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"It's illegal, I know that and it may get me in trouble, but if I
had thought about that I would have never made what I thought turned
out to be one of the best things I ever did," ~DJ Dangermouse
February 24th, 2004 was a day when the online culture of DJs, and appreciators of remix music, took a stand against todayís standards of legal music sampling. Organized by the music advocate group, Downhill battle (http://www.downhillbattle.org/), 170 website posted full copies of the DJ Dangermouse album The Grey Album. Most of these sites had already received "cease and desist" orders from EMI, on behalf of Capitol Records, in regards to use of the Beatleís white album content. At days end over 1 million downloads were recorded of the album from the participating sites.
Illegal-Art.org continues to host MP3's of the Grey Album tracks. http://illegal-art.org/audio/grey.html
Listeners of the Great album were treated to music from both Jay-Zís Black Album, and the Beatleís White Album. The album itself was an independent project by DJ Dangermouse spanning two and a half weeks of fifteen hour days. The mix features background music, and vocals stripped from Beatleís songs, overlaid with lyrics from the acapella version of Jay-Zís album. Jay-Z released the stripped down version of the Black Album so remix artists such as DJ Dangermouse could "remix the hell out of it".
The entire Grey Tuesday protest focused on the RIAAís standards of copyright for music. DJs feel that their craft is protected under Fair Use, by the nature of their artistic expression. The Fair Use Policy under the copyright laws allow people to use copyrighted content in four situations.
|1. the purpose and character of the use|
2. the nature of the copyrighted work
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used
4. the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Most courts rulings fall on the side of provision 4, where as any perceivable detriment to the original profitability of the copyrighted work would constitute an infringement on the copyright holderís rights.
DJ Dangermouse is only one example of an artistís use of another artist or groupís work. Earlier pop music such as MC Hammerís Canít Touch This, sampled from Rick Jamesí Super Freak, and Vanilla Iceís Ice Ice Baby backbeat from Queenís Under Pressure. More contemporary examples are Beyonce Knowles, and Jessica Simpson.
Some people may agree that the release of the Grey album is an example of one personís artistic creativity, while others may feel that it discredits the work of established groups. It may be hard to determine whether or not DJ Dangermouse is in the right or in the wrong, because Jay-Z did in fact release his work for public use, while at the same time EMI restricts all use of the Beatleís work. Ultimately itís an example of the pressing issue of where the line lies between allowing piracy, or allowing a way to distribute oneís "creative work".
"I'm just worried whether Jay-Z will like it, or whether Paul and Ringo will like it. If they say that they hate it, and that I messed up their music, I think I'll put my tail between my legs and go."
Listen to samples of the album here
Grey Album and Grey Tuesday Chronical:
Banned Music Report on the Grey Album: