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Frustrated With EMI, Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse Release A Blank CD-R

Dark Night Of The Soul with Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse & David Lynch

(Updated) Upset by a lack of support from label EMI for his new "Dark Side Of The Soul" project, Danger Mouse is self-releasing a 100 page booklet of photographs along with a blank CD-R and asking his fans to do the rest. The artist sent this message:

Danger Mouse lynch "Danger Mouse's new project Dark Night Of The Soul consists of an album
length piece of music by Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and a host of guest
vocalists, along with a collection of original David Lynch photography
inspired by and based on the music.

The photographs, which provide a
visual narrative for the music, are compiled in a limited edition, hand
numbered 100+ page book which will now come with a blank, recordable
CD-R. All copies will be clearly labeled: "For Legal Reasons, enclosed
CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.

Due to an ongoing dispute with EMI Danger Mouse is unable to release the recorded music without fear of being sued by EMI. "

Danger Mouse remains very proud of Dark Night Of The Soul and hopes and that people lucky enough to hear the music, by whatever means, are as excited by it as he is."
The album began showing up on file sharing networks several days ago and a copy was sent to NPR which is now streaming the album in full on its web site.  A plethora of artists signed to other labels also appear on the project including:

James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils.

Is Danger Mouse encouraging fans to break the law by downloading copyright restricted material? The  Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed to an interesting copyright law wrinkle:

If the blank CD-R is a royalty-paid "music CD-R," then the copies made by fans (whether made from NPR or P2P) would be legal under 17 U.S.C. 1008, which provides that no infringement lawsuit may be "based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of [a digital audio recording] medium for making digital musical recordings." Digital audio recording medium (DARM) is defined to include "music CD-Rs" on which a royalty is paid to copyright owners.

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  1. Sure, actually burning the music to the CD-R (if they did actually pay royalties, which I highly doubt) would be legal, but the initial download would still be infringing. Either way, it’s a big stretch to say that Lynch is encouraging illegal downloads with his statement.
    Cool move. Does anyone know the details concerning Danger Mouse’s dispute with EMI?

  2. I’m not buying. Danger Mouse is a great producer, so it’s kind of hard to be not buying. I hadn’t expected a new album from him, so when I read about this, I was positive about it at first. But I want the highest possible sound quality on the CD contained in the artwork itself. And that’s not what I would get from this package.
    I can only hope that this bold move creates enough media coverage that EMI releases the music, too, like the news of Elvis Costello’s vinyl and download only album release a year ago has sparked so much interest that a CD eventually materialised as well.
    Sure, the blank CD-R version will become a collector’s item in this case, but no advertising can turn a passer-by who thinks “yes, this Danger Mouse guy is good. Gnarls was good, so let’s check out this new album” into a customer, if there is no music being released and the music itself isn’t easy to find in proper quality.
    A “How to download the album” guide might be a unique experience, of which marketing people might think it’s a great way to sell an album, but that’s not what makes a great album. It’s the music. That is missing with this package.
    It’s a shame really that the label didn’t see the star power involved has enough market potential to justify more artistic freedom to the artist.
    And if this is the way the artist has used the artistic freedom, which is basically an advertising scam meant to try out if music-less albums might sell, well, then I’m not buying.

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