When My Morning Jacket released their fourth album, Z, back in October, they probably weren't aware that it would thrust them to the forefront of a complex and contentious legal battle between a multinational corporation (Sony BMG Music Entertainment), a forward-thinking civil-liberties organization (the Electronic Frontier Foundation), attorneys general (in Texas and New York) and unsuspecting music fans (i.e. you).
It wasn't the musical content on Z that got everyone up in arms — but rather the inclusion of a copy-protection software called MediaMax, included on more than 100 Sony BMG titles, which prevents the album from being downloaded into iTunes. While not as severe as the problems Sony BMG has had with another type of copy-protection software called XCP — which has led the label to pull all CDs containing that software from stores — the guys in My Morning Jacket (who were unaware that their album would contain the software, according to their manager, Mike Martinovich) decided to address the situation in a very personal and unconventional manner.
After answering many e-mails about the debacle, MMJ posted a link on their official site detailing how fans can bypass the MediaMax software, thereby allowing Z to play in most computers. And if that didn't work, the band members said they will happily burn fans a CD of the album, completely free of copy-protection software.
"As our fans have been experiencing varying degrees of difficulty with the copy-protection mechanism employed by Sony BMG, we have responded to each e-mail with an apology ... assuring them that My Morning Jacket was not responsible for the decision," Martinovich wrote in a statement to MTV News (My Morning Jacket refused to comment on the matter). "If that didn't work, we offered to burn a copy of the album and send it to the fan who already purchased a copy of Z. To date, we have sent out over 100 copies of [the album] to friends and fans who have purchased the album and have not been able to enjoy the music."
MMJ are by no means the first act under the Song BMG umbrella to express their displeasure over the corporation's attempts to curb piracy via copy-protection software — the Foo Fighters, the Dave Matthews Band and Switchfoot have also done so — but they're likely the first act to publicly offer to burn individual copies of their album for fans.
This story was originally posted at 5:06 p.m. ET on 12.15.05