Negativland Get Positive Response From CD Pressing Plant

Five manufacturers previously refused to produce the group's latest album due to unlicensed samplings.

After a month-long struggle to find a pressing plant willing to handle their material, experimental collage rock band Negativland claim to have hired someone to manufacture their latest CD, Over the Edge Vol. 3 -- The Weatherman's Dumb Stupid Come-Out Line.

"We did it! It exists!" exclaimed group co-leader Mark Hosler in his latest press release regarding the band's ongoing search.

The double CD, originally slated for an Aug. 17 release, had been passed over by five different plants due to the album's inclusion of unlicensed samples, according to Hosler. The material includes clips of the psychedelic band Pink Floyd and kitschy disco group the Village People, among others.

The struggle to find a manufacturer had resulted in a public battle between the band and one of the music industry's biggest trade organizations, the Recording Industry Association of America.

Hosler said the five plants had refused to manufacture the CD due to fear of reprisals from the RIAA. The plants, which Hosler did not name, reportedly passed on the job based on the wording in the RIAA's recently formalized CD Plant Guidelines, which warned that plants can be held liable for damages if they reproduce unlicensed material.

In an unprecedented response to a furor raised by Negativland, the RIAA announced last Tuesday that it had agreed to amend its CD Plant Guidelines to account for the existence of "fair use" material on CDs.

Although Hosler said the new guidelines did not appear soon enough after the issuing of the new Negativland CD to signify a cause-and-effect relationship between the newly clarified "fair use" language and the end of the band's search for a pressing plant, the bandleader was overjoyed that the CD would see the light of day.

"We're glad that Negativland is getting the opportunity to cut the disc," said Lydia Pelliccia, assistant director of media relations for the RIAA. "Our objective has always been to prevent piracy and not stop artistic expression. We're glad they're getting the fair shake they deserve. We wish them luck."

The new CD will be manufactured by an unnamed pressing plant that Hosler said was "small enough that they weren't paying attention to what they were pressing!"

The two-disc set, according to the group, "tackles the subject of gay repression" in an unusual way.

For Negativland, a band which has consistently run into legal dilemmas over its use of sampling and trademarks as vehicle for social commentary, their latest work seems to have proven to be their greatest victory to date. Negativland have long professed their belief that their collage-like appropriation of copyrighted material is covered under a "fair use" provision of copyright law that protects their "transformative" works of art.

"We're amazed," said a giddy Hosler in response to last week's RIAA amendment. "This is really the first time they've acknowledged that 'fair use' is a gray area in the copyright law.

"The fact that an organization that represents the major labels is coming out and saying it's not a black-and-white issue, as far as Negativland is concerned, is unprecedented."