Crystal Castles caught ripping other artists off.

Crystal Castles is a band named after a pretty cool 80s video game. Ethan Kath and vocalist Alice Glass are from Toronto, Canada. I’m going to tell you right now I like their music. I’m also going to point out two important things. First, people are having strong reactions to their music. They love it or hate it and usually that means the music is somewhat good. If there is no reaction to music or it’s “ok” that usually means it sucks. It’s easy to make filler right?. Second, the fact that they got caught means they got noticed and in today’s blur of a million bands thats also a good thing. All press is good press.

They suck….and they’re thieves. – Cycom, Harmony Central Forums

So what did they do that was so bad? Allegedly they took some 8-bit “chip tunes” music by artist Lo-bat that had a Creative Commons license attached but used the song in the wrong manner. The license stated the music could not be used commercially and also stated one had to give attribution to the original producer. Crystal Castles apparently did neither. Here is the article on the Create Digital Music blog discussing the details including audio samples of the original and new song. Be sure to also read the interesting comments: click here

But thats not all they did. UK visual artist Trevor Brown makes paintings of injured woman and children. He has a painting of Maddonna with a black eye. Crystal Castles saw the painting and used it as one of there album covers. They did so without any permission. When contacted by Trevor they made promises they didn’t fulfill and in the end insulted the guy. You can read Trevor’s blog post titled “crystal [expletive deleted] castles”: click here

As an artist you draw ideas and concepts from the world around you. You do have a few completely original thoughts in your life but they are truly few. I am sure Crystal Castles could have easily avoided this situation with a few emails asking for permission. I have no doubt Lo-bat and Trevor Brown would have read said emails with joy and gave an official “go ahead”. Instead Crystal Castles are being trashed and calls are even being made to have them knocked off the NIN tour.

Do you like Crystal Castles music?

photo credit: Jalapeño and small ape

This entry was written by Oliver Chesler, posted on May 13, 2008 at 11:54 am, filed under business, political and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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27 Responses to “Crystal Castles caught ripping other artists off.”

  1. Datascraper says:

    I have completely counted them out. Its one thing to steal once, say youre sorry, move on and not do it again, its another when you do it multiple times. As indie artists, they should have more respect for other indie artists that are trying to make their way through the world. Its just down right disrespectful.

    The sad part is, like the Timberland (sp?) scandal, these two will get more famous and more money just from the buzz that is created about them. Nothing will change and they will make other people think its OK to steal whatever they want. :(

  2. dotty says:

    crystal castles did have permission, trevor brown even admitted he said it was okay to use it at first, then he got greedy and wanted more money from them. and as for the lo-bat thing, the guy who’s music it was has no problem with this, they havent released the song which means they havent made one single penny off of it, and also they remixed a song before they were even famous and changed it almost completely, and now everybody wants them to what, go back in time and unremix it? everybody should stop spreading lies about this whole thing, that trevor brown is a greedy sack of garbage and he’s just trying to cause problems by spreading all of this stuff in hopes that he’ll get money.

  3. recompas says:

    I actually dig about %70 of their new album as well, but as it turns out, the parts I liked were the parts they stole. As electronic musicians, we deal with sampling all the time. its the most post-modern of artforms…but what they did was a bit beyond that, not to mention mean. I’ll save the rant, but they don’t even attribute their sound to the chiptune community. They feel they “invented it” and that their sound is very distant from the likes of Lo-bat etc. We have nice little rant up on judichicago.com

    who’s up for rapping on top of a crystal castles song and sticking it on your myspace as your own : )

  4. Hi Dotty. Thanks for your comments. As I said I like C.C’s music and in fact I do feel the Madonna punch in the face is the right look for the release. Hmm.

  5. Mr. Tunes says:

    +1 to dotty
    i’m amazed at how brutal people can be over a track posted on myspace!

  6. baphomet_irl says:

    no I dont really like their music that much, but then again I dont like any of the dirge of post-modern, ‘ironic’ cretinous bands that adorn the cover of NME every week. Believe me I wanted to like them (Crystal Castles was the first game I had for my beloved Commodore 128), but when I saw them on the cover of the NME saying arrogant (and downright untrue) shit to the effect of ‘no one can make the sounds we make’, I put them straight back in the dusty filing cabinet in my head under ‘crap’ .

    Then again I’m a jaded old man :D

  7. dr ops says:

    haha..”Dotty” , you must be a sock puppet for crystal crassholes, cos you lie that lobat is ok w it..just click on the links in the article for proof otherwise, nor is vovox ok with it nor is x-agon, the list grows.. crystal crassholes music could be angels from heaven and they would fall on deaf ears from here on

  8. 8Bit says:

    These kids need to spend the time and learn how the industry works or in the immortal words of David Gahan, suffer well.

    As a close watcher on this 8Bit Post-Millenial blitz we’re in, I can tell you Crystal Castles and Timberland are not the only acts ripping off tunes from the early c64 demo scenes, etc. I’ve heard plenty of tracks recycled into hipster bit anthems in the last month alone, probably 20 and everyday there are more. Reason being, they just rip off SIDs and sing derivative vocal lines on top of them.

    I got a request from a Goth Band that has the talent of a cardboard box, “…to just give them a slightly altered version of Super Mario School’s themsong” No joke. This is what people are asking for and how they ask for it is pretty much, just copy the song and we’ll write some crap lyrics over it. No talent hacks. Meanwhile the real 8Bit…

  9. Datascraper says:

    As much as those of us in the underground want to see these cats get slammed over this, they most likely wont. Not this time. All of this publicity is only going to help them.

    When it comes time to release their second record and they cant come up with anything original i.e. steal something, then everyone will see them for what they really are.

    What Id like to see is them dropped from the NiN tour as a result of this. That would kick ass.

  10. Mr eel says:

    @dotty “crystal castles did have permission, trevor brown even admitted he said it was okay to use it at first, then he got greedy and wanted more money from them”

    No sweetheart they did not. The particular image was made for and had been used for a recording by another artist. Crystal Castles used it without permission, credit or offering any kind of recompense to Trevor Brown. Money only changed hands after Trevor discovered it, which involved a good deal of childishness on their part.

    “the guy who’s music it was has no problem with this, they havent released the song which means they havent made one single penny off of it”

    Firstly, LoBat isn’t cool with it. He’s obviously not going to take exception to someone remixing or even appropriating the tune, since that’s what the Creative Common license allows, but there is one crucial point; only if certain requirements are met.

    Namely:
    Attribution — he should get credit for the original material
    Non-commercial use — granted, at this point this is moot since it’s not a commercial release
    Share-alike — this means derivative works have to be released under the same CC license

    So basically they’re not honoring the license, which is why people are annoyed. The fact that it’s not a commercial release is immaterial, they’re not following all the terms of the license.

    “and also they remixed a song before they were even famous and changed it almost completely, and now everybody wants them to what, go back in time and unremix it?”

    This makes no sense. People want them to credit LoBat and follow the terms of the license, that’s all.

    Let’s face it, they snatched and used the tune and hoped no one would notice. Not particularly classy. The stupid part is, they actually make some good tunes, especially their remixes, it’s just a pity they choose to act like arseholes.

  11. grindFish says:

    Their music is awesome. Their deceitful attitude is not. Regardless, i never let the image sour the music. Music lives its own life.

  12. diz says:

    ““crystal castles did have permission, trevor brown even admitted he said it was okay to use it at first, then he got greedy and wanted more money from them”

    this is true..acually YES Trevor did give permission for Crystal Castles to use his work for $300..read the torontoist..its all documented there..then he seen how popular the band was getting and wanted to renegotiate to something like $10000, so the band stopped selling the tshirts cause they cant afford that…and now trevor is acting like a baby

    and as for ripping off lobat…i think crystal castles song is way better..and so what it uses a lobat sample..im sure Crystal Castles is in talks with lobat to release this song officially since 100% of their other songs that use samples are released officially with permission from the originating band..maybe Lobat doesnt like the song and is not giving permission..i dunno

    phew…you guys are babies..everyone samples..im sure you must love Daft Punk and Justice..haha

  13. trevor brown says:

    “…..Money only changed hands after Trevor discovered it, which involved a good deal of childishness on their part…..”

    no money ever changed hands

  14. dr ops says:

    depends how desperate you are for a likable little tune..if you don’t care how the art you listen to is made then adolf hitler has some ambitious paintings and charles manson was a keen songwriter..i guess you love the soft feel of your sweatroom sewn shirt too…

  15. another fake name says:

    “diz”, “dotty”, it doesn’t matter how many names you post under, your bullshit always smells the same

  16. 8Bit says:

    I sampled the actual Crystal Castles themesong from the commie 64 and threw some distorted 909z and derivative vocals to express my point clearer.

    http://eightbit.com/mp3/8Bit%20-%20Crystal%20Battles.mp3

  17. saw says:

    wow. just previewed the tracks on amazon.. this music is terrible. next time they steal something they should at least steal something good. this is just more derivative dribble left over from this 80′s revival that is hopefully dying out soon. lame and boring. did absolutely nothing for me.

    also, i find it pretty lame that they aren’t getting permission to use the things they seem to be using w/o permission. do they have no concept of copyright or fair use etc? i know that canadians get educated at least as well as americans do so they should be aware of these things.

  18. dr ops says:

    Trent Reznor using the CrysCrap as an opening act is like Obama having Romney as running mate:

    http://www.echoingthesound.org/phpbbx/viewtopic.php?t=34728&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=200&sid=9197e29fe33bcb69242c78e10facd822

    maybe he’ll think again ..

  19. Name says:

    Lo-Bat’s license is non-commercial attribution. There is no share-alike requirement.

    http://www.lo-bat.be/

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/be/

  20. Misses says:

    post post post post modernism is NOW fawkers…….there is no ownership the whole is for chopping and reconditioning….greed is the only “reason” to claim copyright……..we all got free……..

  21. chubby says:

    right, i got CC recomenden by the guy in massive comercial music store. then i went to my local library to have a listen with some people at home as we had some more cds and stuff downloaded from the internet. We all agreed on one thing: we dont understand for what they got famous, we all thought it was a waste of 15 minutes of our lifes that we spend flipping through the songs and we all agreed that, if crap like this makes money, it must be because people are so fed up with things that subconsciesly they look for whatever to take there mind off reality. In short, this is the worst sh!t I have heard since Duran Duran or so…

  22. Jake says:

    My favorite band ever is Crystal Castles. Fuck the haters. I will listen to CC when I’m 80.

  23. George Aston says:

    Hai there!
    My band just made our first full song!!!

    Have a look, we’ve learnt a lot from your blog! :)
    xxx

  24. Hope Damour says:

    Lol this kid says he discovered some Runescape hacks… think he’s legit? Would that even be doable since RS is a server side game?

  25. person says:

    crystal castles are now ripping off CRIM3S

    if you listen to any of crim3s tracks you will hear bassline and drum beats that crystal castles use all through their new album, funnily enough after spending time hanging with crim3s. i posted this on some official crystal castles videos on youtube and all the comments from other people saying the same thing got deleted and i was blocked.

  26. lucy says:

    Yeah nice write up ;) looks like for their third album they’re at it again by copying UK duo CRIM3S, similar drum beats and basslines! Even copied their style of video work too thats filmed in vhs with all grainy effects….

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