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Radiohead dodges ransom request by releasing unheard tracks to benefit Extinction Rebellion

After an unknown hacker stole unreleased music from Grammy-winning Radiohead, the band published 18 hours of private soundtracks on Bandcamp with the proceeds directly benefiting the Extinction Rebellion.

The recordings were never intended for the public’s ear; however, the band was left with little choice other than allowing the hacker to profit from the stolen recordings. The hacker requested $150,000 for the full 18 hours. Instead, the band acted quickly to ensure that the profits from this crime would go toward helping a radical activist group working on the climate crisis.

Related: In a world first, the UK declares a climate emergency

The Extinction Rebellion is a U.K.-based group of activists who stage disruptive protests and acts of civil disobedience in support of political commitments to stem climate change.

“Instead of complaining — much — or ignoring it, we’re releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion,” the band’s guitarist, Johnny Greenwood, wrote in a public statement. He also added a disclaimer that “it’s only tangentially interesting.”

Radiohead is immensely popular, with a Grammy award from their 1998 album and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just last year. Their cult-like fan base is thrilled about the newly released material, despite its rough cuts. The 18 hours of material includes solo demos, alternate versions of favorite songs and experimental tracks.

“A dubiously sourced archive documenting the making of a momentous album — a fan’s holy grail, an artist’s private rough drafts and a copyright lawyer’s worst nightmare — was effectively being held for ‘ransom,’” said Greenwood of the situation.

Radiohead’s song Idioteque will also be used for a new Extinction Rebellion promotional video. According to the activist group, “The climate and ecological emergency demands courage, truth-telling and generosity like never before. We are so grateful to Radiohead for showing us how that’s done, both now and in the lead-up to the April rebellion. Words are inadequate but actions do change the world.”

Via CNN, The Guardian and Pitchfork

Image via Raph PH