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Universal, the RIAA, etc. Continue to Suck


Passion

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Several years ago I persuaded my record company to let me begin posting my master recording files on nin.com, in order to see what kind of user-generated content would materialize from my music. I had no agenda? the main reason I did it was because I thought it was cool and something I would have liked to do if it was available to me. A lot of really fun stuff started to happen?.communities developed, web sites were created, even traditional radio got in the game and began playing the fans' mixes. I felt the experiment, despite not having a specific purpose, was a success. So much so that we're now releasing a remix album that includes some of this fan-created material as well as the actual multitrack master files for every song from my latest record, Year Zero.

 

One piece was missing to me and that was an official nin.com presence for aggregating all of the fan-created remixes. Several intrepid fans had stepped up and done a great job providing a destination for people to post these, but I felt all along this was a function I should more directly support. So, upon release of this new remix album, our plan has been to launch an official site on nin.com that would provide a place for all fan remix material and other interactive fan experiences.

 

Or so I thought.

 

On Saturday morning I became aware of a legal hitch in our plans. My former record company and current owner of all these master files, Universal, is currently involved in a lawsuit with other media titans Google (YouTube) and News Corp (MySpace). Universal is contending that these sites do not have what is referred to as "safe harbor" under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and therefore are in copyright violation because users have uploaded music and video content that is owned by Universal. Universal feels that if they host our remix site, they will be opening themselves up to the accusation that they are sponsoring the same technical violation of copyright they are suing these companies for. Their premise is that if any fan decides to remix one of my masters with material Universal doesn't own - a "mash-up", a sample, whatever - and upload it to the site, there is no safe harbor under the DMCA (according to Universal) and they will be doing exactly what MySpace and YouTube are doing. This behavior may get hauled out in court and impact their lawsuit. Because of this they no longer will host our remix site, and are insisting that Nine Inch Nails host it. In exchange for this they will continue to let me upload my Universal masters and make them available to fans, BUT shift the liability of hosting them to me. Part of the arrangement is having user licenses that the fans sign (not unlike those on MySpace or You Tube) saying they will not use unauthorized materials. If they WERE to do such a thing, everybody sues everybody and the world abruptly ends.

 

While I am profoundly perturbed with this stance as content owners continue to stifle all innovation in the face of the digital revolution, it is consistent with what they have done in the past. So... we are challenged at the last second to find a way of bringing this idea to life without getting splashed by the urine as these media companies piss all over each other?s feet. We have a cool and innovative site ready to launch but we're currently scratching our heads as to how to proceed.

More to come?.

 

By the way, the potential implications of a lawsuit like this one go well beyond creating hurdles for a Nine Inch Nails remix site. Here is an excerpt from technology site Ars Technica regarding a similar lawsuit Viacom has filed against YouTube:

 

The DMCA's Safe Harbor provisions aren't just important to video sharing sites; they're important to almost every sector of Internet-based business.

"Nearly every major Internet company depends on the very same legal foundation that YouTube is built on," said von Lohmann. "A legal defeat for YouTube could result in fundamental changes to its business, potentially even making it commercially impossible to embrace user-generated content without first 'clearing' every video. In other words, a decisive victory for Viacom could potentially turn the Internet into TV, a place where nothing gets on the air until a cadre of lawyers signs off," he said. "More importantly, a victory for Viacom could potentially have enormous implications for Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, MySpace, and many other Internet companies, because they all rely on the same DMCA Safe Harbors to protect many facets of their businesses, as well. The stakes are high all around."

 

Indeed.

http://nin.com/

 

I stress that everyone should read this. That last paragraph is particularly haunting.

 

Its downright ridiculous an artist can't even do what he pleases with his own master tapes especially in an instance where he is throwing an enormous bone to the fans.

 

I was looking forward to picking up the album on the way to my flight this evening but I'm extremely hesitant to line the pockets of Universal after this.

 

:banghead

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I stress that everyone should read this. That last paragraph is particularly haunting.

 

Its downright ridiculous an artist can't even do what he pleases with his own master tapes especially in an instance where he is throwing an enormous bone to the fans.

 

I was looking forward to picking up the album on the way to my flight this evening but I'm extremely hesitant to line the pockets of Universal after this.

 

:banghead

 

I feel for his fans, but he signed that contract that gave the masters to universal. Its rough, but that is the music business in general.

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the big record companies really took a big hit yesterday, as people see "they are who they thought they were".

 

a must read from wired with some revealing doug morris (head of umg) quotes.

 

quote from record exec Jermaine Dupri in another must read article:

 

Soulja Boy sold almost 4 million singles and only 300,000 albums! We let the consumer have too much of what they want, too soon, and we hurt ourselves. Back in the day when people were excited about a record coming out we'd put out a single to get the ball going and if we sold a lot of singles that was an indication we'd sell a lot of albums. But we'd cut the single off a few weeks before the album came out to get people to wait and let the excitement build. When I put out Kris Kross we did that. We sold two million singles, then we stopped. Eventually we sold eight million albums!

 

i don't buy (or use other methods of acquiring) music really or follow the industry too much, but from what i've read in threads about these topics, record ceo's are possibly some of the slimiest people out there.

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Guest Night Phantom

I don't see how that's slimey, it's just a strategy. A strategy that isn't working now, and they're complaining because they aren't intelligent enough to adapt and provide enough incentives to purchase their product.

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