Why Is The RIAA Sending Takedown Notices Over Music Radiohead Gave Away For Free?

from the seems-odd dept

One of the "wakeup calls" for the music industry to recognize new business models were coming was the famous Radiohead "name your own price" experiment for the album In Rainbows. Frankly, I still think that particular experiment gets too much attention, as it wasn't well thought out or organized and was mostly done on a whim. I also thought the band made a mistake in ending the download portion even if many people mistakenly claimed that this was an admission that the project was a failure (the band said from the very beginning this was their plan). And, when the numbers came out, it became clear that the experiment was a huge success.

Since then, the band has also come out as very pro-file sharing and anti-RIAA. For example, the band's manager has said that file sharing should be legal and that it is "a great thing for culture and music." In the meantime, Radiohead's Thom Yorke has pointed out that the record labels have been unable to innovate and has predicted the imminent demise of the major labels. Oh, and most importantly for those who claimed the "free" part of their release was a failure, last summer the band officially released a track for free and distributed it via BitTorrent themselves.

So, all of that should make you wonder why the RIAA and the IFPI are issuing DMCA takedown notices for blogs that have hosted In Rainbows. Why indeed? TorrentFreak notes, accurately, that Radiohead did do deals with major labels for distribution of the physical album of In Rainbows, but I was pretty sure they kept the copyrights themselves. Perhaps that's not the case? However, it does seem strange to see songs from In Rainbows included in takedown requests from the RIAA and the IFPI.

We keep hearing from the RIAA and the IFPI that all they want is for consumers to "respect the artists' wishes" when it comes to how their music gets distributed. So, we have to ask, since Radiohead has made it pretty clear they're perfectly happy with their digital copies being distributed this way, why won't the RIAA and IFPI "respects the artists' wishes" on Radiohead's In Rainbows?


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 8:57am

    Simple answer

    because RIAA and the IFPI aren't there to represent the artists, but the industry. And the industry is harmed by actions like Radiohead's... at least that's the perception in the crumbling ivory towers of RIAA and IFPI. They are losing control very fast, control they have grown used to in a very short time. and now they are grasping at straws to keep that control, through bullying tactics, and they don't care about whether it's truthful or respects the artists' wishes.

     

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      Richard (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:01am

      Re: Simple answer

      They probably don't even realise which band it is or whether they have the correct set of rights. Their legal department is on autopilot.

       

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      Greevar (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:17am

      Re: Simple answer

      The recording industry is like an abusive spouse. They use you when it's convenient for them and when you try to do something that violates their control of the relationship, they get nasty. They call you names, they break your things, and they try to reassert their dominance over the relationship. They've become so comfortable with using artists and beating up on consumers that they think they have the right to do so. There's only one thing you can do. You need to end the relationship.

       

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      seizure507, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:10am

      Re: Simple answer

      Nine inch nails did this with a few of there albums and never got issued a takedown, and they did the same thing radiohead is doing.....hmmmm wonder were they got there idea.....

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:01am

    Like you said, it depends on if they (radiohead) actually kept the copyrights themselves. Or maybe they're under contract with a major label, that covers everything they release for a certain length of time.
    You know the RIAA won't say one way or the other, especially if they're at fault, and who would believe anything they say anyway. The only way to know is if we hear it straight from Radiohead.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:05am

    There fixed for ya.

    because RIAA and the IFPI aren't there to represent the artists, but the industry. And the industry is harmed by actions like Radiohead's... at least that's the perception in the crumbling ivory towers of RIAA and IFPI. They lost control very fast, control they have grown used to in a very short time. and now they are grasping at straws to regain that control, through bullying tactics, and they don't care about whether it's truthful or respects the artists' wishes.


    They are not loosing, they lost complete control over it, which I don't even think they had before, what they did had before was the illusion of control, because they were able to dictate the terms to other business and still do, but when it comes to the general public they never had any control, that is just ridiculous, people shared and copied by the bucked, is just now they have an idea of the real size of that behaviour now.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:08am

    Maybe Radiohead signed a 360° deal.

    If so what a shmoo they are.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:16am

    "Since then, the band has also come out as very pro-file sharing and anti-RIAA"

    -to-

    "TorrentFreak notes, accurately, that Radiohead did do deals with major labels for distribution of the physical album of In Rainbows, but I was pretty sure they kept the copyrights themselves."

    Does not compute. They hated the RIAA so much that they crawled back to them a few months later?

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:24am

      Re:

      The ddal with the labels was for shiny discs only.

      For the rest we'll have to wait for Radiohead to comment which they haven't till now. (They could be WTFing along with a lot of other people and calling in lawyers and such.)

      There's quite the debate going on at TorrentFreak about it.

       

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:31am

      Re:

      The record labels suck at a lot (*a lot*!) of things, but moving shiny plastic discs all over the globe is something they are good at.

      I don't know who the hell is still buying CDs, though.

       

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        Michael Kohne, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:31am

        Who buys CDs?

        I do - I then proceed to rip them to my computer, drop the tracks onto my player and stuff the CD into the box in the basement.

        I have bought a few things digitally, but there's just something I like about having a physical copy of my purchase.

         

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          btr1701 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:55am

          Re: Who buys CDs?

          > I have bought a few things digitally, but
          > there's just something I like about having a
          > physical copy of my purchase.

          Same here. I look at the CDs as basically a back-up system for my hard drive, should it ever shit the bed.

          My taste in music also runs to some rather obscure classical and soundtrack recordings which are often not available in the online music stores. It's CD or nothing for those.

           

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            The Infamous Joe (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 12:22pm

            Re: Re: Who buys CDs?

            I look at the CDs as basically a back-up system for my hard drive, should it ever shit the bed.

            Funny, I look at the internet as a backup system for my hard drive. (when it comes to music, anyway)

            It just so happened that I ran into this last month, when I had a (admittedly very old) hard drive fail on me. Luckily, the only thing on it I cared about were a few hundred mp3s. So, instead of heading to the basement to dig around for the CDs, I headed to a popular torrent site and took care of it. Did I do something illegal? Probably. Should it be illegal? I obviously don't think so.

             

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          Known from Experience, Aug 3rd, 2010 @ 3:53pm

          Re: Who buys CDs?

          "stuff the CD into the box in the basement.

          I have bought a few things digitally, but there's just something I like about having a physical copy of my purchase."

          Make darn sure your basement isn't damp or humid.

          The aluminum layer on cds is *not* sealed or protected from the elements (so much for the myth of a cd "lasting forever") and the aluminum will ROT if exposed to moisture, destroying the cd. It only takes one tiny dot of decay on a cd to wreck it!

          Known from Experience

           

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        nasch (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 12:46pm

        Re: Re:

        I'd bet the proportion of CDs given as gifts is rising, and will continue to rise. "Merry Christmas, I emailed you some MP3s" is just not the same.

         

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          The Infamous Joe (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 1:13pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Merry Christmas, I emailed you some MP3s" is just not the same.

          Ignoring the fact that I've never been called by someone so they could tell me what gift they just mailed me ( :P ) I believe it would now be amazon mp3/itunes gift cards, yes?

           

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            nasch (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 3:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I was referring to an in-person gift exchange. You can see how much nicer it is to hand someone something than to tell them you have sent or will send some electronic files.

            As for the gift card, that is also not the same as picking out particular music to give. I think Amazon will eventually have something where you order a gift card that allows the recipient to download a specific set of songs, whether it's an "album" or a "mix tape" put together by the gift giver. Unless they already have and that's what you're talking about, in which case I'll shut up now.

             

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:12am

      Re:

      Does not compute. They hated the RIAA so much that they crawled back to them a few months later?


      It's not quite crawling back. It was a distribution deal only. The one thing that the record labels actually do know ow to do is distribute plastic discs.

       

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:34am

    "Perhaps that's not the case?"

    Great. Let's all speculate around this key lack. -- But the first three posters have covered all substantive points, so ingenuity is a must. Brownie points for anyone who helps sustain this possibly useless controversy.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:48am

    I just realised something.

    If my company can't compete with children I should not be in the market at all.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:05am

    If this was ASCAP I would be saying that they were trying to protect "THEIR" copyright from the EFF. Even if they don't have the right to file a DMCA take down I am guessing they would do this just to be anti-competative.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:16am

    "respect the [scam] artists" seems to be more applicable.

     

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    Corey Crossfield, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:19am

    RIAA Is The Devil

    A bit dramatic of a move but I would make an educated guess (hypothesis) that the copyright holder is not, Radiohead. If it isn't them I would venture even further to say that part of their strategy for giving their music out for free was because they didn't own it. But then again it could all be a conspiracy so who really knows?

     

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    Rich Fiscus (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:25am

    Even though I'm pretty sure Radiohead has retained copyright ownership, they put Warner/Chappell in charge of administering the rights. And there's where it gets complicated. Even though Warner/Chappell is owned by Warner Music Group, they're a separate company which, as far as I can tell, isn't a RIAA or IFPI member. And since they're purely a publishing rights company you wouldn't expect them to be. That would seem to indicate neither organization has standing to file a takedown claim.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:46am

      Re:

      You are getting publishing and recording copyrights confused.

       

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        Rich Fiscus (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:02am

        No I'm not

        Warner/Chappell administers all digital rights for In Rainbows.

        From the Warner/Chappell website:
        Warner/Chappell announced a partnership with rock band Radiohead to create a first-of-its-kind rights clearance strategy for the digital release of the album, In Rainbows.

        http://www.warnerchappell.com/ourhistory.jsp?currenttab=about_us

        From Billboard:
        Radiohead and its long-time publisher Warner/Chappell Music have launched a unique "all rights" digital licensing service for the alternative rock band's new album "In Rainbows," Billboard.biz can reveal.

        The music publishing giant has created a global "one stop shop" solution for the critically-acclaimed set, which will enable potential rights users worldwide to secure licenses from a single destination, effectively side-stepping the label and traditional collecting societies networks.

        For the new album, Warner/Chappell will administer all digital rights, including mechanical, performing, synchronisation, lyrics, master recordings, image and likeness, and will license synch rights for both publishing and master rights for TV and film synch uses in the offline world.

        http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/e3i2b2de0172fdbe913ae4cd239c685e236

         

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          Rich Fiscus (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:16am

          Re: No I'm not

          I will say I may be misunderstanding what Billboard meant by "all digital rights," but they're wording seems to suggest they are also taking over more than songwriting related administration.

           

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      Nastybutler77 (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:28am

      Re:

      Even though Warner/Chappell is owned by Warner Music Group, they're a separate company which, as far as I can tell, isn't a RIAA or IFPI member.

      From the Who We Are section of the RIAA's website:

      Warner Bros., Warner Bros. Non-Music,
      Warner Bros./Elektra, Warner Bros./Hollywood, Warner Bros./Rhino,
      Warner Classics, Warner Curb Hank, Warner Latina Non Music,
      Warner Music, Warner Music Canada, Warner Music Latina,
      Warner Music Latina/Peerless, Warner Nashville Non-Mus Video, Warner Off Roster,
      Warner P&D, Warner Strategic Marketing, Warner/Reprise Black Adv,
      Warner/Reprise Cntry Adv, Warner/Reprise Video


      Most of which would comprise the Warner Music Group I do believe.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 10:47am

    The RIAA is manned by windigos.

    At the same time, Wendigos were embodiments of gluttony, greed, and excess; never satisfied after killing and consuming one person, they were constantly searching for new victims. In some traditions, humans who became overpowered by greed could turn into Wendigos; the Wendigo myth thus served as a method of encouraging cooperation and moderation.


    Since ancient times in all cultures people are warned about greed. It does have real repercussions.

     

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    marcyrw (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:08am

    Answer to the question posed by the headline: Same reason that they sent my indie outfit not one, but three, copyright infringement notices for offering for download our wholly-owned master recordings.
    Call out the Langoliers.

     

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    drewmo (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:24am

    In Rainbows - Disc 1 or Disc 2?

    This may require a just a touch of clarity... Looking at the URLs in the RIAA complaint, it appears the only reference to In Rainbows was probably Disc 2, which was NOT part of the original pay-whatever-you-want deal. Disc 2 was sold with the distributed discbox months later, though Radiohead apparently did make them available for digital download on their W.A.S.T.E. site. I do not know if THAT download had a free option.

    The IFPI complaint has URLs referring to In Rainbows, as well as the bonus disc.

    That point may be nitpicky, but it may present a wrinkle as far as who owned which copyrights on which songs from In Rainbows? At any rate, the RIAA still clearly is not respecting the artists' wishes in this case, as you note, Mike.

     

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      Jared, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:37am

      Re: In Rainbows - Disc 1 or Disc 2?

      Disc 2 was distributed through waste in a pressing they did themselves... Not through a label.

       

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        drewmo (profile), Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 11:55am

        Re: Re: In Rainbows - Disc 1 or Disc 2?

        Right, I know, I said that. But that was AFTER disc 2 was distributed as part of the physical discbox (with a fixed price of £40), which is the part that was through a label, no?

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_rainbows#Bonus_disc

        I agree that this is very stupid of the RIAA, and I adore Radiohead and have been happy to see them promoting free culture, but doesn't the fact that the RIAA's complaint is only over disc 2 (it seems) make it less fair to tie these takedowns to the pay-whatever-you-want-offering on disc 1?

        After all, what was the price that Radiohead charged for disc 2 on WASTE? I don't remember. If they distributed for free then my whole point is fairly moot I suppose.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    I hope there is no french people trying to listen to Radiohead otherwise they can get their connection terminated.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2010 @ 9:22pm

    Just pointing out that file sharing is already perfectly legal. There's nothing about the process of P2P sharing that is illegal.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 4:19am

    R.I.A.A = Real Ignorant Assholes of America

     

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    Raven, Oct 20th, 2010 @ 10:50am

    ...Because NO artist cares except Metallica, and the RIAA and recording companies are shithead corporates.

     

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