Thursday, November 29, 2007

NIN Remix Site Halted by Universal Music Group

A little more than a month or so back, we spilled what we could on Nine Inch Nails' mysterious Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D LP. The disc in all its forms is out today (November 20), but the accompanying website--, designed as a hub for submission and discussion of fan remixes-- might as well be a LOLcat at this point.

Seems "The Man"-- played, in this instance, by Doug Morris and his Universal Music Group-- doesn't want Trent and company R3M1Xing sans regulation while the project is being hosted by Universal. And, since Universal owns all the Nine Inch Nails master tapes (recall that NIN's former label Interscope falls under the Universal umbrella), the project is contingent upon their agreement.

In essence, the notoriously litigious Universal Music Group doesn't want to appear to be backing a copyright-disgregarding free-for-all when they've been spending so much time squelching such behavior elsewhere. They're not so much worried about Nine Inch Nails tunes becoming the subject of silly mashups as they are appearing like hypocrites (and, naturally, getting sued) for infringing on the copyrights of the other artists and songwriters who may be sampled or mashed by the Nine Inch Nails loyal.

As Trent writes in a statement on the NIN site (linked via Stereogum), "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 [YouTube and MySpace] 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 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (according to Universal) and they will be doing exactly what MySpace and YouTube are doing. This behavior may get hauled out in court and impact their lawsuit."

Universal are willing to let Nine Inch Nails host the remix site, provided Trent's willing to take legal responsibility should any problems arise. In addition, Reznor writes, "part of the arrangement is having user licenses that the fans sign (not unlike those on MySpace or YouTube) saying they will not use unauthorized materials. If they WERE to do such a thing, everybody sues everybody and the world abruptly ends." Hyperbole, perhaps, but Trent's still mulling this one over, and as such, the "cool and innovative site" they have ready to launch is presently in limbo. "More to come" is the only indication of when we can expect the situation to change.



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