Vanilla Ice on “Ice Ice Baby” vs. Queen/Bowie’s “Under Pressure”

It’s become a ridiculous thing that people now think they can own whatever idea comes to their head and everything that may possibly be similar to it. In Lawrence Lessig’s book, The Future of Ideas, he points out that “I would say to an 18-year-old artist, you’re totally free to do whatever you want. But–and then I would give him a long list of all the things that he couldn’t include in his movie because they would not be cleared, legally cleared. That he would have to pay for them. [So freedom? Here’s the freedom]: You’re totally free to make a movie in an empty room, with your two friends.” Basically the point he’s making is that you’re originality can only be based solely on what comes out of your head with practically no outside sources. He proclaims this is in a sarcastic manner because no one can form thoughts and ideas without even the slight influence of another person’s impact to start from.

An example where this ridiculous idea is portrayed is the case of Vanilla Ice vs. David Bowie/Freddie Mercury. The one hit wonder Vanilla Ice was sued for having a similar baseline in his song “Ice Ice Baby” and not crediting David Bowie and Queen from their song “Under Pressure” for it. Vanilla Ice, clearly not the most intelligent man to enter the world of hip hop, states in response to the lawsuit that ,”We sampled it from them but it’s not the same bassline. It goes ‘ding ding ding di di ding ding… ding ding ding di di ding ding.’ That’s the way theirs goes. Ours goes ‘ding ding ding di di ding ding… DING… ding ding ding di di ding ding.’ That little bitty change — it’s not the same.” The fact that people can now claim certain beats of music seems to be hilarious in my eyes. What happened to freedom of speech? I understand there has to be somewhat of a limit on copyright infringement so that people can correctly be recognized for the work they do but even Milton states in the Areopagitca that, “. . . When a man writes to the world, he summons up all his reason and deliberation to assist him; he searches, meditats, is industrious, and likely consults and conferrs withhis judicious friends; after all which done he takeshimself to be inform’d in what he writes, as well as any that writ before him;”

Milton clearly states that other people and influences are importance when it comes to original ideas and such. Immanuel Kant also mentions in his piece “What is Enlightenment” that “It is more nearly possible, however, for the public to enlighten itself,” which coincides with the point that we need influences in our lives to procreate ideas in ourselves.







3 thoughts on “Vanilla Ice on “Ice Ice Baby” vs. Queen/Bowie’s “Under Pressure”

  1. Madison,

    This response identifies a really interesting case of the infringement of intellectual property. I like that you dig a bit into the details of the case and express a strong opinion. However, it needs a bit of work before it’s ready to be graded “Satisfactory.”

    The big thing this response is missing is that you don’t do a good job of explaining how your readings of Milton and Kant have informed your response. You do quote both, but you don’t explain how those quotes support your overall point. It also looks like they were just copy and pasted in — the spacing is messed up and the Milton quote ends with a semicolon. — If you’re not familiar with them, refer to the Chicago, APA, or MLA style guides for citation protocols.

    Your response also needs to provide a better explanation of the legal dispute. What are the rules that govern intellectual property in this case? How did those rules affect the outcome? Do you think those rules are consistent with the ideas of fair use that Lessig, Milton, and Kant describe?

    Also: you include links at the bottom of the page, but you don’t explain what parts of your essay come from where. You need to cite your sources with links in the text (not just at the bottom).

    Bottom line: good work so far, but you need to go back to the course readings and really think about how the ideas of “freedom” expressed by these various writers relate to your example.

    You have until Sept 31 to complete revisions, but I strongly suggest you complete your revisions well in advance of that date.


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