While industrial metal band Skinny Puppy found out their music was being used to torture prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, they wrote their current album, Weapon, about it. And while they’ve invoiced the U.S. government for using their music, that actually initially started out as a joke. The band tells Billboard that they were going to use a fake invoice to the government for the cover of their album, but once they looked into it and found out more, it led to them actually sending the government a bill for unsanctioned use of their work for $666,000.
Billboard spoke with a lawyer, Howell O’Rear, who says that the band have an uphill battle to actually get paid (the government hasn’t responded yet). He claims that the federal government might have immunity, stating that a prison in Cuba night might be a public performance under the Copyright Act since it’s not on U.S. soil. Also, Guantanamo might be covered by a blanket license by a performing arts organization. And due to a provision in the Copyright Act, the band could get as little as $750 in statutory damages, which is the minimum allowed under law.
The band’s Cevin Key says the band is setting a precedent, and is pressing onward, enlisting the help of former Guantanamo guard Terry Holdbrooks, Jr., whose book Traitor?, was how the band found out about their music being used. They also have a reporter that worked to verify Holdbrooks’ claims. And while Billboard suggest that a lawsuit filed by a coalition of artists whose music was used, including Nine Inch Nails, Slayer and Metallica, Skinny Puppy didn’t speculate on that. He did state “”I’m sure that BMI and ASCAP would like to know that [this] music has been used illegally.”