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the take

Could David Gray and Other Songwriters Get Royalties From the U.S. Military's Musical Torturers?

Photo-illustration: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty Images, istockphoto


Attention, songwriters: Have your masterpieces been pirated by a bunch of pimply no-goodniks? Are you having trouble making a living on your hits of the past? Did nobody want to make a mildly reggae-fied version of your work and use it to sell a beach resort? Take heart! You may find a revenue stream in the wonderful world of torture — perhaps the ultimate in "new media."

As the Guardian reports today, a Canadian copyright lawyer is arguing that the U.S. military is not exempt from intellectual-property laws, and if they want to use your music to torture prisoners, you should get your cut.

Thank goodness someone is looking out for the creative geniuses behind the Meow Mix "Meow Meow Meow" commercial, one of the most popular songs used for torture prisoners, according to Mother Jones. Playing music in public isn't free, and what kind of an America would we be saving if the U.S. military couldn't abide by the obligations cheerfully followed by T.J. Maxx? If even David Gray can agree that being strapped into a chair and listening to "Babylon" is morally reprehensible, the least the military can do is drop a few dollars in his guitar case, right? Pay up, Gitmo! —Linda Holmes

Is Torture by Music a "Performance in Public"? [Excess Copyright via Guardian]