Radiohead disappoints remixers

I just received the following email from fellow remixer DJ_Rkod:

Radiohead have invited fans to remix their recent single, “Nude,” and have created a site to host said creations. It is easily navigable, the remixes are easy to listen to and many of them are pretty good.

It’s also one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen when it comes to remixing.

The first problem is immediately apparent on the front page of the site, which states:

“Nude by Radiohead is out now. You can buy bits of it here and upload your remix here.”

Buy? Really? On further investigation, I found that yes, the British band expects you to shell out your funds in order to have the privilege of mixing them. It’s what I like to call a Very Bad Thing. But it gets better! A look at the terms and conditions reveals that this is in fact even worse than it appears to be. I’d like to deconstruct some of the terms below.

“…

1. all rights in and to any remixed versions (“Remixes”) of the song “Nude” (“the Song”) created by the Entrant shall be owned by Warner/Chappell Music Ltd (“WCM”) and to the extent necessary the Entrant hereby assigns all rights in the Remixes of the Song to WCM throughout the World for the full life of copyright and any and all extensions and renewals thereof. If requested by WCM, the Entrant shall complete and sign a formal assignment of copyright to give effect to the foregoing;

2. all rights in and to any Remixes of the original sound recording of the Song (“the Master”) created by the Entrant shall be owned by _Xurbia _Xendless Ltd (“Xurbia”) and to the extent necessary the Entrant hereby assigns all rights in the Remixes of the Master to Xurbia throughout the World for the full life of copyright and any and all extensions and renewals there. If requested by Xurbia, the Entrant shall complete and sign a formal assignment of copyright to give effect to the foregoing;

…”

This essentially removes all of your rights to anything you do with the song. You do not control what Warner or Xurbia do with whatever you create. You do not own any part of it. You are essentially paying them so you can work for them, a complete and utter reversal of the way things should be.

“…

3. Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway will be registered and credited as the sole writers and WCM the publishers of the Remixes of the Song created by the Entrant;

4. the Entrant will not acquire a copyright interest in the Song by virtue of creating Remixes of the Song;

…”

4 is essentially a restatement of the above. But 3 is something else entirely. When combined with the rest of the contract, it means that, with or without your permission, Warner or Xurbia can sell your mix, without paying you a cent and without even giving you credit for it.

“Xurbia shall not commercially exploit the Remixes of the Song created by the Entrant without consulting with the Entrant prior to such commercial exploitation.”

This is a laughable assurance, because the remixer owns no part of his own work, and can do absolutely nothing to prevent such commercial exploitation. A consultation of this type would only serve to fulfill the terms of the contract.

I do not recommend using this site (obviously) and hope that in the future remixing is thought of in terms other than monetary ones.

–DJ

editor’s notes:
* The above obviously isn’t intended as legal advice, but an opinion of the author.
* While I may be able to tolerate somebody charging for their remixing stems (although in this case it appears to be strangely inconsistent with the “pay what you like” approach previously taken by Radiohead), I am as deeply disappointed as DJ_Rkod about what to me appears to be an plain and simple grab of IP (intellectual property) rights. I do support the notion that the original artist and their publisher shouldn’t loose the rights to their work because of remixing activities. However as remixes add new IP, just grabbing that new IP without compensation seems very unfair to me. I agree with DJ Rkod that “consultation” would appear to be a bit of a weak (if any) protection for the IP of the remixer. I Count me amongst those, that refuse to remix under such terms and conditions.

I think Radiohead could learn a thing or two about creating friendly remixer relations from Nine Inch Nails.

Nine Inch Nails Open Source Remixes at Painful Convictions

Nice to see that there’s a place to listen to the best remixes from the NIN remix site. From the site Nine Inch Nails Open Source Remixes at Painful Convictions: “After months of deliberation of nearly 200 fan submitted remixes, ‘The Limitless Potential’ open source remix collection is finally available. This 21 track collection of the very best Nine Inch Nails remixes can be downloaded absolutely free from Painful Convictions. Thanks to Trent Reznor for providing the Multitrack files to the public to do with as they will, and the many talented artists who remixed the tracks.”

In an open source environment, music gets to be made primarily for the joy of it, rather than just being enslaved to money. I’m very much in favor of artists being able to make money, but not all art should be locked up. So I would generally recommend that artists license their art liberally for non-commercial exploitation, but maintain commercial rights for their work. You can always give specific commercial rights away for free to someone you like. 🙂

Creative Commons licensing facilitates that approach very nicely, one of my favorites being the
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

NINRemixes.com – Official Nine Inch Nails’ Remixes

Trent Reznor clearly is becoming a leader in the remixing movement amongst better known artists as he says on the page with remix packs: “…there is no agenda here other than for you to explore, experiment, and have fun with it. depending on how this goes we may construct a more formal community for remix postings and/or possibly some sort of “official” endorsement by means of an EP or something.”

Many finished remixes can be found here. >NINRemixes.com: The official list of remixes of Nine Inch Nails’ open source songs.”

While the remix packs are conveniently pre-packaged in formats suitable for several different types of software, there seem to be no generic WAV or MP3 packs available. That makes it a bit harder for some remixers.