RIAA Clamps Down on Mash-ups

Published: 2005-12-02
The Recording Industry Association of America's latest move in its never-ending efforts to distance us from the music we love is to go after the world of mash-ups.

Mash-ups, also known as bastard pop, are literally mashes of two, usually popular, tunes, a mix of the vocals from one song and the backup music of another. They've become popular only recently, starting as online downloads, but more recently songs like "Karmastitious," a mix of Alicia Keys' "Karma" and Stevie Wonder's "Superstitious," have been making it to radio.

But now record companies who own the rights to the original tunes in mash-ups are starting to get peeved that the songs are being used without their permission. Last year the release of DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album, a mix of Jay-Z's Black Album and the Beatles' so-called White Album, was cancelled when EMI, owner of the rights to the White Album, put pressure on the DJ.

Labels are also putting pressure on sites like mashuptown.com to stop their broadcasting mashed up tunes which include pieces of copyrighted songs. So the site is starting a protest.

Dean Gray put out the album American Edit, featuring mash-ups of Green Day songs from the band's newest disc, American Idiot. Gray released his record on November 18th, and by November 28th, it had been banned. According to mashuptown.com, free downloading of the album "was shut down reportedly after [Gray] received a cease & desist order from Green Day's label, Warner records, despite the fact that it was released as an internet only release with no commercial gain for the team of mash-up artists involved."

The site hopes to post the mash-up album on December 13th, or "Gray Tuesday," for 24 hours. "Doing so is not intended to be a mass organization of music piracy," it proclaims, "but, rather, one single display of the consumptive power of the mash-up and home remix community in the hopes of encouraging the labels, publishers and artists who are curious about the mash-up community to consider giving the high quality productions of "illegitimate" music a legitimate consideration as a promotional avenue for all music."

Writer: Michelle Garcia



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