Tuesday, November 20, 2007

He Was Up Above It

artist rendering by Zeemort

Trent has been all happy go lucky these days from the launch of Saul's new album, becoming label free, and just generally being Master of his Domain, as evident from this artist rendering (drawn from life), but it seems there's a hitch with the new remix album...or the remix album site anyways. From the NIN.com site:

19 November 2007: Copyright Fun

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.

All joking aside folks, this is a serious issue. That much is made clear in the lawsuit excerpt. Wish I could elaborate more but a touch of food poisoning has me down. -blech- Damn the man!

16 comments:

pokeydots said...

The ultimate realization - the inmates have finally taken over the asylum. Give'em an inch and they will take a mile!

I hope TR uses this experience artistically and carries a big stick.

Zeemort said...

Yeah, silly scribblings aside this is totally FUBAR.

I'd like to think that this is a last desperate attempt from Universal to 'save' themselves and it'll amount to nothing, but realistically, I'm not so sure.

I just HOPE that the bloated bastards get what they deserve.

Danny Angel said...

You know I actually am on the opposite side of this.

It is easy for Trent to get all high and mighty about "big business" but consider that these copyright-related laws we are discussing are:

1) The reason Trent has money to do all the things he does... including going label-less now.

2) The reason that other bands can't steal his songs, do them in a more commercial fashion and make money that should be his.

Now, I love youtube and mash-ups and copyright-wise I think they are pretty harmless but LEGALLY universal (or whatever company) does own the rights to this stuff. It goes both ways, too. Let's say I write the best song ever and Trent steals it or does a mash-up and makes lots of money. He is making money, partially, off of my work. Trent didn't need to sign with a label, sell millions of records and be rich. He chose to do that by signing a contract that stipulated various things and he should honor that. He couldn't have become "Trent" without Universal's deep pockets. Without them he'd be "that Creepy guy Trent from Cleveland who used to play in flock-of-seagulls rip-offs in the 80s"

Happy Thanksgiving for the US posters.

JR said...

I finally figured out what Places Parallel translates to. Turns out it means: a web site that sprang from the ashes of a website about Trent Reznor, that's not about Trent Reznor per se, but devotes two out of three posts to Trent Reznor.

God, guys.

Good for Universal for at least not being a pot calling a kettle black. Danny's right; it's a kind of integrity.

Happy Thanksgiving, indeed. I plan to carve out some time (no pun intended) to make a heaping helping of podcasts in the next few days devoted to my extreme Christmas fetish. Stay tuned.

Iris said...

Well JR what do you expect when we still have his dead dog on the payroll?

maise said...

What? Dan is being contrary and JR is complaining? I can't keep track of all this when I have a new ipod touch for my birthday.

The Bitch said...

I don't understand the point of the iPod Touch. It pales in comparison to the iPhone. Neither have enough room for all my music to satisfy. But Since I got my iPhone as a gift I don't have much room to complain.

Zeemort said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maise said...

The point of the ipod touch is that it's really damn cool!

I'm the last person on earth to get an ipod, I think. I was originally going to push for an ipod nano for Christmas, but then Mr. Maise decided that the ipod touch was cooler. It's basically exactly the same as an iphone without the phone, and I already have a cell phone. The thing that attracted me to the iphone to begin with was the touchscreen, the ability to surf the web, hold pictures, act as an ipod...all the things I can now do.

Awesome present...Mr. Maise did good.

Meanwhile, I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving. And Mr. Maise and I are getting our second dog!!!!

JR said...

Thanksgiving is SO 24 hours ago.

You should be listening to some Christmas music by now.

Danny Angel said...

Damn it - I saw it was gonna be you b-day, Maise and STILL forgot. Happy (late) birthday.

How dare you call me contrary.

New musical obsession:

JUDAS PRIEST

I always thought they were super-lame until one of friends pointed out that next to Black Sabbath they are the most legendary heavy metal act ever. So far I have to say that the albums "Screaming for Vengeance" and "Painkiller" are awesome.

JR said...

I can't believe Halford was under the gaydar, so to speak, for so long.

I mean, really.

Lavander said...

How was your tofurkey Angelman?

I don't care what anyone says. I love it!

maise said...

Angelman, I fully support your obsession with Judas Priest.

Danny Angel said...

The Tofurky was great, I mean really great. We had rolls, cranberry sauce, candied yams, mashed potatoes, Tofurky, soy smoked chicken, stuffing, gravy, mixed vegetables, pumpkin pie, apple pie and carrot cake.

And it was all vegan and great. I ate way too much.

Yeah - I can feel a Priest obsession setting in. The funny thing is that the early Priest records have that Blue Oyster Cult feel in that they are heavy, slightly progressive and very self-indulgent. Good stuff, though. I'm trying to go back through and listen to stuff that I missed. There was a wave of Swedish Death Metal in the 90s that I totally missed and it was some great stuff.

JR said...

Angelman, I support your obsession with tofurkey.