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Now, Atlantic Records—and its subsidiary label Fueled By Ramen—wants to know who did the leaking, and though the record labels have filed a lawsuit, Reddit said it’s not handing over the alleged leaker’s IP address.
In its response last week to the Atlantic lawsuit, Reddit said the labels were on “an impermissible fishing expedition” and that they failed to prove they have a contractual and financial relationship with the redditor responsible for uploading the song in June.
But Atlantic and Fueled By Ramen say if the leaker was an Atlantic employee, that person was contractually prohibited from acknowledging the existence of the song, “Heathens,” before its release date.
Wrote Atlantic in its lawsuit:
“Prior to June 15, 2016, Atlantic had provided access to a digital copy of Heathens only to an extremely limited number of individuals. These individuals included members of [Twenty One] Pilots, their manager, Atlantic and Fueled by Ramen executives, and members of Atlantic’s radio field staff. In each such case, the individual was barred from distributing the recording until the scheduled release date of June 24, 2016.”
On June 24, “Heathens” was supposed to be released to Spotify and iTunes, along with a music video. But Atlantic said that somebody uploaded a copy of the song to Dropfile—a site that allows you to anonymously upload content. A day later, somebody made the Twenty One Pilots subreddit aware of the upload.
“Upon becoming aware of the Posting, Atlantic attempted to have the illegally-distributed copies of ‘Heathens’ removed from the Internet,” the label said in the lawsuit. “Despite expending significant effort and funds in this attempt, the removal efforts were ultimately unsuccessful in curtailing further widespread distribution… As a result of the need to change the release date of ‘Heathens,’ Atlantic’s marketing efforts were substantially frustrated … Sales of the ‘Heathens’ single, which were unsupported by Atlantic’s carefully-planned marketing strategy, failed to reach predicted levels, causing substantial harm to Atlantic in the form of lost single and album sales revenue.”
But Reddit responded by saying the leaker might not even be an Atlantic employee and, therefore, would have had no contract with the label. Plus, an IP address might not be useful in catching the culprit. Wrote Reddit in its response, “Courts have recognized that an IP address is a numeric label specific to a computer network that serves to identify and locate that network on the internet, but not to further identify a single user.”
For now, both sides wait for the court’s verdict on the matter.
H/T the Next Week
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.