Yet Another Copyright Conundrum: When a cover gets coverage over the original. or, The Knife Game Song.

[Contact Me] | [FAQ]

[Some "Dougisms" Defined]

[About Dickens of a Blog]

[Jump to Site Links]

Summary: While watching teens play the knife game to the beat of a catchy song is probably the sort of thing we do not want to catch on, it still has a certain anthropological charm. However, when an imitation outperforms the original, at least in news cover, what is the original to do? In the case of Rusty Cage's Knife Game Song, the cover got shut down.

BLOT: (05 Mar 2013 - 06:37:55 PM)

Yet Another Copyright Conundrum: When a cover gets coverage over the original. or, The Knife Game Song.

Today is damp so I'll talk about a damp topic: copyright. Specifically in this case: "The Knife Game Song", Rusty Cage's song he sang in accompaniment with his video, originally called Knife Game Song (Five Finger Filet) [based on links I've read] more recently changed to "Knife Game Song (Original Version)". The name change is possibly prompted by Hanna Fylling Ellingseter's rendition, which you cannot currently see because it just got taken down due to copyright violation. Her video was obviously a cover of his, and a look at her most recent video's "About" blurb even includes an apology to him.

Where this gets sticky, is there are several other covers of the "Knife Game Song" still out on YouTube, here are three:

All of them are before Ellingseter's version, and all are still available. If you want, you can find many others, some are just now showing up. Not all of them have attribution, some do.

Why did hers get targeted by Rusty Cage to get it shut down? Probably because of articles like this: Norwegian Teen Single-Handedly Revives the Internet's Most Dangerous Game (Gawker), 'Knife Song': Hanna Ellingseter, Norwegian Girl, Sings The Most Dangerous Song Ever (VIDEO) (HuffPo), This should be the next big meme: The Knife Song (Blame it on the Voices), and If Bishop from the movie 'Aliens' had an android daughter...that sang (Video) (theChive).

Even if her video did not include attribution ( as said, not all that are currently up have said attribution), just look at the asymptote-like viewer's graph from the Rusty Cage original (note the extreme right edge, the bit in March 2013):

I seriously doubt this due to him being on a TV appearance I don't know about. When you look at the views (as well as the likes, dislikes, comments, and etc), you see a video that builds slowly in popularity and then explodes in the past couple of days. Searching on Twitter for "The Knife Game Song" (and I'm sorry for invoking the horror of a Twitter search) shows people posting and talking about it prior to Ellingseter's version, including posting their own videos, but talking about it a lot more after hers went viral. Let's also look at the Google Trend for Knife Game Song (and remember, his video came out in 2011 and includes those three words in its title):

The song and "game" are becoming a big deal, partially because something about Ellingseter was resonating with people [I'm one that found her version more compelling, though prior to the take down notice would have enjoyed getting the original track via Bandcamp], even though the meme was starting to build before she posted her video. I understand the frustration from watching a creation of yours become viral-without-you vastly more so than it ever became viral-with-you, especially when people trying to cash in are rushing to associated with her video, but thanks to her video's viral-quality, his video might even top that almighty "million hits" line (pity the poor Rusty Cage for receiving a million views) after over a year of steady but slow view-increases. How is having her video shut down instead of asking her to add attribution (and/or doing some sort of mash-up) a good idea considering the way these things explode publically? The snapping at one of the many just feels like a bothersome gripe brought upon by her out-of-nowhere popularity.

Musings on Copyright and Adaptations


Written by Doug Bolden

For those wishing to get in touch, you can contact me in a number of ways

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The longer, fuller version of this text can be found on my FAQ: "Can I Use Something I Found on the Site?".

"The hidden is greater than the seen."