Damn this is some craziness. You know that FREE LP The-Dream dopped last week I was banging on about? The one that came out as a FREE zip file hosted on his website? Well, some dimwits at the RIAA have been serving websites with takedown orders demanding they remove links to The-Dream's links.
A week or so ago, we wrote about how Twitter had suspended accounts of a bunch of hip hop bloggers, after receiving DMCA takedown notices because the twitter accounts of those bloggers linked to blog posts about music that was sent by promoters working for the labels themselves. Anyone familiar with the hip hop promotion world knows that this is how it works. Hip hop blogsare the new radio for that genre, and the way you get your artist noticed is by sending a track to one of those blogs. So then issuing a takedown is kind of like having the promoter you hire ask a radio station to play a song... and then sending a legal threat letter when they do. Just another day in the major label world, however.
In asking questions about these takedowns, Twitter sent over some recent links to Chilling Effects showing the details of the takedown, which leads us to some interesting discoveries. First, the party actually sending the takedowns is the RIAA. All of the letters in question say they come from "Job title: Online Anti-Piracy, RIAA." Elsewhere it says that the takedown notices are from Universal Music... but sent by the RIAA.
Kinda makes you wonder what the RIAA actually knows about what the marketing folks are doing. Or, hell, what the actual artists and execs at Universal Music are doing. In some cases, the evidence suggests not much at all. Let's take just a few examples. If you start looking at some of the takedown notices -- try this one and this one and this one for starters, you see that a bunch of the takedowns were over the following:
Description of original work: Sound and video recordings as performed by the artist known as The Dream.As you may know, The-Dream, also known as Terius Youngdell Nash, is one of the top producers, song writers and performers out there today. Take a look at the list of songs he has his fingerprints on. He wrote Beyonce's "Single Ladies." He wrote Justin Bieber's "Baby." He's written songs for pretty much every top artist. Rihanna, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears. Even Celine Dion.
He works for Def Jam, which is owned by Universal Music, as one of their key moneymaking songwriters. He's at the top of the game here. So, clearly, when he puts out his own work, you could understand why the RIAA would rush around demanding that everyone take down tweets linking to the music.
Except... He also has his own label under the Def Jam label, known as Radio Killa. And if you go to the front page of Radio Killa Records right now, as we speak, you see that The Dream's new EP, 1977 is being given away free. Here's a screenshot of the front page. Note it says "THE NEW FREE ALBUM."If you click on the cover on his website (obviously not on our screenshot of it), it offers you a download of a .zip file containing all of the tracks. In other words, this Universal Records-owned label is giving away the music directly off of its own site. While the tweets that the RIAA demanded be taken down are gone, in looking it over and talking to some people, it appears they were linking to the download themselves. So the "infringing links" -- according to the RIAA's "anti-piracy expert" -- were to the Universal Music-owned label's own website and files. Brilliant.
Meanwhile, The Dream himself was tweeting up a storm, telling people to download the tracks. And while he joked at one point that the lawyers might crack down and force him to take down the music, it's still up on a Universal Music website, and it seems quite reasonable for anyone linking to it to recognize that it's been authorized by Universal Music for distribution. Not only that, but he talks up the importance of giving the music away and jokes about all the"freeloaders" who are "flooding" his site with downloads. From there, he talks up how awesome it is that "everyone's playin'" the album and how much he loves and thanks his fans. When asked about it, he even stated that it's "free literally and figuratively."
And... for those of his fans who promote the work that he's giving away for free directly on his label's website by linking to that free music on a Universal Music website... the RIAA sends takedown notices, and people risk completely losing their Twitter accounts.
Yup. This is the RIAA. Protecting the interests of the "artists" right?