There was a strange report in the New York Post today about a rock group - Black Water Rising - filing a $30 million lawsuit against the New Jersey Devils for the use of one of their songs. I'm very aware that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of songs and musical pieces used across the globe at hockey games, and I'm pretty sure that the teams aren't paying individual bands and songwriters for the use of their songs. In fact, having worked at Moose games last season, I know that the teams and leagues pay for the right to use those songs through music licensing, so I'm not sure how or why a lawsuit is being filed against one specific team for the use of one band's music. To me, this seems like a band who doesn't know their own industry.
According to a Facebook quote at the bottom of the New York Post story, Rob Traynor, lead singer for Black Water Rising, wrote,
"My music was basically stolen and put to work by a corporation for their monetary gain. They used my song to rally their team and fans before every home game and didn't even bother to credit the band. They dismissed and ignored my honest attempts to rectify the situation in the hopes that I would just go away. They banked on the hope that I would become discouraged and lack the means to file a suit against them."Wow. I'm all for protecting one's creations whether it be art, written word, song, or any other form of artistry, but that statement sounds like someone wanting his cake and trying to eat it too.
If you want to read through all the comments on Facebook, they're here, but it seems that the one thing that Traynor is focused on is copyright infringement.
"Credit was not given to the band and permission was not granted to use the song. COPYRIGHT was infringed upon. They used my music to market their product without permission. They didn't even give me CREDIT. READ."Traynor's lawyer, Wallace Collins, said the Devils are "offering an insultingly small amount of money to settle." So the next logical step is to file a $30 million lawsuit, right? I mean, why not just ask for the keys to the Prudential Center while you're at it?
I'm not sure how many copyright suits Wallace Collins has handled, but he may want to read up on ASCAP and BMI. The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) simplify the process of needing individual rights from every band when an entity would like to publicly broadcast music. Hockey teams broadcast to about 15,000 people every night, give or take, so they need to buy these music rights. ASCAP and BMI make it easy because they have the rights to about 4,000,000 songs each in their libraries. That's pretty easy on the teams - one vendor for 4,000,000 songs.
There are a vast amount of forms on the BMI page. BMI has one page where they specifically go over how artists are credited and paid, so that one might be one you want to bookmark if you're an aspiring artist. Unless Black Water Rising had not registered their songs with either ASCAP or BMI, they would certainly have a case against the Devils because the Devils would be using their songs without permission.
The fact that this is being brought to light now is a little annoying and stupid. In October 2010, the Devils came right out and stated that they were using Black Water Rising's song "Rise" as their chosen song for their theme of "Rise Up!" for the 2010-11 season. In fact, BWR bassist Oddie McLaughlin is quoted as sating, "I've been a huge hockey fan since I was a kid and to have our song 'Rise' played before the New Jersey Devils is beyond my wildest dreams. So let's drop the puck and 'Rise' to a new level of hockey. Go Devils!!"
So I did what any aspiring journalist would do when tracking down evidence for a story: I search both ASCAP's and BMI's music databases. And wouldn't you know it? I found Black Water Rising's works under ASCAP, and, specifically, the song "Rise" (Work ID: 882069515) in ASCAP's database of music licenses. As long as the Devils can prove that they subscribe to ASCAP's licensing, Black Water Rising has no copyright case against the Devils because the Devils bought the licensing to the music as legally as any department store or radio station can.
Doing a little online research shows that Devils fans really want nothing more than for the Devils to abandon Black Water Rising's song for good. From the HF Boards Forum, the comments range from "who cares" to absolute hatred for the song.
- "kyle evs48" says, "he should be happy at least someone likes the song".
- "Richer's Ghost", a moderator, says, "that song sounds like Nickelback and Alice In Chains got in a car wreck and as they were bleeding out they played some music."
- "AZNDevil" says, "They used a small part of the song, just where the dude yells 'rise' and the chorus, and when the Devils first unveiled the video, Black Water Rising was all over it, promoting how their song was the 'official theme' to the Devils season."
- "azrock22" says, "Right, but that doesn't mean that the band has signed on with ASCAP or BMI. In fact, if the band had signed on with ASCAP or BMI, it would've been ASCAP/BMI filing the suit, and not the band individually." Teebz: confirmed ASCAP signing.
- "ILikeItVeryMuch" asks, "How exactly is that Rise intro used as a profit driven commercial video and the 29 other teams have intros that do not have bands calling for a lawsuit?"
I hope that the Devils countersue, and put Black Water Rising out of their misery. I have never listened to their songs, I will not buy their album, and I certainly won't be missing them on the radio anytime soon.
Like Kevin Spacey said in The Usual Suspects, "How do you shoot the devil in the back? What if you miss?" This could be a big miss for Black Water Rising, and I'm pretty sure the Devils won't just let this lawsuit just drift off into the sunset.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!