The Fucking Rotter: How One Bumnugget Nearly Screwed Over A Lot Of Custom Content Providers Just To Get At Us

Those of you who read this post will now know what we were talking about.

In the near three years that The Mare’s Nest has been in operation, there’s been some pretty low moments, and some ludicrous pieces of people cutting off their own noses to spite their faces.

But when you go around naming and shaming those scum spending all their time on line looking for people – especially children – to make miserable, or stealing what others have made and trying to claim it as their own work, you don’t expect niceties – and as Jack4740 discovered the hard way, you want to play the internet tough guy thinking there’s not going to be any reprecussions for you in real life, you’d better think again. Go and s**t over people in other online communities for all we care, but you do it in the Sims world and we get to you first, we’ll spare no quarter. Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty when you’re cleaning away dirt.

In terms of own-goals however, this one almost had consequences that could have cost the entire Sims community dearly (not just Sims 3, but also the old Sims 2 one). Then again, there are some out there that would happily ruin everyone else’s fun just to get back at one person or one group of people because they ‘dissed’ them – such is the way of today’s society with its spoilt brat mentality.

The one good side to all this is a textbook watch-and-learn for you dear reader out there in how to deal with those seeking to misuse the law for their own petty vendettas.

‘The Human Race Is Becoming A Disgrace…’

This one started back on 20th July this year, when we received notice in our Mediafire account that one of our pieces of custom content for the Sims 3 had been subject to a copyright claim by an organisation called the IFPI.

After all this time we were amazed this was the first one for two reasons, but first let’s give you a little bit of context.

Malicious reporting of files is a favourite of the feeble minded, jealous, or over-competitive amongst custom content creators in the hope people will get fed up and leave the community. Name any gaming community in the world, and there’s a modder or custom content creator that’s had to deal with someone’s malicious report to their file host or ISP.

Vidkid20 knows this only too well from experience as she found her custom content uploads being subjected to malicious reporting back in 2010, also on Mediafire. The curious thing at that time was it was over Gorrillaz posters she made, at the same time our own t-shirts went untouched. After a period where they were up and down like a whore’s drawers through various hosters, the continued copyright infringement reports ceased, at the same time Kelle Daniels (KelleD014) dropped out of the Sims community having being denying thrice before cockcrow for the best part of the year being the person behind it. Coincidence, of course.

What applies to Mediafire could be applied to Bitupload, Fileshub, Fileserve, 4shared, Gamefront, Oron, Rapidshare, Refile, Uploading and all the other free or subscription providers. Perhaps in the light of being fed up with their staff having to deal with yellow complaints – and the growing moves by the US Federal Government to shakedown online storage facilitators aiding and abetting piracy (as happened eventually to Megaupload and Fileserve) meaning they wanted their staff to be spending more time dealing with locating and eliminating real music and software pirates rather than red herrings – Mediafire tightened up their terms for registering complaints.

First you had to be a member, but also you had to say under penalty of perjury that it was your own copyright being breeched, thereby deterring at a stroke the various ratboys and ratgirls reporting not out of any sense of public duty but to make life awkward for their ‘enemies’, ‘hobby competitors’ or whatever. You had a problem with an upload, go tell the copyright holders and get them to do it.

Which begged the question, who the hell were these IFPI people? For if there is one band in the world whose business side is better known than any other to even the leity, it’s the Sex Pistols.

From 7th February 1979 until 16th January 1986, Johnny Rotten slugged it out in court against the late Malcolm McLaren for control of the Sex Pistols assets, at that time controlled by McLaren’s adhoc companies Glitterbest and Matrixbest. In what was a landmark (and surprising) ruling, the judge handed over the control and rights to all the Sex Pistols work back to Rotten, guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and the estate of the late Sid Vicious (Glen Matlock had not taken part in fighting the case), with Glitterbest and Matrixbest being merged into one: Sex Pistols Residuals with Rotten, Cook and Jones as directors.

In short, the only people that ought to have been crying foul over what we were doing were the Sex Pistols themselves.

Ah, but thereby hanged a clue, for in 2006, the terrible trio agreed to sign over their hard fought for musical back catalogue to Universal Records – having neither the time, inclination nor financial muscle to go fighting bootleggers on their own, but keeping strict control over everything else made in the Sex Pistols name.

‘The Time Is Right To Do It Now, The Greatest Sims 3 Store Swindle…’

Against their better judgement, in 2010, they gave Live Nation permission to make branded Sex Pistols content for Sims 3 (or rather got EA to make it for them) along with a number of other recording artistes – consisting of barely legible ‘Anarchy In The UK’ t-shirts for adults only and a poster, all for 300 points, and which could only be bought with Simpoints bought from the EA store, complimentary points for the base game or World Adventures could not be used.

They were subject to howls of derision from Sex Pistols fans and Sims 3 players alike, who knew a swindle when they saw one, as Phantomflex illustrated on the EA forum.

The EA forum’s own information guru was even more dismissive.

Members couldn’t even gift them to other Simmers, just about the only way anyone would want to buy them.

Now at this time, Live Nation’s efforts also had some rather stiff competition from a certain little bundle of t-shirts and hooded tops that had been released six months earlier. Not only were we offering more stuff in better quality (as we took into account what artwork did and what didn’t realistically work with the game, rather than proffering any old tat), but it was available for adult and teen Simmies, and all for free.

So except for the terminally moronic who publicly declared they was going to bloodymindedly buy the Live Nations crap but not touch ours just to show what big poopy pants we were (hello Jamesmc93!), it like the rest of the Live Nations tie-in was a monumental flop. Even putting them on special offer didn’t help and in the end they gave them away for free.

However, at the point these events were occuring, the Live Nation Sex Pistols products had just been put back on sale in the EA Store branded content section, back at 300 points. Were they behind the complaint? If so, why not complain about the other Sex Pistols content from here at the same time?  That alone dismisses them as being the culprits – knowing they were two years too late in the day for it to make any difference to their sales. But it did suggest someone was hoping perhaps to make us think they had been behind it. If that was so, they’d failed by deign of the very people they’d chosen to be their instrument of ‘revenge’ on us.

But we’ll come to the IFPI a little later.

‘Did You No Wrong’: To Take Arms Against A Sea Of Bumnuggetry…

Which brings us neatly to the above complaint. The file that was the subject of complaint was the Sims 3 Sex Pistols ‘God Save The Queen’ t-shirt, poster picture and mural in package format we’d made as our tongue-in-cheek contribution to the Jubileemania infecting certain parts of the Sims world over the summer (as the Sex Pistols little ditty is now almost as much of an institution as Queen Elizabeth herself – indeed, tied at the waist!).

Were we annoyed? Of course. But one of us also had their suspicious cap on that things were not all they seemed – more about that later (because we love to keep you in suspense)

Initially however, the question was what to do? We could have done what many a public file provider on a blog does, shrug our shoulders, put it back up under a different name***, alter the link, and carry on as before. But nice people that we are, we didn’t wish to antagonise Mediafire when they were being nice enough to provide us with free uploading space. You never bite the hand that feeds.

The second option was to say ‘screw it’, leave it down, and wait to see if the other one was reported. If people were that desperate for a package version, they could always download the Sim3Pack version still up on the site and use Delphy’s Sim3pack multi-installer to convert them.

The third option was to contact them directly and try to persuade them to withdraw their claim, to appeal to their good nature.

The fourth option – the difficult one – was to counterclaim against IFPI, in effect to go into battle with them over it.

Knowing how much we’re never happier than when we’re making life difficult for ourselves, guess what one we went for?

 

There was method to our madness: if we tried persuasion first, and IFPI chose to simply ignore us (at this point, they held all the cards, they’d got what they wanted and didn’t need to deal with us), we were screwed. The best form of defence is often counter-attack, so long as you know what point to attack.

‘Did You No Wrong’

Therefore, the might of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry got itself a bit of a shock when they discovered that the little Sims 3 blog The Mare Nest proved to be a mouse that roared, for as well as arguing our case that what we were doing was harmless, we filed a counter-claim against them.

The above two are taken from the copy we had sent back to us from IFPI (for some reason with all format lost like it’s a bloody medieval manuscript in the days before paragraphs were invented!).

The sting in the tail to our plea to Mediafire was our counter claim. To quote:

‘May we also question the role of the IFPI in making this complaint? The IFPI concerns the piracy of RECORDED MUSIC ONLY.

To quote from their website their mission statement is:

1. Promote the value of recorded music

2. Safeguard the rights of record producers

3. Expand the commercial uses of recorded music.

Ergo, as the IFPI’s claims are ultra vires, we request that the suspended file is reinstated on the Mediafire network.’

All The Best,

The Mare’s Nest

When a copyright complaint is filed at Mediafire, it is ‘under penalty of perjury’. If as we charged the IFPI were knowingly acting outside of their remit, the IFPI had made a perjured complaint which, in theory, Mediafire could claim against them for wasting their valuable business time, etc, etc, etc.

Companies love suing one another, especially American ones – it gives them an enormous corporate boner – and the Mediafire Texans probably have suffered that many bellyaches from the Swiss IFPI (‘damn those European cheese-eating surrender monkeys!’) that an open invitation to get them back wouldn’t have needed any recommendation.

‘Claustrophobia, There’s Too Much Paranoia…’

Suffice to say, this went down like a dose of iron tablets in someone with constipation.  It was three days before the IFPI curtly got in touch with us, now with a change of tack.

Oooo, sneaky! In response to our j’accuse that they were acting ultra vires, they were now trying the oldest law trick in the book – a loaded closed question (ie. one that can only be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’) that answered either way would damn us and allow them to continue claiming they were acting on the behalf of their client.

Your humble narrator here was all ready to really let rip, but the other half advised that ‘Aarin said you actually catch more flies with vinegar than honey, but they were flies’ – reminding in the context she’d said this, a certain Zhivan was to believe nasty things about Jix2993 because he was deliberately misinformed and had taken what he’d been told in good faith, as nice people are wont to do.

When asked to elaborate, the other half said we were making the mistake of assuming that the IFPI actually knew what they were actually complaining about.  And if what the other half suspected was the case, we had a duty not merely to get our file restored, but to leave the IFPI a lot better educated – for the sake of all Sims custom content producers.

But on that point, we must pause, and give you a concise rundown as to what the IFPI is.

(This is the ‘heavy stuff’ so feel free to skip it and come back to it later!)

‘I Spy For The IFPI…’

The IFPI – the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry – has been on the go since 1933 (as its detractors from the pirate sites love to remind us, at a conference in Fascist Italy), and pertains to represent the recording industry worldwide, or at least those affiliated to it. They mean well, but rather like Todd with the Book Of Pure Evil, they’ve had mixed results.

It took them forty years just to get enough nations to sign an anti-piracy agreement to stamp out bootlegging, and since then has fought a gallant if futile battle against music piracy – largely because since the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the rise of the internet, the biggest offenders are based in nations who don’t care two hoots about anyones copyright for just about anything and able to reach out to the whole world in ways the peddlers of ‘Ex-Jukebox CDs’ in disreputable newsagents of yesterday could only have dreamed.

Matters have not been helped by a series of embarrassing headlines that have undermined its credibility.

In April last year, there was controversy over the European Union Commission appointing the IFPI’s lobbyist to the European Parliament to head its copyright policy commission in a clear conflict of interest, with Sweden’s two Pirate Party MEPs being backed by other elected members over what was a clear conflict of interest. Worse, come three months later in July, investigations became public over the IFPI’s chairman and Chief Executive Officer being suspected of tax fraud in Germany.

Come the start of the year, and the admittance that digital copies of music – today’s pirates’ medium of choice – now outstripped physical copies in terms of sales, did have some commentators asking what was the point of the IFPI when despite their abject failure to deal with those nations providing safe harbour for copyright criminals, actual revenue in music was at an all time high despite the recession – largely thanks to the very digital downloading they’d been convinced would kill music, rather like their infamous ‘Home taping is killing music’ campaign of yesteryear.

Equally a source of derision was the IFPI deciding they were going to start targetting individuals rather than organised criminals, along with Google for ‘publicising’ those offering artists music for free download via torrent sites – effectively an admission ‘we’ll go after the little guys because we can’t get Mr Big’.  The main pusher of this new policy was the media group Universal, whom some have accused of having an unduly large influence over the IFPI – and who are the owners of the Sex Pistols musical back catalogue.

In June, the IFPI scored a rare victory in taking down pirates in Hong Kong and Macao. But as was pointed out at the time, that still leaves those pirating inside mainland communist China as ever untouched (where the major problem lies, rather than its two puppet democratic statelets). Furthermore this was met by embarrassment only days later when first of all accusations once again flew about Universal pulling too many of their strings resurfaced again, this time in the New York Post.

More embarrassment however was to come on the 26th July when TorrentFreak – one of the very ‘pirates pals’ they’ve proven so incapable of dealing with – gleefully published its own internal report on piracy and its projected global strategy to combat it.

Most damning of all, by their own admittance the takedown of Megaupload by the FBI earlier in the year – which they’d hailed as a major victory for stopping those pirating music – had in fact little part to play in online music piracy anyway by their own internal admission in comparison to other file hosting sites all still online.

So the poor old bumbling IFPI, well meaning but so often on the canvas, have been on the lookout for victories – any victories – to prove they still have relevence and thus people (especially record companies) should still cough up their affiliation fees.

And that, best beloved is what potentially made them so bloody dangerous to the Sims community.

Why One Of Us Was Suspicious From The Start

What was so suspicious about this ‘copyright claim’ against us in the first place was that no such complaint was levied against the other zip file with the exact same contents in Sims3Pack format.

Two ‘God Save The Queen’ zip files links posted on the same blog post, yet only one claimed against? Why one file, but not the other? If these people at IFPI (the claimants) had saw the post in question, surely they’d have pulled us up over the other one?

For once, we’d posted it up in both formats as separate downloads (as it was a special occasion), and in this instance it was rather lucky we had – by filing a complaint against one but not the other, it proved that the complaint was down to the IFPI merely working in mechanical fashion to a malicious report being sent to them.

If IFPI had done the research behind the disputed files all by themselves, they couldn’t have failed to find the Sims3Pack version as well: which would have made it pretty clear what was uploaded and in all likelihood the whole matter going into File 13 with the thousands of other ‘no action required’ concerning Sims 3, Sims 2 and even Spore custom content.

(To be fair to the IFPI, their employees may not be allowed to unzip a compressed file from an external source – as is the case with many businesses, statutory bodies, charities or whatever – due to the danger of viruses, merely to look inside)

So we came to the conclusion that the rat in question had e-mailed the link to IFPI claiming falsely that it was either ripped music or video content contained in the zip file concerned. Had IFPO downloaded it to see for themselves, they would have found files with the extention *.package. Ask anyone outside of the Sims community what they are for, and they won’t have a clue: for all they know, its some sort of compression file itself. But ask anyone what a *.Sims3Pack is, and they’ll be able to hazard a guess it’s something for use in the game Sims 3! In short, our rat in question must have played on IFPI’s lack of knowledge as to what a *.package file was.

And to be honest, our counterclaim hadn’t exactly helped.

We’d used language that to anyone outside of the Sims community made little sense – in particular the phrase ‘custom content’, which may trip nicely off the tongue for Simmers, but in the real world that phrase refers to created media (whether print, film or on the net) for a set corporate purpose and bugger all to do with computer games!

If we didn’t leave them better informed as to what they were trying to take down, what was to stop them thereafter merrily googling their way for any other *.package files that just happened to have some pop band or recording artists name to them and filing for copyright breaches? There would be damned few Sims 3, Sims 2, even Spore sites left unaffected by it.

This however was not a time to presume to give them a lesson on what a *.package file actually was, in case they took the hump even more (even if we did suspect they didn’t!).

We needed to try talking to them in lingo they’d understand, or at least would find after one Google!

So, out with the honey…

‘Blind Acceptance Is A Sign Of Stupid Fools Who Stand In Line…’

We kept it to four major points:

First, reiterating politely that this was an item outwith their terms of remit. End of.

Second, diplomatically pointing out that if they were getting ideas about pursuing ‘material’ copyright breaches as a new angle now or in the future, quite aside from being ultra vires (for now, anyway…) they were coming somewhat late in the day to start complaining, nine years and thousands of fan made Sims 2/Sims3 games clothes and objects later (therefore more likely to stir up trouble those artists they purport to represent wouldn’t want).

Thirdly, pointing out the artists themselves were well acquainted with the Sims community  – and therefore by implication had they wanted the IFPI sticking their oars in by now over their ‘intellectual property’ they’d have asked them! One of the arguments we’d made in our first post was that members of the Sims community making custom content for artistes were as much part of the ‘street teams’ encouraged to advertise acts for free, make wallpapers, etc. and as such ought to be cut the same slack.

(The Headboys namedrop was as intentional as that of My Chemical Romance and Katy Perry – their chief maestro was one Calum Malcolm, a major record industry player forever associated with the music company legends Linn, at that moment in the headlines due to their major partnership just announced with – wait for it – Universal. It always helps in these situations to let them know sotto voce you’re familiar with their territory too!)

We did however threw them a bone at this stage – proffering the pirating of Katy Perry’s godawful stuff pack all over the shop as someone far more potentially lucrutive for them to pursue instead as well as showing our own good faith in what they were doing was with the best of intentions. Should they do so, it will inevitably lead to them thrown out as ultra vires again – a matter for Katy Perry and EA’s lawyers, not them  – and hopefully a lesson finally learned.

Fourthly, and most important of all, we qualified the term ‘custom content’ as ‘skins’, which when you think about it is more accurate in most cases and is a term familiar to even the most casual of computer or console gamer. There’s barely a game on the planet that doesn’t have some sort of music world related ‘skin’ for it (such as the Lady Gaga skin for the Left4Dead witch or Led Zeppelin/Iron Maiden t-shirts for Skyrim, the latter is almost a cliché!).

This we hoped would be enough to get the IFPI to back off.

But if they didn’t, we had one final card in the wings left to play if required – contacting the three directors of Sex Pistols Residuals directly by post and letting them know what was going on, along with Jamie Reid, who produced the famous artwork in the first place and has very strong views about people flinging copyright notices around (eg. the notorious ‘God Save Damien Hirst’ incident). Our guess was all four would be extremely unamused at what was being done in their names as ‘chickenshitting’ of the worst kind.

This however proved unnecessary thankfully.

The IFPI withdrew their complaint (note well the wording about ‘earlier good faith’, again giving rise to our suspicion they had been deliberately misled by a third party), and Mediafire in turn were as good as their word to restore the file before the end of the day, and hopefully with lessons learned all round – in our case not to assume that people know what we are necessarily talking about!

(What do you mean, ‘you ought to be familiar with that by now!’?)

Chalk one up to the good guys!

But you really have to wonder about the stupidity of a certain so-called Simmer out there that was quite happy to have potentially started a domino topple of Sims 2 and Sims 3 content being deleted off thousands of websites and file sharing sites (and people having their memberships of file-hosting sites terminated for multiple infringements), all just to get at us.

As Steve Jones would say, ‘What a fucking rotter!’

***Indeed, one of the reasons we suspect that The Sims Resource has all their files now posted up with numeretical names than actual names these days is to avoid being plagued with frivilous copyright breach complaints from well meaning corporate lawyers not realising they’re just being used as pawns in the inane vendetta of a certain middle aged overweight basement dwelling pervert… no names, no packdrill!

It’s a lot harder to get them to pay attention to a file labelled, for example 90125.zip or whatever  -unless it’s the lawyers of Yes, who might not be too happy about a file called 90125 as it was the name of their biggest selling album. Every post an education, eh?!

Postscript, or Some Thoughts Left Out At The Time But Worth Pondering On

What do you mean, ‘bloody hell, the original was long enough!’

As stated above, it perhaps did not occur to the bumnugget that decided to report us ‘for a laugh’ that had we not fought back, and the IFPI decided to start complaining to Mediafire, etc against every file that came up as a *.package with the name of some recording artist with an affiliated record company – feeling they were onto a winner and something that could be flagwaved to the recording industry as a ‘success’ – thousands of custom content package files in places such as Mod The Sims, Garden Of Shadows and hundreds of custom content sites across the globe could have been taken down overnight.

The irony is that we would have been one of the least affected, since most of the musicians we’ve made custom content for are with record labels that for whatever reason refuse to pay the IFPI’s membership fees (indie labels particularly), or who aren’t going to take the hump over anyone giving them a bit of free publicity, however small, especially one that gives them a bit of streed-cred with a popular contemporary part of the zeitgeist, in this case Sims 3 – the biggest selling computer game of all time.

A major moan labelled against the stuff we make is the number for non-contemporary or obscure artists we do. One reason is there’s no point making another L*dy G*ga, Owl City or whoever bundle of t-shirts, posters, etc when there’s already thousands knocking around. But secondly, there’s the simple fact many of the recording artists from the late 60s to early 90s used artwork that at least could be transposed into something in a game of Sims 3 that would look good.

It’s almost an industry standard for today’s artists to use nothing but highly detailed glossy photographs (usually of themselves) for their singles and albums. And the problem is when you try shrinking them down to size to fit onto a Simmie’s t-shirt you may as well not bother – they lose so much detail once reduced. Go to the UK Singles Chart or Album Chart and you can see for yourself how undistinctive most of today’s cover artwork is once shrunk down (largely because eyecatching cover artwork is no longer seen as important as e-mail campaigns, ‘street teams’ and media coverage, it’s almost now an afterthought).

So those people we’ve been making stuff for by and large are those only too happy for someone out there to be making up Sims 3 stuff for them, and they’ve no intentions of stopping us making their fans happy (and more to the point keeping up their fans interest in them!). There’s a time for protecting ‘intellectual property’, and there’s a time to say vivat crescat floreat.

They may also have been a certain matter of timing, and matters going on behind the scenes we were unaware of.

The day after we were told the IFPI were withdrawing their complaint, it was announced that the original version of the song ‘Belsen Was A Gas’ was finally to be released as part of yet another repackaging of the Sex Pistols first album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols’ – much to the annoyance of John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten). Which of course was all down to Universal – the company charged with the undue ability to pull on the IFPI’s strings.

The official story was that the ‘lost demo’ had been found. Not convincing. The original (and rushed) artwork for the backside of the No.1 album ‘Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols’ (see above) clearly shows ‘Belsen Was A Gas’ as one of the tracks (it also lists ‘Liar’ twice by accident). It was to have been included, but the storm generated by the single ‘God Save The Queen’ meant both Virgin Records and the Sex Pistols took fright (even though they’d already announced ‘Belsen’ was to be the fourth and final single from the album). Instead, a brand new track, ‘Holidays In The Sun’**** became the taster single, but it was too late (and too expensive) to reprint the artwork corrected (only in reissue was this done, with ‘Holidays’ replacing ‘Belsen’ and the extra ‘Liar’ removed.

A re-recorded (and far better version) with ‘Great Train Robbery’ escaped prisoner Ronnie Biggs, a saxaphone and significally rewritten lyrics at Biggs insistence §§§  was meant to be a single the following year after ‘No One Is Innocent’, but again Virgin and the Sex Pistols backed off at the last minute (after the furore over the previous Biggs single), although it (and a live version with Rotton) did find their way onto the album ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’. 

Fast forward to 2012. With Universal now holding the rights to the Sex Pistols back catalogue, there’s nothing that the Sex Pistols could do to stop Universal from using the very last piece of new material available to sell that album all over again to the ‘completists’ (except of course cry all the way to the bank from the royalties…).

For Rotten in particular this was a piece of very unwelcome news with the new (and self-financed from John Lydon’s fee for the infamous Country Life butter adverts) Public Image Limited album running into controversy over the song ‘Out Of The Woods’, purporting to be about Stonewall Jackson’s famous victory at Chancellorsville from the point of view of black Confederate soldier Louis Nelson – a very touchy subject in the U.S (as is much to do with the utterly brutal American Civil War).

Quite aside from having the NAACP now on his back (Rotten referring to ‘The War For Southern Independence’ not exactly helping matters), now there was the worry of the various holocaust groups doing the same (ironically they had said nothing when PiL toured Israel in 2010 whilst he was being attacked by pro-Palestinian groups), which could have disastrous consequences for sales of ‘This Is PiL’ and their self-financed tour dates in the U.S. and Europe (perhaps even gigs being cancelled at great expense he could ill afford).

So, best beloved, did the IFPI get in touch with Universal or Sex Pistols Residuals to see how they felt, or did either of them intervene – and either way tell the IFPI in no uncertain terms to drop it pretty damn quick lest it end up becoming another controversy in waiting they could ill afford and later ‘angle’ for the media to pick up on and keep the s**tstorm going just when they needed it least?

Unlikely, but with the media during the ‘silly season’, a ‘punk’s self-styled anarchists and rebels bully fans of child’s computer game with legal threats’ could have had disastrous commercial consequences – the ultimate ‘proof’ they were now only in it for the money like all the other bands they’d decried over the decades.

We will never know. But there was one other curious matter that happened shortly after.

Those Sex Pistols t-shirts and posters Live Nation had put back for sale on the EA forum… all mysteriously vanished!

**** There’s little doubt that ‘Holidays In The Sun’ was a rushed replacement given the parallels with ‘Belsen Was A Gas’. Quite aside from sounding suspiciouly similar to The Jam’s single ‘In The City’ – which had charted at the same time as ‘God Save The Queen’ – it was complete with several nods to the track it had replaced: an intro sample of Nazi stormtroopers marching and reference to West Berlin as ‘the new Belsen’.

For those wondering why they referred to West Berlin as this, under the Nazis Bergen-Belsen was a Wehrmacht and SS run transit camp for trading prisoners with outside governments – usually for money – as well as a Prisoner Of War camp. The transit camp was often showcased in propaganda movies to show how well prisoners were supposedly being treated. It only fell into the state of dilapidation, chaos and disease that made it a byword for the Nazi horrors from the summer of 1944 when prisoners from concentration camps (especially Auschwitz) were evacuated to there in massive numbers with calamitous results (the population increasing tenfold), and the camp was liberated in April 1945 whilst still technically still behind enemy lines because its typhus epidemic had grown so out of hand it threatened to start a pandemic.

Fast forward to 1977, and West Berlin was a trapped democractic enclave surrounded by Communist East Germany. Heavily subsidised by the West to look like one large non-stop party, the building of subsidised nightclubs and bars near to the Berlin Wall in particular was encouraged to rub the East German Grenztruppen‘s noses in it about how great life in the current West German regime was (the large number of homeless who would spend the night in the carriages of the 24-hour running U-Bahn underground that went through East and West Berlin said otherwise, but that’s another story). History repeating itself, first as tragedy, second as farce…

§§§ Who was that ‘Ernie Leadbetter’ he mentioned by the way? A dopey character from then popular TV show ‘The Dukes Of Hazzard’ – another exclusive piece of Mare’s Nest trivia for you!)