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19 July 2008


Click Barney the Purple Dinosaur or Eminem
and the music will get louder and play endlessly.

The New York Times
Wednesday 16 July 2008

Torture Royalties

by Freakonomics

We’ve tackled the future of music distribution and we’ve taken on the War on Terror. But what happens when the two intersect?

Apparently, guards at Guantanamo Bay have been playing David Gray’s “Babylon” at all hours of the day and night, to distress detainees and soften them up for interrogation.

Since this arguably constitutes a public performance of Gray’s song by the U.S. military, the government technically may owe royalties to Gray for the use of his track.

Will the military pay up or stop using the music?

It seems unlikely that ASCAP or BMI will try to collect the royalties due to them from governments that use music as a weapon: after all, nobody seemed to mind when officials in a suburb of Sydney, Australia started blasting Barry Manilow songs as a means of chasing hooligans from a public park there.

- 30 -

24 comments so far...

1. July 16th, 2008 1:19 pm

… or when Marines blasted AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” in Fallujah in 1994 or when the FBI blasted the the Branch Davidian compound in 1993 or when the Army blasted Manuel Noriega in 1989.

— Posted by Tom A. Kosakowski

2. July 16th, 2008 1:45 pm

I think the bigger questions are:
What does David Gray think about the military’s use of his song as a weapon/to soften up detainees? Does this help or hurt his image? And if he were opposed to the military using his song this way, could he do anything to stop it?

— Posted by David S

3. July 16th, 2008 2:12 pm

Hey, I kind of like that song! But Barry Manilow would definitely be against the Geneva conventions. So did they actually buy the David Gray CD, or download it from a legit online source, or did they steal it? There’s the question. Is it a public performance or a private gathering? I mean, the detainees are basically invited there — so to speak — so it’s not really a public performance, is it? If I have a bunch of people over to my house and play “Babylon” on my stereo, I don’t have to pay Mr. Gray do I? (Would I get in trouble for torturing my guests?)

— Posted by Karen

4. July 16th, 2008 2:18 pm

If they really want ‘em to crack, I’d suggest they try a few selections from the Osmonds’ catalog.

— Posted by jblog

5. July 16th, 2008 2:29 pm

Since government is the originator and enforcer of the limited monopoly granted through copyright why haven’t government exempted themselves from the provisions therein? The government probably spends billions just dealing with the hassle of auditing and properly tracking software licenses. By exempting themselves the government would save a significant amount of taxpayer money even if they continued to pay for the most of the creative works they use.

Of course we all know the reason they don’t do this is because our government continues those to pay lobbyists instead of those that pay the bills.

— Posted by Mike B

6. July 16th, 2008 3:07 pm posted a list of songs it claimed were/are used in this manner (Babylon is on the list), it includes:

‘F**K Your God’ by Deicide
‘Die MF Die’ by Dope
‘Take Your Best Shot’ by Dope
‘White America’ by Eminem
‘Kim’ by Eminem
‘Barney Theme Song’
‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool
‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica
‘Meow Mix Jingle’
‘Sesame Street Theme Song’
‘Babylon’ by David Gray
‘Born in the USA’ by Bruce Springsteen
‘Shoot to Thrill’ by AC/DC
‘Hells Bells’ by AC/DC
‘Stayin Alive’ by The Bee Gees
‘All Eyes on Me’ by Tupac
‘Dirty’ by Christine Aguilera
‘America’ by Neil Diamond
‘Bulls on Parade’ by Rage Against the Machine
‘American Pie’ by Don McLean
‘Click Click Boom’ by Saliva
‘Cold’ by Matchbox 20
‘Swan Dive’ by Hed PE
‘Raspberry Beret’ by Prince

— Posted by brent

7. July 16th, 2008 3:55 pm

Brent (#6) - you had me at “Barney Theme Song”

— Posted by cathy

8. July 16th, 2008 4:16 pm

Would that actually be considered a commercial or private use? It is played in the big house.

— Posted by Adrien

9. July 16th, 2008 5:27 pm

An interesting topic, as what would be most torturous depends upon one’s musical taste. Funny that so much of it popular music that many actually pay to be subjected to.

I’d like to see the research they put into selecting the tunes. “2 minutes of Barry Manilow’s Greatest Hits was more effective than 15 minutes of Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica? Who’da thunk?”

— Posted by Othar Hugh Manati

10. July 16th, 2008 9:42 pm

The American military certainly have refined torture to new levels. Maybe it could be used to win the war on terror with a few live Paris Hilton concerts.

— Posted by Oliver Townshend
July 16th,
10:09 pm

Anything by Celine Dion would break me down in about two minutes. I’m getting nauseous thinking about it.

— Posted by Kevin in McLean, VA

12. July 16th, 2008 10:53 pm

Can we remember “Safety Dance” in Biodome?

— Posted by H Dizzle

13. July 17th, 2008 12:31 am

The idea that David Gray’s song Babylon is used as torture is absurd. That song is deep and uplifting. I think that giving prisoners a song that is actually thought provoking is more of a relief from boredom. :)

— Posted by David Gray Admirer

14. July 17th, 2008 3:01 am

Uh oh–we used to sing “Raspberry Beret” to our dog … were we torturing her?

That list of songs is hilarious.

— Posted by jessica

15. July 17th, 2008 7:32 am

How many of the listed songs abowe can be played in Guitar Hero? Thats just another way to train new heroes :-p

— Posted by Peter

16. July 17th, 2008 8:51 am

sorry, but this post is too flippant- if our guys were captured, and some arabic claptrap was played as a sleep deprivation technique, it wouldn’t play for cute analysis- the fact that we torture is a serious signal as to what type of superpower we are

— Posted by frankenduf

17. July 17th, 2008 9:50 am

#16, I’ll tell you what kind of superpower we are: a victorious one. One which will perform any necessity in order to assure sovereignty into the foreseeable future.

— Posted by Tarkin

18. July 17th, 2008 10:23 am

frankenduf - yes we use sleep deprivation and other techniques that may make the faint of heart a bit queezy and whiney. We do not however; decapitate soldiers and send the videos out to be seen by their families. I wonder what kind of superpower we must be, that our freedom fighters use the popular music they enjoy to uplift themselves and accomplish the goal of weakening our enemies shows me that our military is ingenious- multi-tasking. ROCK ON!

— Posted by Jax

19. July 17th, 2008 10:59 am

@ #9, Maybe ‘Dachau Blues’ from Trout Mask Replica?

— Posted by Fasten Bulbous

20. July 17th, 2008 5:30 pm

“sorry, but this post is too flippant- if our guys were captured, and some arabic claptrap was played as a sleep deprivation technique, it wouldn’t play for cute analysis- the fact that we torture is a serious signal as to what type of superpower we are”

Based on what we know about how our enemies treat THEIR prisoners, I’d say song selection would be the least of my worries. torture1.html

Read that first, and then we can discuss what constitutes torture.

— Posted by jblog

21. July 18th, 2008 3:06 am

@joblog - #20
So as long as you torture people less than my enemy, I am “good”. Interesting definition of a democratic, freedom loving nation. This means basically your moral is based on who your country is fighting at the moment. Come on - think before you write …

— Posted by Ben

22. July 18th, 2008 7:07 am

You’re right frankenduf, the topic is flippant. Sometimes when something awful is happening, mocking it has an effect. Maybe here, maybe not.

— Posted by Oliver Townshend

23. July 18th, 2008 8:21 am

No, I’m just saying if we’re going to discuss what constitutes torture, let’s really discuss it — in full context, examining how all parties in this conflict treat the issue.

That’s what a thinking person does.

Is subjecting someone to AC/DC at high volume torture? I don’t think so. Is waterboarding? Possibly. Is strapping someone down and going at them with a power drill or a blowtorch? Most definitely.

That fact that we’re even having a moral discussion about this issue clearly delineates us from our enemies on this subject — people who employ the most barbaric methods of torture as casually as if they were eating a sandwich.

— Posted by jblog

24. July 18th, 2008 10:36 pm

jblog - AC/DC 24×7 is torture. 4 minutes isn’t. Waterboarding is. Attacking them with a powerdrill or blowtorch is. You have a very strange definition of torture, that you think just because it isn’t as violent as the opposition it is morally better. We learnt at school that two wrongs don’t make a right, clearly something that many have forgotten.

— Posted by Oliver Townshend


BBC News
Friday 4 July 2008

Gray's warning
on 'torture' music

Singer David Gray has warned that US interrogators playing loud music as a form of "torture" -- including his own song Babylon -- was no laughing matter.

"Only the novelty aspect of this story gets it noticed ... Guantanamo greatest hits," he said.

"What we're talking about here is people in a darkened room, physically inhibited by handcuffs, bags over their heads and music blaring at them."

His track Babylon is reportedly a favourite of US interrogators in Iraq.

Repeatedly playing loud music to suspected terrorist detainees is also a standard interrogation technique in Guantanamo and other US bases.

"That is torture," the singer-songwriter told BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight.

"That is nothing but torture.

"It doesn't matter what the music is -- it could be Tchaikovsky's finest or it could be Barney the Dinosaur.

"It really doesn't matter, it's going to drive you completely nuts."

He said such torture formed part of a US "retaliation to a few terrorist acts."

"No-one wants to even think about it or discuss the fact that we've gone above and beyond all legal process and we're torturing people," he added.

Babylon -- from his White Ladder album -- was Gray's breakthrough single, reaching number five in the UK in 2000.

White Ladder reached number one in the UK and number 35 in the US.

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David's Warning On 'Torture' Music

In recent months, articles have surfaced with regards to US interrogators reportedly playing music loudly as a form of torture to suspected terrorist detainees. Among the songs listed is David's Babylon - from his White Ladder album.

To date, David remains to be the only artist who's music has been listed that has spoken out about it and he urges, this is no laughing matter.

Published Friday, July 04, 2008 5:22 PM by kendall

Monkeytrix29 said:

Disgusting.Torture in any for[m] is STILL torture!! Music is a piece of someones soul and heart,to take such a thing and use it in this depraved manner is unholy!!

July 8, 2008 3:12 PM


by David Gray
from the album "White Ladder"

Friday night Im going nowhere
All the lights are changing green to red
Turning over tv stations
Situations running through my head
Well looking back through time
You know its clear that Ive been blind
Ive been a fool
To ever open up my heart
To all that jealousy, that bitterness, that ridicule

Saturday Im running wild
And all the lights are changing red to green
Moving through the crowd Im pushing
Chemicals all rushing through my bloodstream
Only wish that you were here
You know Im seeing it so clear
Ive been afraid
To tell you how I really feel
Admit to some of those bad mistakes Ive made

If you want it
Come and get it
Crying out loud
The love that I was
Giving you was
Never in doubt
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now

Babylon, babylon

Sunday all the lights of london
Shining , sky is fading red to blue
Im kicking through the autumn leaves
And wondering where it is you might be going to
Turning back for home
You know Im feeling so alone
I cant believe
Climbing on the stair
I turn around to see you smiling there
In front of me

If you want it
Come and get it
Crying out loud
The love that I was
Giving you was
Never in doubt
And feel it now
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now
Let go your heart
Let go your head
And feel it now

Babylon, babylon, babylon

1 comment:

patfromch said...

From the Geneva Convention

Art 13. Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. In particular, no prisoner of war may be subjected to physical mutilation or to medical or scientific experiments of any kind which are not justified by the medical, dental or hospital treatment of the prisoner concerned and carried out in his interest.

Likewise, prisoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity.

Measures of reprisal against prisoners of war are prohibited.

Art 14. Prisoners of war are entitled in all circumstances to respect for their persons and their honour
I would like to see the day that the USA will be held liable for crimes against humanity in The Hague (which you are not a part of), no matter if it was for Barry Manilow, Agento Orange or Abu Grahib. Or et cetera