EMI Admits No Harm Came From Grey Album, But Still

from the come-now dept

One of the more high-profile copyright battles in recent memory was the battle over the Grey Album, which melded Jay-Z's The Black Album with The Beatles' White Album, much to the consternation of EMI, which let the cease & desist letters fly. It was never clear why EMI, which controls The Beatles' music was so upset, as the album can't possibly have done much to damage future sales of Beatles music; if anything, it probably exposed people to it that hadn't before been familiar with the band. Speaking at the Web 2.0 conference, a representative of EMI has admitted to this, that there wasn't any harm from the album, as he put it, "It's not a question of damage, it's a question of rights." What this means is that the company's strategy is being driven not by the operations side, which could have recognized that there was no harm, but by the legal side, that has an interest in seeing more of these cases. And seeing more cases they have, as it recently went after another project similar to the Grey Album. Obviously, a company needs lawyers, but when they're making business decisions, then there's problems.


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  1.  
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    Jamie, Nov 10th, 2006 @ 2:00pm

    It's all about control

    This isn't really about making more work for the lawyers. This all about control. So it doesn't matter if the Grey album didn't hurt sales. EMI didn't control the Grey album. So they had to try to kill it. They are correct this fight is about "rights." The big content companies believe that they should have the "right" to control every instance/copy/remix/snippet/performance of a song they "own." In their view there would be no place for fair use or creativity that wasn't controlled by them. This attitude isn’t coming from the lawyers. It’s coming from the execs that are feeling more and more a loss of control as current technologies become more common.

     

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  2.  
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    misanthropic humanist, Nov 10th, 2006 @ 2:08pm

    All lawyers are parasites

    In other words their legal department is out of control. They are not alone. Sony have a legal department that is out of control. SCO had a legal department that became so out of control the company became nothing more than a bunch of lawyers. When you have a department that acts against the best interests of a company it's a cancer in the organism.

    We need to reach a point where the commercial world starts to feel sick. Right now corporations have a terminal illness but they don't recognise the symptoms. A combination of greedy incompetent lawyers and pathological legislature is creating an arms race that is destroying all but a handful of mega-corporations with very deep pockets.

    Eventually this bodes a trainwreck of collosal proportions, a point at which business and community engage in wholesale rejection of contemporary law. Not because they are radical, or aggrieved, but simply because they cannot continue to do business or function any longer. The lawyers are quite simply strangling the Western economies. The point is, we don't need them.

    Law is like religion. It works for only one reason, that we recognise it. The moment enough people turn their backs on the corrupt system of lawyers, courts and power hungry politicians they will crumble to dust. An organisation as powerful as Google could be the catalyst. If they were simply to declare that they *do not recognise* the intellectual property claims against them, and what the hell can any government or courts do against a corporation with a globally distributed and indispensible operation on that scale - well that could set the chain of events going.
    I think it needs, and will involve a revolutionary step like that because the legal system is now far beyond reform.

    If you work in any company, government department or community project at any level you should be thinking about this future. Thinking about firing your lawyers now. Throw these parasites out the door and simply declare that your organisation does not recognise the authority or juristiction of bought laws. It only takes a few movers to set the whole pile of dominos falling. Then we can get on with building a better world based on reason and progress. Unless we can take power away from the lawyers and return them to their correct place as servants and not masters of business then the future is bleak for us all, China and the developing nations that don't join in these silly games are going to wipe the floor with us and leave us in the dark ages.

     

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  3.  
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    MissingFrame, Nov 10th, 2006 @ 2:31pm

    Lawsuits Begets Lawsuits

    Some companies get sued so much they hire a bunch of lawyers, and when those lawyers have nothing to do they start making more work for themselves.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2006 @ 2:42pm

    Its obvious to a lot of people that the legal system is really just a battle field for corporate entities and the wealthy, nothing more. The only reason middle class and lower people have anything to do with it is if they get caught breaking the "law"; then the "law" quickly deals with the "problem" at hand so it can turn its attention to the real money action. By the People for the People blah blah blah. Its a senseless money processing machine.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2006 @ 2:43pm

    I dont think the problem is so much that the lawyers are out of control, but that we let them get that way and continue to let them stay that way.

    We continue to let them stay that way because our society is so affluent that we simply have far too much to lose if we rock the boat. The kinds of oppression that move people to revolution are much more visceral than this vague strangling of business activities and esoteric art.

    This is made complicated by the fact that most people can imagine a need for rules and laws of business which at least exceed their own comprehension. If it is good to have laws exceeding your comprehension (although never ones applying to yourself) then how can you condemn laws that exceed your complication? Maybe theres good reasons for them--who can know? But the wrongness is not visceral. Only the wrong consequences matter and I think most folk are ethically savvy enough to know that a system creating undesirable consequences may nevertheless be the best system available. Certainly it is preferable to a chaotic legal vaccuum.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 10th, 2006 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    I also view this as similar to a nuclear arms race. There is nothing wrong with wanting the strength to guarantee security from your opponents. But when everyone wants this, the prisoner's dilemma creates a monstrous situation.

    Except in this case the nukes have minds of their own and are manipulating things to get put into action. Is it any wonder we're in the midst of a legal holocaust?

    Sap the strength of these weapons running amok and we can get this thing under control. This responsibility falls on everyone--individuals, businesses, and governments. Every time you try and control a business (with lawyers) by creating laws you just feed the fire. Every time your business files a lawsuit over an issue that would have historically remained a gentleman's disagreement in a noble effort to compensate for an incident in which you were wronged you are childishly demanding the last word--and the lawyers will see to it that the argument never ends. Every time you miss an opportunity to curse a lawyer for being the scourge of the earth, or vote on legislators who favor laws, or forget to carry your own self with the dignity necessary in a world without laws and lawyers--you exacerbate the problem.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Nov 10th, 2006 @ 4:07pm

    impending legal holocaust

    You are so right MissingFrame. In days of yore Kings and Queens never kept standing armies. A standing army is an internal security risk unless you can put them to foreign wars. Unemployed lawyers hanging around with nothing to do are a nuicance and burden to any organisation, which is why you should hire and fire them in short measure.

    I say to AC#5 and AC#6, maybe I didn't make the point about a revolutionary tipping point very well. Of course there is no visceral motivation from the roots, not yet. It would be wrong to say people are not starving or dying because of broken laws and misguided lawyers, they are, in their millions. I am thinking of patents vis AIDS medicines and the bleeding of intellectual property nonsense into agricultural biotech where it threatens the self sufficiency of entire nations. But as you say, people do not see across this disconnect from the consequences on the ground to the causes in the boardrooms except in an undirected and wild anti-capitalist anarchic rage. They do still cling to that naive belief that "laws must be for good". I don't believe a popular revolution will happen to change that, but I do believe a revolution "at the top" will occur once the pot boils down to the last few players who will put "all options on the table" to survive. That revolution will be quick, bloodless and paradigm shifting. It will amount to one or more of the few remaining players simply dismissing the law and moving to work outside that framework. At that point, no government or system will be able to stop them because so much power will have amassed in a small place that a chaotic legal vacuum WILL be preferrable to the status quo. You can already see that real politic in post-Soviet Eastern Europe. I don't think this is desirable, it is the door to defacto Fascism, but inless we move to temper the lawyers now this is our future.

    I must add, I am not an anarchist. As one who believes in a coherent and fair system of law and justice I feel no qualms about trying to protect it by saying that the greatest threat to individuals, community, government and business is the very direction of the law itself. It is destroying itself by making itself irrelevant to general mass, through inconsistency, over-complexity, corruption and arbitary action. We are all losing repect for the law, which is a dangerous and sad thing.

    And the problem is the lawyers. They are in disarray. They are no different to the standing armies of yesteryear, becoming roaming thugs and vandals blighting the land. They should be liquidated and employed elsewhere in society.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 11th, 2006 @ 8:18am

    First point by Jamie was right on the money... its all about control. - Marty - Lehigh Valley Web Design

     

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  9.  
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    satan, Nov 11th, 2006 @ 10:06pm

    LOL

    you can't kill it, it's eternal and can never be destroyed

     

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  10.  
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    RTS, Nov 15th, 2006 @ 2:56pm

    Misanthropic Humanist is amazing.

    "Law is like religion. It works for only one reason, that we recognise it. The moment enough people turn their backs on the corrupt system of lawyers, courts and power hungry politicians they will crumble to dust."

    I love it.

     

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  11.  
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    BLACK INFIDEL, Nov 22nd, 2006 @ 9:42am

    Shooting Themselves in the Foot

    As a young guy (25) who never listened to or had any interest in the Beatles, when I heard the Grey Album had hit the internet, I immidiately hit Limewire and downloaded the whole thing. As a Jay-Z fan, I already owned the Black Album and was curious to hear the remix. I dug it and it piqued my interest in Beatles music and I then began listening to album clips online and researching Beatles history ie: free exposure for an old band to a new generation. What does EMI do? They sue.

    The Grey Album is free advertising and new exposure for a band that most of today's youth could have cared less about. EMI needs to realize that this sort of internet viral spread of information is what is next. Either embrace it or fight it like all the record companies fought peer to peer file sharing. We all know how that has turned out.

     

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