back to article Hello nasty, don't use my music: Deceased Beastie Boy to admen

Beastie Boy Adam Yauch, who died aged 47 in May after a three-year battle with salivary gland cancer, left a will that barred the use of his music and artwork by advertising outfits. According to Rolling Stone magazine, the New York hip-hop star whose band rocked the world with albums Licensed to Ill in 1986, Ill Communication …

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  1. Thomas 18
    Go

    Anyone know

    What his take on it was while he was still alive? It's very easy not to sell out once your dead.

    1. Thomas 4

      Re: Anyone know

      Yup:

      Taken from "Putting Shame in Your Game" - "I might sneak around, I might be a fad but I won't show myself on no TV ad."

    2. micheal
      Devil

      Re: Anyone know

      It's that most of the inheritors of such estates then make money by selling rights out to the corporate media.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anyone know

        ...like Yoko did, by allowing Adidas to make a shoe with lyrics from 'imagine' on - and consent for John's name to be associated with it. There are tons of other examples, but this is my favourite.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Anyone know

      Dunno why you got the downvotes, we have a valid example of how difficult it is while still alive, The Rolling Stones. They always said they'd never allow their music to be used in advertising and that held until Billy G offered a humungous wodge of lovely wonga to use "Start me up" to advertise Win 95 (it's the "Start" button, geddit????).

      I was reminded of this the other night when I heard "Start me up" being used to advertise something else. I guess the fatter end of the wedge is now through that door.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Anyone know

        I was forcibly removed from the theatre at the W95 presentation, because after the 'you can start me up' tune I yelled 'you make a grown man cry'.

        The MS people didn't like it.

        1. tony2heads
          Linux

          Start me up

          They should of course have chosen "I can't get no satisfaction" to represent Microsoft products

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Why downvotes for Thomas 18?

            Maybe it's because he is too ignorant to communicate successfully using basic English.

    4. jai

      Re: Anyone know

      haven't the Beastie Boys long been known for not allowing any of their material to be used in advertising? since the 80s.

      so this is merely a continuation of his wishes from when he was alive. presumably the other two feel the same, so this largely applies to any solo work of his

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Anyone know

        Reputedly, being against the use of their music in advertising contributed to the Beasties' big break; suing British Airways for the unauthorised use of their first EP (and insisting that the advertising stop rather than that they be cut in) gave them just about their only pre-fame income, working up to the first album.

  2. Justicesays
    Devil

    Don't Worry

    I'm sure a judge will be along shortly to let the owners of the estate know that they don't have to abide by this kind of restriction.

    What is the "copyright" on your own image anyway? life+70 ? Or just as long as it takes before noone bothers to sue you?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Don't Worry

      Where do you live?

    2. Justicesays
      Unhappy

      Re: Don't Worry

      I just looked it up myself.

      Based on Wikipedia and the NYT, he is stuffed on post-mortem image rights because he died in New York.

      Unless they have put in legislation since then.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/28/opinion/28madoff.html?_r=2&hpw=&pagewanted=all

      1. Justicesays

        Re: Don't Worry

        That article also indicates that I'm not wrong on the judge thing.

        The estate is still taxable on the value of his image and music etc. that could be used in advertising?!

        Even if he forbids that use (a pretty much non-enforceable term apparently)

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Don't Worry

      I'd also surprised if this was enforceable. Obviously I'll listen to any lawyers out there who feel like educating me, but I though the legal theory behind a will was that it was enacted as your last act. Therefore, it carries the authority that you had at the moment of death and it *follows* any actions you take between writing the will and dying. However, if your last act is to transfer your estate to someone else, then anything *they* do is done with the authority of ownership and obviously post-dates anything that you willed. Therefore, the relatives always get the last word.

      Having said that, it would be a pretty poor relative who ignored such a clearly worded preference. The will still leaves you with all revenues from selling the music to fans, performance royalities from tribute bands, and I dare say a few other things besides.

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Don't Worry

        If you're serious, you'd have to leave your artistic or intellectual property rights to a foundation which can continue in perpetuity, but which cannot have its founding purposes overturned. You'd need to take expert legal advice on which jurisdiction to create this foundation under!

        That's what the FSF is for, with respect to free software. Copyleft is also capable of application to music, literature, etc. "You're licensed to use it subject to these terms. If you reject these terms, you have no license to use it at all" (You can ask, but you won't get special terms).

        The law won't allow you to make stipulations that are clearly illegal or contrary to the public good. An argument might be made that freedon to advertise is a public good, but advertising using a particular work against its author's and its owner's specific desire when there are plenty of other musical works to choose from, would be a bit of a stretch!

        IANAL etc.

      2. Uncle Siggy
        IT Angle

        Re: Don't Worry

        Not a lawyer here, and if the estate can proceed without issue, he clearly wanted the world to know that he wasn't the one to sell out. I suspect we'll be seeing him in a music video game tout de suite.

      3. Tom 13

        Re: I'd also surprised if this was enforceable.

        It's enforceable by law unless some general purpose statute later invalidates it.

        Old man Hershey started an orphanage that was explicitly for white boys and for which they boys had to work the farm way back when he was alive. It stayed that way until SCOTUS handed down Brown vs Board of Education. Now of course it's a fully integrated facility with no work requirement.

  3. Hasham
    WTF?

    Very strange behaviour indeed

    His wishes are his wishes I guess, but if his artistic works are the fruits of his labour why not let his daughter profit from such? It will mean she will never have to worry about money. In a way this clause is like disinheriting her.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

      I see where you are coming from, but he is probably just reducing the income. There will still be a stream of income from other means and the remainder of his estate. I respect him for taking such a stand. I doubt his family will be flipping burgers anytime soon, even with this restriction. He obviously had ideals which he chose to stand by and is asking his family to respect that.

      Not many people will stand by their ideals when it costs them money, I got rounded on here a while back because I did something for free. There is more to life then dollars.

    2. probedb

      Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

      Not really, you did read the "for advertising purposes" bit didn't you?

      1. Hasham

        Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

        I did read that bit, but there's only a superficial difference between selling a song to an individual and selling it to a company. In the end, you're still selling songs.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

          "but there's only a superficial difference between selling a song to an individual and selling it to a company. In the end, you're still selling songs."

          The difference is "superficial" only if you are too stupid to see the obvious.

          1. Hasham

            Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

            And what is the obvious exactly, Mr Anonymous Coward?

            1. theblackhand

              Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

              Re: And what is the obvious exactly, Mr Anonymous Coward?

              He considers using his music in advertising to be compromising the principles or integrity of the music and the image he presented.

              Money can still be made in royalties from album sales, digital downloads, or radio/TV plays, but if, for instance, a large restaurant chain that sells chicken wanted to use "Finger Lickin' Good" in an advertising campaign they would be out of luck.

              Has the world changed so much that this really needs to be explained?

              1. Hasham

                Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                "He considers using his music in advertising to be compromising the principles or integrity of the music and the image he presented.

                Money can still be made in royalties from album sales, digital downloads, or radio/TV plays, but if, for instance, a large restaurant chain that sells chicken wanted to use "Finger Lickin' Good" in an advertising campaign they would be out of luck.

                Has the world changed so much that this really needs to be explained?"

                But this is my point - it's pure artistic pretentiousness on his part. If he was selling music direct to consumer via his own website then I could understand. But he was perfectly happy for Apple, HMV etc to make profit on something they didn't create. His specific anti advertising hissy fit is a logical disconnect.

                1. Nigel 11
                  Mushroom

                  Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                  His specific anti advertising hissy fit is a logical disconnect.

                  If you have a soul that responds to music, it most certainly is not.

                  For example, the second movement of Dvorak's "New World" symphony is one of the most sublime musical creations of all time. Unfortunately some soul-dead advertising agency used it to advertise Hovis bread, and now I can no longer listen to it without momentarily wincing at the association. Which incidentally, has negative value for Hovis, because I always buy some other make of bread whenever I have a choice!

                  (It could have been worse. They might have associated the music with something I really detested. Be thankful for small mercies).

                  1. Hasham

                    Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                    "If you have a soul that responds to music, it most certainly is not.

                    For example, the second movement of Dvorak's "New World" symphony is one of the most sublime musical creations of all time. Unfortunately some soul-dead advertising agency used it to advertise Hovis bread, and now I can no longer listen to it without momentarily wincing at the association. Which incidentally, has negative value for Hovis, because I always buy some other make of bread whenever I have a choice!"

                    Were it not for that Hovis ad, many millions would never know "New World". So yes, a company used it to sell a product, but as a direct result of that people who would never have known it now know and enjoy it.

                    However, Dvorak's situation is not Yauch's. Yauch was perfectly fine with iTunes and HMV. There is no reason other than his artistic pretention for this loathing of advertising.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      @ Hasham

                      Your assertion as to life's purpose is astonishingly blinkered, it is very sad that you feel that way and that your brain is only capable of comprehending the world in such a basic manner.

                      Would you therefore have committed suicide if you had found out you were unable to have children? Do you therefore advocate that millions of humans that find they suffer from such an affliction should be euthanised?

                      Based on your comments I would speculate that the world would in fact be a nicer and better place if you had been sterilised at birth.

                      1. Hasham

                        Re: @ Hasham

                        Your assertion as to life's purpose is astonishingly blinkered, it is very sad that you feel that way and that your brain is only capable of comprehending the world in such a basic manner.

                        Would you therefore have committed suicide if you had found out you were unable to have children? Do you therefore advocate that millions of humans that find they suffer from such an affliction should be euthanised?

                        Based on your comments I would speculate that the world would in fact be a nicer and better place if you had been sterilised at birth.

                        What a lovely little field of strawmen you have there, Mr Anonymous Coward! The only thing missing is a mention of a certain German political party of the early 20th Century. In your next post perhaps...

                        1. Katie Saucey
                          Alert

                          Re: @ Hasham

                          I was wondering when Godwin's Law would come into effect ITT....

                      2. Rampant Spaniel

                        Re: @ Hasham

                        His family have been and will continue to be well taken care of. His decision will not cause them hardship. There is more to teach and gift to our children then money. Culture, morals and outlook on life are also important. Your success as a parent is not measured solely by your bank balance but by how happy your children are and how they interact with the world.

                        My kids aren't going to be swimming in pools of gold coins and I kark, but they will speak their language, understand their culture and its protocols and inherrit their ancestors lands and responsibilities. Money can be nice, but it is only a small part of being a whole person.

                        There is a difference between selling a song (even via a label), which is a statement by a person that they like your music, and your music being used to endorse a product especially after death. If he had allowed it when he was alive then that is different, but if he is ensuring his choice is continued after his death then that is his choice. Trying to make out he is depriving his kids is wrong. They have been left with money and a continued stream of revenue, he has just asked that one area of sales continue to be prohibited. Perhaps teaching his kids to have the courage of their convictions is a greater gift than the money? It depends if you value money more than morals.

                    2. Nigel 11

                      Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                      You don't get my point. The association that has been created in my head between Dvorak's music and Hovis bread is to the irrevocable detriment of the music and (part of) its audience. In my opinion it's like letting a graffiti vandal tag a sublime painting. It is something that the creator of that work of art has a legitimate right to refuse in his will. I've no idea how Dvorak would see it, but I know that's how I'd see it!

                      The law permits a creator of intellectual property to leave it/them to a literary executor, who/which may be bound by the creator's wishes provided those wishes are legal. I don't know if it's ever been tested in a court, but I don't see anything obviously contrary to public policy in refusing permission for use of music in advertising until the copyright expires (assuming he owns the copyright at death). He's allowed to make that distinction and refusal in life, so why not make his intellectual property subject to that same condition after death?

                      1. Hasham

                        Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                        The law permits a creator of intellectual property to leave it/them to a literary executor, who/which may be bound by the creator's wishes provided those wishes are legal. I don't know if it's ever been tested in a court, but I don't see anything obviously contrary to public policy in refusing permission for use of music in advertising until the copyright expires (assuming he owns the copyright at death). He's allowed to make that distinction and refusal in life, so why not make his intellectual property subject to that same condition after death?

                        I'm not saying he doesn't have the right. He may indeed have, or the courts may rule his works as collaborative efforts and the wishes of two live people outweigh the wishes of one deceased person. I'm just saying that his wish is an artistic pretention given that he commercialised his music, companies turned a profit on it directly, and it has already been indirectly used to sell other products. You tune into MTV for his music, and then an advert plays for chicken drumsticks. He didn't know that's why MTV was playing his music, to sell advertising slots?

                        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                          Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                          "You tune into MTV for his music, and then an advert plays for chicken drumsticks. He didn't know that's why MTV was playing his music, to sell advertising slots?"

                          There's a world of difference between having your music play ALONGSIDE an ad (which is The Cost of Doing Business on broadcast radio and MTV, and the artist has no control over this--most people recognize this distinction and shrug) and having your music play DURING an ad (the ad agency has to have permission to use the music at this point, which creates an involuntary statement about the artist's tastes and/or attitudes, which is more significant).

                          1. Hasham

                            Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                            There's a world of difference between having your music play ALONGSIDE an ad (which is The Cost of Doing Business on broadcast radio and MTV, and the artist has no control over this--most people recognize this distinction and shrug) and having your music play DURING an ad (the ad agency has to have permission to use the music at this point, which creates an involuntary statement about the artist's tastes and/or attitudes, which is more significant).

                            There's a difference certainly, but I wouldn't say there's a world of difference. He has the right to specify his desires relating to his creations, I do not for one second deny that, but that doesn't mean they're not silly.

                            "I'm happy for my song to play immediately before or after a chicken drumsticks ad, but not during dammit!"

                            Please Mr Yauch, you created pop songs with the shelf-life of a few decades, not some great philosophical work that will inspire nations to action for centuries to come. Don't fret it, the possibility of their 'corruption' is a total non-issue

                            1. Mr_Bungle
                              Facepalm

                              Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                              Hasham, you clearly don't care to understand what the Beastie Boy ethos evolved into. The fact you used a phrase like 'you created a few pop songs' shows not only your misguided ignorance, but also how much of a bellend you are.

                              Starting with Paul's Boutique, the Beasties created sublime music that influenced a generation, and more than just a few here I imagine. Your attempt to lessen this is comically inept.

                              Yauch then devoted his time promoting non aggression, and attempted to raise awareness of oppressed nations. All on his own dime. You think this guy wanted to shill crap to stupid fat Americans after his death? You can't see how this would be the antithesis to his character?

                              To borrow from Bill Hicks also. Stop trying to put a dollar sign on everything, you sucker of Satan's cock.

                              1. Hasham

                                Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                                Hasham, you clearly don't care to understand what the Beastie Boy ethos evolved into. The fact you used a phrase like 'you created a few pop songs' shows not only your misguided ignorance, but also how much of a bellend you are.

                                Starting with Paul's Boutique, the Beasties created sublime music that influenced a generation, and more than just a few here I imagine. Your attempt to lessen this is comically inept.

                                Yauch then devoted his time promoting non aggression, and attempted to raise awareness of oppressed nations. All on his own dime. You think this guy wanted to shill crap to stupid fat Americans after his death? You can't see how this would be the antithesis to his character?

                                To borrow from Bill Hicks also. Stop trying to put a dollar sign on everything, you sucker of Satan's cock.

                                "Beastie Boys songs, they're so deep and pure, man, they make me cry. You just don't understand!"

                                1. Mr_Bungle
                                  Stop

                                  Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                                  Give it up, you've been found out. Your credibility is zero.

                            2. Charles 9 Silver badge

                              Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                              "Please Mr Yauch, you created pop songs with the shelf-life of a few decades, not some great philosophical work that will inspire nations to action for centuries to come. Don't fret it, the possibility of their 'corruption' is a total non-issue"

                              You may be interested to know that a lot of what we consider timeless classics of art were, in fact, commissions: done to order for a paying customer. So who's to say what will become a timeless classic or not in a couple hundred years? I mean, I don't picture the future become like that seen in the Bill & Ted movies, but...you never know.

                        2. NumptyScrub

                          Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                          quote: "I'm just saying that his wish is an artistic pretention given that he commercialised his music, companies turned a profit on it directly, and it has already been indirectly used to sell other products. You tune into MTV for his music, and then an advert plays for chicken drumsticks. He didn't know that's why MTV was playing his music, to sell advertising slots?"

                          I'm fairly sure he was well aware that that is MTVs business model. However MTV just plays the original, and in most cases advertisers create derivative works (different video, and voiceover on the audio, are the 2 most obvious alterations that would take place). "You can distribute my message (for profit), but you may not subvert my message" could be one interpretation of the logical disconnect between allowing publishers to profit, and not allowing advertisers to profit, from his works. Unfortunately we can no longer ask the man himself on his reasoning behind the decision, so we are left with speculation.

                          1. Hasham

                            Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                            "You can distribute my message (for profit), but you may not subvert my message" could be one interpretation of the logical disconnect between allowing publishers to profit, and not allowing advertisers to profit, from his works.

                            I guess what this comes down to is how important one takes that message to be. Yauch created his songs, so no doubt he puts a great deal of importance onto them and thinks they can be made 'impure' somehow. For myself it's just pop songs alongside thousands of others; they're nice and catchy but not to be taken too seriously.

                            1. This post has been deleted by its author

                            2. Not That Andrew
                              Trollface

                              Trolls Gotta troll

                              Mr (or Ms) Hasham, I must congratulate you on one of the best executed pieces of trolling I've seen on The Register.

                              1. JDX Gold badge

                                Re: Trolls Gotta troll

                                I'm not sure, possibly Bungle is the troll here. After all while their music has a message it is presented in contemporary popular form, otherwise known as 'pop music'. Most people like listening to it because of how it sounds, not what it says.

                    3. Graham Dawson

                      Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                      Hasham, the difference is simple: HMV and co are selling music. Advertisers are selling a product and using music to form part of that product's image. HMV and co don't alter the artist's creative intent by associating third-party imagery with the music. They don't blend it and break it and merge it with their own ideas, they just sell it. Advertisers transform a creative work, they associate that music with concepts that may be completely opposite the artist's original intent and in doing so they alter what the artist is trying to say. They are not selling the music. You're apparently labouring under the impression that selling music and using music to sell a product are the same thing when they are, in fact, completely different.

                    4. davyclam
                      WTF?

                      hasham

                      I don't understand why Hasham is recieving so many down votes; his/her references to what appear to be irrational double-standards by Adam Yauch are entirely valid.

                2. theblackhand

                  Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                  "But this is my point - it's pure artistic pretentiousness on his part. If he was selling music direct to consumer via his own website then I could understand. But he was perfectly happy for Apple, HMV etc to make profit on something they didn't create. His specific anti advertising hissy fit is a logical disconnect."

                  This particular artist appears to consider his product to be music, and that is what he is choosing to sell.

                  I don't see where he is being pretentious or having a "hissy fit" - he is choosing not to endorse an industry that he did not work with as far as I can google in his lifetime and wishes to continue that after death. Civilised humanity has always distinguished between different choices where the choices are based on morality and integrity. The sums of money involved (an estate of US$6+ million) takes this question away from that of survival of his family and into a realm of choice. It may not be the best choice when viewed from differing perspectives, but it is his choice.

                  1. Hasham

                    Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                    "This particular artist appears to consider his product to be music, and that is what he is choosing to sell."

                    'He' would still be selling music (or licensing its use, I suppose). MTV bought his songs to attract viewers, with the aim of getting companies to advertised goods and services to those viewers. That's his music being used indirectly as a hook to sell other things, but ultimately it's still to sell other things.

                3. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Very strange behaviour indeed

                  It's very simple:

                  - If you pay people to sell your stuff they're working for you

                  - If other people pay you to sell their stuff you're working for them

                  Pretentious twat. (That's you, not him. He's just choosing his employer.)

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