By Brock ThiessenAs Crystal Castles ride the wave of success generated by their debut full-length, allegations of copyright infringement are bearing down on the Toronto-based duo.
Late last week, a post via the chiptune-related file-sharing community, 8-bit collective, alerted users to the striking similarity between the Crystal Castles track "Insecticon” and "My Little Droid Needs a Hand” by artist Lo-Bat. Several of the collective’s members went on to allege the duo have engaged in musical plagiarism, as well as an abuse of the Creative Commons license, by taking, using and rearranging Lo-Bat’s song without the artist’s permission and then passing it off as their own.
Since the initial 8-bit collective post, more allegations have also arisen from chiptune artists — those like Crystal Castles who write music in real time via a computer or video-game console sound chip — claiming Crystal Castles’ song "Love and Caring” unfairly rips off the beat from Covox’s track "Sunday.”
And while at first the accusations may come off like a bunch of hot air and some old fashioned critical backlash, the chiptune community is very serious in its claims against Crystal Castles. So far, 17 pages on the 8-bit collective’s forum have been dedicated to the alleged plagiarism and several other websites have followed suit, launching their own investigations into the supposed plagiarism. The blog Gameboy Genius has even gone so far as to put Covox’s "Sunday” under spectral analysis to prove that Crystal Castles are indeed lifting beats from Covox.
Now, if the 8-bit scene’s claims prove to be true, perhaps Crystal Castles have got into this mess by misunderstanding the rules behind Creative Commons licensing. Both the Lo-Bat and Covox songs in question fall under the Creative Commons territory, but under the licensing rules, artists using Creative Commons’ works must specifically give attribution to the original source material, not use the works for commercial purposes and ensure that the derivative work be released under the same license.
On Crystal Castles’ end of things, they have barely met any of these Creative Commons requirements. So far, the only action taken by the band to right the situation has been to change one of their MySpace page’s posting "Insecticon” to now read, "CC vs. Lo-Bat,” instead of giving full credit for the song to themselves.
And this is not the first time Crystal Castles has found themselves in hot water because of alleged copyright infringement. The group recently used graphic artist Trevor Brown’s. image of Madonna with a black eye on their posters, T-shirts and record releases without his permission. As of yet, Brown, who is currently reveling in this Creative Commons fiasco on his blog has received zero financial retribution from Crystal Castles or their label, Last Gang Records.
To read more on Crystal Castles’ alleged Creative Commons’ abuses and musical plagiarism, noted chiptune musician Marc Nostromo provides a detailed explanation at the Create Digital Music website.. And to find out more about Trevor Brown’s Crystal Castles struggles, visit Baby Art Blog.