Copyright-free album tops Amazon

An album released under a licence that entitles anyone to copy and distribute it has topped Amazon MP3’s sales chart for 2008.

In a rebuff to music industry figures who have argued many times that copyright protects innovation, Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV was released under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA licence that allows anyone to copy, distribute, transmit and remix the work, provided it is not for commercial purposes. The album generated $1.6 million in revenue


In the first week of sales, according to the Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor, who has been at the forefront of musicians who have embraced new distribution methods.

Fred Benenson, cultural program associate for Creative Commons, said that this is a clear demonstration that releasing music under a CC licence will not hit digital sales.

“NIN fans could have gone to any file sharing network to download the entire CC-BY-NC-SA album legally,” he said. “Many did, and thousands will continue to do so. So why would fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? One explanation is the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon’s MP3 stores. But another is that fans understood that purchasing MP3s would directly support the music and career of a musician they liked.”

Nine Inch Nails’s latest record, The Slip is now available, on CD, DVD and vinyl and as a free download.

About this entry