Radiohead Thwart Hacker by Releasing Stolen Music

The British band have made hours of unreleased tracks available on Bandcamp after a hacker tried to ransom the tunes for $150,000. 

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke was hacked last week by an unnamed cyber criminal, who stole 1.8 gigabytes of unreleased tracks produced during the session for the band’s 1997 album OK Computer.

The hacker infiltrated Yorke’s MiniDisc archive to gain access to the collection, after which they reportedly demanded a large ransom for the return of the music. In response, the band has made the 18 recordings, each about an hour in length, available on Bandcamp for £18.

The proceeds of the release will go to climate change activist organisation, Extinction Rebellion, which has expressed gratitude to the band for the “unprecedented support”. The band recently authorised the climate change group to use its song, Idioteque, for a promotional video.

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Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, who confirmed the hack, said: “Instead of complaining – much – or ignoring it, we’re releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion. Just for the next 18 days.

“So for £18 you can find out if we should have paid that ransom. Never intended for public consumption (though some clips did reach the cassette in the OK Computer reissue) it’s only tangentially interesting. And very, very long. Not a phone download.”

Yorke wrote of the collection: “It’s not v interesting. There’s a lot of it…as it’s out there it may as well be out there until we all get bored and move on.”

Extinction Rebellion said: “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.”

The hack came to light a week ago after a user on website Reddit described being offered the files for sale. “We originally considered pooling our money together, as our enthusiasm over the rare opportunity to share material of such high historical interest for a band we love peaked, but were concerned about the ethics of the situation,” they wrote.

“According to [the leaker], they got the whole 18 hours of material by trading some other rare/unreleased material for it.”



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