Copyright Fun: Universal vs. YouTube and MySpace takes its first casualty...

Copyright Fun

"Several years ago I persuaded my record company to let me begin posting my master recording files on nin.com, [...] communities developed, web sites were created, even traditional radio got in the game and began playing the fans' mixes. I felt the experiment [...] 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. [...] 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 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, [...] they will be doing exactly what MySpace and YouTube are doing. [...] Because of this they no longer will host our remix site, and are insisting that NIN 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 [...] 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..."

Update, 27.11.2007:
"Sometimes you just have to say... "fuck it." The remix site is up! Have fun." [remix.nin.com]

[nin.com] [yearzero.nin.com] [yearzero.nin.com/remix]
[myspace.com/nin] [ninwiki.com] [yearzero.de]