geert lovink on Mon, 23 Feb 2004 21:06:16 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> tomorrow: grey tuesday

"Grey Tuesday" Civil Disobedience Planned February 24th Against Copyright

DOWNHILL BATTLE (February 18, 2004) -- A coalition of websites will join
in an online protest to offer free downloads of a critically acclaimed
album that is being censored by a lawsuit threat from EMI Records. The
action is an act of civil disobedience against a copyright regime that
routinely suppresses musical innovation. The Grey Album, which remixes
Jay-Z's Black Album and the Beatles' White Album, has been hailed as a
innovative hip-hop triumph, but EMI sent cease-and-desist letters to any
record store that stocked it. This Tuesday ("Grey Tuesday") the coalition
of sites will offer free downloads of the Grey Album, and turn their pages
grey, to take a stand against a copyright regime that serves neither
musicians nor the public interest.

Any site can get information on how to join the action at

"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

The Grey Album has been widely shared on filesharing networks such as
Kazaa and Soulseek, and has garnered critical acclaim in Rolling Stone
(which called it "the ultimate remix record" and "an ingenious hip-hop
record that sounds oddly ahead of its time"), the New Yorker, the Boston
Globe (which called it the "most creatively captivating" album of the
year), and other major news outlets.

"It's clear that this work devalues neither of the originals. There is no
legitimate artistic or economic reason to ban this record‚?"this is just
arbitrary exertion of control," said Nicholas Reville, Downhill Battle
co-founder. "The framers of the constitution created copyright to promote
innovation and creativity. A handful of corporations have radically
perverted that purpose for their own narrow self interest, and now the
public is fighting back."

The reporters and news outlets that reviewed the Grey Album have obtained
it illegally from filesharing networks. "If music reviewers have to break
the law to hear new, innovative music, then something has gone wrong with
the law," said Laurie.

"Remixes and pastiche are a defining aesthetic of our era. How will
artists continue to work if corporations can outlaw what they do?" said
Reville. "Artists, writers, and musicians have always borrowed and built
upon each other's work‚?" now they have to answer to corporate legal

College and noncommercial radio stations will also be participating in
Tuesday's action by playing the Grey Album in its entirety (possibly along
with the Jay-Z and Beatles sources).


Holmes Wilson -
Nicholas Reville -
Downhill Battle (
Grey Tuesday (
Phone: 508-963-7832 / Fax: 775-878-0379


Historic Online Protest : It's time for music fans to stand up and demand
change from the music industry's copyright cartel.

Tuesday, February 24 will be a day of coordinated civil disobedience:
websites will post Danger Mouse's Grey Album on their site for 24 hours in
protest of EMI's attempts to censor this work.

DJ Danger Mouse created a remix of Jay-Z's the Black Album and the Beatles
White Album, and called it the Grey Album. Jay-Z's record label,
Roc-A-Fella, released an a capella version of his Black Album specifically
to encourage remixes like this one. But despite praise from music fans and
major media outlets like Rolling Stone ("an ingenious hip-hop record that
sounds oddly ahead of its time") and the Boston Globe (which called it the
"most creatively captivating" album of the year), EMI has sent cease and
desist letters demanding that stores destroy their copies of the album and
websites remove them from their site. EMI claims copyright control of the
Beatles 1968 White Album.

Danger Mouse's album is one of the most "respectful" and undeniably
positive examples of sampling; it honors both the Beatles and Jay-Z. Yet
the lawyers and bureaucrats at EMI have shown zero flexibility and not a
glimmer of interest in the artistic significance of this work. And without
a clearly defined right to sample (e.g. compulsory licensing), the five
major record labels will continue to use copyright in a reactionary and
narrowly self-interested manner that limits and erodes creativity. Their
actions are also self-defeating: good new music is being created that
people want to buy, but the major labels are so obsessed with hoarding
their copyrights that they are literally turning customers away.

This first-of-its-kind protest signals a refusal to let major label
lawyers control what musicians can create and what the public can hear.
The Grey Album is only one of the thousands of legitimate and valuable
efforts that have been stifled by the record industry-- not to mention the
ones that were never even attempted because of the current legal climate.
We cannot allow these corporations to continue censoring art; we need
common-sense reforms to copyright law that can make sampling legal and
practical for artists.

The Grey Tuesday protest is being organized by Downhill Battle, a music
activism project that has no affiliation with Danger Mouse.

Sites Participating in the Protest

Updated Sunday evening. If you plan to include your site in the protest,
send an email to and we'll add you to the
list. More information is on the sidebar.


90% Crud - - - -
A Whole Nother Studio - -
All In This Together -
Allure Promotions - - -
Aural Delight -
BarfBarfMarina - - - - - -
Bracha Goleshet - - - - - -
Damn Your Ayes - - - - - -
Discarnate - - -
Digispace Records -
Downhill Battle - -
EdgeEye - -
Everichon -
Ewawoowa - -
Fatal Mistake - -
Filters Magazine - - - -
G.A.ME -
Gentle Jones - - - - - - -
Horklog -
In My Room - -
Industrial Something -
Ingenuitous - - - -
Judolight - - -
Kunfuzed Mynds - - - - -
Lyrical War -
(M) Productions -


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