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Timbaland update
by Runaro of Brainstorm

On the 24th of July, Mosley Music Group announced the release of Nelly Furtado's new single "Do It". The release was accompanied by a music video which was released two weeks earlier. Most sceners know by now that rapper Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley used a tune by Tempest/Fairlight (Janne Suni) to produce "Do It" as well as a ringtone titled "Block Party". The album track has been available as part of Furtado's album "Loose" since June of 2006, but the single was just released to stores and radio this July. Perhaps ironically, the single features remixes of Furtado's track.

This "controversy" was the talk of the scene in late 2006 and early 2007, and if you haven't heard about it then you must have been living under a power brick. It has been reported all over the Internet that "Do It" contains large portions of Glenn Rune Gallefoss's C64 remix of Tempest's original Amiga MOD. In a radio interview in February, Mosley even claimed that he "sampled" the song. To Zine, it seems uncontroversial.

Tempest was first alerted of the issue in June of 2006, when the topic of conversation on the #c-64 IRC channel became "Tempest got ripped off by Nelly Furtado". Someone contacted Tempest and pasted the chat log in a message to him. At the time, Tempest didn't know who Nelly Furtado was, and he had never heard the name Timbaland. Tempest does not have a TV and he doesn't listen to radio.

The guys over at #c-64 had been wondering which SID was in the background of Nelly Furtado's "Do It". They recognized the unmistakable SID sound, and suspected that it was taken from the High Voltage SID Collection (HVSC). Jeff/Crest was the one who figured out that the song on the Furtado track was probably Acid_Jazz.SID, made by GRG/Shape (Gallefoss). The HVSC holds about 33,000 song files ranging over 25 years of Commodore 64 music. Much of it has ambiguous, obscure, or absent copyright, which makes it a veritable treasure-chest for producers who like to do "retro".

ZINE contacted Mosley Music Group, requesting a comment on these allegations. They did not return our calls. We did get a hold of Tempest to interrogate him about the situation, but his lips were tightly sealed, pending a possible non-disclosure agreement with what he calls the "Dark Forces". Tempest has been working with lawyers since September of 2006 to take legal action against Mosley and the daisy-chain of record companies responsible for publishing the second-hand music. The case is now coming to a close with an acceptable outcome expected for both sides.

Not so for GRG. For him, the battle has only just begun. Having been without an internet connection for most of 2006, he wasn't even aware of the case until early November. He is being represented by Herkko Hietanen of Turre Legal, a technology law firm in Helsinki specializing in open-source and open content licensing.

Zine asked Hietanen what scene musicians can do to protect their music which is freely released online. Hietanen explained: "Artists are protected by copyright from the moment the work is done. There are no special registrations or anything needed to get the protection. Producers know this and should respect those rights."

He continued: "If someone is infringing on your copyrights, the first thing to do is to notify them of the infringement. This is usually done with a cease-and-desist letter. The letter identifies the infringement and tells them that the rights owner doesn't accept it. Usually the infringer then either stops his activities, settles the case, or sometimes the case will go to court. Court can award the rights owner an injunction which enables him to force the infringer to stop. Courts will also most likely make the infringer to pay monetary damages to the rights owner. In some cases the infringer might be forced to publish the original artist whose work the plagiarized work was based on."

Taking legal action can be costly, though. According to Hietanen, hiring a copyright lawyer can cost anywhere from 200 to 600 per hour. "Negotiations and litigation take time and require expertise. Both parties' legal costs are usually paid by the losing party. So if the case is strong, it does make sense to invest in legal fees," he said.

What's more, in a case that -- like this one -- which crosses international boundaries, you can expect to need to hire a lawyer in each of those countries, as procedural and copyright laws differ from country to country.

But lawyers don't do everything. Artists who find themselves infringed upon will have to do a lot of their own homework. "Lawyers are just representing you," said Hietanen. "Getting the facts straight from the beginning really helps. In copyright cases, expert witnesses are often used. Those experts usually know music production inside and out, and they can judge if someone has plagiarized or not, and to what extent. Providing those experts with original material is vital."

The unlawful activity in this kind of case has much larger scope than one might initially think. Explains Hietanen: "Copyright gives right owners exclusive right to reproduce, copy, make altered works, etc. Basically the whole distribution chain is infringing on the original work. This includes distributors like iTunes as well, because they enable people to copy the works from their service."

Many artists might be intimidated by all of this, and think that they would have little chance taking on a huge record company. But to that, Hietanen says: "American producers should not be able to hide behind big record companies while those same companies cry over consumer theft by P2P pirates. The hard thing is to make the record studios convinced that the original rights owner means business. After they understand this, typically the cases are settled out of courts."

As for Tempest, he did offer this comment: "This concerns all scene musicians who have been releasing their music for free." He said it was very important not to give up on the case. When asked whether this would affect his releases in the future he said: "I'll soon be releasing more funky Commodore grooves on my web page. For free, of course." When Zine spoke with Tempest, he was working on 7 chip tunes as a soundtrack to an imaginary game. Also in the works are several small pieces for his band, started in April of 2007, in which he plays the electric bass. Our sources further indicate that he is working with Dr. Vector of Megahawks, cooking up some "hot summer tracks" for 2008. "I'm always working on dozens of tunes at the same time," said Tempest.

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