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A mysterious YouTube account that posted, then hid, a collection of 75 rare and unpublished Rolling Stones recordings may have been a canny attempt to avoid EU copyright laws and keep the tracks out of the public domain on the 50th anniversary of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 - Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! - 1st - EX - UK - vinyl LP - £125.00, $176.25, €145.00 (Back In Stock) (arrived 11-May-2021 13:00)
    on May 12, 2021 at 6:57 am

    ROLLING STONES Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out! (1970 UK first issue 10-track stereo live LP, the first Stones album to be issued only in stereo, fully laminated picture sleeve. The sleeve shows just a little light wear along the top edge with the laminate still clear andthe spine sharp & the vinyl remains in Excellent condition with just a couple of light surface scuffs to show for fifty years - a great copy SKL5065)

  • Rolling Stones - Their Satanic Majesties Request - 1st - Label variant - VG - UK - vinyl LP - £145.00, $204.45, €168.20 (Back In Stock) (arrived 01-May-2021 10:23)
    on May 12, 2021 at 6:57 am

    ROLLING STONES Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967 UK 10-track deep groove stereo vinyl LP, on the first variant unboxed Decca logo green label with straight text composer credits and upside-down matrix in brackets, complete with flame red artwork inner & 3D diffraction grating front laminated gatefold picture sleeve with lighter blue border TXS103) See 'More Info' for details on condition ...

  • Rolling Stones - Time Waits For No One - EX - UK - vinyl LP - £25.00, $35.25, €29.00 (New Item) (arrived 28-Apr-2021 09:44)
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    ROLLING STONES Time Waits For No One - Anthology 1971-1977 (1979 UK 10-track compilation LP, picture sleeve with tongue logo inner. The sleeve has only a little light age wear & the vinyl is Excellent with only a little light scuffing to show play COC59107)

  • Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet - 2nd [c] - VG - UK - vinyl LP - £195.00, $274.95, €226.20 (New Item) (arrived 28-Apr-2021 11:52)
    on May 12, 2021 at 6:57 am

    ROLLING STONES Beggars Banquet (Extremely Rare 1969 UK second issue of the 1968 10-track mono LP on the red 'unboxed' Decca logo 'ffrr' label with 'S' code on the left and without any tax code, reversed matrices and 'written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard' on one line, front laminated gatefold picture sleeve. As most mono requirements were catered for in the initial pressings, this second issue is far harder to find than that of the first. The sleeve [VG] shows minimal laminate liftto edges, light ringwear with a minor corner rubbing with the majority of the wear centred on the spine with a few light tears, but the plain design on the cover still has plenty of shine, whilst the interior image shows minimal sign of wear. The vinyl shows more wear to Side 2 with several light scuffs over both the playing surfaces, still retaining a wonderful dark sheen; this has been professionally cleaned and play tested. Not mint, but still a great play copy LK4955)

  • Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet - 2nd [b] - EX - UK - vinyl LP - £295.00, $415.95, €342.20 (New Item) (arrived 29-Apr-2021 08:55)
    on May 12, 2021 at 6:57 am

    ROLLING STONES Beggars Banquet (Extremely Rare 1969 UK second issue of the 1968 10-track mono LP on the red 'unboxed' Decca logo 'ffrr' label without any tax code, front laminated gatefold picture sleeve. As most mono requirements were cateredfor in the initial pressings, this second issue is far harder to find than that of the first. The sleeve on this copy shows just a little light shelfwear with laminate splitting along the spine, whilst the vinyl does show just a few light hairlines/scuffs, playtesting reveals no great loss in sound quality, just the odd moment of background noise, although nothing excessive. Overall a fantastic copy of this very hard to find second issue LK4955)

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