* The intersection of the internet and art
* The bizarre ego economics of the recording industry
* A Deep-Throat-style whodunnit
Also, it touches on legal semantics. While Apple's album is just now in stores, 11 of the songs from it surfaced online nearly a year ago:
Many of them posted links to the MP3s songs on their personal web pages. Others released the entire album -- including some homespun album cover art -- over the Bittorrent file-sharing network.
Nadja Dee Tanaka of Seattle posted all 11 of the "Extraordinary Machine" MP3s on her Web site. . . .
Tanaka begrudgingly took the links down after receiving a notice from the Recording Industry Association of America.
"I was scared. I was angry," Tanaka said.
She might have been a bit confused as well. At the time it was made, no one would confirm Apple had even made the recordings, much less delivered them to the label.
If no new Apple material existed, what were downloaders being asked to stop downloading?
And it remains unclear if the RIAA went after the original album leaker with the same vigor it went after Tanaka and other Apple fans . . .
Bonus Obsessive Angle: Since the 11 tracks appeared online a year ago, Apple has split with her long-time producer, Jon Brion. Brion used to produce Aimee Mann. Mann's husband is Michael Penn and both of them have worked closely in the past with movie director Paul Thomas Anderson. Who was once (and may still be, for all I know) Fiona Apple's quite serious beau.
What could this all mean for future collaborations between Mann, Penn, and Anderson? If only there was a high-brow version of Us Weekly.