Bob Dylan released a super limited-edition boxset last year (2012) to prevent some of his rare early recordings from falling out of copyright, according to NME.
"The 50th Anniversary Collection" contains 86 rarities Dylan recorded in 1962 around the time of his debut album. Last year, that album fell out of copyright in Europe, meaning anyone can sell it there without paying the singer a penny.
To prevent the same thing happening to 86 other recordings, Sony Music distributed roughly 100 copies of "The 50th Anniversary Collection" to random record stores in France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The boxset acknowledges its purpose with the frank subtitle: "The Copyright Extension Collection, Vol 1".
A Sony source told Rolling Stone: "This isn't a scheme to make money. The copyright law in Europe was recently extended from 50 to 70 years for everything recorded in 1963 and beyond. With everything before that, there's a new 'use it or lose it' provision. It basically said, 'If you haven't used the recordings in the first 50 years, you aren't going to get any more.'"
However, the rarities contained on the boxset are likely to get a wider release eventually. The source explained: "The whole point of copyrighting this stuff is that we intend to do something with it at some point in the future. But it wasn't the right time to do it right after he released [latest album] 'Tempest'. There are other things we want to do in 2013 though."