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Last week, an unnamed hacker stole a cache of unreleased Radiohead recordings. Lead singer Thom Yorke had 18 MiniDisc recordings, mostly an hour long each, of music the band made while working on the seminal 1997 album, OK Computer, and the hacker threatened to release the recordings online unless they paid a ransom of $150,000.
Instead of paying the ransom, the band put all the music online themselves. In a statement, Radiohead guitarist and keyboardist Jonny Greenwood described the 18 hours of recordings as, “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. Rainy out, isn’t it though?”
The recordings are available for £18 (approximately $23) on the website Bandcamp. All of the proceeds will go to Extinction Rebellion, an activist organization dedicated to fighting man-made climate change, biodiversity loss, and “a mass extinction of our own making.” The group has hosted talks on climate change in local communities across Britain and has helped push for mass mobilization and elaborate public demonstrations, like when activists chained themselves to a boat hauled into central London.
Any aspiring hackers should probably take note: If you’re going to target musicians for blackmail, maybe try something more embarrassing than some unreleased studio recordings and a group that’s less likely to use it as an opportunity to raise awareness for worthy causes.