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R.E.M. Restoration Blog Pressured To Shut Down By Universal Over Material That The Label May Not Actually Own

R.E.M. Restoration Blog Pressured To Shut Down By Universal Over Material That The Label May Not Actually Own

The digital archivist behind blog projects restoring the singles catalogs of the Smiths, and Joy Division and New Order has been warned off embarking on a similar project for early R.E.M. releases.

Back in October 2011 the blogger and archivist, who goes by the name of Analog Loyalist, had tested the water for a set of R.E.M. restorations. He posted a restoration of the band’s first cassette demo, containing early versions of "Radio Free Europe," "Sitting Still" and "White Tornado," to his other website, The Power of Independent Trucking. He then got as far as setting up a new blog called R.E.M. Cycle. But yesterday he received a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notice from Universal, via the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), for his restoration of the demo cassette last year.

Universal owns R.E.M.’s IRS Records catalog, the catalog that Loyalist had proposed to restore. But, as the blogger points out, it is hard to see what right this gives the label to object to the restored demo. “Tell me, what role does the IFPI (of which Universal is obviously a member) have to do with unreleased material recorded when the band had no record contract?,” he asks. He continues, “These were demos freely given away by the band. On low-fi C45 cassettes. And the IFPI thinks it's their business how?”

Loyalist’s restorations are highly painstaking. As he writes on R.E.M. cycle:

All tracks were taken from the best/earliest possible sources to avoid modern mastering techniques which crush the dynamics. Tracks sourced from vinyl have been carefully cleaned and EQ levels have been tweaked for consistency. The artwork was scanned at the highest possible resolution and the type was reset when possible using the original fonts.

Given the investment of time, the blogger is naturally now considering whether it is worth his while continuing with the project: "So you can see why I'm very hesitant to move forward with this blog, only because I don't want to see my efforts as a writer/archivist/engineer wasted."

What is your opinion? Is Universal just flexing its muscles? Let us know in the comments. [Rolling Stone]

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