Mystery of Rolling Stones tracks posted briefly on YouTube

The Rolling Stones play Hyde Park, London, July 1969. Photograph: David Newell Smith/Observe

From Alex Hern at the Guardian

Vintage recordings may have been published in attempt to extend copyright protection

A mysterious YouTube account that posted, then hid, a collection of 75 rare and unpublished Rolling Stones recordings may have been a canny attempt to avoid EU copyright laws and keep the tracks out of the public domain on the 50th anniversary of their creation.

Shortly before midnight on 31 December, the YouTube account 69RSTRAX posted a collection of recordings including studio out-takes and live performances to its public page on the video-sharing site, with no commentary or explanation. Hours later, on 1 January, again with no warning, the account made all the videos private.

69RSTRAX only joined YouTube on 29 December, and offers no clues as to its identity – save a YouTube-mandated email address, which directs business enquiries to ABKCO, a music publishing company that owns the rights to a substantial chunk of early Rolling Stones recordings.

According to Variety magazine, which first reported the brief publication, the explanation could lie in the European Union’s copyright directive. Under EU law, sound recordings are covered by copyright for the first 50 calendar years after they were made – unless they have been “lawfully communicated to the public”, in which case the copyright term extends a further 20 years.

At the end of 2019, then, ABKCO would have faced a “use it or lose it” conundrum: if it did not publish the tracks it held, it would find it difficult to monetise them in the future, as the copyright for the recordings (though not the compositions) would lapse.

Some publishers, faced with similar issues, have released collections of recordings – of interest to super-fans only – such as the Beatles’ 2013 album Bootleg Recordings 1963. Others, perhaps less eager to share early, unfinished versions of songs with the world, have pushed what it means to “publish” tracks: a Bob Dylan compilation, literally published as “The Copyright Extension Collection, Volume 1”, was also released in 2013 in an edition of 100, and only sold in Europe.

But this would be the first time a label has taken such a minimalist approach to publication. Even while the Stones tracks were available on YouTube, they were reportedly tampered with to make them less appealing to fans who might rip them and share them elsewhere. “The rarest recordings – ie the ones not previously available on bootlegs – have a dial-tone-like sound as loud as the music,” reported Variety’s Jem Aswad, making them “a truly miserable listening experience”.

It remains unclear whether a publication of a single day, on one internet video platform, will be enough to satisfy European judges that the tracks were indeed “lawfully communicated to the public”.

ABKCO declined to comment.

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  • Rolling Stones - 12 Best Pops Vol. 12 - Japanese - vinyl box set - £95.00, $130.15, €112.10 (New Item) (arrived 16-Oct-2021 09:54)
    on October 18, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    ROLLING STONES 12 Best Pops Vol. 12 (1976 Japanese mail-order only 12-track LP compilation, housed in a unique 12" picture box with glossy lid & a 20-page illustrated Japanese/ lyric booklet. The packaging is Very Good with light signs of age wear on the front & discolouring on the back. The booklet has creases, foxing & some writing on the back page but remains intact. The vinyl is clean & in Very Good condition with some hairlines which have little effect on play. Hard to find in better condition X-72)

  • Rolling Stones - Time Is On My Side - 12-70 - French - 7" vinyl - £75.00, $102.75, €88.50 (New Item) (arrived 14-Oct-2021 14:17)
    on October 18, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    ROLLING STONES Time Is On My Side (Scarce December 1970 French wide centre 7" vinyl single, on the silver & blue boxed Decca label with 'SECAM' printed, also including Congratulations, Off The Hook and Little Red Rooster, housed in a front laminated flipback picture sleeve with with the Decca logo on the front in blue, and printed with the '12-70' date code on the reverse. The sleeve displays some minor general wear mostly on the non-laminated back, whilst the vinyl is graded VG+/EX-with some noticeable surface marks. A nice example and the first we have ever seen)

  • Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - 5-68 Boxed Logo + Tab - French - 7" vinyl - £45.00, $61.65, €53.10 (New Item) (arrived 13-Oct-2021 11:43)
    on October 18, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    ROLLING STONES (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (May 1968 French issue wide centred 4-track 7" EP on a dark blue & silver boxed Decca logo label, also featuring Grown Up Wrong, The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man & Susie Q. Housed in a front laminated flipback picture sleeve, which depicts Brian Jones in the centre, with red title text text and black Decca logo, this example also has an intact tab still attached, and date coded '5-68'. The sleeve displays just a little light general wear, the non laminated back remains very clean, and as already mentioned, has the original tab still attached. The labels remains clean with no paper loss or writing, whilst the vinyl is graded VG+/EX- with some noticeable surface marks, but displays no major deterioration in sound quality. A nice example, and the first we have seen)

  • Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - 9-69 - French - 7" vinyl - £50.00, $68.50, €59.00 (New Item) (arrived 13-Oct-2021 12:14)
    on October 18, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    ROLLING STONES (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction (September 1969 French 4-track wide centred 7" vinyl EP on the blue & silver boxed Decca logo label, also including Grow Up Wrong, The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man & Susie-Q, housed in the in alternate front laminated flip-back picture sleeve, depicting Keith Richards standing in the centre of group, with Brian Jones standing with a hand behind is head, this also has all title text in red and a black Decca logo, and date coded '9-69' on the back. The sleeve displays some minor general wear, mostly on the non laminated back, which shows some minor ringwear. The labels remain clean with no paper loss or writing, whilst the vinyl is graded VG+/EX- with some noticeable surface marks, but displays no major deterioration in sound quality. A nice example, and the first we have ever seen)

  • Rolling Stones - Exile On Main St - Abbey Road Half Speed Mastered - Sealed - UK - 2-LP vinyl set - £69.99, $95.89, €82.59 (New Item) (arrived 13-Oct-2021 13:05)
    on October 18, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    ROLLING STONES Exile On Main St (2016 UK/EU limited edition 18-track double album 2-LP, Half Speed Mastered at Abbey Road Studios and pressed on 180-gram heavyweight vinyl. Their tenth studio album in the UK, originally released in May1972. Housed inside a gatefold picture sleeve with an internal pocket, printed inner sleeves with photographs and credits, and replica set of 12 postcards. Complete with mastering certificate, download code & series obi-strip, factory sealed)

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