Rolling Stones fans – at least, those camping out on YouTube in the final hours of 2019 – got an unexpected treat on 31 December. More than 75 rare tracks popped up on Google’s video service on the Stones’ and catalogue administrator Abkco, before disappearing again a few hours later. The live recordings and studio out-takes would have been exciting for fans, but several reports since have suggested that this was less about fan service, and more about copyright extension.
“An apparent move to officially release the recordings before they passed into public domain in the European Union — and thus out of the ownership of Abkco,” as Variety put it. “Such releases have become common as the rock era has reached a succession of half-century anniversaries, and Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Motown Records and others have stealthily issued similar copyright-extending outtake collections for a brief time period (or on ridiculously limited-edition CDs with minimal packaging) before quickly yanking them off the market.”