Radiohead releases 18 hours of demos, thwarting alleged extortion attempt

Shawn Knight

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

English rock band Radiohead has released 18 hours of studio recording sessions after a hacker stole the archive and threatened to release it unless a $150,000 ransom was paid.

On its Facebook page, Radiohead posted the following:

We got hacked last week - someone stole Thom’s minidisk archive from around the time of OK Computer, and reportedly demanded $150,000 on threat of releasing it.

So instead of complaining - much - or ignoring it, we’re releasing all 18 hours on Bandcamp in aid of Extinction Rebellion: https://radiohead.bandcamp.com

Just for the next 18 days. So for £18 you can find out if we should have paid that ransom.

A few things stand out as unusual. First, Radiohead seems unsure of the ransom – the perp “reportedly demanded $150,000.” Surely, if anybody would know about a ransom, it’d be the band, no? Also a bit peculiar is the fact that the recordings were seemingly published online nearly a week ago. Why would someone seeking a ransom post the material online for free? And with the recordings leaked online, anyone that really wanted them could get them before Radiohead posted them for sale.

That said, it’s not necessarily bad news for the band. They’re getting some unexpected publicity and the opportunity to raise money for a cause they care about. What’s more, die-hard fans are getting a rare opportunity to listen to content that was never intended for public consumption.

Lead image credit: Radiohead by Christian Bertrand

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Godel

TS Addict
A few things stand out as unusual. First, Radiohead seems unsure of the ransom – the perp “reportedly demanded $150,000.” Surely, if anybody would know about a ransom, it’d be the band, no?

Bitcoin perhaps? Its value varies on a daily basis.
 
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OortCloud

TS Maniac
Two possibilities exist with this situation;
1. This is for real and a lot of the details haven't made public, thus why some of those details seem confusing. This kind of thing has happened before.
2. This is a manufactured publicity stunt(that seems to be working).

Either way, fans of Radiohead get some new music to enjoy. I call this a win from that perspective.
Radiohead always seem a pretty honest and straightforward bunch so I really don't think they would go along with a publicity stunt of this nature - especially as they have said 100% of the profit from this goes to an environmental action group.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
If this is a gimmic why do the not encrypted the drive. and just put out some fakes that can be tracked along the whole world. ? https://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=USD&to=NOK so 150 000 would be enormous loss.
[SIZE=6]150,000 USD to NOK = 1,295,888.11 Norwegian Kroner

https://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=150,000&From=USD&To=NOK[/SIZE]
It was a mini disc collection (so, offline) from when hacking still seemed like something either from the realm of sci-fi or government espionage - there was likely very little reason at the time to encrypt it.

Personally, my bet is that they were hacked (/the discs were stolen the old fashioned way/some intern posted them publicly by mistake or on purpose) but the hacker made no demand for money. Instead, they posted it up online for free. Unable to 'un-spill the milk', Radiohead then posted it themselves with the 'we got hacked story' and asking people to donate to charity instead.
 
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