Electronic Beats has pointed out that an artist by the name of DJ Detweiler shared a comical remix of John Cage’s famous “4’33,” only for it to be taken down via an automatic copyright claim moments later. For those unaware, John Cage’s “4’33” is an experimental composition that intends to bring attention to environmental sounds by making no sound whatsoever. It’s a completely silent composition, hence the confusion surrounding DJ Detweiler’s remix being removed from the site.
SoundCloud’s copyright algorithm usually takes down tracks based on title alone, which would explain how it happened, but not why it happened. It raises a very interesting question in regards to copyright, specifically one regarding the use of silence in music. Does John Cage own the copyright for silence? Or is this just a bizarre case of SoundCloud’s system digging through a copyright database to protect against possible infringement?
As far as conceptual art goes, the idea of remixing silence with silence is a pretty funny idea, but the fact it was removed from SoundCloud is even funnier. Overall, though, it’s just a pretty ridiculous situation, no matter how you look at it. Watch a performance of “4’33” below, and check out the copyright claim below that.