DJ claims completely silent track was removed by Soundcloud for copyright infringement

Though the music-hosting website has responded otherwise. 

Clarisse Loughrey
Wednesday 02 December 2015 12:26

A DJ has claimed that SoundCloud removed his completely silent track on the basis of copyright infringement.

The artist, D.J. Detweiler, posted a screenshot to his social media accounts of the e-mail allegedly sent to him by the music-hosting service.

The key point being that Detweiler's track was called "John Cage - 4' 33 (DJ DETWEILER REMIX)"; playing on the famous conceptual piece which once rocked the music world, in which Cage composed precisely 4 minutes and 33 seconds of absolute silence. A piece still regularly played live by orchestras for the thrill of such a bizarre, unique experience: the chance to watch a conductor flourish his wand dramatically before essentially standing immobile for the rest of the piece, outside of denoting the occasional page turn. 

SoundCloud has now hit back against Detweiler's claims, retorting that the track actually contained unauthorised samples of Justin Bieber's music. A SoundCloud spokesperson told Business Insider that the track, "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."

D.J. Detweiler has yet to directly address SoundCloud's response; though he told the website the track was created with the specific purpose of starting "a conversation about copyright for fun". Indeed, SoundCloud's new, harsher restrictions on copyright infringement have called into question the legal grey area concerning the unauthorised sampling of music for the purpose of remixing. He continued, "I just find ridiculous the fact that if I'm not generating any profit from remixing a piece of sound, I get the song taken down."

Indeed, Detweiler's own page has essentially become a protest piece against the website, with tracks containing nothing but varying message along the lines of "Hello, this is a message from Soundcloud. The major labels make us cry, so we have to do everything they tell us."

Granted, there's a legitimate conversation to be had about the ambiguity of copyright law in terms of non-profit remixing; and though Detweiler's stunt is passingly amusing, trying to hoax SoundCloud doesn't exactly add anything valid to the conversation. Though Cage's original piece did lead to a highly publicised court case on, essentially, the ability to copyright silence; labelling it a remix would automatically imply the use of a recorded version of Cage's 4'33", which are never actually entirely silent. There's always a quite underbelly of shufflings and coughs, meaning each recording is different; the true experience of the piece requiring the listener to take in their forever mutating surroundings. 

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