Thursday, October 20, 2011
Domino Records v. Interscope Geffen A & M Records [Schnauss v. "Guns N' Roses"]
This dispute is interesting because the musical material in question has no melody – i.e., the lynchpin for virtually every music copyright infringement claim. The two complaining numbers – collections of electronically produced sounds organized by Ulrich Schnauss – sound like the output of a jazzy white noise machine. The plaintiffs have claimed that the Geffen (ka-ching! la vache américaine) recording (i.e. “Guns N’ Roses’”) made unauthorized use of samples of the plaintiff’s two numbers. If, in fact, the defendants used a snippet of Schnauss’s recordings of “blips, bloops and bleeps” (as his music was characterized by the Guardian, 6 Oct. ’09) should this be almost automatically deemed infringement as the Sixth Circuit court established in Bridgeport Music (a well-known sampling case from 2007) regardless of the minimal musical content involved?
Music seems to have relatively little to do with the commercial appeal of numbers like "Riad 'N the Bedouins". Rather, the twaddle of the Axl Rose song that alludes vaguely to war in the Middle East offers seductive aromas of anarchy and violence to be enjoyed by pimply boys from armchairs of Middle America. One can only infer from the many photos of Mr. Rose posted on the Web that his physiognomy is a significant element in marketing his act and, like contestants on America's Top Model, he spends an extraordinary amount of time primping before mirrors, and rehearsing a repertory of poses, rather than on matters like the source of the electronic sounds that accompany the numbers he performs.
Here is a copy of the plaintiff's complaint (2 October 2009). It includes appendices of copies of copyright registrations filed on behalf of Schnauss's work, and the letter sent to Geffen by plaintiffs in February of 2009: Schnauss Complaint.pdf
posted 5:39 AM