For more than 20 years, The Evolution Control Committee has held a reputation as one of the world's leading mashup bands. Long before computers made it easy to be a copyright criminal, The ECC was violating copyright laws the hard way with releases like their Whipped Cream Mixes (which set the standard formula for mashups to follow a decade later) and Rocked by Rape, sampling CBS anchorman Dan Rather (and earning a legal Cease & Desist in the process). Now the group goes even further with their post-mashup album All Rights Reserved... which you are legally forbidden to hear.
"The label's lawyers had concerns," the band's TradeMark Gunderson explains. "Although we felt tracks like our 'What Would You Think If I Sang Autotune?' were clearly Fair Use, the legal department thought they were lawsuit-bait." To give the label and the band an extra line of legal defense, the album includes a Listener License Agreement, a set of terms and conditions like those seen in while installing computer software. "Fair Use or not, a track like 'Stairway to Britney' could easily offend a litigious party," says Seeland Industries lawyer Sandy Kryle. "So we thought the safest terms would forbid anyone--everyone--from listening. Period."
Time will tell whether the legal protection helps, though mashup artists like Girl Talk haven't suffered without it (so far). Still, with exposure like a full radio, web, and print promotion campaign from Evolution Promotions and European / worldwide performance dates in the future, The ECC might well put that license agreement to the test.
"We're not crazy about the idea of suing our fans," says ECC band member Christy Brand. "But it seems to work for the RIAA."
"But many musical observers trace the official beginnings of the British bootleg [mashup] scene to The Evolution Control Committee, which in 1993 mixed a Public Enemy a cappella with music by Herb Alpert."