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Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Tragically Hip pulls plug on student's site
MP3 controversy: Cape Breton teen's site had group's unreleased album

Sinclair Stewart
Financial Post

Viktor Pivovarov, Moncton Times & Transcript
Gord Downie, a performer with the Tragically Hip rock group, which attacked a student's Web site that was carrying the group's new CD.

An MP3 Web site developed by a Cape Breton high school student was shut down Monday, after drawing the wrath of rock group The Tragically Hip, Universal Music Canada and the Canadian Recording Industry Association.

The site,, offers free, unauthorized downloads of tracks and albums by a variety of artists, including Canadian groups. Two months ago, 3mc began allowing users to download Music@Work, the latest album by The Tragically Hip -- even though its official release date was only yesterday.

That discovery prompted an angry reaction by the band's manager, Jake Gold, and its label, Universal Canada, both of whom complained to CRIA about three weeks ago.

'The whole issue was compounded by the fact that it was an unreleased album," said said Brian Robertson, president of Toronto-based CRIA. "Either a master was stolen or someone misappropriated something in the manufacturing process ... Obviously there's a high degree of priority to do something about it."

Brad Touesnard, 18, of Dundee, N.S., started 3mc last year, but gave the site to a friend after the MP3 controversy heated up.

"I was the former owner of it, but it's gotten so controversial. It is illegal, so I got out of that and one of my buddies took it over. But I still own the"

After gathering evidence for a few weeks, CRIA's lawyers sent a letter to 3mc, warning them that what they were doing was illegal. A subsequent letter was issued, after which 3mc agreed to suspend its operations.

Visitors to the site yesterday were greeted with the following message: "The account "3mc" or link "", has been suspended indefinitely pending a statement from the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA)."

While the music labels may feel as though they've scored a victory in their effort to combat online music piracy, the original developer of 3mc isn't so sure.

Mr. Touesnard said he was informed by CRIA that they would not sue if the site was taken down, which he has done.

Still, he's not sure the closure of 3mc will stem the exchange of free music, much less discourage its new proprietor (who goes by the sobriquet Hot4tea) from launching another free music site from scratch.

"He might decide to put another one up. That's the thing -- in my reply email to CRIA I told them it would be better if I left the URL redirection up, because I'm not hosting the pages, I'm just providing a link to those pages.

"I provide a redirection service for anyone that wants to sign up, so I'm not liable for the content of the site," said Mr. Touesnard, who said 3mc currently boasts about 1,200 users, a number which is quickly multiplying.

Hot4tea, who admitted to being slightly older than Mr. Touesnard, would not say how he managed to grab The Tragically Hip's latest album a full two months before it was released.

(Each link opens a new window)

    Official site of The Tragically Hip.
    Formerly offering premature downloads of Music@Work, The Hip's new album.
  • Napster
    Generation Next, and much assailed by record companies and bands like Metallica.
    Also embroiled in the intellectual property war.
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