I read the headlines about Grey Tuesday last week as it approached but I didn’t bother to read what it was all about. I thought it sounded boring.
So today I read all about it and I downloaded a couple of songs from DJ Danger Mouse’s Grey Album this afternoon. While I strongly believe in the principle of Grey Tuesday, that is to say that copyright law needs reform, I have to say the songs themselves didn’t bake my cake. I guess I’m just not into that indie rap stuff. Anyway I do hope the attention that the Grey Album is getting will bring about some common-sense changes to copyright law.
For those of you unfamiliar with the situation, let me catch you up to speed.
DJ Danger Mouse has taken audio tracks from Rapper Jay-Z’s Black Album and remixed them with music from the Beatles White Album. The new album is cleverly titled The Grey Album.
Enter EMI and copyright lawyers. They claimed that he had not asked permission or paid for the rights to use The Beatles music and demanded that he stop selling his record. The DJ agreed to comply with the order and is no longer distributing the record, which was allegedly only intended for the ears of friends.
But the story doesn’t end there. In issuing the order, EMI has unwittingly thrust The Grey Album into the public spotlight, prompting guerilla music lovers to post MP3s on their websites and blogs specifically on, but not limited to, Tuesday February 24th. Considering that only 3,000 copies of The Gray Album were pressed and the fact that it has been banned pretty much guarantees a Holy Grail status among hip-hop fans and serious music collectors alike.
“Grey Tuesday” Civil Disobedience Planned February 24th Against Copyright Cartel
In protest of EMI’s action approximately 170 sites hosted a full copy of the Grey Album on Tuesday, in spite of the fact that many of those sites had received cease and desist letters from EMI’s lawyers.
So how successful did Grey Tuesday turn out to be?
“After a survey of the sites that hosted files during Grey Tuesday, and an analysis of filesharing activity on that day, we can confidently report that the Grey Album was the number one album in the US on February 24 by a large margin. Danger Mouse moved more “units” than Norah Jones and Kanye West, with well over 100,000 copies downloaded. That’s more than 1 million digital tracks.”
I think that’s pretty cool.