- Downhill Battle, the group behind the landmark “Grey Tuesday” online protest has created BannedMusic.org, a virtual record label for sample-based music that the major record labels try to suppress. BannedMusic.org, which launches today, features a new, one-click system for p2p downloads and “The Double Black Album,” a concept album that combines Jay-Z and Metallica, which the RIAA has tried to shut down.
“The major record labels have made a habit of using copyright law to suppress sample-based works,” said Downhill Battle’s Rebecca Laurie, “But from now on when they issue a legal threat, we’ll make that piece of music more widely available than ever.”
“The major labels want to dictate what you’re allowed to listen to,” said Downhill Battle co-founder Holmes Wilson, “we’re solving this problem by making their strong-arm tactics irrelevant.”
The group’s last action, the online protest “Grey Tuesday”, was a response to attempts by the record label EMI to suppress the Grey Album, a remix of Jay-Z’s Black Album made with samples from the Beatles’ White Album (to which EMI claimed the copyright). On February 24th–one month ago to the day–a coalition of 170 websites made the Grey Album freely available on their websites for 24 hours, in direct defiance of EMI’s legal threats. The protest was enormously successful. Collectively, the sites involved distributed over 100,000 copies of the Grey Album, making it the number one album in the country that day.
With BannedMusic,org, the goal is to give any piece of music that faces censorship attempts a similar push. One group of volunteers will download each new “release” and share it on multiple filesharing networks; another group of volunteers will burn copies of new releases and mail them to independent radio stations and music writers at major papers.
“In order to make informed decisions about the direction of copyright law and the future of the music industry, the public needs to hear the music that the current system suppresses,” said Downhill Battle co-founder Nicholas Reville, “BannedMusic.org exists to make sure that happens.”
BannedMusic.org is also a step forward for p2p: it features a one-click, easy-to-use p2p delivery system based on the popular filesharing software, Bittorrent. The system spreads bandwidth costs across users, but it’s just as easy as downloading a file from a webpage.
Current offerings include the Grey Album, the Double Black Album by DJ Cheap Cologne, and a mix-CD that tracks the history of the sampling crackdown, courtesy of Illegal-art.org.
Hmm, I wonder if there is a connection – other than timing – between civil disobience against banned music and gay marriage.