Today, February 24, a coalition of websites will band together in an online protest against EMI, bringing the concept of civil disobedience into the digital age. Called "Grey Tuesday," this protest targets what organizers call a "copyright regime that routinely suppresses musical innovation." Specifically, organizers are upset that EMI has all but banned the distribution of Danger Mouse's Jay-Z Black Album/The Beatles White Album hybrid, know as The Grey Album. Media outlets like Rolling Stone, who have been able to get a hold of a copy (mostly through illegal downloading services like Kazaa) have heralded the album as innovative and brilliant, but regardless of critical acclaim and popular demand, EMI has gone on a cease-and-desist spree, threatening any store that stocks the record. Todays protest aims to "take a stand against a copyright regime that serves neither musicians nor the public interest." Organizers will accomplish this goal by banding together a coalition of websites that will offer free downloads of The Grey Album and by turning their web pages grey.
"Grey Tuesday will be the first protest of its kind," said Downhill Battle
co-founder Holmes Wilson, "The major record labels have turned copyright law into a weapon, but participants in this action will be ignoring EMI's threats and insisting on the public's right to hear innovative new music."
"EMI isn't looking for compensation, they're trying to ban a work of art,"
said Downhill Battle's Rebecca Laurie. "The record industry has become a huge drag on creativity and it's only getting worse--it's time to take a stand."
There is a long list of websites that are supposedly supporting this protest. Some have agreed to offer the downloads, while others have simply turned grey in protest. Many of the download sites have already exceeded their bandwidth limit and are no longer offering MP3s of The Grey Album at all. However, some are still up and running. Visit www.greytuesday.org for a complete list of sites and more info.
Downhill Battle, the organizers of the protest, have raised some serious issues, but they've gone one step further than simply debating the current state of the law and an industry that will protect it's interests to the bitter end. Downhill Battle and the sites that are supporting this protest are giving a big "F. U." to EMI by blatantly disregarding their cease-and-desist orders.
Is Downhill Battle justified in their actions? Does the copyright owner not have a say in how/when his/her intellectual property can or cannot be used? Does current copyright law need to be changed to adjust to the changing world of music, the internet, "mash-ups," and remixes?
As an radio, TV, record label, publishing, management, and film professionals, we'd like to hear your thoughts on this issue. Shoot us an email and let us know where you stand. If you do not want your comments to be posted on the site, please let us know, otherwise the forum is officially open.