Easier to keep your head in the sand

Read the credits on The Verves 1997 smash hit Bitter Sweet Symphony and you will not find Richard Archcroft’s name, instead the credits read Jagger and Richards.  The Verve ‘borrowed’ a small string piece from an instrumental version of The Stones “The Last Time”.  The millions of dollars that that song made was split 50:50.  50% for Mick and 50% for Keith.  The irony here is that there is no doubt The Stone’s would have ripped that intro from some poorly represented soul band from the 40’s or 50’s.  This point is highlighted in Everything is a remix created by Kirby Ferguson a great clip showing the relationship between the evolution of life on our planet and the evolution of the idea.

Is it true there are no truly new original ideas and we simply build on previous experiences?

In his outstanding book “The Selfish Gene” evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term ‘meme’ in order to describe a cultural version of a gene.  Without the mixing of genes over millions of years we would not have the complexity of life we now see on earth, Ferguson makes the argument that as ideas are no longer free, due to copyright laws and intellectual property rights we inhibit the potential growth and mutilation of memes which could slow cultural development and human progress.   An interesting thought at a time where so many people world wide choose to ignore the pervious strong hold massive cooperation’s had over intellectual property.

Having read Copyright questions and answers about iTunes, Podcasts, and Fair Use it is clear the issues around the use of clips, podcast etc within the classroom and schools is incredibly complex and I would say in most cases teachers and admin choose to leave their heads well in the sand on the issue rather than face it head on.  As an educator in Asia these complex issues are made even more difficult to deal with when our students are constantly bombarded with images and opportunities to breach copyright laws.  This is highlighted in Laura Faulk’s blog Teaching Copyright Laws in Asia.

Some rights reserved by playingwithlights

Our obligation as teachers is to model appropriate behavior on this issue and give credit where credit is due.






For the record Ashcroft knew he would not see a cent for his masterpiece before he released it, however rather than redoing the intro and putting out a substandard recording he chose to go ahead with the Stone’s sample and later said it was the best song The Rolling Stones had released in 20 years.

3 thoughts on “Easier to keep your head in the sand

  1. The borderline between when something is original and (partially, slightly…..) copied is a difficult one. As you state everything is built on previous experiences. I remember making comments to a poet friend of my only to hear them repeated verbatim on BBC 2 TV. It was him that put them in the context of his poem so far enough in my book. I think we have become much more conscious of this issue, in the 60’s people ‘borrowed’ riffs without a squeak.

  2. Great post. Fascinating opening about one of my favourite songs of that last few decades, I had not realized that Archcroft did not see any of the proceeds. Although, as you pointed out, he was aware of this from the beginning it must have been difficult for him to see one of his creations top the charts, but due to using small ingredients from fellow musicians, not getting compensated for it. Neil brings up a great point, almost everything we say, write, create is a remix of what we have absorbed over the years. What are original creations?

  3. Pingback: Mashed up | Harvey

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>