4’33” and the Copyright Cops
John Cage’s seminal work 4’33” changed the world of music when its 1952 performance by David Tudor shocked audiences and critics into a new appreciation of avante garde composition techniques. The work was admired for its groundbreaking incorporation of audience noises such as shuffling chairs and blown noses, not to mention the creak of the piano lid as it opened at the start of the piece, and its thudding close at the end.
Unfortunately, like so much of the world’s great music, 4’33” has been copied to YouTube by copyright-disrespecting pirates, and millions of internet users can now listen to the piece in its entirety without paying a dime to the artist or label for the privilege. Fortunately, YouTube builds in protection mechanisms against copyright theft, so that content owners can cause the audio to be stripped from infringing videos without taking down the post entirely.
Here at Stuck Between Stations, we believe that strict copyright enforcement is the cornerstone of a rich musical economy, and we applaud the vigilance of Warner Music Group in ensuring that the audio track of this illegal posting of one of Cage’s most important works has been removed.