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MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images
MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images

When Chuck Berry Became a Beach Boy

MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images
MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images

A copyright is supposed to protect a creator’s intellectual property and ensure that the copyright holder’s work isn’t nefariously misappropriated. However, as anyone who has fond memories of Napster circa 2000 knows, they don’t always work so well. Not all copyright battles are Metallica-initiated, though.

If you think the wholesale pilfering of songs began when Vanilla Ice swiped the bass line from David Bowie and Queen’s song “Under Pressure” for “Ice, Ice Baby,” think again. Far more revered artists have given in to the temptation to lift more than a chord or two. Take, for instance, The Beach Boys’s classic anthem “Surfin’ USA.”

The 1963 hit single listed Beach Boy Brian Wilson as the sole composer of the track, but the melody was a complete replication of Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen.”

For his part, Wilson denied any intentional wrongdoing. "I just took 'Sweet Little Sixteen' and rewrote it into something of our own," Wilson told the Los Angeles Times of the incident in 2015.

When Berry accused Wilson of bogarting his melody, The Beach Boys’ manager, Wilson’s father Murray, gave Berry the copyright to the tune in order to avoid a lawsuit. He didn’t tell the members of the band, however, who supposedly only learned that they weren’t getting royalties from this song—and that Berry now received credit for writing it—about 25 years later.

Berry, for his part, reportedly enjoyed “Surfin’ USA.” And Wilson, according to the Los Angeles Times, never held a grudge. “He still regularly includes Berry songs in his live shows,” wrote Randy Lewis, “and has even slipped ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ lyrics into his live rendition of ‘Surfin' U.S.A.’”

Berry passed away yesterday, March 18, 2017, at the age of 90.

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technology
New Jersey Outlaws Droning Under the Influence
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Drone technology is progressing faster than laws regulating it can keep up with. But New Jersey is anticipating at least one mess made possible by the rise of unmanned aircraft: droning under the influence. As Reuters reports, piloting a drone while drunk is now illegal in the Garden State.

The law was signed by Governor Chris Christie on his last full day in office. It states that the same alcohol rules applied to drivers must also be followed by drone pilots. That means anyone maneuvering a remote-controlled copter with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher faces up to six months in jail, a $1000 fine, or both. The same goes for drone pilots operating their aircraft while drugged.

Even without factoring alcohol into the mix, the list of disastrous drone incidents is long. Since they first become popular with the public several years ago, unmanned aerial vehicles have crashed or nearly crashed into planes, crowds, natural landmarks, and world leaders.

New Jersey is the first state to pass legislation that bans drinking and droning, though at least 38 states are considering passing some type of drone restrictions this year. In addition to keeping people from piloting drones while intoxicated, the law also prohibits flying them near prisons or using them to harass wildlife.

[h/t Reuters]

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Animals
Switzerland Just Made It Illegal to Boil Live Lobsters
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No, lobsters don’t scream when you toss them into a pot of boiling water, but as far as the Swiss government is concerned, they can still feel pain. The path most lobsters take to the dinner plate is supposedly so inhumane that Switzerland has banned boiling lobsters alive unless they are stunned first, The Guardian reports.

The new law is based on assertions from animal rights advocates and some scientists that crustaceans like lobsters have complex nervous systems, making death by boiling incredibly painful. If chefs want to include lobster on their menus, they’re now required to knock them out before preparing them. Acceptable stunning methods under Swiss law include electric shock and the “mechanical destruction” of the lobster’s brain (i.e. stabbing it in the head).

The government has also outlawed the transportation of live lobsters on ice or in icy water. The animals should instead be kept in containers that are as close to their natural environment as possible until they’re ready for the pot.

Proponents of animal rights are happy with the decision, but others, including some scientists, are skeptical. The data still isn’t clear as to whether or not lobsters feel pain, at least in the way people think of it. Bob Bayer, head of the University of Maine’s Lobster Institute, told Mental Floss in 2014 that lobsters “sense their environment, but don’t have the intellectual hardware to process pain.”

If you live in a place where boiling lobsters is legal, but still have ethical concerns over eating them, try tossing your lobster in the freezer before giving it a hot water bath. Chilling it puts it to sleep and is less messy than butchering it while it’s still alive.

[h/t The Guardian]

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