U2 vs Negativland: Copyright Law Violation? Essay

I overturn the decision of the lower court that Negativland violated copyright law.

Although it may be perceived that music is a free market based on the love of music, others may argue it is based on profit. In the article “U2’s double trouble,” the band Negativland proclaims that Island Record’s, U2’s record label, only concern in the lawsuit is, “to control the marketplace” (139). Negativland believes Island is trying to control what music is being made and sold. Island is so focused on profit that they are limiting the musical market.I agree with Negativland that Island Records is only concerned about the profits they would receive from controlling the market place. Music is created to induce emotion, not only to make money. Seeing as there are only so many ways an instrument can be played, it will not be long before songs will sound similar. The similarities between the two songs should flatter the original composer because their work has inspired a fellow artist to produce a similar sound. Composing and making music is a craft that should be shared and used to help influence or inspire other people, not for anyone person to control. As a result, the decision that Negativland violated copyright law should be overturned.

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At first glance, it might not appear like it, but the lawsuit between the two bands is actually about censorship. In “U2 Negativland the Case From Our Side”, the band Negativland asserts that the song they created was, “a parody, satire, social commentary, and cultural criticism” (147). The band is expressing that their song is a work of art and has every right to be sold like U2’s song. In removing Negativland’s song, U2 and Island Records are censoring the public from hearing …

…vic sampled, copied, and created a parody from Michael Jackson’s song “Beat it”. Weird Al copied everything from Michael’s video including his hairstyle and the scenery throughout the video. However, even though the song “Eat it” was almost identical to the song “Beat it”, fans knew the difference between what was made by Michael and what was made by Weird Al. Negativland’s song has even less similarities with U2’s song than Weird Al’s song had with Michael Jackson’s. It is because of this that it can be assumed fans of U2 would be able to tell the difference between Negativland’s choppy, techno sampling style from U2’s heartfelt ballad.Putting concrete limitations and rules on what an artist can and cannot use when expressing their opinion of another artist’s work is unconstitutional. If we put a price on the freedom of speech, we place a fine on our liberties.


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