Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

No more altruism under Radiohead’s rainbow

Back in 2007, the music business story of the year was Radiohead’s decision to give away their new album “In Rainbows” for free. The majority of industry observers and commentators followed the party line that this was a revolutionary move. …

Fri, Aug 6, 2010, 10:11

   

Back in 2007, the music business story of the year was Radiohead’s decision to give away their new album “In Rainbows” for free.

The majority of industry observers and commentators followed the party line that this was a revolutionary move.

Few mentioned, though, that the Oxford band could only afford to do this because they established a huge audience over a 12 year tenure and a six album innings on EMI.

But Radiohead’s altruism with “In Rainbows” was never going to be finite.

The Torrent Freak blog reported this week that industry lobby groups the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the International Federation for the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) have begun to target fans who are sharing those “In Rainbow” songs online with cease-and-desist letters. Yep, the very same songs the band were giving away for free back in October 2007.

The problem lies in the fact that the band signed a brace of deals with XL Records and Sony subsidary ATO for the December 2007 physical release of “In Rainbows”.

Now, the RIAA and IFPI, the bodies who represent the labels Radiohead signed with, have sent in their legal eagles, asking blogs sharing the band’s material to stop.

“These recordings are owned by one of our member companies and have not been authorised for this kind of use,” said the RIAA, which represents major US labels, in one letter.

Given Radiohead’s previously stated stance on filesharing, you’d expect the band to be chomping at the bit to correct this situation. After all, do the labels really own the recordings or do they just have rights to exploit the physical distribution of the album?

Sadly, a band rep declined to comment when contacted by Torrent Freak.