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Music Media

Fighting Music Piracy with Glue 610

Posted by chrisd
from the morons-morons-morons dept.
Scott Granneman writes: "The New York Times (Free Blah-di-blah) is reporting that Epic Records, in an effort to prevent reviewers from creating mp3s or even playing the preview CD in anything they don't control, is not disseminating the new Pearl Jam and Tori Amos CDs inside Sony Walkman players that are glued shut. Oh yeah ... the headphones are glued to the players too, to prevent any authorized output. A low-tech answer to a high-tech issue."
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Fighting Music Piracy with Glue

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  • by alnapp (321260) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:12AM (#4264474) Homepage
    "I brought this discman home with me, and I found a way you could go in the back of the CD and, like, pop it open. So I got the actual disc out."

    So, they can't even use glue properly, its not wonder everything else has failed.
  • Ed. (Score:5, Informative)

    by dr_strang (32799) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:13AM (#4264475)
    Let me edit this to make it actually make some sense :

    "The New York Times (Free Blah-di-blah) is reporting that Epic Records, in an effort to prevent reviewers from creating mp3s or even playing the preview CD in anything they don't control, is now disseminating the new Pearl Jam and Tori Amos CDs inside Sony Walkman players that are glued shut. Oh yeah ... the headphones are glued to the players too, to prevent any unauthorized output. A low-tech answer to a high-tech issue."
  • nothing new (Score:2, Funny)

    by malus (6786)
    according to my girlfriend, a RABID Tori Amos fan, this is nothing new. She's apparently always done this.

    Not that it matters, though, as I've had 7 tracks from Scarlet's Walk for well over two months now...
  • this had me scared for a moment before i read and realize this is being done to albums that are being reviewed, not purchased by consumers. and what's to stop a critic from throwing the cd player on the floor in a violent manner to miraculously break it and reveal the precious intellectual property within?
  • not new... (Score:2, Informative)

    by apidya (31789)
    why is this remarkable? record companies have been doing this for years?

    if i recall correctly, emi distributed walkmans with copies of Radiohead's OK Computer album glued into them, back in 1997. and i belive this was by no means the first time the idea had been used.

    the cost of several hundred (or even thousand) cheap cd walkmans is hardly going to eat into a multinational record companies bottom line.
    • by gfxguy (98788)
      And if it will prevent just one 12 year old from downloading music they would never buy anyway, then it will all have been worth it.
    • why is this remarkable? record companies have been doing this for years?

      I wonder what they did with LPs ?

  • .... see the daring Pogue Mahone violate the DMCA (again) ...

    the headphones are glued to the players too, to prevent any authorized output

    Why not cut the headphone lead and solder a suitable connector onto the Walkman end?

    • If they are not totally weird (which I'm not that sure ...) they want the diskman back after a few weeks. And then they will see who has 'manipulated' the device and who has not.

      The NY times story doesn't mention, if Epic wants the deivces back, so my comment is just wild guessing.

      Bye egghat.
  • Wire cutting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nick255 (139962) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:17AM (#4264492)
    Ummmmm. I guess they must be assuming journalists are not engineers, as otherwise they could just cut the headphone wires and them connect them to their favourite input.
    • Re:Wire cutting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ChrisJones (23624) <cmsj-slashdot@t[ ]hu.net ['ens' in gap]> on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:28AM (#4264522) Homepage Journal
      Then when reviewer returns the walkman with cut wires, Epic Records can ream them for being naughty pirates.
      • Re:Wire cutting (Score:3, Informative)

        by dietz (553239)
        Then when reviewer returns the walkman with cut wires, Epic Records can ream them for being naughty pirates.

        Uhm, generally you don't return promo copies of CDs. That's why can almost always find them (marked "NOT FOR RESALE") at your favorite used CD store. (Not the national chains, who often won't buy them, but at smaller local stores).

        I doubt they'd make them return a CD player that had been glue shut, either. What good would it be to Sony if you can't even get it open? It would just be a lot of work for the reviewers and the label.
        • Re:Wire cutting (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ChrisJones (23624) <cmsj-slashdot@t[ ]hu.net ['ens' in gap]> on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:29AM (#4264647) Homepage Journal
          Well if they don't want them returned, wtf is the point of glueing the player shut? you could easily just cut it open and take the CD out. I would have thought it would actually make more sense, and be cheaper, to put the single onto a tiny device with a $10 mp3 decoder in it, so there physically isn't anything to remove, or any way to remove the track without some serious hardware debugging.
          Of course sanity and media companies are rarely found together ;)
        • Re:Wire cutting (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NeMon'ess (160583)
          You're kidding right? If the player doesn't have to be returned, than the reviewer can just break open the player carefully and get to the CD. The point of gluing them is to keep the tracks from going up on the net before the album hits the retail shelves. I'm betting the glue doesn't have a strength of infinity+1 and the players do have to be returned unmolested if the reviewer wants to preview any future albums from that company.
      • by alispguru (72689) <bane@@@gst...com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @08:59AM (#4265373) Journal
        1. Open player with your favorite screwdriver/utility knife.

        2. Remove CD. Rip, mix, burn.

        3. Replace CD in player.

        4. Back over player and headphones with your car.

        5. Return electronic crumbs to Epic Records in plastic bag, claiming you "dropped it".

        Problem solved...
        • Even Better (Score:3, Funny)

          by Bios_Hakr (68586)
          3. Replace CD with crappy Kenny G. CD
          4. Write review about PJ's new stuff being really "mellow".
          5. Return CD player to company.

          It'd take them months to connect the review to the player. The look on their faces, as they opened the player, would be classic.
    • by mpe (36238) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:42AM (#4264548)
      I guess they must be assuming journalists are not engineers, as otherwise they could just cut the headphone wires and them connect them to their favourite input.

      Thus making wire cutters illegal under the DMCA :)
    • Re:Wire cutting (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Skapare (16644) on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:09AM (#4265882) Homepage

      You don't even need to cut the wires. You can just put a coil around the earpieces or the wires leading to the earpieces and pick up the content inductively. Most journalists won't know that, but it only takes one leak :-)

  • Use those greeting cards that play a tune when you open them.

    Pay Tori to personally visit each reviewer with a guitar and play her songs.

    Distribute the songs in Ogg Vorbis format. (rimshot)
  • Wow! (Score:4, Funny)

    by morie (227571) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:19AM (#4264501) Homepage
    I'm gonna start reviewing CD's. Can't make a living with my reviews, but sure can use the extra income from the unglued diskmans I sell.
  • by leomekenkamp (566309) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:23AM (#4264508)
    ...would just have to be glued to your ears to prevent someone else from listening to it.
  • Not having read the linked article, in pure /. tradition ...

    Make the players pretty colors, with about 400 slightly different models to compare and collect. Make them super cheap and flimsy; it's not like your going use one of them anywhere near as much as a general purpose player.

    And best of all, just use a crippled format or something. Tech support problems solved! "Um, sir, you're not allowed to open it up and put the CD in your computer ...

  • Environment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buzy buzy (594932) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:28AM (#4264521)
    I know they are only releasing a limited supply of these to journalists, but seams to me this is very environmentally unfriendly.

    Don't think a Sting preview will be released this way.

    Are there plans to reuse or recycle the returned CD walkmans?
    • That would be the same Sting who featured in an ad (in the UK at least) for a Jaguar car (probably around 5 miles to the gallon) that had leather seats and a rare wood (mahogany?) dashboard... Yeah, right on, Sting :)
  • So don't review it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mccalli (323026) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:33AM (#4264529) Homepage
    Return the thing unreviewed then, siting 'technical difficulties'.

    Presumably other artists' CDs are put through the reviewers' own systems, set up the way they like them. Just say a fair comparison is impossible without putting these new CDs through that same system.

    Of course, if you're feeling vindictive, you could always slate them instead...

    Cheers,
    Ian

    • by mosch (204)
      I think that's a risk the record company is willing to take. After all, Tori Amos and Pearl Jam are both bands whose cds are generally bought by rabid fans who'd buy a cd of /dev/random, as long as it says Pearl Jam, or Tori Amos on the cover.

      I can't help but wonder if the publicity around the stunt won't generate more press than the releases alone, after all, they just successfully told half a million slashdot readers that there's a new Tori Amos and Pearl Jam album coming out.

  • tinny sound (Score:2, Informative)

    by nath_o_brien (608347)

    How can a music reviewer be expected to give a favourable review solely by listening to the said CDs on a Walkman?

    All the Walkmans I've owned have given the music a really tinny sound - even the supposedly decent quality ones.

    Even if they hooked up the output to a proper speakers, they still probably wouldn't get the quality you would get from a good stereo set up - which these guys would be used to.

  • by YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:36AM (#4264539) Homepage
    ... by glueing the earphones to the ears of the reviewers. Disposable reviewers will be needed, though.
  • by I Love this Company! (547598) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:41AM (#4264546)
    Back in the day of the original NES (and even today, I presume), Nintendo used to send a rep to the magazine reviewing the game, and he carried a system with the game bolted inside and sat there while the game was being reviewed, and the whole package was whisked away when the their time was up. Sounds like the record companies are taking a page from the gaming industry's playbook.
  • Glue... shmoo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fruey (563914)
    Just the sort of reviewer that is going to rip to MP3 and share these CDs is going to have enough clue to break open the case / rewire those headphone connectors. This is all a publicity stunt to get the press to talk more about the two albums in question, and to get more "filesharing is bad" vibe into the press. Poor poor music industry losing to filesharing. They have to understand WHY we have no sympathy first.

    They've done pretty well here though. How many of you vague Tori Amos fans knew she had a new album out before this article?

  • by femto (459605) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:46AM (#4264557) Homepage
    So is hitting the walkman with a hammer an offence under the DMCA...?
    • Gravity (Score:5, Funny)

      by LinuxGeek (6139) <djand,nc&gmail,com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:25AM (#4264641)
      In this case, I'm sure that a decent lawyer could successfully argue that gravity could be used to circumvent the 'glue lock'. My reading of the DMCA text leads me to think that any device or method used for circumvention is illegal. Dropping the unit would be a method. Hmm, guilty of dropping the unit? Then jail time for you. I would not want to accept such a liability for a simple review.
      • by Tom7 (102298) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:37AM (#4265637) Homepage Journal
        You should read the DMCA more carefully. The device has to be primarily designed for circumvention, and must not have any other commercially significant uses. Also, it would probably be hard to argue that glue is a "technological measure" as defined in the DMCA.

        The DMCA is a bad law, and I know you guys are half joking, but blowing it out of proportion like this I think does our cause disservice. Actually understanding what it makes illegal, and being able to hold intelligent conversations about it's implications -- that's what helps us.
  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:48AM (#4264560) Homepage
    This has been done before. In 1998, preview copies of Radiohead's album "OK Computer" were sent out in sealed cassette players. And in 2000, preview copies of "Kid A" were sent out in an encrypted format on Sony VAIO digital players.

    More info: http://www.followmearound.com/press/083.html [followmearound.com]
  • by z_gringo (452163) <z_gringo AT hotmail DOT com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:55AM (#4264575)
    Now, they just need to develop something that destroys the disc, if you happen to force the cover open or remove the Headphone jack.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When are these people going to learn? As long as it can be heard by the human ear, it can be recorded. It's that simple. I KNOW IT'S NOT A DIGITAL COPY!! (The analog to digital conversion will cause loss of quality to a degree. The degree of loss depends on the equipment and skill of the person doing the conversion.) But honestly, do you really think someone who is downloading an MP3 quality file off the Internet using P2P software is going to care? I'd bet my bottom dollar 95% of the population wouldn't know the difference even if you told them.
  • by hattig (47930) on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:02AM (#4264589) Journal
    So they are expected to review the CD's through headphones from a walkman?

    Doesn't that just strike people as being stupid? How will they get a subjective review of the audio quality? Are the music companies trying to hide poor audio quality from the reviewers by making them review the music through sub-optimal equipment?

    This is just a sad example of how paranoid the music companies have become...
    • How will they get a subjective review of the audio quality?

      Monopoly companies stopped worrying about this twenty years ago.

      This is an extremely dumb idea obviously; the smarter (though not by much) companies are putting on special listening rooms for journalists to come and sit in to previw new recordings.

      Probably, all monopoly companys are going to get themselvs "screening rooms" so that they can control who has access to what before its released.
    • Of course this is stupid. It is mandated by MBAs.

      Seriously - poor audio quality hides all the nuances that make a lot of great music great. Precise timing, complex harmonics, musician interaction. Those are musical qualitities that we lose when we listen to our records on a pair of shitty monitor-mounted speakers, or flabby headphones. You simply cannot get a proper gitar roar out of a tin can.
    • by nhavar (115351) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:03AM (#4265395) Homepage
      It's pearl jam and tori amos, the record companies are just admitting that with a walkman that's as good as it's ever going to sound. Plus they're sending a nice little signal that if you listen to such music don't bother the people around you with it (use headphones). :)
  • I don't think it is a coincidence that Tori Amos and Pearl Jam were targeted. Look at their past. Both have strong opinions about the recording industry. I bet they have pissed off enough executives, that this is the punishment.

    The executives are probably hoping that the reviewers will be pissed off by the stupid restriction, and vent their anger in the reviews. That way, the executives can push more cooperative bands more effectively, since Tori Amos and Pearl Jam will be sidelined.

    Whenever I hear about such acts of stupidity, I get more convinced that I should donate funds directly to the artists, and just get the music online.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:10AM (#4264606)
    September 16, 2002
    Epic Records Takes Steps to Seal Its Newest Music
    By CHRIS NELSON

    The Epic Records Group, a unit of Sony Music, is approaching the sticky problem of prerelease music's being traded online with an even stickier solution.

    Writers receiving review copies of two soon-to-be-released albums -- Tori Amos's "Scarlet's Walk" and Pearl Jam's "Riot Act" -- are finding the CD's already inside Sony Walkman players that have been glued shut. Headphones are also glued into the players, to prevent connecting the Walkman to a recording device.

    By locking up the discs, Epic hopes to keep writers from converting the music to MP3's that can then be traded over the Net. But even a "glueman" player is unlikely to deter a diehard critic.

    "I'm a pretty big Pearl Jam fan," said Bart Blasengame, a staff writer at Details magazine who was sent one of the contraptions with "Riot Act" inside. "I brought this discman home with me, and I found a way you could go in the back of the CD and, like, pop it open. So I got the actual disc out."

    Mr. Blasengame said he had no intention of making MP3's . "At the same time, if I want to give it a proper review, I'm going to listen to it how I want to listen to it -- and in my stereo is where it sounds best," he said.

    For several years, prerelease music has turned up online before it reaches stores, distributed without permission by journalists, radio employees, record company employees or other sources. This July, for example, a six-song sampler from Ms. Amos's upcoming album was shipped to writers the old-fashioned way. The songs soon appeared on file-sharing services like WinMX.

    The Recording Industry Association of America blames Internet music-sharing for declines in CD sales, though proponents of MP3 trading dispute the group's arguments.

    A Sony spokeswoman confirmed that the glued players were being used to combat piracy, but would not talk about their effectiveness or responses from writers.

    This is not the first time prerelease music has received the glue treatment. Gil Kaufman, a freelance journalist in Cincinnati, said he owns a prerelease copy of Radiohead's 1997 album "OK Computer" that is glued into an Aiwa player -- an Aiwa analog cassette deck. That makes MP3 conversions a bit more difficult.
  • by Cl1mh4224rd (265427) on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:16AM (#4264619)
    "In an effort to prevent reviewers from creating MP3s or even playing the preview CD in anything they don't control, music labels are now disseminating a prewritten review of the CD, along with a bill for $17.99."
  • The article said the company is not disseminating the diskman glued shut. So if they're not doing it, why are people so upset? Seems that allowing the review copies to be freely disseminated is something Good.

    What's that? You mean he meant is now disseminating? Oh, well, in that case, Flame On!

  • So, if I'm a reviewer and I let someone else listen to the CD, they are violating the DMCA.

    Therefore, their ears must be chopped off.

  • Why not digital? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gvonk (107719) <slashdot AT garrettvonk DOT com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:24AM (#4264639) Homepage
    I want to know why a solid-state mp3 player couldn't be used? They could just build their own and put the songs in ROM and just have no input. Kinda like those little "tiger beat" or whatever players that just play Britney Spears and you can get them at McDonald's.

    I imagine building a custom player with built-in earbuds and only one album on it would be cheaper than this dumb glue thing.
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:26AM (#4264642) Homepage
    Just about every day I see the latest attempt by the media/software industries to prevent the theft of their product, and usually soon after see a circumvention of that attempt. Sometimes this involves some rather convoluted and really bizarre ways of getting at that tasty morsel.

    A lot of times these methods result in getting a much lower quality piece of software/media than if it were simply bought. A lot of times (mostly with software) the result barely works at all.

    So is it really worth it to copy some of this stuff at any cost? I can't help but think that sometimes it would cost less time and aggravation to just go out and buy the damn software/music CD/DVD. And don't give me that "information wants to be free" crap either. There comes a point when it's just not worth the time or effort to circumvent copy protection just because you can.

    • A lot of times these methods result in getting a much lower quality piece of software/media than if it were simply bought. A lot of times (mostly with software) the result barely works at all.

      Not so. Not in general. Back in the Amiga days, quite a few cracked games could be installed on hard disk, while the "simply bought" game couldn't. Sometimes the crackers did actual bug fixing. Today, in the copy-protected CD days, any CD-R can be played by the disc changer in my car, while there are "simply bought" CDs that can't. The industry has reached that point were the copy is not only cheaper, but also more useful than the original.

  • Since gravity is now a method of defeating an "effective" copy-protection mechanism?

    <tap><tap>RIAA? That word you keep using? I don't think it means what you think it means.

  • by spakka (606417) on Monday September 16, 2002 @06:27AM (#4264644)
    I noticed that certain pages in my friend's twat magazines were glued together, presumably to prevent unauthorised copying.
  • Y'know... I bet this is some smart-alec's way of getting back at us for the 'magic marker defeats copy protection' thing.
  • Pearl Jam?? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by ONOIML8 (23262)
    Is that the same band that went to war with Ticketmaster for overcharging fans on ticket prices? Amazing. You would think they would........aw hell, you never can tell with these guys.

    Especially since Pearl Jam became the Neil Young backup band.
  • That music from the RIAA is not as good as we thought it was.

    Been to a concert lately? It beats the hell out of buying a cd.

    You can't get laid listening to cd's anyway.

    Stop buying music. Go out and listen to some instead.
  • What next? "This CD will self-destruct in 70 Minutes".
  • if the CD player had a digital optical output.
  • Go down to your local Radio Shack, and buy 2 of the inductive telephone taps (the things that look like a suction cup with a wire hanging off it).

    Plug the taps into your recorder/sound card.

    Place taps over headphones.

    Record signal, clean up, MP3.

    ????

    Profit!

    Or, just realize that the stuff is crap, and will be out far too soon anyway, and ignore it.
  • IIRC when the latest Eminem album was released there was an outcry from the labels that it was already on p2p systems.

    Is this how they get there.....

    Is the 'music industry' itself (well, the reviewers but as they are part of the industry hype machine) responsible for the leaking of music onto these services? Is this so much of an issue they have to resort to lame tricks like this.

    Pot, kettle, black.

  • ...when they complain about losing profits, but are willing and able to throw away their money on thousands of perfectly good CD players.
  • by altgrr (593057) on Monday September 16, 2002 @08:07AM (#4265034)
    I have recently been looking into the problems associated with secure document transmission. What this ultimately comes down to is the following: There comes a point where you have to define your level of trust. If you don't want anyone to copy a document, you can't distribute it in electronic format - after all, once it's on a screen, it's not safe. You have to have a controlled number of paper copies which you don't let out of your sight.

    When applied to music, if you don't trust the reviewers at all, you make them come to a hotel room where you've set up a hi-fi, give them a comfy chair to sit in, and let them listen. You don't ever give them the CD. The best they can manage is smuggling a Minidisc recorder in, and the quality won't be great.

    Glued-together Walkmans? I'd only settle for _that_ if they supplied quality headphones. You can't possibly review music properly on anything less than proper hi-fi equipment. Walkmans, micro systems and the like just don't have sufficient quality.
  • Wave of Future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4of12 (97621) on Monday September 16, 2002 @08:43AM (#4265253) Homepage Journal

    Well, my TiVo has recordings of copyrighted media inside of it, and it's likewise pretty hard, though not impossible, to get it out in perfect digital fidelity for archiving on other devices or to play on different players.

    I expect to see more of this in the future as hardware prices continue to slide. Media will become more and more locked into a particular device one way or another. Your next CD player could well require an Access card in it to enable it to play the latest CDs.

  • by asv108 (141455) <alex@phata[ ]o.org ['udi' in gap]> on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:10AM (#4265428) Homepage Journal
    I'm no music reviewer, but it seems to me if I were to review a new album, I would want to listen to the CD on the best stereo I have access to, not a little crappy discman with $5 headphones.
  • Oh the Irony (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lonath (249354) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:53AM (#4265759)
    There's gotta be irony somewhere in having two articles on /. about the record industry in one day.

    Article 1: Record companies are sending expensive sealed players to reviewers instead of just CD's.

    Article 2: Artists are fed up with being screwed over by the record industry, but the industry keeps bleating about how expensive it is to handle their artists.

    I see a nice cycle here: They have to spend more money to keep their music controlled because they need to make more money to spend more money to keep their music controlled because they need to make more money to spend more money to...
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday September 16, 2002 @05:24PM (#4269158)
    With the world going to shit in a handbasket in more fascinating and varied ways that I can currently count, when somebody tells me that ass-wipe record executives are glue-gunning CD players closed with cheesey music stuffed inside the, I have but one question to ask. . .

    How is this in any way important, interesting, vital, relevant or worthy of consideration on any level whatsoever which is not petty, braindead, boring and totally fucking Prozacked up the wahzoo?

    This question has been brought to you by the ever-present, effervescent,


    -Fantastic Lad

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