Rush's forthcoming album "Vapor Trails" isn't due in stores until mid-May, but the hotly anticipated disc apparently leaked out via the Internet briefly this week.
A U.S.-based website entitled "Rush Vapor Trails Information Page" had the full 13-song album posted as high-quality MP3 downloads, some time between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon.
But by Wednesday afternoon, a message at the site explained that the songs had been taken down "at the request of Rush's management."
"This website will no longer host any copyrighted audio, lyrics or artwork," the site said in a message, once the song-links had disappeared from the page.
"I will, however, still keep it updated with all the latest Rush news as it is released. And just to set the record straight, I did not leek (sic) the album; I downloaded it off the Internet."
Messages to the person who maintains the site went unanswered yesterday. Rush's label, Anthem Records, did not immediately return calls.
Earlier this week, several sites posted brief excepts of selected songs from the album, and last month, mere rumours of a downloadable version of the album caused such a surge in traffic to the Rush Tri-Net website (www.r-u-s-h.com) that it forced the site's administrators to take the page temporarily offline (that leak turned out to be a hoax).
Since Rush's last release, 1996's "Test For Echo," the posting and downloading of leaked advance albums has become a common feature of the modern music scene, much to the chagrin of record companies and artists, who face potential loss of revenue and loss of control over the distribution of their work.
While some artists have taken a laissez-faire attitude toward sharing of leaked albums, Rush singer Geddy Lee can't be counted among them.
"I hate it. I think it is evil. I think it is theft," Lee told JAM! Music in November 2000, when asked about the file-sharing system Napster.
"It is unethical behaviour. I am ashamed at the way people have tried to justify it and rationalize it by saying what they do in the privacy of their own home, with no one looking, is fine.
"Someone should ask me first if I want my song posted there. That is what it is all about to me, doing it without the artist's permission. An artist who is happy with it, by all means, give it away.
"Whether I believe in giving away my music or not is not someone else's decision to make. It is my decision to make, and that is what I object to vehemently."