Update: A Soundcloud spokesperson has told us that Soundcloud removed D.J Detweiler’s track because, “The upload referenced in the screenshot was not a track of silence and was taken down because it included Justin Bieber’s What Do You Mean without the rightsholder’s permission. The respective user uploaded the track under the title “4’33”, which is also the name of John Cage’s famous piece of silence but it was not, in fact, silence. We’re happy to host any content on the platform as long as it’s properly authorised. If we’re told that any content has been posted without permission, we need to remove that content in accordance with applicable law.
Soundcloud’s notoriously overzealous ban hammer clearly needs some work as the music streaming service has removed FluteDrop extraordinaire D.J Detweiler’s silent track for copyright infringement.
Usually, Soundcloud’s copyright software should scan the sound-wave of a track and if it matches another copyrighted track it’s then removed.
What appears to have happened to D.J Detweiler’s track, titled John Cage ‘4’33’, is the copyright system has removed it because Detweiler named his upload after a famous silent piece by John Cage, which was recorded in 1952.
The piece became famous because it brought into question the very nature of what music is, and whether a recording of silence can be classified as music, and in turn be copyrighted.
It was basically Cage trolling the music world back in 1952, and went onto become one of the most controversial pieces of music provoking huge debate, and was even the subject of a court case on whether silence as a song, or concept, can be copyrighted.
Clearly, Detweiler decided he would try and troll Soundcloud with his own version, which Soundcloud has decided is an infringement of the original.
Famously, British composer Mike Batt found himself the subject of a plagiarism action for including the song, ‘A One Minute Silence,’ on his album for his classical rock band The Planets.
He was accused of copying John Cage’s ‘4’33’ and in the end Batt settled the matter out of court paying £100,000 to John Cage’ trust, “This has been, albeit a gentlemanly dispute, a most serious matter and I am pleased that Cage’s publishers have finally been persuaded that their case was, to say the least, optimistic,” explained Batt to the Press Association at the time.
“We are, however, making this gesture of a payment to the John Cage Trust in recognition of my own personal respect for John Cage and in recognition of his brave and sometimes outrageous approach to artistic experimentation in music.”