Waiter! There is a Fly in my Soup!
An investigation and case study into the copyright issues that surround an original adaptation of Genesis', Supper's Ready

Waiter! There is a Fly in my Soup! is a case study being conducted under the auspice of InternetU.org. As this experiment deals with morals/ethics, as well as, legal and business issues, several departments will attempt to tackle the entire project. The Philosophy and Religion departments will be examining the issues of stealing, unethical acquisitions and false accusations. The Governance and Business Schools focus will be on copyright law and musical licensing.

We encourage our peers to participate.

Lying Thief vs. Preposterous Claim

Following are the original emails that prompted this case study.


I can't believe you guys did this.... this was wrong!!!!! Do you have any idea how many hours went into this midi....

Even though I only performed one section... I was responsible for the entire mix and redid much of the MIDI programming for this whole song .... I am really, really, really disappointed that you STOLE this work and made it appear as your own.

Peter Verily


pete, we're sorry you feel that way.

but, i must say i'm perplexed.

we didn't mean to claim that this is our song.

on the webpage i'm looking at, it says that its written by Genesis... and that midi programing was performed by Peter Verily

are you that Peter Verily?

we tried to reach your team. but, could not find an email address... nor web address

though the original project used the midi file, the final project contained a much different piece.

would you prefer we took your name off the webpage?


Yes I am that Peter Verily... and I downloaded your SR MP3.. and this is 99% the same MIDI performance... if not 100%....

It clearly states in the MIDI the word COPYRIGHT



we still do not appear to be connecting on this matter... and we thought this would be something to unite genesis fans.

so, do you mind if i try to get this straight in my mind?

1) are you claiming to own a copyright to supper's ready? according to the register of copyrights, ASCAP, BMI and the fox agency, you have no copyright ownership in supper's ready.

2) we spent 180+ hours on the midi file before we brought in the live musicians. there are live musicians on every lick of the track. to say that the MP3 is anywhere near the original is preposterous. of the 188 tracks used to make this piece, one of them was the reworked midi file.

3) we have no commercial intent for the project. it is a Christmas gift for our friends to see. a homemade video. [editors note: that is to say, it was created with the intent of mimicking God. For the original Christmas present, God shared his multimedia gift (Jesus) with everyone... and anyone... who wanted to be his friend.]

all of our efforts to secure permission for using the song, have gone unanswered. we made every attempt to record the song in an ethical way.

though we state plainly that the song is written by Genesis and that your team did midi work, you still accuse us of stealing something that is not yours.

in any event, as you do not appear to want to be associated with our project, we'll gladly remove your name. on the other hand, if you are interested in working with us to remedy the situation... we would be happy to work with you.

thank you.

The Dinner Bell Rings

At this point, everyone felt bad. To be called a thief... to have to question your moral standards... for the other party to feel that they had been wronged ... we all felt the need for justice. How could we remedy this situation? That is when this case turned into a "case study".

Next, the study was broken into two parts:


Though copyrights can create complex issues, certain things are black and white. We will attempt to examine these issues through an on-going interactive website.

Following is a synopsis of pre-existing dialogue compiled and applied to this case by experts at internetU.org. This is meant to stimulate further discussion on these matters.

Hmmm... perhaps Pete should consider the risk he is submitting himself to by admitting that he created and distributed a midi file of Supper's Ready? After all, a midi file is very close to sheet music. That is one reason why we encouraged the Philadelphia Spirit Experiment not to distribute their midi file. Please notice, that they do not even offer a midi version.

However, that is a different case study all together. The questions for this case study have to do with a different licensing issue and a different copyright issue.

Since it appears as though Pete has no real copyright at issue, lets pretend that Pete owns the publishing rights to the original Phonogram Ltd./Charisma recording.

First, Pete would need to prove (in a court of law) that it is indeed his version. Do you think this is the same version?

Recording of Pete's Version
The Philadelphia Spirit Experiment's Version

After proving that it was the same version, Pete would need to prove that it fell under some sort-of common licensing arrangement, such as can be obtained through the Harry Fox Agency or ASCAP (both of which represent Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks and Genesis.)

Since the Philadelphia Spirit Experiment uses a private performance of the song, it does not appear as though... even Genesis would have much of a case.

In general:

  1. these laws were meant to by applied to "commercial" applications
  2. most of these laws deal with using the original recording (or a public performance... on a stage, etc.)

I have talked all these things through with legal counsel. They tend to agree that "the singing and playing of a popular tune in your garage, attic, or basement does not appear to be in violation of any copyright law." In fact, one lawyer went on to say that once a song becomes popular, certain "public domain" issues come into play. For instance, it is in the public domain for anyone to sing Yesterday (by the Beatles) for their own pleasure. In fact, you could argue that it is your right... since you were unwillingly submitted to the conditioning of your brain that has embedded the song into your memory.

And, in essence, if you lived in the United States for your adult life you could not have escaped from Yesterday. Now, we are talking about areas that become quite gray. Before we stray too far, lets remember that these issues are usually dealt with in a systematic way by both the music industry and the judicial system.

Coincidentally, earlier today I happened to be corresponding on similar matters with the Senior Examiner of the Performing Arts Section for the United States Copyright Office.

And, after applying the same standards to the Philadelphia Spirit Experiment's version of Supper's Ready, it appears as though there is no one who could make a legitimate claim as it applies to copyright law.

In reference to synchronizing the song to moving pictures:
"Synchronization is a term that does not have a clear meaning for copyright purposes. It should not be used on an application for registration."

In reference to material supplied by NASA, Hubble, Kent State, the Department Of Defense, and the National Archives:
"The new authorship (for the Philadelphia Spirit Experiment) which is the basis of your claim as 'all other words, music, motion picture and performance' accounts for the preexisting images used in this work."

Senior Examiner, Performing Arts Section, United States Copyright Office

The biggest question that I can see for the Philadelphia Spirit Experiment are the html pages of lyrics. But again, since they were memorized (and not "re"printed), that case would be weak, too.

Please Give Us Your Feedback

Recording of Pete's Version
Download The Philadelphia Spirit Experiment's Version or Start the Streaming Version


Do you feel anyone is legally or morally in violation of copyright standards?

Please explain:

Bonus Questions:
Do you think playing your home videos is a public performance? What if you have music or the TV playing in the background of your home movies... do you think that you need to pay ASCAP or BMI?

The movie, It's A Wonderful Life was briefly thought to be in the public domain. For a few years, it was played on many different TV networks. Then, the owners of the soundtrack made claim to the synchronization. That is why you don't see it on TV as much any more. Do you think it would be a copyright violation to release a version of It's A Wonderful Life that combined the original moving pictures with a new original soundtrack?

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