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Negativland

Negativland is an experimental music and sound collage[?] band originating in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their main claim to fame is the U2 lawsuit which nearly destroyed them as a band. In 1991, Negativland released a single with the title "U2" displayed in very large type on the front of the packaging. The songs within were parodies of the group U2's well-known song, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", including kazoos and extensive sampling of the original song. The song "The Letter U and the Numeral 2" features a musical backing to an extended profane rant from deejay Casey Kasem, commenting for instance "these guys are from England and who gives a shit?"

U2's label promptly sued Negativland claiming that the "U2" violated trademark protection, and the song itself violated copyright protection. Funds exhausted, Negativland settled out of court. Most copies of the single were recalled and destroyed. By the mid-1990s, rap had made sampling more or less acceptable in the mainstream music world, but the single "U2" is still illegal to sell in the United States.

Negativland are interested in intellectual property rights, and claim that their use of U2's and others' material falls under fair use. In 1995, they released a book with accompanying CD called Fair Use about copyright law in general, and the U2 incident in particular. There are many other artists who push the boundaries of copyright law in a similar way to Negativland, including John Oswald, the Evolution Control Committee, The Bran Flakes, Sir Mildred Pierce, and People Like Us[?].

Negativland still exists and has released several albums including Points, Dispepsi, Free, Escape From Noise, Helter Stupid, and A Big 10-8 Place. Their records are released on the band's own Seeland label. Members host a weekly radio show called "Over The Edge" most Thursdays at midnight on KPFA.

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