Whiter Shade of Steal

Ex-Procol Harum keyboardist Matthew Fisher just won a court victory in his extremely belated--as in 40 years--copyright claim for the "famous organ riff" in the '60s hit "A Whiter Shade of Pale." (hat tip Mark)
Fisher claims it's only about credit but his 40% of all future royalties of that song will not be insignificant, as it is still an "ear bleeder" on classic rock stations.
In any case, the man has balls, since he admits he took parts of the riff from JS Bach's "Air on a G String" and "Sleepers Awake."
He should give 95% of his royalties to Bach's heirs, whoever they are. It would be the fair thing to do.
It should be noted that Procol Harum was not a one-hit wonder, which is why there is any legacy for Mr. Fisher to claim. Fisher left the band after the third album so his share in the hard dues of touring, recording, etc, that made PH a money machine in the '70s is proportionally small (lower than 40%, I'd say). The live version of "Conquistador," recorded after Fisher left, was a big '70s hit and the band's later LPs such as Grand Hotel (also sans Fisher) also sold well.
The problem with these copyright cases is they hinge on simplistic readings of parts of songs and don't take elements like context, timbre, or "career gestalt" into account. In this case it all hinged on timbre and a few notes. The "He's So Fine"/"My Sweet Lord" (horrible) verdict completely ignored timbre.
But the main point here is, if you're going to sample Bach then don't sue the people that sampled you.
Considering how long it took Fisher to initiate the filing of the suit (no statute of limitations for copyright? why not?) a fair verdict would have been 1% to him and 1% for some foundation dedicated to teaching Bach in music schools.

"Claves of Steel"

"Claves of Steel" [mp3 removed]

The piano is a three note e-piano sample (heard at the very beginning) I trimmed from an LP of '70s breakbeats (thanks dave). I cut the sample up into stabs of three differing lengths and mapped each to a couple of octaves' pitch range. Then added compression and phasing and played it using MIDI to get some new tunes. Most of the notes are variations of the first few bars and unfortunately aren't as soulful as the original source (unless you like mutant 12-tone soul). The underlying beats are 4/4 techno with some FX and scratch samples. Also there are live drum hits under the original piano adding a kind of stop and start "breaks" feel to the rhythm. There's also some "house organ" in there.

Get to Know Your Office Neighbors

Bob Somerby (The Daily Howler) is one of the few people who thinks Gatesgate is a moron-fest. Apologies to Mark, with whom I've been discussing this on the internets. I don't think you're a moron, but you are wrong that this is a good example of a cop on a power trip. It's not a good example of anything, since there were no witnesses, no photos and no way to verify what actually happened. Yet millions have weighed in without knowing basic facts about the incident. The Howler found, and commented on the empty-headedness of this discussion:

On CNN, the cable buffoons were pondering possible “teachable moments” last night. Lou Dobbs mused about where the “moment” might lie. And then, Keith Richburg, of the Washington Post, said this. We did not make it up:

RICHBURG (7/27/09): Let me just add one thing on—

DOBBS: Quickly if you will.

RICHBURG: Yes, it just seems that one thing is, Professor Gates and his neighbor should get to know each other.

JAMES TARANTO: But she was not a neighbor. She lived about seven miles away.

RICHBURG: Well, she worked— Yes, but she worked in an office 100 yards away.

By now, Richburg understood that the caller wasn’t a neighbor—but for reasons only these Martians can explain, such narratives must never die. When Taranto corrected him, Richburg advanced a new Mars-ready theory: You should make sure you get to know everyone who lives within 100 yards of your office. You should get to know everyone who works in a building 100 yards from your home.

(We can’t vouch for Richburg’s yardage.)

We’d call that a teachable moment—about a group of unteachable life-forms. Our teaching? Only on Mars do life-forms like these actually grow and thrive.

And yet, these strange people remain on the air, shaping America’s “public discussions.”