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Author Topic: Crystal Castles busted for breaking creative commons licensing.  (Read 12710 times)

TheoristB

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Recently it has come to light that Crystal Castles have sampled a handful of Chiptunes artists in their music and did not give credit to any of them.  The samples all came from songs released under a creative commons license.  (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/) There are a few articles about it as well as a post on 8bitpeoples which is a chiptune label that put out most of the sampled materials. 

http://www.8bitpeoples.com/
http://createdigitalmusic.com/2008/05/05/chiptune-music-theft-continues-crystal-castles-abuses-creative-commons-license/

The whole thing started with a post on  the 8bitcollective forums. 
http://www.8bitcollective.com/forums/viewtopic.php?id=4417&p=1

Pretty crazy, first they steal art, now they steal music.

There are more articles out there on this.  I just thought it was interesting.

Ninja Edit:  I do realize that a lot of electronic artists sample other peoples work and turn them into their own work.  Daft Punk is one of them, but Daft Punk gives credit and went about the proper way to get samples.  They didn't rip off a bunch of artists in a fringe genre in the hopes that no one would notice.
« Last Edit: 12 May 2008, 09:14 by TheoristB »
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rynne

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I haven't listened to their music, but the more news stories I read about them, the more they sound like assholes.
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Should I feel dirty for liking their music?
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They're a good band but I have to be in a bizarre mood to listen to them.

I feel like I'm on acid and trapped in an 80's Tetris game whenever I listen to it.
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Plagiarism is not new, of course.  A recent musical one was the husband of the pianist Joyce Hatto, who when she was old and sick, published fake CDs of "her" playing which were tracks taken from other pianists' published CDs.  This was proved by detailed comparison.  This thread brings the links together conveniently.

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listening to Crystal Castles makes me feel like i've been in a coma since 1987 and the first thing i did when i woke up was smoke heroin and bath in some sand.

i like it alot, for some reason.
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a pack of wolves

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This is a tricky one. On one hand, I don't think you should have to go through the proper channels to get samples. Chuck D's said before that there's no way someone could make an album like It Takes A Nation Of Millions... these days since you just wouldn't get the permission for all the samples, or if you did the fees would be so high it would make the release untenable. The only way to go about it would be to do it without permission. A band like Daft Punk is in a very different position to one like Crystal Castles as well, they have a lot of money and resources backing them. They can just send out some lawyers to go and get permission for any samples. Crystal Castles also seem to incorporate the appropriation of images and sounds for their own ends thoroughly into their practice, like their logo being the Chanel logo.

However, this isn't the same as a hip-hop artist sampling a Motown record they know they'll have to pay through the teeth for, or a punk band using film samples without permission. The track was available to be remixed, but only if Lo-bat was credited as the source, it wasn't released commercially and these same conditions were applied to the new track. They didn't need to be underhand to make new music from a track by Lo-bat.

I suppose it's possible that they didn't know this. Maybe they thought it was copyrighted and they didn't want the massive hassle of getting permission, or perhaps they make a silly mistake and misunderstood the terms of a creative commons license. There's also the fact that this was an unreleased demo. They did put it up on myspace, which constitutes a release, but they might not have thought about that. People regularly throw up new music onto their myspace profiles as soon as it's completed, they could have just been a little too eager and the thought "if we're putting that track up we need to mentioned it's CC and from Lo-bat" might not have occurred to them.

Basically, they seem to be getting a little too easily condemned. This could have been an oversight/cock-up rather than maliciousness.
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TheFuriousWombat

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After seeing them live (they played a free show here) and listening to their album, I really have to wonder why they had to resort to plagiarism to write formulaic, boring, standard 80s dance club fare.
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This is a tricky one. On one hand, I don't think you should have to go through the proper channels to get samples.

Heh, I'm pretty sure The Avalanches would agree with you there.
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rynne

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However, this isn't the same as a hip-hop artist sampling a Motown record they know they'll have to pay through the teeth for, or a punk band using film samples without permission. The track was available to be remixed, but only if Lo-bat was credited as the source, it wasn't released commercially and these same conditions were applied to the new track. They didn't need to be underhand to make new music from a track by Lo-bat.

I suppose it's possible that they didn't know this. Maybe they thought it was copyrighted and they didn't want the massive hassle of getting permission, or perhaps they make a silly mistake and misunderstood the terms of a creative commons license. There's also the fact that this was an unreleased demo. They did put it up on myspace, which constitutes a release, but they might not have thought about that. People regularly throw up new music onto their myspace profiles as soon as it's completed, they could have just been a little too eager and the thought "if we're putting that track up we need to mentioned it's CC and from Lo-bat" might not have occurred to them.

Basically, they seem to be getting a little too easily condemned. This could have been an oversight/cock-up rather than maliciousness.

From those links, it seems like it's not just that song on their myspace, though.  It looks like some of the tracks on the album incorporate CC-licensed songs, too.  Granted, it's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but with the artwork and now several music tracks, it seems like Crystal Castles' operating procedure is "it's better to ask forgiveness later than ask permission before."

As one of the articles pointed out, the plagiarism is especially egregious since Crystal Castles are presenting themselves as sonic innovators:
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It all started for the band when, as Ethin puts it, he and Alice "wanted to create a new sound" so "started fucking around with broken keyboards." Soon realising that a new sound could be achieved by wiring an old keyboard to an Atari computer soundboard - allowing lo-fi sounds to be warped, manipulated and layered - Crystal Castlesí totally unique and new sound was born. And as Alice rhetorically questions, "What's the point of starting a band if you're not going to do something new?", sounding unique was more important to this duo than anything else.
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TheFuriousWombat

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This is a tricky one. On one hand, I don't think you should have to go through the proper channels to get samples.

Heh, I'm pretty sure The Avalanches would agree with you there.

Or Girl Talk for that matter.
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a pack of wolves

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From those links, it seems like it's not just that song on their myspace, though.  It looks like some of the tracks on the album incorporate CC-licensed songs, too.  Granted, it's a lot of circumstantial evidence, but with the artwork and now several music tracks, it seems like Crystal Castles' operating procedure is "it's better to ask forgiveness later than ask permission before."

Ah, I didn't realise they'd done it with album tracks too. That's different. Fair enough if it's copyrighted but Creative Commons is a good idea and deserves respect, unlike copyright law. And their practices do seem sketchy but I'm always hesitant to condemn bands based on what you hear on the internet. Plus, Crystal Castles seemed to go from being a very obscure band where these kind of concerns aren't so important since nobody's making much if any money to being on Skins and playing an NME tour, where you're operating in a whole different world and that changes things.
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Tom

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I doubt they did it maliciously.
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analogthought

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What's funny about the statement of them saying they wanted to create something new is only what further shows their ignorance on the 8bit/chiptune genre. People have been making gameboy music for years- the only thing they added to it was making it more "pop". how hard would it have been to in the least, credit the other artists.
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TheoristB

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Or Girl Talk for that matter.

The difference here is that Girl Talk credited everything he sampled.  The Crystal Castles stuff was not credited until after they got caught using it. 

What's funny about the statement of them saying they wanted to create something new is only what further shows their ignorance on the 8bit/chiptune genre. People have been making gameboy music for years- the only thing they added to it was making it more "pop". how hard would it have been to in the least, credit the other artists.

This is a quote from Crystal Castles in an interview.  They dismiss chiptunes and other 8 bit music as an influence.

Is that what led to implanting the Atari soundchip into a keyboard?
It was only to create annoying sounds. That keyboard was made back in 2004Ö and then we learned about this whole 8-bit scene, which we donít really have anything to do with. Itís a completely different world.

http://www.exclaim.ca/articles/multiarticlesub.aspx?csid1=119&csid2=946&fid1=30074

I do like some of their songs though.   I just have never liked the band and their attitude.
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De_El

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Nooooooes. This is troubling, because I like their music a lot, and I'd even been telling friends that they should check 'em out.  Even if this was done without malice it's going to leave me feeling uncertain about the band, and may eventually turn me off them. Although so far they sound a bit like pretentious dicks, actually.

a pack of wolves

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Try not to let it bother you too much and have any dickish behaviour on their part spoil your fun. Some of the members of Black Flag seemed like they were complete and utter arseholes when the band was active, but they're still one of my favourite groups of all time. I'm dubious about the way Crystal Castles have gone about this but whatever the truth of it all is it won't stop me enjoying their records.
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rynne

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This is a quote from Crystal Castles in an interview.  They dismiss chiptunes and other 8 bit music as an influence.

Is that what led to implanting the Atari soundchip into a keyboard?
It was only to create annoying sounds. That keyboard was made back in 2004Ö and then we learned about this whole 8-bit scene, which we donít really have anything to do with. Itís a completely different world.

http://www.exclaim.ca/articles/multiarticlesub.aspx?csid1=119&csid2=946&fid1=30074

Where

"...we don't really have anything much to do with.  It's a completely different world."

should be read as

"...we then sampled liberally."



Not to say they're obscuring their actual origin, but it seems a bit disingenuous claiming that they "don't ... have anything much to do with [the 8-bit scene]" when they're incorporating chipcore samples into their music.  Like TheFuriousWombat said, that's what makes Crystal Castles a bit different than Public Enemy or Daft Punk or Girl Talk or the Avalanches: those groups are all pretty up-front about the fact that they DO sample.  While their samples are more or less legal, I never got the feeling any one of those musicians were putting their audience in a position to be deceived about the extent of the music they created.
« Last Edit: 12 May 2008, 18:41 by rynne »
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FireAarro

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I like their music, but they definitely seem like MASSIVE DIX
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pilsner

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It gets worse folks.  Crystal Castles also apparently sampled Under Pressure and Van Halen's Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love.  And I heard they stole their entire last track off Los Lobos in what was supposed to be a collaboration.

Could this be the end of popular music as we know it?
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rynne

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     Yes.
    /
 :-D
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Halitosis

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The funniest thing about this to me is that the one song everyone gets uppity about wasn't ever released commercially. Maybe someone could prove me wrong, but I'm pretty sure the only thing they did on the CD was loop some chiptune artist's drums in a few songs.
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Johnny C

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Yeah, except they then turned around and sold that song for a profit. That's why it's upsetting.
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ViolentDove

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The funniest thing about this to me is that the one song everyone gets uppity about wasn't ever released commercially. Maybe someone could prove me wrong, but I'm pretty sure the only thing they did on the CD was loop some chiptune artist's drums in a few songs.

It was released non-commercially, distributed by an internet-based, not-for-profit record label. These people make, release and distribute music for free because they love music. In my humble opinion, it's a pretty admirable thing to do, and I think Lo-bat and 8bitpeoples do some pretty good stuff. Fucking them over like this is like kicking a pacifist in the balls.

That said, I still like Crystal Castles' music.
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Halitosis

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Yeah, except they then turned around and sold that song for a profit. That's why it's upsetting.

Really? Where?
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Johnny C

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From those links, it seems like it's not just that song on their myspace, though.  It looks like some of the tracks on the album incorporate CC-licensed songs
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CamusCanDo

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Yesterday I downloaded 1GB of music. I'm not gonna judge.
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Halitosis

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From those links, it seems like it's not just that song on their myspace, though.  It looks like some of the tracks on the album incorporate CC-licensed songs

Oh, right. You're talking about the drum loop taken from a free song that hardly represents the song it's taken from.
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Johnny C

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Still taken from someone else's song without recognizing the source.
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Tom

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Oh noes that looped 10 second piece of sound sounds like some other piece of sound in another song. COPYRIGHT VIOLATION

 :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police:
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CamusCanDo

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It's a total dick move, on a very small scale, in the grand scheme of things it really doesn't matter, well to me it doesn't anyway. I can understand the total cuntery of claiming something as yours when it is in fact not.

At the end of the day I'm still going to play their music in the background while I read. Because I really fucking enjoy that.
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gardenhead_

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It's not just the sampling, it's their attitude in general. They are total fuckbags:
Quote
    vice: You are tired and I donít want to bother you anymore, but what about this bullshit on the internet between you and this guy pretending that you ďstole his artĒ to do t shirts with Madonnaís fucked up face?

    alice: This is really starting to bust our balls. The story is that this guy is not the real author of this illustration. We found this Madonna drawing on an old flyer for a punk gig. The artist re-drew it for us back when we were just a little band, and now that we have some sort of fame, he writes everywhere that we stole it. To tell the truth we always wanted to pay him but he is acting like he doesnít know, because of all the noise around this story which brings him more publicity. So we had some arguments and we banned him from our myspace page.

    ethan:  Moreover, we are not rancorous and if this asshole reads your mag, tell him his cheque awaits him.

    vice: Message sentÖ

the art in question was created in 1999...
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Tom

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In the grand scheme of things it really doesn't matter.

This is why Anyways
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gardenhead_

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Oh noes that looped 10 second piece of sound sounds like some other piece of sound in another song. COPYRIGHT VIOLATION

 :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police: :police:
it wasn't ten seconds, it was most of the song and the actual structure (breakdown etc).
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My stance on it is, CC are dicks.  They should change their name to Crystal Cunts (I'm sorry, but I had to say it). 

To me, though, this just justifies me not paying for their music, as the music they're stealing was meant to be free anyways.  In retaliation, I will not go to their shows, and try to donate 5$ to whoever wrote the original song.
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Don't get me wrong, you can be an asshole and still make really good music.

That doesn't excuse being an asshole.
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As an experiment, throw out all your music that was made by assholes.

Not much left, huh?
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I'd have a fair amount.
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Tom

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You're a sensible guy, you know how stupid that sounds.

Yeah, it's totally stupid but I can't see any of the guys they sampled, 'cept HEALTH, going very far at all. Odds are they'd make next to no money at all from it anyway.

I just hope these guys, those ripped off and CC, aren't dumb enough to take it to the courts, It'd get messy and neither would have the funds.
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Tom

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That's fair enough, but what evidence do we have to say that it's a deliberate 'fuck you' or just their own misunderstanding of copyright laws?

If it isn't malicious then everyone should just get over it, and CC acknowledge it. I won't be surprised if they don't because when some people make mistakes no matter how big or small they won't admit to it.

If it is malicous, CC = douches and hopefully neither party will take it to court because they'll end up being worse off in the end.
« Last Edit: 16 May 2008, 15:02 by n0t_r0bert_b0yle!! »
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ViolentDove

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That's fair enough, but what evidence do we have to say that it's a deliberate 'fuck you' or just their own misunderstanding of copyright laws?

If it isn't malicious then everyone should just get over it, and CC acknowledge it. I won't be surprised if they don't because when some people make mistakes no matter how big or small they won't admit to it.

If it is malicous, CC = douches and hopefully neither party will take it to court because they'll end up being worse off in the end.

Since it's happened with artwork (twice) and music (several times) I think it's fair to say that the first time could've been a misunderstanding over copyright, but after they'd been picked up for doing the wrong thing, the subsequent times couldn't have been due to naivety.

And like Anyways says, with the songs licensed under CC, they could've used the tracks for free anyway as long as they'd attributed the source. So they could've done what they did without being cunts, but they chose not to. Or so it would seem to me.
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Guys! It is really helpful to read that thread on 8bitcollective. It seems that Crystal Castles were free to use Lo-bat and Covox's music, as long as they acknowledged them AND also released their song under a Creative Commons license. But they didn't do either.

The artists that were sampled don't want to take action, they just want CC to stop being huge douches to everyone, which is completely fair. Also, the 'indie' label that Crystal Castles are on in Canada is run by like 5 rich Canadian media moguls. They totally have the funds. One of the guys was the defence lawyer for Avril Lavigne when all that shit came up about 'Girlfriend' being basically ripped from a 60's song. Anyone see a trend?

EDIT: what's all this about CC stealing HEALTH's music?
« Last Edit: 16 May 2008, 18:54 by gardenhead_ »
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Tom

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I'm corrected but Violent Dove, doesn't it seem like all this controversy has started after they'd continued to do it "due to naivety"?
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michaelicious

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EDIT: what's all this about CC stealing HEALTH's music?

They didn't steal it, they remixed it. They have an (unofficial?) collection of remixes that came out before their self-titled called "Remixed/Rewired" that is alright and it is on that. I am pretty sure Crystal Castles and HEALTH are friends. They toured together recently.

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gardenhead_

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that's what I thought, but some posts above someone said they sampled them.
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Johnny C

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Also, the 'indie' label that Crystal Castles are on

Sorry, but just to clarify, why is this in quotes? Last Gang was a startup funded by Donald Tarlton but from pretty much day one it's been its own standalone label. Metric, DFA1979, Tricky Woo, The New Pornographers, Chromeo, Panurge - Crystal Castles might be dicks but they're on a record label that is and has been home to a bunch of really great bands.

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[02:12] Thug In Kitchen: nooo

gardenhead_

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because it is technically and indie label, but the people behind it seem like they could hardly care less about the actual indie scene. Of course, all the information I have on the label is from that 8bitcollective thread so it probably very biased. I just thought I'd bring it up and see what you guys thought about it. Also from lurking this board plus general internet knowledge, the using the word 'indie' without quotation marks or whatever usually attracts a lot of shit.
« Last Edit: 16 May 2008, 21:39 by gardenhead_ »
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Quote from: Midnight Umbreon
You guys are all such douches.
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