Use of #SkinnyPuppy Music During #Torture Raises Interesting #Copyright Question

The industrial band Skinny Puppy sent the Department of Defense a bill in the amount of $666,666 for using its music during alleged acts of torture. Besides the obvious questions about whether use of the band's music under these circumstances amounts to infringement, the allegations raise an interesting question of the application of U.S. copyright law outside U.S. borders.

The alleged infringement took place at the infamous Guantánamo Bay facility which the U.S. assumed territorial control over under the 1903 Cuban-American treaty.  Although the U.S. exercises complete jurisdiction and control over this territory, Cuba retains ultimate sovereignty.  Generally, jurisdiction over infringement requires some act to have occurred within the United States. Therefore, the question is: Under U.S. copyright law, do acts of infringement that took place exclusively at Guantánamo Bay qualify as having taken place within U.S. territory? Also, the validity of the 1903 treaty is itself questionable (remember the Spanish-American War?), which makes U.S. jurisdictional claims even shakier.  It seems doubtful to me given the fact that the U.S. has claimed detainees were not on U.S. soil and thus not covered under the U.S. constitution.  Feel free to chime in on Twitter/Facebook/Linkedin if you have any ideas.

Photo "MurphyBlackmouthSouthPuppy2" by Brownca25/Mrs. Julie Murphy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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