People with their ears to the pulse of the chiptune community have hipped me to another bit of theft, this time from a big name music player. According to the folks at the Create Digital Music blog and the members of the 8bitcollective community the group Crystal Castles has been caught stealing tunes from chiptune artist Lo-bat. The first song originally discovered is Crystal Castle's Insecticon, which is a song making slight changes to Lo-Bat's tune My Little Droid Needs a Hand (both songs can be heard in the CDM blog post).
Belgian chiptune artist Marc Nostromo (M-.-n) sums up my feelings best in his letter to CDM saying
Crystal Castles has been getting a lot press using the image of getting sounds nobody did before by using modified old console chips and is somehow stealing the whole ‘concept’ that the chiptune community is based on, and now we discover that rather than thanking the very own ground of this, they actually ripped the guts of it.
Marc Nostromo also mentions, "Another ‘unreleased’ track of them ‘bitter hearts’ is just a mash up of several lo-bat tracks with ugly drums on it." That song can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4vWlbO_qoQ.
He then goes on to say
It’s actually not the first time they steal someone else’s artwork, there’s been quite a big issue about them using someone else’s drawing for their own stuff.
What Nostromo speaks of is that Crystal Castles had used art for their album and T-shirts originally created by Trevor Brown without proper attribution nor payment. More on this issue can be read at the Torontoist.
Another famous chiptune composer and performer Nullsleep also expresses his feelings, as well as brings more information to light in his recent post on 8bitpeoples:
It's recently come to light that Crystal Castles, a Toronto-based band, has been heavily sampling music from several chip music artists without obtaining permission or crediting them. Lo-bat's tracks Bibibi and Tizzy, from his 8bitpeoples release Game Boy, are just two instances of this.
As you may have noticed, we release all our music under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND License here at 8bitpeoples. What this means is that you're free to share it however you like, with whomever you like. All we ask in return is that you credit it appropriately, do not use it for any commercial purposes, and obtain permission before creating any derivative works (such as remixing it or using it as the soundtrack for a video). Crystal Castles has violated every term of this license in their use of Lo-Bat's music. Furthermore, they have committed copyright infringement by sampling other artists such as Covox, whose drums from his song Sunday appear in no less than four Crystal Castles songs.
Fuck the posers! Respect the scene!
I couldn't have said this better myself. The rules were easily set before Crystal Castles and they ignored them. They ignored them several times in fact. This sort of theft is incredibly hurtful to the mostly underground demoscene and chiptune communities. When a band that some magazines call "the next big thing" is willfully and knowingly stealing and ripping tracks from hard working artists like Lo-bat and Covox it does much damage. It steals fans from hard working artists (of which many release their songs to be enjoyed FOR FREE), causes distrust in the community, it exploits a community known for a sharing attitude, and last of all, keeps the chiptune community from gaining any respect when these issues come to light.
Of course, one thought I'm sure everyone is wondering. What are Lo-bat's thoughts on the matter? He states in an 8bc thread the following:
What I don't find OK however is that they didn't respect the license I choose for my music.
Creative commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike. Anybody can learn this by simply following this link on my site: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/be/deed.en_GB
In a nutshell: everybody is free to copy, remix, sample, redistribute my work as long as they give credit to me + use the same licence.
They didn't give me credit and clearly didn't use the same licence. If you're not ok with my terms then just sample somebody else, there's PLENTY of music out there to choose from.
As I mentioned, this news has, of course, caused a lot of discourse in the chiptune and demoscene communities. Many online communities, including The Shizz, 8bitcollective, 8bitpeoples, and pouet.net have all expressed their disdain for Crystal Castles actions, as well as other artists doing similar things in the past.
This is simply musical theft.
For more info, check out these links:
8bitcollective thread that broke the story
Create Digital Music: Chiptune Music Theft Continues
Digg Post about the theft
Gameboy Genius: Crystal Castles and Chip Music Copyright Infringements
Mdotstrange weighs in on Youtube
Myspace page dedicated to exposing Crystal Castles
Torontoist: Untrust Us
Youtube clip comparing Lo-Bat and Crystal Castles songs
And if you have more links, please let me know and I will add them to this list. Also thanks to everyone in the chiptune community that helped break the story and helped me write this article.