It was an ingenious idea, and one that played so dangerously close to the third rail of copyright law that it was sure to get shut down eventually.
Cease-and-desist orders went out last week to the producer who created The Grey Album and the few independent retail stores that were carrying the CD.
DJ/producer Danger Mouse married vocals from Jay-Z’s recent The Black Album with beats made from the Beatles’ classic The White Album to create The Grey Album. The “mash-up” CD is one of several bootlegs created using vocals from Jay-Z’s supposedly final LP (see “Remixers Turn Jay-Z’s Black Album Grey, White and Brown” ). But it was the only one that dared to use music from the Beatles’ guarded catalog.
A representative for EMI Records served the cease-and-desist orders to Danger Mouse and stores such as Fat Beats and hiphopsite.com. EMI Records controls the sound recordings for the Beatles on behalf of Capitol Records Inc. The publishing side of the Beatles’ catalog is owned by Sony Music/ ATV Publishing, a venture between Sony Music and Michael Jackson.
Danger Mouse said he created The Grey Album strictly as a limited-edition promotional item (only 3,000 copies were pressed), but it quickly caught the ear of everyone from Damon Dash to the Neptunes to Jay-Z himself, and copies found their way to hip-hop retail outlets and auction sites like eBay.
Danger Mouse said he’s complied with the order not to distribute any more copies of The Grey Album. Because of the small number pressed, he didn’t expect any further legal action to take place.