Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Press Release: Intellectual Property

February 24, 2004 | For Immediate Release

U of Iowa Professor to Join Copyright Civil Disobedience Planned February 24th

Contact: Kembrew McLeod – kembrew@kembrew.com Phone – 319-621-4620

Downhill Battle (www.downhillbattle.org)
Holmes Wilson - hw@downhillbattle.org
Phone: 508-963-7832 / Fax: 775-878-0379
Grey Tuesday (www.greytuesday.org)


DOWNHILL BATTLE (February 24, 2004) – In defiance of dozens of cease-and-desist letters already served, University of Iowa professor Kembrew McLeod will join a large coalition of websites in an online protest that will offer free downloads of a critically acclaimed album that is being censored by a lawsuit threat from
EMI Records. The action is an act of civil disobedience against a copyright regime that routinely suppresses musical innovation. The Grey Album, which remixes Jay-Z's Black Album and the Beatles' White Album, has been hailed as an innovative hip-hop triumph, but EMI sent cease-and-desist letters to any Web site that offers it for free.

This Tuesday, "Grey Tuesday," a coalition of hundreds of sites, including the non-UI-affiliated Kembrew.com -- http://kembrew.com -- will offer free downloads of the Grey Album, and turn their pages grey, to take a stand against a copyright regime that serves neither musicians nor the public interest. "Grey Tuesday will be the first protest of its kind," said Downhill Battle co-founder Holmes Wilson, "The major record labels have turned copyright law into a weapon, but participants in this action will be ignoring EMI's threats and insisting on the public's right to hear innovative new music."

"EMI isn't looking for compensation, they're trying to ban a work of art," said Downhill Battle's Rebecca Laurie. "The record industry has become a huge drag
on creativity and it's only getting worse -- it's time to take a stand." The Grey Album has been widely shared on filesharing networks such as Kazaa and
Soulseek, and has garnered critical acclaim in Rolling Stone (which called it "the ultimate remix record" and "an ingenious hip-hop record that sounds oddly
ahead of its time"), the New Yorker, the Boston Globe (which called it the "most creatively captivating" album of the year), and other major news outlets.

"It's clear that this work devalues neither of the originals. There is no legitimate artistic or economic reason to ban this record, and this is just arbitrary exertion of control," said Nicholas Reville, Downhill Battle co-founder. "The framers of the constitution created copyright to promote innovation and creativity. A handful of corporations have radically perverted that purpose for their own narrow self interest, and now the public is fighting back."

The reporters and news outlets that reviewed the Grey Album have obtained it illegally from filesharing networks. "If music reviewers have to break the law
to hear new, innovative music, then something has gone wrong with the law," said Laurie. "Remixes and pastiche are a defining aesthetic of our era. How
will artists continue to work if corporations can outlaw what they do?" said Reville. "Artists, writers, and musicians have always borrowed and built upon
each other's work -- now they have to answer to corporate legal teams." College and noncommercial radio stations will also be participating in Tuesday's action
by playing the Grey Album in its entirety (possibly along with the Jay-Z and Beatles sources).


Well, things just got more personal. Downhill Battle has received a cease and desist letter from EMI’s lawyers and we’ve heard from many of you who have
received something similar (probably identical). It 's a letter that's intended to scare us and it really illustrates why this protest is so important. We’ve spoken with lawyers about this situation and we want to share with you the response that we’ve sent to EMI’s lawyers. It explains how we
plan to proceed and why. Feel free to copy entirely or use portions of this letter in your response, if you choose to make one. You also may be interested
in reading more about your fair use rights at: http://www.eff.org/IP/eff_fair_use_faq.html and more generally about the issue of censorship and cease and desist letters at: www.chillingeffects.org. Please let us know if your plans for tomorrow are changing (we completely understand if they are). - Nick, Holmes, and Rebecca

Mr. Jensen and EMI:

We have received your February 23 email concerning our plans to make the Grey Album available on our website.

Despite your letter, Downhill Battle will be posting the Grey Album on our website tomorrow. Your efforts to suppress this music stifle creativity and harm the public interest; we will not be intimidated into backing down. Downhill Battle has a fair-use right to post this music under current copyright law and the public has a fair-use right to hear it. Opposing EMI’s censorship campaign is precisely the purpose of Tuesday’s protest and we won’t waiver from that goal.

The current legal environment allows the five major record labels to dictate to musicians what kind of music they may and may not create and allows them to
prevent the public from hearing music that does not fall within their rules. For people to make an informed decision about whether the major record labels
and existing copyright law serve the interests of musicians and the public, they need to be able to hear the music that is being suppressed. The Grey
Tuesday protest is about ensuring that this music is widely available so that the public can make informed decisions. Copyright was created by Congress to
“promote the progress of science and the useful arts.” Your actions violate that purpose. Any lawsuit against us will bring more attention to both the
protest and the need for serious copyright reform, and we expect to win any case on fair-use grounds.

Our posting of the Grey Album on Downhill Battle is a political act with no commercial interest and fits well within fair use rights. Lawyers have advised us that we can ignore your demands number 2, 3, and 4 that are listed at the bottom of your letter. EMI has no legal right to make these demands and we will not comply with them. Furthermore, if EMI attempts to disrupt our protest by sending takedown letters to participating websites, ISPs of participating websites, or any upstream ISPs, we will file a counter-suit against you. We consider any attempts to stifle this protest to be an abuse under section 512F of the DMCA.


Nicholas Reville
Holmes Wilson
Downhill Battle (downhillbattle.org)