July 28, 2009
Well, I hope you enjoyed the blast from the past. For the last two weeks, the site reverted to August 1999 — the last version of the site I had saved from before it went online with a new design as Herzeleid.com in the following November. Frames, animated GIFs, embarrassing teen angst and all. (And yes, you read that right. This site has been around for over a decade.)
But why do that? About three weeks ago, new promotional pictures and a song ("Liebe ist für alle da") from the new album showed up in my forums (and elsewhere on the Internet). The files were never on my site. The users passed them around via e-mail or instant messaging services. My moderators did their best to delete any links to the files, but they can't control what people do outside of the forums.
Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by Pilgrim Management and later by Universal Music. At first they just wanted my help in tracking the leak, but then the asked me to shut down my site and forum to help them minimize the damage. Because of a very poorly worded sentence in an e-mail that I received from the management, I was led to believe that I had no choice in the matter unless I wanted to deal with lawyers. So, I shut up and put up the old site instead. I figured that was the farthest away from the leak that I could get (and it was good for a few laughs too). I have since then received a call from the management. They have apologized and assured me that it was a misunderstanding caused by the immense pressure of the situation.
I want to make this clear: I was not sued and no legal action has been brought against me, contrary to what many (mostly German) news outlets have reported. As far as I know, the only legal action brought against any fan site was a cease-and-desist letter that Rammstein-Austria.com received from Universal Music. The newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine published an article about the leak and later removed it after receiving a similar letter.
To be honest though, I really don't know what anyone hoped to achieve. No matter how or why something is leaked, as regrettable as it might be, once it is on the Internet, it stays there. The only thing you get by reacting hastily in a situation like this is bad publicity.
In any case, the site is back. The forums will remain partially offline for a little while longer, but they will return.
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