August 6th, 2011
This is the next installment in my blog series about copyright law. I'm going to stop saying it's my final post because I keep finding too many things to say about it. See Part One, Part Two and Part Three for my earlier entries on this topic. In this blog entry, I continue to deconstruct and problematize copyright law. I'd especially recommend reading Part Three before reading this one.
Enforcement of copyright law is inequitable
An individual who commented on my previous blog entry mentioned that she is an artist herself and has many artist friends who have had their works pirated and distributed on the Internet for free. She also mentioned that it is frustrating because it takes a significant amount of capital to bring a perpetrator to court in a civil lawsuit over copyright infringement. So, only those individuals or companies who have a lot of money can afford to enforce copyright law.
I agree that this is a flaw in the current copyright protection laws. Enforcement of copyright favors big businesses, big money, and large institutions. If only the wealthy can afford to protect their intellectual properties, then the system is definitely unfair. The relationship between class issues and copyright enforcement is brilliantly explored and parodied in Weird Al's "Don't Download This Song":
That being said, I actually think it was a brilliant move for lawmakers to make copyright infringement a civil issue rather than a criminal one. If copyright infringement were to become criminalized, it would be a bureaucratic, financial, legal, logistical, and social nightmare. Consider the tremendous amount of tax dollars and human/legal resources that are spent just fighting the war on drugs alone; if you were to double or triple that amount, you might possibly get close to what it would cost to adequately enforce criminalized copyright laws. Our current criminal and justice system would be wholly unprepared to enforce it. It would also require some serious breaches of civil rights in order for the government to obtain the identities of copyright offenders from their Internet providers.
In contrast, by making it so that only those with monetary means can bring a civil lawsuit over copyright infringement, it effectively puts several works into a sort of de facto public domain. Although I'm sure that makes several artists unhappy (and justifiably so since the law is on their side), it does actually benefit the public good in general when more works have a wider public circulation---pirated though they may be.
Don't get me wrong: I really wish that artists were better paid than they are. Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if we lived in a society where artists were valued the same as professional athletes are valued---and paid a comparable salary? The highly respected philosopher Martha Nussbaum has written a profound book entitled Not For Profit: Why Democracies Need the Humanities in which she makes a very compelling argument about the immensely positive impact that the arts can have in a democratic society. I'd strongly recommend that everyone read it.
Unfortunately, the reality is that most artists are never going to be wealthy in the same way that pro athletes are. But that's okay because most of them didn't choose to become an artist because they wanted to make money; they became artists for much more complex---and often nobler---purposes. When Martha Nussbaum came and spoke at UVU, many students asked her about how they could pursue their dream to create art but still make enough of a living to support a family. She recommended that they get a teaching job in the day to pay the bills and then pursue their art at night. The point is: most people don't make money as an artist. And when they do make money? Well, we all know the pejorative term that is often applied to artists who become commercially successful: sell-outs. In other words, most people view the relationship between money and art as an antagonistic one. (Side note: this tension between art and commercialism is brilliantly explored in Bansky's Exit Through the Gift Shop.) So perhaps, in a strange way, piracy is bringing integrity back to art by removing its commercial taint and making it more widely accessible to the masses.
Copyright law is onerous to comply with
In addition to the difficulties associated with enforcing copyright law, it is also incredibly onerous to comply with. I think I made that clear in Part Two of this series in which I described the time-consuming process it took to make my Course Reader fully compliant with copyright laws. The important point I want to emphasize is that I did not have to put forth the time and the effort to make my class copyright compliant. I only did it out of an ethical desire to be compliant with the law, not because I was in any real danger of being taken to court over copyright infringement.
In fact, the ultimate irony of this whole thing is that in putting forth the effort to be copyright compliant, I actually put myself at greater risk of being dragged into a lawsuit than if I had done nothing at all. Because any time I wrote a copyright holder to request permission to reprint certain articles, I was putting myself on their radar. Had they decided to investigate my use of their materials in more detail, some of them could possibly have had grounds to bring a lawsuit against me for past offenses. I don't really think that was likely to happen, but the possibility that it could have happened was an incredible source of anxiety for me for several months.
When a law is much more difficult to comply with than it is to break it and when individuals who try to comply with a law put themselves at greater risk of being punished under the law than those who don't, that's probably a good sign that the law is in need of reform.
I'm not quite done talking about copyright law yet, so stay tuned for my next entry in which I discuss how our notions of ownership, authorship and individualism are changing in our society.
July 31st, 2011
This is the penultimate installment in my blog series about copyright law. See Part One and Part Two for my earlier entries on this topic. In this blog entry, I will philosophize on the purpose of copyright law and the ways that copyright law sometimes fails to live up to its purpose. I was originally going to make this my final blog entry on the topic, but this one became so long that I'm going to have to break it up into two posts.
The fundamental tension that is at work in copyright law is the tension between what will benefit the individual copyright holder versus what will benefit society as a whole.
On the one hand, the public almost always benefits from the free and open exchange of ideas and information. When the members of our society have access to quality information and thought-provoking arguments, it allows them to make better decisions. As more members of our society become literate and educated, our society gets collectively better. Therefore, the open exchange and distribution of ideas benefits all of us as a whole. That's part of what has made the Internet so beneficial to our society. The Internet has dramatically lowered the publishing costs and other difficulties associated with distributing ideas, information, and artwork. And that increase in access to information and ideas has ultimately been a net benefit for society as a whole.
But on the other hand, we also want to protect the rights of individual creators (e.g. authors, artists, inventors, etc.). The act of creation often requires a significant investment of resources (such as time and money) and copyright law provides these individuals or institutions with an incentive to take on those risks. We want to promote the act of creation because the more "properties" or ideas/artwork that are in existence, the better our society is. Copyright law provides an incentive to take on the risks of creation because it makes it possible for individuals to make a living (or even a profit) from the works they create.
Unfortunately, these two ideals (the open exchange of information vs. the rights of the creator) are somewhat at odds with each other. Allowing creators to charge the public a fee for the right to access their works reduces the chance that those ideas will circulate openly to the public. In my opinion, an effective copyright law needs to strike a fair balance between the interests of the creator and the interests of the public at large.
The U.S.'s current copyright laws are intentionally weighted in favor of copyright holders as opposed to the public at large. Lawmakers decided that it would be best to give copyright holders solid, rock-hard rights in order to promote the creation of new intellectual properties. While I can see some wisdom in this approach, I fear that copyright law has the potential to be abused and to unnecessarily hurt the interests of the public. I'll explain some of the problems with current copyright laws in this blog entry.
The time period for works to enter the public domain may be too long
When copyright law was first introduced in the U.S. Constitution in 1790, it stated that it would take 14 years for works to enter into the public domain---meaning that after the 14 year copyright expiration date, the works could then be freely used and distributed by anyone without fear of a lawsuit. Today's copyright law is much different. Currently, works don't enter the public domain until 120 years have passed from the original date of creation/publication. (It's a little bit more complicated than that, but I'll just leave it at that for now. If you'd like to know more about the specific guidelines, Cornell publishes a very comprehensive list of the current public domain guidelines.)
But my contention is that by the time the majority of these works enter the public domain, they've almost completely lost whatever social relevance they may have originally had. I'm not talking about stuff by Mozart or Shakespeare---things that are obviously timeless and have retained their social relevance as time has passed; I'm talking about the majority of stuff that is published by most people. A lot of what is produced today is only socially relevant in the general time period in which it was made. For example, I seriously doubt that people are going to care much about Rebecca Black's "Friday" in 120 years. If anyone does care about it, it will be about as relevant as "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain" is today (at best).
In my Course Reader (which I wrote about in my previous blog entry), I feature a humorous short story called "Love is a Fallacy." It's still relevant and useful in my classroom today because it helps me give my students an introduction to logical fallacies. However, it loses its relevance more and more as time goes on. It was published in 1951 and it definitely shows its age. Not only does it have outdated slang words (like "keen," "marvy," "wow-dow,"), but I always have to give a heavy disclaimer to my students about its lack of progressive gender politics. (The main character is a misogynist who unapologetically objectifies women, seeing them as a means to improve his social status and career prospects.) But even though the short story has aged quite a bit and the author of the story passed away more than 23 years ago, "Love is a Fallacy" will probably not enter the public domain until some time in between the years 2046 or 2058. This strikes me as a pretty clear example of how unnecessarily overbearing and obtuse copyright law really is.
Copyright Law may actually discourage innovation and encourage censorship
As I mentioned above, the purpose of copyright law is to provide an incentive to take on the financial risks associated with the act of creation. Authors can get paid for the books they write and musicians can get paid for the songs they record. That's only fair, right?
I don't have any problem with a person making a living or garnering a profit from the works he or she produces, but I am somewhat skeptical that our current copyright law really does encourage individuals to take the risk of creation. Perhaps it does encourage the initial act of creation, but after a particular artist has achieved a certain amount of success, copyright law may actually de-incentivize individuals. It encourages creators to rest on their laurels and continue to receive payment for works they created in the past, rather than to create new works for the public. I mean, from a strictly financial perspective, J.K. Rowling really has no incentive to write any more books, for example.
But even worse than that, copyright law has the potential to be abused by copyright holders. In the past, some institutions have used intellectual property laws to silence and censor individuals who would disagree with or criticize them.
For example, I recently created an audio essay and entered it into a contest for a podcast I listen to. My audio essay featured a few brief sound clips from a film made in 1969. Even though my use of these sound clips is clearly covered under fair use guidelines because a) I'm commenting on the film directly, b) the sound clips that were used comprised a very small portion of the film overall, c) the essay was being submitted to a non-profit organization, and d) it should have no effect on the marketability of the film whatsoever. But because I was highly critical of the film that I discussed in the essay, I had some fears that it could get me into a lawsuit. The particular institution that holds the copyright for this film has a history of using intellectual property litigation to silence their critics and drive them out of business through expensive court costs, whether they actually have a case or not. That made me nervous and I debated whether I should leave the sound clips in or not. I'm still debating about it, honestly.
When I was working on getting copyright permission for the materials in my Course Reader, I sometimes had to be very careful about how I would phrase my request for permission to use a particular essay. In some cases, I heavily critique the essay's argument in my class. I worried that if I told the copyright holders the full extent to which I was going to use the essay that they would deny me permission. And this would have been detrimental to my class as it is sometimes helpful to show examples of bad arguments to my students to get them to think critically or skeptically.
For that reason, I worry that giving too much power to the copyright holder (or patent holder) can potentially stifle free speech and encourage censorship. It has the potential to discourage transformative creativity, which is something that I find quite upsetting.
Stay tuned to my final blog entry (I mean it this time) about copyright law. I will wrap up my discussion about the problems with copyright law and offer my suggestions for copyright reform.
July 22nd, 2011
This is a continuation of my three-part blog series about copyright law. In Part One, I explained aspects of copyright law in simple terms--specifically how the defintion of "fair use" applies to education. In this part, I'll talk about the difficulties I've faced in trying to comply with copyright law as an educator.
When I decided to make it my New Year's Resolution to comply with copyright law in my classroom, I didn't think it would be that big of a deal. I figured that it would just be a matter of casually sending out a few requests for permission to distribute a few materials to my students and that would be it. I didn't realize that my New Year's Resolution was going to take a full year's worth of work to comply with.
The major barrier between me and full copyright compliance is the fact that I don't use a traditional textbook in my writing classes. Instead, I use a textbook that I created myself (which I call my Course Reader). I started using the first version of my Course Reader when I was a graduate student at the University of Utah. I taught Writing 2010 (Intermediate Writing) while I was there, which is rougly equivalent to the same classes I teach at UVU. For my first year full year as a graduate writing teacher, I was spending $60 a month of my own personal money on copies for my classes. When I got married to Chris in between the first and second year of my program, I knew I couldn't sustain that kind of spending. So, I created the earliest version of my Course Reader. This is SOOOO lame, but I actually used my free time during our honeymoon to create the first Course Reader. Here's a picture of me creating my first textbook while on my honeymoon:
The earliest version of my textbook was basically just a collection of all the handouts that I had created for my students the previous year. I then gave a digital file of the Course Reader to my students and required them to print it out and bind it on their own.
Originally, I just used my Course Reader as a supplement to the textbook that was assigned to that class by my department. But when I solicited feedback from my students at the end of the semester, I repeatedly received positive feedback about my Course Reader and negative feedback about the assigned course textbook. I eventually dropped the assigned textbook from my curriculum and started using my Course Reader exclusively.
This same pattern emerged the first semester that I taught at UVU. I started out using the textbook that was assigned by my department and just used my Course Reader as a supplemental text. But again, I received negative feedback from my students about the textbook and positive feedback about my Course Reader. It's not that my students didn't like the assigned textbook per se. They just didn't feel it was good enough or helpful enough to justify the $110-$150 expense for the book. So, after one semester, I stopped using the assigned textbook and used my Course Reader instead.
Today my Course Reader has morphed into a 370+ document that represents my seven years of experience as a writing teacher. Most of the Course Reader contains my own personal material, but a lot of it includes articles and essays written by other entities. Using the Course Reader has had many benefits:
- It is more cost-effective for my students
- It allows me to tailor my curriculum based on the feedback I receive from my students and the improvements I perceive are needed for my course
- The long hours of research that I have put into composing my course materials has made me a better teacher and has made my curriculum more practical and engaging
- It has cut down on expenses for my department by cutting down on copying costs
- I frequently share the materials that I create for my Course Reader with my peers and they often use my materials to enhance their own instruction
In short, I feel that using my own textbook has had an extremely positive effect on my own teaching and on my university as a whole.
The dark side of this is that I was flagrantly disobeying copyright law without even knowing it. There were several articles that I distributed to my students for multiple semesters without getting written permission from the copyright holders. Up until recently, I thought that everything I did qualified as fair use since it was for educational purposes. But when I began to research copyright laws, I found out that I was wrong. It was personally quite devastating and I felt fairly depressed about it for a long time.
Frustrations With Copyright Compliance
After realizing the errors of my ways, I began sending out many requests to the copyright holders for permission to reprint their materials in my classroom. I felt fairly optimistic that the majority of them would be willing to let me use their material. That hasn't exactly been the case.
Of course, there have been many copyright holders who were willing to grant permission to use their materials without any qualms. I found that individuals from academia (usually educators themselves) were typically the easiest to get permission from. In some cases, they were even enthusiastic about having their materials get wider circulation. (Thank you Jay Heinrichs, Kurt Wiesenfeld, Bill Klemm, Robert Utley, and Steven Peck!)
I also found that, for the most part, cartoonists and artists were also pretty laid-back in granting permission to use their artwork/comics in my Course Reader. (Thank you Mark Stivers from There is Only Unibrow, Zach Weiner from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Despair.com, Richard Thompson from Cul de Sac, Randall Munroe from Xkcd, and Rob from Cyanide & Happiness!)
But I had a big problem getting a lot of people to even respond to me despite multiple requests. I still haven't heard back from Jorge Cham, MTV Networks, Scott Adams (of Dilbert), and Universal Uclick (who owns Calvin and Hobbes).
And then there were the instances in which I was either told I would have to pay expensive royalties or even flat out denied permission. To be honest, I wasn't terribly surprised that the owners of the journal Science wanted to charge me $2 per student to distribute one of their articles. Or that Scientific American wanted to charge me $3 a student per copy. But I was kind of shocked when:
- Gary Larson (creator The Far Side) flat out refused to allow me to reprint one of his cartoons in my Course Reader. He doesn't allow his comics to be used for any purpose at all---commercial or otherwise. He does occasionally grant permission for them to be used in an educational textbook, but I was told that my textbook would have to be professionally bound and sold by a legitimate publisher in order for my project to even be considered. I definitely respect Mr. Larson's personal investment in how his comics are used, but I find his approach to be pretty overbearing and unnecessarily protective.
- The W.W. Norton Company asked that I agree to pay an unknown amount to reprint a chapter from one of their books. They wouldn't tell me what the fee was but they told me that after they had researched it and got back to me, I would have just a few days to pay the fee or I'd be in trouble for distributing it to my students. I didn't think those terms were very fair at all, frankly.
- The one that absolutely broke my spirits was the reply I got from The King Center, who owns the copyright to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. They allowed me to use their speech for one semester without a fee because I was using it around Martin Luther King, Jr. day. But from that point on, they told me I would only be allowed to use the speech if I paid them $500 a semester in royalties. It made me do a lot of soul-searching to determine whether I would continue using this incredibly important speech in my classroom or not.
How It All Turned Out in the End
For the most part, whenever a copyright holder tried to charge me royalties, I dropped their materials from my Course Reader and replaced it with my own material. (This took tons of my personal time to create those replacements, by the way.)
But there were a few articles that I decided were of a high enough quality that I would be willing to pay the royalties. The "I Have a Dream" speech was one of those. Although I seriously considered dropping it, I ultimately felt it was too important to my curriculum not to be included. After all, this speech has caused grown men to weep in my classroom. I just had to leave it in.
Since it would be unethical of me to require my students to pay me under the table for the cost of the royalties, I have no choice but to sell my Course Reader through my University Bookstore. This has involved a lot of extra work and I've had to cut through a lot of red tape. I also don't know how much the Course Reader will now cost my students. I'm hoping that the final cost will be a reasonable one.
Although in some cases I think it was good for me to create my own material to replace copyrighted material, I largely feel that complying with copyright law has had a net negative effect on me and my class:
- The new Course Reader will be more expensive for my students. I'm very opposed to anything that raises the cost of a college education because when you make education more expensive, you will stop some individuals from getting one. Having an educated society ultimately benefits all of us and we should do all we can to make it available to everyone.
- Selling my Course Reader in the bookstore makes it so that I no longer have the advantage of making changes to my Course Reader very quickly. Every semester, I make substantial revisions to my Course Reader based on student feedback, my own independent research, and just things that I feel need to be changed. But now I have to submit my Course Reader to the Bookstore 6 weeks before the semester starts, which will make it much more difficult to make timely updates.
- The whole thing has been really time-consuming and stressful. Since I don't get paid for any work I do outside of teaching my class, it's a been a big drain on my personal time to create all this new materials and contact all these publishers for permission. This is time that I spend sending emails and dealing with bureaucracies as opposed to actually making my class better. And I do all of this on my own time for free.
I'm very lucky that I am a college-level educator, because that makes it so that I can pass on the costs of royalties on to my students. But what about K-12 public educators who do not have the luxury? At best, a public educator trying to be copyright compliant would pass the cost of royalties onto us as taxpayers. At worst, these teachers would shoulder the costs personally or stop using material that would otherwise enhance his or her students' educational experience. Either way, it hurts all of us in the long run.
Stay tuned for Part Three of my series in which I discuss the deeper philosophical issues inherent in copyright law and I suggest my solutions for updating copyright law for the 21st century!
July 11th, 2011
I started out this year with a New Year's Resolution to try to be fully compliant with copyright law in my professional and personal life. Little did I know what a wild, crazy (and expensive!) undertaking this would be.
Since it's been such a long, bumpy road to become copyright compliant, I've decided I wanted to do a three-part blog series about my adventures in copyright compliance. In Part One, I will explain aspects of copyright law in laymen's terms. In Part Two, I will share the many trials and tribulations that I have endured this year in my quest to become copyright compliant. And in Part Three, I will philosophize about how I feel copyright law should be revised and updated in the age of the Internet. So come join me in exploring this wild, unpredictable territory that is created by copyright law.
The following blog entry is an updated version of a blog entry I wrote for the First Year Writing blog at UVU near the beginning of the year. (P.S. The image above comes from Gideon Burton's Flickr photostream. I'm pretty sure that since we're friends and he's an advocate for open sourcing, he won't sue me for it. I should probably ask him for permission.)
My New Year's resolution for 2011 was to be in full compliance with copyright law. And frankly, I've found that it is much more difficult to comply with this law than I ever imagined. I used to believe that it was okay to copy just about anything as long as I was using it in a classroom and for educational purposes. Unfortunately, that's not true. Like me, I think that a lot of us may potentially be ignorant of how copyright law applies to us as educators, so I thought I'd write a blog entry about this topic in the hopes that we all can be more compliant.
According to my research, use of copyrighted material without explicit permission from the copyright holder is only legal when it is considered "fair use" under the copyright law (such as for educational purposes). There are four criteria that must be met in order for something to be considered fair use:
1. Purpose of Use
In order for something to qualify as "fair use," it must stimulate the creativity of the general public as opposed to just superseding the rights of the original copyright holder to make an unfair profit. Using something for educational purposes of course qualifies under this category. But so do things like parodies of songs by Weird Al (who only asks for permission from the original song authors out of professional courtesy). Showing audio-visual clips from a movie on a podcast or TV show is also allowable if the podcast/TV show is using it to comment on the work in question.
One thing that I have found under this criteria of fair use is that, although it is okay to copy something for educational use, it is only appropriate if the copies are used spontaneously. For example, let's say I decide to make copies of a copyrighted article to share with my students in the classroom the day before one of my lectures. That is clearly spontaneous. However, if the next semester comes along and I say "Hey, that lesson plan worked great and that article was perfect!", I no longer have the same rights. If I copy that article for my students the next semester, it is no longer spontaneous and I am guilty of copyright infringement. It is okay to use an article temporarily and spontaneously. But an article should not be put into an anthology of any kind or distributed to students for more than one semester until you receive explicit permission from the copyright holder.
2. Nature of the Work
I'm not entirely sure I know all the ins and outs of this particular criteria for fair use, but my understanding is that it has to do with whether the work being copied is fiction vs. non-fiction. Since fiction is highly creative, it can be said to be the property of the individual who created it. However, non-fiction is a little bit different. No one has the right to copyright facts or ideas (of course), but you can copyright the expression of those facts and ideas. Judges who make determinations in matters of copyright law must consider the social usefulness of allowing non-fiction ideas to be freely accessible to the public.
3. Proportion/Extent of Materials Used
This criteria refers to how much of the work you are using (e.g. what percentage of the work you are using). For example, there was a case where a teacher in Seattle was found guilty of copyright infringement for copying 11 out of 24 pages from an instructional book. If you copy a paragraph from an article or a book, you're probably okay since it's just a very small portion of the overall work. However, copying a chapter or more from a book becomes questionable and can get you into trouble.
4. The Effect on Marketability
This is by far the most important of the four tests for fair use. If copying and distributing the materials will result in a reduction of sales for the copyright holder, it's illegal.
For example, my department advocates that I use the Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing in my classes. Although it is currently listed for $81.74 on Amazon at the time of this writing, our university bookstore sells it for $147 new and $110.25 used because they bundle it with another textbook. For me, I think that's too expensive for my students---especially since I only use a very small portion of the textbook in my classes. I have created my own textbook that I distribute to my students instead. But let's say I include a few graphs or pages from Allyn and Bacon and give that to my students. In that case, I've directly reduced the sales for the Allyn and Bacon textbook. And that could get me into hot water.
One other thing that is important to be aware of is that even when you are using something under the qualifications for fair use, you must still include the copyright notice in order to comply with copyright law. That means you need to indicate that the material is copyrighted and who the copyright holder is. It is not enough to merely give attribution.
How is Copyright Law Enforced?
Unlike some laws which are enforced by government regulators (such as OSHA or the Department of Health) or by the police, copyright law is largely enforced through civil lawsuits brought to court by the original copyright holder against the alleged copyright infringer (infringee?). A copyright holder can ask a court to issue an injunction warning the accused infringer to cease and desist even before the case goes to trial. Additionally, infringing copies may be seized and destroyed. Sometimes a copyright court may require the defendant to pay compensatory damages if they can prove that their gross income was affected by the infringement. There is also the option in some cases to pay fines ranging from $750 to $30,000. Court costs may also be awarded to the copyright holder in some cases. I'd say that's pretty serious stuff.
Well, join me next time for Part Two in which I discuss my tortuous (and expensive) journey on the way to copyright compliance. It's definitely been an adventure!
May 14th, 2011
The Band that Broke Up With Me: The Cranberries
In the early nineties when Everybody Else is Doing It, Why Can't We Came Out? (1993), I started hearing some of my friends listening to songs like "Linger" and "Dreams" and thought I might want to hang out with that band some day. Then No Need to Argue (1994) came out and I kind of fell in love with the band. It was just an incredible album; there wasn't a single track on the album that I didn't like. I even got into a few jealous fights over that album. (My sister Marin and I constantly warred over possession of the CD.)
But when To the Faithful Departed (1996) came out, the love goggles started to come off. Oh sure, I had a few great moments with that one. I mildly enjoyed songs like "War Child" and "I Just Shot John Lennon." But songs like "Will You Remember" just left me feeling dazed and confused. It seemed like the band was going in a different direction from me. Feel my pain:
But I still stuck with the Cranberries. When Bury the Hatchet (1999) came out, I was excited to give the Cranberries another chance. I bought it and started listening to it shortly after its release. I enjoyed the first half of the album; it felt like the good old days again. But the second half of the album didn't really do it for me---even though I tried really hard to like it. Songs like "Copycat" and "Fee Fi Fo" were just grating. Something in me knew the relationship was over. When their last album Wake Up and Smell the Coffee came out, I didn't even buy it. Chris owns it and I still haven't listened to it. These days I'm embarrassed to admit that I ever dated the Cranberries.
No, Actually, We're Just Good Friends: Sting and They Might Be Giants
Anyone who has read about our Theme CD project knows that in the past I tried to incorporate something by Sting and TMBG onto nearly every CD I made because I was in love with them at the time. As the years have gone on, we've just kind of drifted apart through no fault of our own. I mean, I still appreciate and respect them a lot, but I'm just kind of busy now. I enjoy hanging out with TMBG but I like to just keep things casual, really. And Sting? It seems like he's going through a mid-life crisis because he can't stop obsessing over the good old days in the past. It seems like all of his latest albums are just fancy reworks of stuff he's done before:
I'll still have a fondness for Sting and TMBG. We'll always have Brand New Day and Mink Car. But yeah... it's just a friendship now. No hard feelings.
For Time and All Eternity: The Beatles
My days of intense infatuation with the Beatles are over, but now I'm settling into a comfortable long-term relationship with them. There are times when I'll neglect them because I'm off doing my own thing for a while. But then, out of the blue, the Beatles will be reinvented every couple of years in a way that takes me by surprise and makes me remember why I loved them so much to begin with. First there was there was the Beatles Love album, then came the Across the Universe film, then Beatles Rockband, and then the remastering of the Beatles albums. This summer we're actually going to go see Beatles Love for our anniversary. I can't wait! Check out this awesome mash-up from the album:
They're the band that just keeps on giving---even forty years after they've broken up.
One-Hit Wonders and One-Night Stands
Blame it on iTunes and mp3s for killing the album, but for me the days of falling in love with a new band are probably over. Maybe it's because I've been hurt in the past, but I never commit completely to a band any more. If I hear a track I like, I'll buy it and enjoy it---but I never buy a full album any more. (Jonsi's Go was a rare exception.) And I don't really bother getting to know much about the artists or familiarizing myself with the rest of their discography. It's all too much work and I just hate being disappointed or feeling guilty when I delete all of the tracks from an album except the two good ones from my music collection. My patience for tracks I don't like is much lower these days. I'd rather just let those one or two tracks just represent the band in my memory. Here's a recent one-track purchase I made recently that I'm currently enjoying (Fleet Foxes' "Helplessness Blues"):
How about you? What bands have you broken up with? Discuss.