EMI Apparently Forgot Grey Album Disaster; Issues Takedown Of Wu Tang vs. Beatles

from the haven't-we-done-this-before? dept

I'm beginning to think that EMI is trying to commit suicide, given many of its recent actions. Its latest move is to force offline a wildly popular mashup, mixing The Beatles with The Wu Tang Clan., despite it getting rave reviews and lots of attention... and despite a history of similar actions backfiring massively for EMI.

Let's take a look back. Apparently the folks over at EMI/Capitol Records have no sense of history. Back in 2004, DJ Danger Mouse put together "The Grey Album," a fantastic mashup of The Beatles' "The White Album" with Jay-Z's "The Black Album." EMI/Capitol, who holds the copyright on much of The Beatles' catalog went nuts, and started sending cease-and-desists to pretty much everyone, leading to the infamous "Grey Tuesday" on February 24, 2004, where lots of websites posted the album in protest. Years later, EMI admitted that the Grey Album didn't do any harm, but the company didn't care, saying "It's not a question of damage; it's a question of rights." Except, that's not true at all. If no damage is being done -- and, in fact, such a mashup is likely to attract a lot more attention to your back catalog from an audience who might not be that familiar with it, you're making a pretty huge mistake. That's just business.

Of course, EMI/Capitol refuses to learn. A few years later, when someone put together a Beatles/Beach Boys mashup, EMI/Capitol again sent out cease-and-desists and demanded the IP addresses of anyone who downloaded the album.

And here we are today, as EMI/Capitol (who, last we saw, was trying to bootstrap a fake word of mouth viral campaign, after its suits blocked a real viral campaign) is fighting to stay alive, as it is massively in debt, with little hope of getting out of it.

So what does EMI/Capitol decide to do? The same thing that's helped fuel this downward spiral: send out cease-and-desists on wildly popular mashups.

Towards the end of January, word started spreading online of a mashup put together by Tom Caruana and Tea Side Records, called "Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles: Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers." I have to admit, I've been listening to it a lot the last few weeks, and it's really well done. It quickly started receiving rave reviews online. If you listen, this certainly isn't just playing Wu Tang vocals over Beatles instrumentals. As many noticed, the beats are changed significantly to fit with the vocals.

But, apparently, that's not going to satisfy EMI/Capitol. It's not entirely clear what happened, but the album has been removed from where it was originally posted, and the only explanation is a short comment on February 10th:
Had to remove all Wu Beatles material at Capitol Records request
So, yes, as EMI/Capitol are battling for survival, its lawyers thought the best thing to do with their time was to send a cease & desist to an album that might actually get them some attention and sell some Beatles albums -- and they do so knowing how badly this backfired with The Grey Album, leading many to swear off EMI releases. No wonder they're going out of business.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    David T, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 2:10pm

    I'd say it's tragic, but...

    Progressive evolution often requires extinction of the dominant power. EMI/Capitol served it's purpose, and now it's time for them to fade into the annals of business which perished because they couldn't react to change.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Joe (profile), Feb 15th, 2010 @ 2:19pm

    Not that it matters much, but I've heard the album, and it's pretty solid. I wonder if this will escalate the album to the status of the Grey Album. It was, in my opinion, far better than the original Black Album, just as this is far better than the original 36 Chanbers.

    I won't be sad to see EMI go though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 15th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Trendy!

    Perhaps a trend will begin--a trend of "anything mixed with a Beatles album ends up being better, plus gets a ton of free publicity."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    DTH, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 2:27pm

    Re: Re: Trendy!

    EMI might be banking on that to help drive Beatles and Wu-Tang sales. It costs them some money in legal costs, but suing people is probably a cheaper promotional device than a nation-wide ad campaign.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    FormerAC (profile), Feb 15th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    Thanks EMI

    If it wasn't for this article about the takedown notice, I might not have downloaded Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles: Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), Feb 15th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    Holy Streisand Effect Batman!

    Robin, to the BitTorrent!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 3:22pm

    Re:

    The meme "Holy [humorous expletive] Batman!" and all derivative, subsidiary, or even plain similar works are copyright DC Comics. We order you to immediately remove the offending material and cease and desist from all further mention, distribution, propagation, circulation, dissemination, and cognition of our precious property. We also require an immediate apology letter for potentially costing us untold trillions of dollars, as well as hurting our feelings, and to allow our Rabid Attack Lawyers™ access to all the beer in your fridge (trust us, they need it).

    Failure to comply will result in unpleasant ministrations and sanctions as outlined in the "We Refuse to Enter the Digital Millenium Copyright Act" (WREDMCA) up to including indian burns, swirlies, and 50 million years imprisonment in a penal asteroid mining facility.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 3:25pm

    the quicker emi die the better, how many places can you legaly get the beatles back catalogue online. once they're forced to auction it off a new generation should be exposed to some good music.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    :), Feb 15th, 2010 @ 3:34pm

    Sue them batman!

    Instead, on March 18, the NFL sent another takedown notice to YouTube. Seltzer said that "sending a second notification that fails to acknowledge the fair use claims [made in her first counter-notice] instead puts NFL into the 512(f)(1) category of 'knowingly materially misrepresent[ing] … that material or activity is infringing.'" And that would open the door for Seltzer to sue the NFL for filing improper DMCA takedowns.


    Source

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), Feb 15th, 2010 @ 4:26pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm out of beer. So the RAL's will have to b.y.o.b.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    interval, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 4:40pm

    Re: Thanks EMI

    > "If it wasn't for this article about the takedown notice, I might not have downloaded Wu-Tang vs. The Beatles: Enter the Magical Mystery Chambers"

    Same here, I'm looking for a torrent link now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 7:10pm

    "It's not a question of damage; it's a question of rights."

    First of all, Intellectual property is not a right, it's a PRIVILEGE. I don't care how much you or the bribed government/legal system calls it a right, it is NOT.

    Secondly, in order to sue you should be required to prove damages.

    Thirdly, any money you make due to make as a result of these privileges, via a lawsuit, royalties, or otherwise, are UNOWED, since no one owes you intellectual property privileges to begin with.

    Fourthly, it's not a question of "damages", it's a question of "promoting the progress." and nothing you do promotes the progress, it only hinders progress. So you should not be granted any IP privileges whatsoever.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 7:17pm

    Re:

    (to continue where I left off)

    Finally, you (the EMI) should be SEVERELY PUNISHED for your attempts to hinder the progress in violation of the constitution. Punished enough to prevent you from EVER doing so again and hopefully enough to cause you to almost go out of business.

    There should be a three strikes law. First strike, a million dollars to everyone you tried to extort. Second attempt to hinder the progress, 25 percent of your assets should be auctioned away. Third strike, you go out of business by force and your CEO's get jailed for 5 years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 7:18pm

    Re: Re:

    errr. C_O's

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 7:26pm

    Re: Re:

    Who's with me?

    THREE STRIKE LAW!!! THREE STRIKE LAW!!! THREE STRIKE LAW!!!

    We should jail all of the C_O's and managing directors of all of these extortion corporations (ie: RIAA, MPAA, EMI, etc...).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 8:07pm

    Didnt your mother teach you? That much self-linking will make you go blind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    athe, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Re: Re:

    Heeheehee... You said "penal"...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    bye birdie is, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 8:20pm

    Hmmm

    All the links I found had the content or page removed. I just got it anyway in under three minutes. Tell me how takedown notices are effective?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Andrew Boughton, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 8:56pm

    Negotiation

    The problem is not EMI related. It all boils down the the Beatles and the respective estate managers. EMI would gladly exploit any opportunity to monetize it's assets. You are so quick to blame the "Evil" empire, when you know absolutely zip. It's the ARTIST and the estate managers that block these types of deals.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 9:05pm

    Re: Negotiation

    The question is, who owns the copyright privileges. They're the ones responsible.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2010 @ 9:36pm

    Re: Re: Negotiation

    Maybe yes and maybe no. It all depends upon the terms of any contract(s) between the parties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Bas Grasmayer, Feb 16th, 2010 @ 4:26am

    I just hope they won't blame piracy when they go bankrupt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    ethorad (profile), Feb 16th, 2010 @ 4:46am

    Re:

    I wouldn't bet on it though

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 16th, 2013 @ 2:24am

    Re:

    So then, I guess that I can steal your art from deviantArt and present it as my own elsewhere without your permission, eh? Fair is fair.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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