Saturday, 8 December 2012

Copyright




One of the first pieces of feedback that I had on the manuscript was that it was hard to imagine the inside of a Thai bar if you have never been in one. “What sort of music gets played?” was one of the questions.   That’s when I realised that my own music tastes had broadened enormously since I started working in Asia.  
I would hear a piece of music I liked, get out the I-Phone and click Shazam. The App would identify the track and offer me the chance to download it. I quickly acquired a new music collection, mainly western stuff but also some local bands that I would never have heard of in the West. Check out Bodyslam – the lyrics are totally incomprehensible unless you speak Thai, but the music is great.

The next thing that struck me was that the music in the bars often seemed to reflect what was going on around me. I once witnessed a drunk behaving appallingly in a Bangkok bar, in the seconds before Security threw him into the street the music being played was Lady GaGa’s, “Monster”. An extremely beautiful young Thai girl told a middle-aged friend of mine, that he was indeed a very attractive man. Fortunately, only I noticed that Rihanna was singing, “I Love the Way you Lie”, in the background.  As she finally lost interest in him, the track being played was “Hot & Cold”, by Katy Perry. How do they do that?

I tried to carry this over into the book and the stories still offer a clue to the action through the music that’s referred to in the text. My first attempt at doing this went a stage too far. I decided that some of the song lyrics I had heard in Thailand just had to have been written for the bar scene.

Check out the first few lines of “Price Tag” by Jessie J and tell me that it isn’t a perfect epitaph for a man who has had the wool pulled over his eyes by a lady who might be more interested in his wallet than she is in him. Similarly, there is a song called “Closer” by NeYo. Either the lyricist completely lost his head over another person or they have an extraordinary imagination.

I decided to quote the lyrics.  Big mistake.

Breach of copyright (even if you attribute the source) is evidently a crime somewhere between armed robbery and second degree murder and the penalty may be more harsh. The copyright owner, and its not always easy to find out who that is, can sue for punitive damages. It does not matter whether you made anything out of it, or indeed if the claimant suffered any real loss. They can ruin you.

The lyrics got binned.

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