A collection of rare Lou Reed demos were released over the holidays and just as quickly withdrawn in what was an apparent copyright dump. 

As reported by Variety, the 17-track album of Reed’s demos was uploaded by RCA/Sony Music to iTunes in Europe on December 23rd. Titled I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos, the collection was swiftly removed just a couple of days later.

It was pointed out by Matthew Goody, the author of Needles And Plastic: Flying Nun Records, 1981–1988, on social media the following week. “Apparently Lou Reed’s RCA demos from 1971 were dumped on Apple Music in Europe on Xmas Eve,” he tweeted on December 30th. “No sign they’ll be available anywhere else.” He also shared a link that previewed the album’s artwork.

The album’s tracklist contains demo versions of famous hits from Reed’s self-titled 1972 debut solo album and its follow-up Transformer. Two of the tracks, ‘Kill Your Sons’ and ‘She’s My Best Friend’, never got officially released until 1976 on his sixth album Coney Island Baby.

The reason for the album’s very brief release appears to be an apparent copyright dump done in order to extend RCA/Sony Music’s ownership of Reed’s recordings.

Such copyright extension releases have become a common thing in recent times. Sound recordings are protected for 50 years after their initial publish date, and this can be extended to 70 years as long as they are “lawfully communicated to the public” within the first 50 years.

Previous examples include the Bob Dylan compilation The Copyright Extension Collection, Volume 1, which was released in 2013 in Europe with only 100 copies being issued. In 2020, a collection of unpublished Rolling Stones recordings were published on YouTube and then removed within just a few hours.

For more on this topic, follow The Industry Observer or the Classic Rock Observer.

Check out Lou Reed’s 1970 acoustic demos:

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine