Not long after releasing this year's Year Zero album, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails decided to release a remix album on November 20. However, this isn't a traditional remix album, as it contains all of the multi-track master recording files on a DVD so that fans can remix any of the songs on their computers using Ableton Live or Garage Band. That's right, Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D (in all its leetspeak glory) is a remix album that encourages fans to upload their remixes to the internet. Reznor writes in the news section of nin.com that he felt obligated to create an official hub where fans could upload and share their creations with him and other fans, so he created remix.nin.com. So why is it currently shut down? According to Reznor, Universal shut down the site due to legal issues involving the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and Universal's current legal battle with YouTube and MySpace. The legal battle involves users uploading content owned by Universal and the inability of YouTube and MySpace to screen all of the user-uploaded content.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act lays down the law about how internet copyright infringement should be handled, but we won't get into any of the details. But I will explain the DMCA's safe harbor provisions using Mr P and I as an example.
First, assume that YouTube has nothing against porn, and let's say that Mr P and I make a porno that we upload to YouTube. In this video, we're humping and groaning to "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi. (My favorite part is when Mr P shouts, "How did you know I've always wanted to bone to this song!") Due to the overwhelming response to P's large pixelated cock, the video blows the fuck up, and Mr P and I are self-made internet porn stars. End of story right? Wrong. A Universal pervert stumbles upon our video one night while the wife is asleep. He notices we're laying each other to Bon Jovi's rawk and zips up his jeans, runs to the phone, and calls one of his higher-ups. With Bon Jovi being a Universal artist, YouTube receives a DMCA take-down notice and YouTube is forced to remove the video.
In this case, no one gets sued. However, it's virtually impossible for YouTube to take down every video that is flagged as copyright infringement. The safe harbor basically only applies if you take down every video that infringes on copyright. YouTube is obviously failing to meet these expectations and is being sued by Universal, which ties this all back to why Universal decided to take down the official Nine Inch Nails remix site. If fans were to mash-up and/or include samples from artists that aren't Universal, then Universal would come across as hypocritical, as they are currently in a legal battle to stop this sort of thing from happening already.
No word yet if the official remix site will ever be up and running again, but since the internet is still a free medium, net-savvy fans have already created their own remix site at ninremixes.com.
I love you, internet.