributing, in real time,
a different part (like drums, bass line, or horn stabs) to the music.
This track comes from a 12-inch record pressed and circulated in 1996
with no information (a "white label"). Hip-hop and dance records
often appear in this limited, underground manner and then vanish forever,
never to be officially released due to copyright issues.
Originally from Hong Kong and now based in London, Xper.Xr adds his own
personal accompaniment to EMFs pop hit "Unbelievable."
From his album Lun Hsiao Shai (Vaseline).
"Happy Birthday To You"
Yes, the song the entire Western world sings at birthday parties is actually
owned by a large corporation, and every time someone sings it in public
without permission, it is an infringement of copyright. The songs
tune was published by schoolteachers Mildred and Patty Hill in 1893 as
"Good Morning to All" in their book Song Stories for the Kindergarten.
Children began singing it at birthday parties but with words they came
up with themselves, which is how folk music typically develops. Nevertheless,
the songlyrics and allis now owned by AOL Time Warner, the
largest entertainment company on earth, and the corporation aggressively
defends its property.
Jeremy J. Beadle, Will Pop Eat Itself: Pop Music in the Soundbite Era,
Faber & Faber, London, 1993.
Kembrew McLeod, Owning Culture, Peter Lang Publishing, New York,
Peter Shapiro, "Tangents", The Wire, April 2002, issue
218, p. 47.
* used without permission
Track research, selection, and liner notes by Philo T. Farnsworth, Steev
Hise, and Carrie McLaren. Thanks also to Alexandra Ringe.
Video Mash-Up Festival
February 7 and 8, 2003
Buddy, 1542 n, milwaukee ave, 2nd floor
$10 donation on Friday (7) and Saturday (8).
We are excited to present a film and video program of works featured in
the Illegal Art festival and Select Media/Lumpen dvds. This
Mash-Up Video festival will take place at our space, buddy., Much fun
in store as The Evolution Control Committee and Paul Harvey Oswald, Douggpound
and Mark Denardo, and elisa harkns (H3ro) are scheduled to perform on
one or both nights.
Films will also be available for viewing at the In
These Times exhibit space just in case you can't make it.
Be the first
cat in chicago to recieve a free Illegal Art cd or dvd when you
Free! ILLEGAL ART COMPILATION CD will be given away at the Video MashUp
festival (see liner notes at bottom left). First 60 persons to donate
will receive a copy. Otherwise you may receive a copy of Select DVD from
issue #5. See liner notes below.
, February 8
Program One : Mash-Me
SHORTS PROGRAM: Illegal Art
These films and videos appropriate others' intellectual property, whether
through the use of found footage, unauthorized music, or shots of copyrighted
or trademarked material. (Filmmakers and videographers now have to get
permission for just about every concert t-shirt, store sign, or other
piece of intellectual property that happens to appear onscreen).
"Iraq Campaign 1991"
Video, 1991, 19 min.
Video artist Phil Patiris transformed network news footage, clips from
Star Trek, and sports coverage into a critique of the media/industrial
"State of the Union"
Video, 2001, 2 min.
In this brief video, Brian Boyce combines unauthorized CNN footage of
George W. Bush with clips from The Teletubbies.
Video, "Fair Use," 2002, 2 min.
Video, "A Natural Thing," 2000, 4 min.
Two video collages from Paul Harvey Oswald, a collective based in Rockford,
Eugene Mirman, and Brian Spinks
Video, 2001, 2 min.
These parodies of political advertising are composed of found footage.
Film, 1999, 5 min.
Using a soft porn film from the 70s, nail polish, bleach and a magnifying
glass, Naomi Uman transforms a writhing, naked woman into a hole--an empty,
Digital video, 2002, 1 min.
This improvisational short, starring a bull terrier named Punchie, was
created in the offices of the Modern Humorist.
D. Jean Hester
Digital Video, Super 8, 2002, 4 min.
For this surreal meditation on consumer culture, D. Jean Hester recorded
images from fast-food and automotive commercials.
"The artwork in its age of mechanical reproducibility"
"Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story"
by Todd Haynes
Film, 1987, 43 min.
With Barbie dolls as the principal actors, Superstar portrays the life
of Karen Carpenter and her battle with anorexia.
[Shown without permission.]
Mark Denardo with Elisa Harkins
on multi Visual tip.
Remixing of video data by Paul Harvey Oswald
DJ Mark of Evolution Control Committee.
Program Two: Digital Video Detournement
Digital Video Détournement is a selection of works by radical cultural
workers and experimental video makers critiquing various coercive forces
and systems. Using desktop editing techniques mixed with humorous direction
many of these makers appropriate work, divert and re-edit it as a way
to register their dissent or to create something surreal. Described as
tactical mediaticians, culture jammers, troublemakers, media activists
and humorists, these makers create works that are a sampling of the digital
video underground that is impacting our cultures.
GNN [ S-11
(Channel) Surfing the Apocalypse ]
2001, Video, Color, Approx 12 min.
Culled from over 20 hours of television footage recorded over a one month
period and across 13 networks, S-11 Redux is a sound-bite blitzkrieg that
challenges the messages we have been fed from our mainstream media and
the government it serves. Be warned - this video moves quickly and will
require at least two viewings to digest its full impact. You may never
be able to look at the coverage of S-11 and its post-impact coverage the
same way, ever
[MF-47 Network - USA-K ULTRA]
2000, Video, Color, Approx 8 min.
Patriotism Shopping, and mind control
[ MF-47 TV NETWORK - CELL PHONE] 2001, Video, Color, Approx 3 min.
The MF-47 Network is an Information Agency that operates in conjunction
with the Office of Fatherland Defense. This last MF-47 Network news blurb
entices you to use the cell phone.
Hypno Chciken 2000::
[Special Report ]- 1999, video, Color, Approx 4 min.
What if TV news wasn't merely horrifying but literally came from horror
movies? Bryan Boyce (maker of last year's State of the Union) puts terrifying
words in the mouths of America's top-rated merchants of terror.
was half the Battle]
2001, Animation, Color, Approx 6 min.
Brand new Public Service Announcements from our pals at GI Joe , A great
American hero cartoon series and Fensler Film Academy
[Terror, Iraq, Weapons ]
2002, Video , Color, aprox 4 min
President Bush re-edited for meaning during anti-iraq speech in Ohio.
[Videos de Paperrad]
2002, video, color, 12 min
the new media lo-tech aesthetic . www.paperrad.org
by Brian Springer
Video, 1995, 60 min.
The behind-the-scenes maneuverings of politicians and newscasters in the
early 1990s are exposed in Brian Springer's documentary.
Rotten Milk :
Evolution Control Committee : http://evolution-control.com/
DJ Douggpound and DJ Jaime Reid :