Nine Inch Nails’ official site for fan produced remixes of Year Zero was supposed to launch last Monday. Unfortunately, according to a post by Trent Reznor on the band’s website, legal issues brought upon by Universal Records, the band’s former label, are the cause of the site’s delay.
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.
While Universal’s legal concerns are legitimate, the overall situation is, in one word, bullshit. Doing exactly “what MySpace and YouTube are doing” is building your consumer base. It’s nice that Universal isn’t so myopic as to prevent Reznor from launching the site, but by taking this course of action, they are implicitly condoning “what MySpace and YouTube are doing”.
Situations like this are exactly why the major labels are fading into irrelevancy. Like the Napster situation before it, if only someone saw user generated content as an opportunity to evolve the way their business instead of futilely trying to stop the juggernaut of technological evolution, they might not be in the situation they are in now. Unfortunately, they tying their own nooses with legal red tape.
Read Trent’s Post [nin.com]