Back in 1952, composer John Cage wrote a piece of music called 4’33”, which consisted of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. Infrequently performed, it is nonetheless famous.
Far more recently, British songwriter (notice the semantic difference between “composer” and “songwriter”) Simon Batt recorded an original song entitled A One Minute Silence on an album by his classical rock group The Planets. The song was, sure enough, a minute of silence. In what was probably a tribute, Batt credited the song to Batt/Cage.
That was probably a mistake. Cage’s estate came after Batt for plagiarism. CNN says Batt wound up writing a six-figure check to the John Cage Trust.
Before the start of the court case, Batt had said: “Has the world gone mad? I’m prepared to do time rather than pay out. We are talking as much as ｣100,000 in copyright.
“Mine is a much better silent piece. I have been able to say in one minute what Cage could only say in four minutes and 33 seconds.”
The kicker: the piece has been released as a single. Would that it crosses over to American radio…
Later: The New Yorker goes into a little more depth, much of it along the lines of Mark Johnson’s comments to this post. The magazine expires links, but check this:
Batt … has tweaked the Cage people further by registering hundreds of other silent compositions, ranging in length from one second to ten minutes. “I couldn’t get four minutes and thirty-three seconds, obviously, but I got everything else,” he said. He is proudest of two of his registered copyrights: four minutes and thirty-two seconds and four minutes and thirty-four seconds. “If there’s ever a Cage performance where they come in a second shorter or longer, then it’s mine,” he said.