Negativland and Copyright

Negativland is an American “experimental music band” that started in 1980. The current main band members are Mark Hosler, Richard Lyons, David Wills and Peter Conheim.negativland_2

My first impression of this band is that they live for the controversy that their music and copyright laws create. Their first big run in with a big corporation was in 1991 when they released a single called ‘U2’. Negativland were promptly sued by the band U2’s record label, Island Records, and by SST Records. The cover of this single violated trademark law, as did the song itself, called “The Letter U And The Numeral 2”. The song by Negativland is a parody of U2’s famous song “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and samples heavily from it. All of this brought Negativland all the fee publicity they could ever want and along with it the notoriety.u2Since then Negativland very verbal about their interest in intellectual property. In 1995 they released a 270 page book and ten track CD called “Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2”, about all that happened between themselves and U2’s record company, which lasted four years. As I research this band, I am finding it very hard to navigate around their website. I feel like I am going around in circles. Yet during my confused researching I found a introductory letter to congress from Mark Hosler about his views about “creativity and copyright“. It says that we should go back to what copyright was meant to do when it was first created. That art is not about money but about ideas and building ideas on top of those ideas. Negativland has overtime become a hero for artists and creators who are limited by copyright laws, and in away a war veteran of these laws as they keep pushing boundaries of them.

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Negativland and Copyright

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