Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nesson listens to Sublime's 'April 29, 1992 (Miami)'; oh, the irony...

Joel Tenenbaum's lead counsel, Harvard Law Professor Charles Nesson, informs us via Twitter that he is listening to the songs his client has been accused of infringing, mentioning specifically Sublime's "April 29, 1992 (Miami)." That Tenenbaum would have downloaded this song, and that his attorneys argue that to have done so requires no payment to the copyright owners (fair use!), is one of the great ironies of the case.

The song (at least as I interpret it, though feel free to disagree in the comments) is a revisionist take on the 1992 LA riots. According to the song's protagonist, the riots were not part of a grand political movement, a protest against racial injustice in general and the Rodney King verdict in particular. Rather, as the narrator would have it, the rioters cynically used the King verdict as an excuse to go steal stuff (and lash out at the authorities):
First spot we hit it was my liquor store.
I finally got all that alcohol I can't afford.
Next stop we hit it was the music shop,
It only took one brick to make that window drop.
Finally we got our own P.A.
Where do you think I got this guitar that you're hearing today?
When we returned to the pad to unload everything,
It dawned on me that I need new home furnishings.
So once again we filled the van until it was full,
since that day my livin' room's been more comfortable.
They said it was for the black man,
they said it was for the Mexican,
and not for the white man.

But if you look at the streets it wasn't about Rodney King,
It's bout this fucked up situation and these fucked up police.
It's about coming up and staying on top
And screamin' 187 on a motherfuckin' cop.
Making grand statements about freedom as an excuse to get free stuff, while lashing out at The Man? Sounds a lot like...the Joel Tenenbaum case.

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