Truth about Beyonce's inauguration performance can't be published until 2122

Muckrock Michael sez, "Today MuckRock's Mara Berg chronicles the saga of a particular public records request I put in for the following: A copy of the backing track used during Beyonce's Inauguration performance, as well as copies of other backing tracks created in preparation for Inauguration events, whether or not they were actually used. Unfortunately, while we received (some) of the requested documents, two outside legal experts and the U.S. Marines Corps have warned us strongly against publishing what we have. The reason? Copyright."


  1. So MuckRock has some limitation (“MuckRock allows our users to either release responsive documents in full or keep them completely embargoed”)?  Apparently a policy, since it doesn’t make any sense for it to be some technical limitation?

    It seems obvious that fair use would cover publishing the relevant tracks or at least adequate snippets of them.

    So again the headline is dramatic nonsense… and even the full article isn’t much better. BoingBoing should try to be better than a check out aisle tabloid.

    1. I hate to say it, but… it’s Cory. Blatant hyperbole and utter sincerity are in no way mutually exclusive with him. :| I think he’s taken on a bit of the “crazy uncle” aura on many of these topics, but I don’t think there’s any evidence at all that it’s being done cynically or to drive clicks.

    2. Thanks for the thoughts. Yes, that’s our policy: Release the full request trail, or keep it private.

      I’m happy to provide direct links to all the public domain files, but our lawyers have informed us that fair use would *not* cover releasing the full tracks for compositions not in the public domain. Didn’t try to suggest a conspiracy or ill intent, just an odd quirk of copyright law: The government will give you music tracks, but if you share them, you open yourself up to legal repercussions. 

      1. 1)  Place files in question on non-vital system

        2)  Run known trojan on that system

        3) Create and distribute files via torrent or upload to file locker over encrypted VPN

        4) Run virus scan, clean out virus and save log to prove your system was compromised

        5) Enjoy technological loopholes

        That or ‘lose’ a laptop in a bar?

  2. If you ask the lawyers the wrong question, you will get the wrong answer.  Yes, they can’t publish the backing track without the permission of the copyright owner. But they can publish portions of it in the context of a news story and they can describe what it contains (for example, did she lip sync to a prerecorded performance, etc).

  3. The shocking (!!!11one) truth has already come out: Beyonce sung live along with a backing track. She didn’t “lip sync”, i.e., she didn’t mime her performance — she really, actually sang along with a recording of herself as a guide.

    Performers at the Inauguration do odd things to compensate for the temperature & weather. Yo-Yo Ma’s string quartet mimed their entire performance in 2008 because their strings wouldn’t stay in tune due to the cold.

    1. You’ve been reading too much National Inquirer.  The phrase lip-synch appears once, and was totally beside the point of the article.

      1. Er. 

        The phrase ‘lip synch’ was all over CNN, the AP, and Yahoo during all of that silly brouhaha, even after it was all clarified. I think a lot of folks don’t actually know what that phrase means.

  4. This makes no sense.  They might not be able to publish the full backing track without running afoul of the copyright trolls.   But it’s clearly fair use to publish small snippets of it for journalistic purposes.

  5. Who cares?  Are people STILL TALKING about this NON ISSUE?  For the love of everything holy in this world, let it go.  

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