is a weblog by Mike Nowak.
May 8th, 2008

Crystal Castles vs Creative Commons

Remember that time I wrote about the then new Crystal Castles album? My semi-review came from the perspective of someone familiar with the chiptune sound and annoyed by all the Pitchforkerati buzz proclaiming it “innovative.” I objected to those proclamations but, essentially, raved about the music itself and, essentially, admired Crystal Castles‘ nonchalance to the scene. They weren’t of the scene but they were of the same pop-culture zeitgeist, having grown up with 8-bit videogames, that created that scene. Synchronicity and all that.

As it turns out, they were full of shit.

One Crystal Castles quote from the previous post that bears repeating is the following:

That keyboard was made back in 2004 and then we learned about this whole 8-bit scene, which we don’t really have anything to do with. It’s a completely different world.

Which would be fine were it not for the fact that they have just been found to have been using unlicensed and unapproved samples from artists in the 8-bit scene, specifically Lo-Bat and Covox. Oops. It puts everything they have said in an entirely new light, especially when you consider the stink that they caused when it was revealed they used art on shirts and albums, that they found, without ever getting the artists permission.

One time is, maybe, a careless mistake. Two, three, four times over is kleptomania. The worst part is that they distance themselves –a completely different world– from the very same community that they are influenced by. Chiptunes? Not cool. Asshole douchebaggery? Totally hipster! Put it on Pitchfork.

The 8-bit Peoples website has the “official” response as well as links that detail the situation some more: Crystal Castles and Chip Music Copyright Infringements, Chiptune Music Theft Continues; Crystal Castles Abuses Creative Commons License and chipflip: plagiarism. The best place for information, however, is the epic (now 23 page) thread on the 8bitcollective forums.

Fuck that, Crystal Castles is now permanently off of my radar. Go listen to some chiptunes .

Being a little dramatic?

The CC songs that “steal” are 4 years old and no one’s heard the songs until now. The CC songs that everyone knows and loves are original.

Find a new hobby.

On further inspection I find this online. A message from someone at CC’s label, to someone on the 8bit forum:

“I’m not sure if I was clear in my message to you that songs with Lo-Bat samples were left off the CC album because we didn’t have the sample clearance. Many songs were left off the CD because we needed more time to clear the samples. We are hoping to have the songs on a future release (maybe a rarities/demos/remixes compilation) and would love to clear this with Lo-Bat. If you can get a contact for him through the 8bit forum that would be great and we can finally release these tracks.”

Find a new hobby.

Says the person that came to this post, directly, by searching for “crystal castles” “lo-bat”.

That “old” song that “no one’s heard”? The one called “Love and Caring”? That’s right there on the new album? I’ve heard it. Oh, and that’s the one not stealing from Lo-Bat. That’s Covox.

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