R.E.M. today released 11 videos for the first song from their forthcoming album, all in MP4 format in HD and under an open source license. "Supernatural Serious," is the first single from the band's next album, "Accelerate," due to be released April 1st.

Viewers are encouraged to remix the videos and share them on the song's YouTube page. The band will not be doing a Radiohead and offering the album for free, but this is an interesting twist somewhere in between that approach and the standard industry practice.

The HD format will allow remixers to pan and scan within the video, but it also makes for a monster file size to work with. R.E.M. is big-time stuff though, so presumably there's a healthy number of production artists just waiting to work their magic on the file.

R.E.M.'s primary site is here, where you can - as they say - "Hear the Song/Buy the Ringtone."

The license selected for the project seems a bit unclear. It's from the Open Source Initiative, typically a software milieu, not Creative Commons where content most commonly goes open these days. The license says fairly clearly that "You are permitted to use the Standard Version and create and use Modified Versions for any purpose without restriction, provided that you do not Distribute the Modified Version." Yet the (beautiful) website encourages people to upload their remixed versions to YouTube. Does that not constitute distribution?

I don't know what to make of it yet, but I do know that a whole lot of people swoon over R.E.M. so perhaps this effort will find some legs. Remixing campaigns can be real flops but perhaps this one will hit the sweet spot of popular content plus open standards and licensing.