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Yesterday Ars Technica and Wired reported on a truly bizarre suit (to American eyes, at least) filed by the UK's Performing Arts Society (the royalty-collection agency) against Kwik-Fit, a car-repair chain, because its employees played radios loud enough for other people to hear, thereby constituting a "public performance" and therefore a copyright infringement if royalties aren't paid. The agency is suing for £200,000.
Yeah. Chew on that one a while.
While there is no doubt a streak in all of us that would like to see Mr. Boom Car At 4 AM or Ms. Cheery Hippie Gardening Music at 7 AM or Mr. Druggie/Alcoholic Ice Cream Truck Man Who Passes Out at the Wheel While Playing "Turkey in the Straw" for Four Hours Straight sued for some crippling sum, this really does push the boundaries of practicality. Not to mention the sinister creep of capitalism on all public space, even public headspace. Music is probably the most social of all the arts, both when we're glad to hear it and when we're not. In a world where we hear the occasional rumbling that people who go to the bathroom during commercial breaks are in some sense "stealing," and where nutter Web sites ban Firefox users due to the browser's popular ad-disabling function, we might all be committing countless petty acts of piracy every day. Yaarrr!
In unrelated news (unless you're looking for something to inflict on the neighbors in the spirit of sticking it to the man), Maria Ferrero at Adrenaline PR just sent a press release announcing, at #19, the highest-charting death metal album of all time. Yeah, like no one saw that coming.