Read more: The Rolling Stones – their 10 best songs
Shortly before midnight on December 31, YouTube account 69RSTRAX posted a collection of 75 rare Rolling Stones recordings including studio out-takes and live performances to its YouTube account, with no commentary or explanation. Hours later, on January 1, the account made all of the videos private.
Offering no immediate clue as to the identity of the publisher, a YouTube-mandated email address for 69RSTRAX directs business enquiries to ABKCO, a music publishing company that owns the rights to a substantial number of early Rolling Stones recordings.
According to Variety, the publishing of the tracks might have been an attempt to avoid EU copyright laws and keep them out of the public domain on the 50th anniversary of their creation.
Sound recordings are protected for 50 years after they are published, and can be extended to 70 years as long as they are “lawfully communicated to the public” within the first 50 years.
Previously, some publishers, faced with similar issues, have released collections of recordings, 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 the boundaries of what it means to publish their music.
In 2013, a Bob Dylan compilation, literally published as ‘The Copyright Extension Collection, Volume 1’, was released. Sold only in Europe, just 100 were issued.
Variety note that while the brief release of the Stones recordings could extend their copyright, they are not sure whether a post on YouTube constitutes a publication as defined by European Union law.
The 75 tracks include several near-complete 1969 concerts and multiple alternate studio versions of songs from the albums ‘Let It Bleed’ and ‘Sticky Fingers’, many of which have been available for decades on bootlegs – along with many that have not.
NME have reached out to ABKCO for comment.
Last week, it was revealed that music documentaries about the likes of Elton John, U2 and The Rolling Stones have been described as “nothing more than a delivery system for intentionally infringed materials” in a new lawsuit.
Companies that own rights to the hugely popular hits of the aforementioned artists have joined forces to sue the likes of UK firm Coda Publishing, distributor Vision Films and director Robert Carruthers.
Wood beat lung cancer in 2017 while drummer Charlie Watts beat throat cancer in 2006 after undergoing two operations. Earlier this year, frontman Mick Jagger had heart surgery and, in 2006, Keith Richards suffered a brain haemorrhage after falling out of a tree.