The Evolution Control Committee


"Editing can alter the original meaning and context, and computers can alter the image itself. The camera can also be manipulated. At the very least, it must be turned in one direction -- only one direction at a time ... Who chooses what direction to point the camera, and why?"

Dan Rather in a 7/8/98 speech

Update 6/4/2003: Well, really there's not much to update you on. CBS has stayed quiet, and given us no further threats or trouble.

So... "Does that mean you win?"  Well, yes, and no.

What it means is that while CBS has chosen not to pursue any civil or criminal suits against it, it doesn't guarantee that they won't in the future. At any time, they could chose to launch a suit against us. If they do, we're at least in a better position than we were in previously since we've received offers of pro bono ("free") legal assistance, thanks to some very generous and bold lawyers.

So in the end, we win for the moment... with no guarantee things will stay that way.

Meanwhile, even though we're out of stock on the single and won't be pressing more, it is available once again on our new CD Plagiarhythm Nation v2.0. On top of that, it's getting heard by perhaps literally millions more people thanks to their attempts to stifle it. In late summer 2000, the song was aired on national US radio network NPR during their prime time news program (also hear it on our Sounds page), and was used at the end of a roast show of Dan Rather himself aired on C-SPAN... meaning that at least once, it's passed his ears. We can only hope he got more of a chuckle out of it than the humorless lackeys of his legal department. It's also been traded thousands of times on file sharing peer-to-peer networks like SoulSeek, Kazaa, and Napster.


For those tuning in late, set your wayback machines to early 2000 and read the full story:

Spin Magazine reviewed our "Rocked By Rape" 7" single put out by Eerie Materials. Considering our (at the time) recent 1999-related CD compilation, it was strangely uncanny that it appeared directly beneath a picture of "The Artist".

spinreview.gif (18364 bytes)

Getting a review in a big magazine is great. Except, of course, when you're The Evolution Control Committee.

kryle.gif (21820 bytes)

(Read the full threat)

Mr. Kryle may be a good enough lawyer to convince the CBS Legal Department to send us a legal threat for our work, but he's not too swift with copyright law. The ECC wrote back to fill the gaps of his legal knowledge:

Mr. Kryle,

... Our piece is very obviously a PARODY of Dan Rather and his role as (literally) the face of the CBS Evening News, as well as his role in the lives of millions of Americans every night. ... the copyright law itself allows for people to make "fair use" of copyrighted materials for purposes of parody. "Rocked By Rape" is NOTHING if not parody. ... But perhaps the real tragedy here is beyond your mere allegations -- it is the fact that we literally will probably never see our day in court over this and the chance to defend ourselves and our work. I firmly believe that we have broken no laws in the music we've done, but to defend this belief in a court of law is impossible because your deep corporate pockets would simply drown us before we got before the judge. Seeing corporations stampede towards the almighty dollar while individual rights get crushed underfoot is what truly makes my blood boil.

(If you liked that, read the full message)

Even Negativland wrote a message of support to CBS for "Rocked By Rape":

Dear Mr. Kryle,

... Really, you must HEAR the work before you presume to crush it! You might find, as I do, that this musical collage is interesting, humorous, and a perfectly valid public response to the totally public and unavoidable media machine you happen to work for. ... Misusing otherwise useful copyright law to prevent new work like this ... leads only to the death of modern "found sound" critical art and to the death of free speech and free expression. We know CBS encourages free speech so sometimes you have to grit your teeth and walk the walk when it comes to unwanted criticism of CBS too, EVEN WHEN YOUR OWN WORDS ARE USED AGAINST YOU. This relatively new way to comment and criticise is not only implied, but also absolutely inevitable in this age when cheap capturing technology is in the hands of EVERYONE. This is a GOOD thing for democracy, not a BAD thing! Where in the world is your bigger picture hiding?

Don Joyce / Negativland

(If you liked that, read the full message)

Much noise was made about this issue, both on our website and off. Wired News printed a great article on all of this, and ECC did interviews with Punk Planet and Bizarre Magazine as well. In the interviews and on the web site we asked that people write or call CBS to express their dissatisfaction with what they were doing. And to our amazement...

It worked! At least, we think it worked. ECC never received a legal threat like Eerie Materials did. We believe that the main reason this never happened was because CBS saw that their actions were not going unnoticed, and would only result in bad publicity for them. However, ECC has received no communication from CBS of any kind. So, in the absence of neither threat nor authorization, we can only presume we're free to continue as always.

To those that wrote or called CBS, THANK YOU. Because of your action, CBS has said nothing more to us about the issue. We expect that we'll hear nothing more from them, as they ignore the issue and hope it goes away. In other words, their reaction will simply be inaction... and perhaps that's how it should be. But credit where credit's due: We have many of you to thank for saving the "Rocked By Rape" single from being threatened out of existence. Again, THANK YOU!

And what, you may ask, is your reward? Besides our continued efforts to create new and unusual music, we can make our "Rocked By Rape" single "indigent compatible" for you and anyone else. Here is the "Rocked By Rape" single in its entirety, free. You may download the contents free of charge, along with an unreleased drum & bass version as well:

Side A: Rocked By Rape (4.22meg)
Side B: Racked By Rope (5.54meg)

Unreleased: Rocked By Rave (4.21meg)

This whole episode has been a real roller coaster for us. Initially frightening, it's resulted in a wonderful realization that there are people out there that are not just going to sit around while large corporations trample all over anyone they please. It's great to know that there are people that are behind The Evolution Control Committee and will stand up for us when we need it. To all of you, a very strong THANK YOU.

The End?


Special thanks to: Mark Hosler, Mark Anderson, Wired News, Autotonic, Punk Planet, Bizarre Magazine, and to Alan Ezust, Aaron Shinn, Scott Smith, Matthew Jordan, David Livingstone, David Kieso, and anyone else who wrote or called CBS in our support.