UMG Watermarks Audiophile Files, Pisses Off Paying Customers

from the hisssssssssssssssss dept

Let's say, just for analogy's sake, you had a defense contractor that supplied weapons and ammunition to Earth's army. Let's say that army was going to war with the evil pod people from the planet Dah-Rull. And let's say that this defense contractor, named Universal Munitions Group, supplied the good guys with new bullet rounds that they promised would completely obliterate the Dah-Rull pod people and make everyone on Earth happy again.

Now let's say that when Earth's army confronted their enemy and fired their weapons...the bullets, instead of firing, simply blew up, taking the limbs of Earth's infantry with them. As a result, the pod people were free to take over the world. You'd be pretty pissed, wouldn't you? Unless you're a pod-person, I mean?

Yet that's about how effective Universal Music Group's latest attempt at watermarking is. You can read the fascinating exchange on the message board of Hydrogenaudio.com, but here's the skinny. A customer of Passionato, a site dedicated to bringing audiophiles high quality recordings of classical music, notices that he was getting an odd thrumming noise on his FLAC file of Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony that he got from Passionato (the file was advertised as lossless), a noise that wasn't present on the file he got directly from UMG. There's some back and forth between helpful board members about some technical issues that could have been the problem, but eventually, after multiple users go and test files similarly, they arrive at the conclusion that it must be watermarking. It culminates with someone from Passionato showing up and indicating that the file received was faithfully translated from whatever UMG supplied the site, meaning that any sound artifacts would have been the result of UMG's file, not a technical issue resulting from compression or file extension switches. Basically, UMG watermarked files being distributed through their partners. Files which are being advertised as lossless recordings for audiophiles.

A couple of things were clear in that board exchange:

First, nice try, UMG, but this isn't going to accomplish what you want it to. You're talking about a dedicated group of audiophiles here. There were all manner of suggestions for nixing the watermarking, from pirating an un-watermarked file (keeping in mind that it was already purchased in what was supposed to be lossless format), to doing a cut and paste remixing of the file from a clean one to cut out the artifact. Either way, it can be done away with.

Second, these are your damned customers! Seriously, as ridiculous as my opening analogy was, this is equally stupid. Your watermarking is only pissing off paying customers. Now they have to, in addition to... you know... giving you money, go around and figure out a way to fix what you screwed up for them. And that's going to make them buy from you in the future? And that did what exactly to keep the files from being pirated elsewhere?

I can't believe I have to say this to an established company, but: UMG, customers are people, too. Stop screwing with people and sell the product as advertised, or you'll find you'll have no more customers left to piss off.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:28am

    But we had to do this!
    Piracy will destroy us, we have to actively drive our customers to piracy so that we can claim everyone is a dirty pirate!

    We have no idea how to do anything for our customers, we just want them to all pirate everything so we can send out letters demanding to be paid for the infringement, its working for the other guys.

     

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  2.  
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    Scooters (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    What about point #3?

    The fact this is not a copyrightable sound file, which means "watermarking" the file is questionable to begin with, let alone the rest of the points.

    Then again, given this industry hasn't received any purchases from me, what the hell do I care what they do with their products.

    As for everyone else... well, let's just say some are a tad slower at learning their lessons.

    Now, I'm changing the topic and will continue to do so until Techdirt "listens".

    I'm perfectly fine with a site trying its best to reach out to its customers by offering them value-add, but there's a fine line between a reasonable offering and "Shoved in your face without any regard to how people will feel".

    I speak of this "If you liked this..." option, now taking up space in comment replies with no option to disable it.

    The little icons were easy to remove: adblock. But this isn't something one can block.

    Is there a particular reason why this option is being forced? It's another example of content owners believing everyone wants this, whether they like it or not.

    What's next, Techdirt. A rootkit install?

    Please consider these options before just shoving them down the virtual throats of customers.

    It's a guaranteed way of losing them, or does TD writers not read what they post?

    Thanks for reading.
    -Robert

     

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  3.  
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    rstr5105 (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:36am

    You Know....

    There are very very few cases in which I'll condone downright piracy...(That is, piracy in which the person has no desire to properly acquire that which they are pirating)...

    But when a company does something like this...to a song that SHOULD be in the public domain...The only thing I can say is fly that Jolly Roger high and proud my friend.

     

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  4.  
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    A nonny mouse, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:37am

    An execs view?

    Hmm, not sure I get your point on this one...

    The file was supposed to be lossless, right? So not only did he get the whole of the original music, he got some extra noises thrown in, too!

     

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  5.  
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    rstr5105 (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:38am

    Re: What about point #3?

    Agreed...Mike or someone in charge...please move "If you liked this" and give us our "Previous", "Next" links back at the bottom of the page as well. Very annoying having to scroll all the way back up after reading comments to get the next article. =(

     

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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:44am

    Re: What about point #3?

    The fact this is not a copyrightable sound file, which means "watermarking" the file is questionable to begin with, let alone the rest of the points.

    I think you mean the song isn't copyrightable because the music has fallen into the public domain. But the recording could still be under copyright since the performance was most likely more recent, you know, when we have the technology to record sounds. With the current system, the copyright on the recording could last forever.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: What about point #3?

    ...and give us our "Previous", "Next" links back at the bottom of the page as well. Very annoying having to scroll all the way back up after reading comments to get the next article. =(

    Umm. There are links to the previous and next articles on the bottom of my page. But, I agree that the "If you like this.." box is a bit annoying. It was better over in the right hand column.

     

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  8.  
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    alex (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:48am

    This is confusing...

    I understand the point of watermarking files and I know that some download stores do it. The thing I don't get is why UMG would watermark a file they pass on to a download store.

    If UMG later find the track on a torrent, and read the watermark which tells them the file was from passionato, what does that give them? They still don't know who shared it, only via what channel it was shared.

    Very odd.



    ps. lol @ your analogy =]

     

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  9.  
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    hobo, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:48am

    Re:

    They actually might be onto something. If the big music companies drive all of their former customers to piracy, then they can go to Congress and honestly (for once) say that everyone is a "pirate," and Congress will crack down in their favor.

    It's definitely a long-game plan, but it's not bad.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Re: What about point #3?

    Hum...didn't the "if you liked this" used to be located somewhere to the right of the page (it was called "related stories" or something...I don't remember). That was a lot less intrusive.

    I agree that it is somewhat annoying...especially in the replies.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:56am

    these are your damned customers who are going to put the files on a torrent site and let everyone get them for free!

    FTFY.

     

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  12.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    Re: Re:

    Except that if everyone is a dirty pirate, congress stands to lose all their votes if they vote for a measure that goes against piracy.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:57am

    Re:

    Now they are.

     

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  14.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:00am

    Re: An execs view?

    I guess the purchaser only paid for those premium noises, because the music is available for free from file transfer networks. Value-add?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: What about point #3?

    I have no clue what you are talking about. Site looks the same to me.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:03am

    Re: This is confusing...

    "If UMG later find the track on a torrent, and read the watermark which tells them the file was from passionato, what does that give them? They still don't know who shared it, only via what channel it was shared."

    I can think of two reasons. One, it's the constant push to blame the middle man with more money (Why sue the end user with little money when you can sue the middle man with lots). Two, they want to give lower quality items to the middle man to push people to buy directly from UMG (no sharing profit). Both of these ideas are supported by the fact that the "flutter" isn't present in the UMG version.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    So in otherwords, you can pay for a 'not really loss less file' with poor quality (call it what you want - background noise = poor quality) or you can simply torrent it for free (not withstanding ethical issues) and get a prefectly lossless file.

    So what compels the consumer to actually buy the digital music?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    you say that like congress critters care about constituents.

    Very funny!

     

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  19.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:07am

    Mike, you don't get it. You never will. It's not about how much they pay. But then you freetards always think the problem is getting something for free. That band doesn't get paid if UMG doesn't protect their property. They don't get anything if someone copies the file!

    People are getting paid less and less because of piracy and you didn't even put that into the article? I call shenanigans! I just created some new songs and they haven't gotten popular yet and it's due to piracy!

    So you can say all you want that UMG has problems, they aren't the ones that do. It's you all!

    [/troll]

     

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  20.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:08am

    The best way to fix this is Piracy

    Yes. Seriously.

    Don't buy a defective file from UMG.

    Download a pristine hisssssssss free file from the internet.

    If you buy from UMG, what are you paying for? Oh, right. You're paying for their "service" of corrupting the file.


    That is the message UMG is sending loud and clear.

     

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  21.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:12am

    Re:

    UMG's damned customers, as you call them, are NOT going to put the watermarked files on a torrent site. Instead, they will put clean uncorrupted versions on a torrent site.

    So what exactly was the point of the watermarking again?

    Oh, yeah. To drive people to piracy and away from paying.

    It is difficult to believe it, but they really are that stupid.

    They sold an uncorrupted file, people were buying it. Sure some would pirate, but others would purchase -- and were. Now nobody will buy.

    If you sell at a reasonable price, most people would prefer to pay.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re:

    "damned" was Mike's words, not mine.

    If they are willing to rip off the watermarks, they aren't really customers, just conduits between the paid world and the free world. One sale made, and how many free copies given away?

    If those are the prized customers, they aren't much of a prize.

     

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  23.  
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    gorehound (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:21am

    Selling lossless files to audiophiles ( and i am an audiophile) is just plain wrong.I work with Audio as a freelance artist and have a setup which is worth around $6000.
    I also have very good non-damaged ears and they are important to me.i hear sounds many don't hear.I use CEDAR AUDIO Hardware/Software to do serious Audio Restoration Jobs.

    Watermarking lossless files makes them not a true reprsentation of the Audio you purchase.If possible a lawsuit should be done against this and could be won.These people will have the Stereo setups comparible to mine and the ears that are great and they expect the best.
    Instead they get audible audio artifacts courtesy of the company who claimed to sell them unadultered lossless music.
    Yes I would talk to some lawyer friends and try to bring a lawsuit against these assholes.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:22am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Marked funny.

    If it wasn't meant to be then you have my deepest sympathies...

     

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  25.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:26am

    I don't hear it?

    It all sounds like shit to me.

     

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  26.  
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    Loki, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:28am

    Re:

    Unfortunately for them, not everyone pirates. For about 15 years (85-01) I bought, on average, about 100 albums a year. Most of them were major label albums. I pretty much stopped buying music from late '01 until about late '06 (first for financial reasons, then as a general boycott of the music industry). Since '06 I've bought maybe 500 albums. Again about 100 albums a year on average, except this time there are two main differences:

    1) Most of the albums are digital. It's so much easier to carry around a 30G mp3 player with 8,000 songs on it then several large cases with 800 CDs.

    2) Of the roughly 500 albums I've purchased over the past 5 years, almost none of them are major label/RIAA affiliated labels (and the few that are, are purchased on CD - one of the very few reasons I buy CDs anymore - from second hand stores/garage sales - at least until the major labels come up with some way to get a kickback from those outlets as well).

    The simple fact is I don't need the major labels, nor do I have a strong desire to actively support bands who still insist on signing with major labels. Before I had to let my eMusic subscription lapse a few years ago, I had over 100 non-major label albums saved for future downloads (although now that the majors have their stuff plastered all over eMusic, it is doubtful I'll go back). There is a LOT of good music out there without need for the major labels if one can find it (which is why the labels fight so hard against new technology).

    SO the labels can try all the fancy trickery they want, they still aren't getting any money out of me (and with somewhere near 1,000+ albums and like 20,000 songs I'm not in any pressing need to buy more music should the majors talk some/most/all of the smaller labels to jump on their bandwagon).

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, "tim's" words.

     

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  28.  
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    Todd S. (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:30am

    This is similar to how pissed I get when trying to watch a DVD or Bluray that I purchased and being forced to watch or FF through 10 minutes of previews, because pressing the menu button gives a "operation not available" error.

     

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  29.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, it was Tim's words.

    Now, can you explain how ripping off watermarks makes them a "conduit" to the "free world"? I'm not sure if you're just confused about the technology, but watermarks are not an actual protective DRM mechanism, they just allow UMG to slightly narrow down the source of a pirated file (though I'm not sure what they accomplish by doing so). Meanwhile, they reduce the value of the product - they may not be that noticeable in a heavily-produced pop song, but they sure as hell ruin an orchestra.

    In fact, that's a great idea. Live symphonies should have a guy stand in the back playing a steady didgeridoo note, in case anyone makes a bootleg recording. The audience surely wouldn't mind!

     

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  30.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:34am

    Piracy + Paid = SUPER PRODUCT

    Well, if it wasn't already supposed to be lossless.. But still, why is it the best product is made by combining what the pirates release openly and the paid product from a company. Granted the pirated product is typically more valuable to the user since restrictions that were unnecessarily placed on the product are removed. [sarcasm] I canít blame companies for not understanding that, it really is counter-intuitive. [/sarcasm]

     

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  31.  
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    Alien Bard, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:36am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's a bit over idealistic.

    I don't know about you, but I'd rather have one hundred high paying sweaty customers then just a single freshly showered but cheap customer. The store might not smell as pure but I could afford lots of air freshener with the extra profits.

    The above is especially true if I'm selling soap!

     

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  32.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:38am

    kookaburra kookaburra kookaburra kookaburra

    Just Watermarking, don't mind me.
    kookaburra kookaburra kookaburra kookaburra

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You just took the funny away...now it's just sad...

    Are you seriously saying that people who paid premium money for lossless (notice that important detail) quality are the bad guys, just because they removed the watermark? They PAID (extra money, I assume) for the lossless quality.

    What happened here is pure FRAUD from whoever sold them the files (or from someone upstream?). And you have the nerve to call the costumers (you know, the people that actually paid, and were probably willing to continue to pay for the files) pirates?

    You => Sad example of a human being...

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:44am

    Re:

    If the people at UMG had half as much passion about music as you, this never would've happened.

     

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  35.  
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    Alien Bard, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    Re:

    Nice one, you actually had me going for a minute. :D

    "That band doesn't get paid if UMG doesn't protect their property."

    That's a mute point isn't it? They don't get paid anyway because UMG siphons off the artists share long before it has a chance to reach them.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:49am

    Re: You Know....

    The composition is in the public domain, the performance is not.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:49am

    Re: This is confusing...

    Well based on their current court cases, they don't seem to think they NEED to show that anyone shared the file, only that 'OMG PIRACY' happened.

    I'm sure that eventually we will see UMG suing their 'partners' when customers 'leak' or 'share' downloads from their stores.

    You know when Joe Blow Audiophile BUYS and downloads music from one of UMG partners, then passes the file around to 5-10 of his Audiophile buddies asking, "Hey do you guys hear some strange 'humming' noises in this supposedly 'lossless' recording I purchased from Store x"? Now UMG can sue Joe Blow and his buddies as the 'OMG PIRATES' that they are......

    Sure I'm cynical, I work in government, what do you expect? If you are a sane rational person, you either go all cynical or you go nuts trying to rationalize the cognitive dissonance you hear on a daily basis (if you're a politician, then you fit right in... yes I just implied that politicians are not sane rational people, show me some proof and I may change my mind)....
    WAR IS PEACE
    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
    IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

     

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  38.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:51am

    Re: An execs view?

    You got a good point there. Technically, the file didn't lose anything, it got extra bits!

     

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  39.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:04am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's amazing, actually, but that IS how they appear to think. It's a victim's complex, where everyone is out to get you, especially those evil people telling you how much they love your recordings and handing over their money to you. Those people are the worst....

    Now if you'll excuse me, there's a Chicago Comic Con I'm getting ready for. Can you believe it? Freaking kids from the original Charlie and the Chocolate Family are gonna be there!

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    But both Democrats and Republicans vote for measures against piracy equally (or are replaced by space aliens in an evil bid to take over the Earth), even if everyone is a pirate who else do the voters have to vote for?

     

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  41.  
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    alex (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: This is confusing...

    hmm.. i'd guess they're fully aware they can't sue a store whose customer has shared a track. I'm also pretty sure they wouldn't be watermarking to degrade the quality of the file. One of the most important features of a watermark is that it needs to be inaudible (this one was obviously noticed as it's in a piece of subtle music being listened to by an audiophile - most likely on a high-end stereo)

    My guess is that they just want to track which channels their files leak from.

     

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  42.  
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    alex (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: This is confusing...

    heh.

    I work in digital music - but I'm doing my best to stay positive in these crazy times =]

     

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  43.  
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    Mr. Smarta**, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:33am

    I isolated the sound

    I managed to get ahold of one of the songs and ran it through a ID-10-T Spectrum 400k4m Analyzer, cutting out the primary tracks and cutting down the supposed 'humming'. When isolated and played back and 15x normal speed, the watermark sound is obvious.

    It's a chorus of redneck belching recorded while they were all drinking Schlitz beer.

    Heck of a watermark. Guess UMG really wants to screw up the music so nobody can enjoy it.

     

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  44.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:35am

    Re: kookaburra kookaburra kookaburra kookaburra

    Watch out, or Larrakin Music will get you like they got Men At Work!

     

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  45.  
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    ECA (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:43am

    I have to ask, for all our sakes

    How much does water marking and drm cost?
    I understand that after the application, its part of the virtual product.. but what is the cost? And if a DRM is added, dont they charge per disk on sales?

    NOW I have to say, that I search for free music...Like..
    Archive.org

    Has some great stuff, but you have to wade thru it all to find what you want. The problem is there is not 1 resource for PUBLIC DOMAIN or TRULY free music.
    The music industry ISNT going to set up a site. And they PROBABLY dont want you to know its there..
    who knows WHAT THEY DO TO aUDIO/VIDEO WHEN THE time comes TO RELEASE THEM TO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN...

     

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  46.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:46am

    Leave the crappy bullet ananlogy out please

    Leave the crappy bullet analogy out please. It doesn't add anything to the story.

    Other than that, stupid company is stupid. They don't understand their customers, and nothing we say will convince then they are wrong. So pirate away.

     

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  47.  
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    charliebrown (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:47am

    Aussies who rented videos in the mid 1990's will get it

    HAVE YOU GOT WHAT YOU PAID FOR?

    Have you ever bought a CD that wasn't quite right? It may have been mastered with excessive loudness, giving frequently inferior sound quality for which you paid good money.

    Excessively loud CD's are recognisable by bearing the labels of Sony Music's ear bleeding logo, or Universal's worlwide earthquake, or even EMI making Every Mistake Imaginable.

    Excessively loud CD's rob listeners and artists of their rightful sound and add to the pain you're feeling in your ears. Loud and distorted CD's are a major problem worlwide. Please help us stop them. If you buy a CD that has been dynamically compressed to the Nth degree to sound insanely loud, send it back to the label, along with a very detailed letter explaining why.

    This message is brought to you by somebody who has had their ears shredded one too many times.

    To get the joke, watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FNqBZ9n-A8
    If you fast-forward it, though, you'll still get a message =)

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're just going to steal them and put them up on the internet.

     

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  49.  
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    taoareyou (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:58am

    Re: What about point #3?

    Wow, so the site adds a small box at the end of posts that contain links to other related posts that some people might find interesting and you liken that to a step towards a rootkit?

    If a small box like that before the comments annoys you so much that you would consider not reading the blog, you might want to consider the problem being more localized. :)

    Seriously, is it so horribly difficult to flick the scroll wheel a fraction more to get to the comments? lol

     

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  50.  
    icon
    pixelpusher220 (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Re: You Know....

    Given the quality demanded by this select group of customers, it makes sense that even public domain content could be sold. They are providing the high quality conversion and production of these files.

    The 'quality' makes most music pale in comparison so there's definite value being added here.

    That said, this is less a copyright issue than outright fraud. They sold something but then didn't provide that something without modifying it.

     

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  51.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    > If they are willing to rip off the watermarks,
    > they aren't really customers,

    They ARE really customers, who already paid, and just wanted good quality sound.


    > just conduits between the paid world and the free world.

    Someone out there might be. But it only takes one. The rest of your customers are not that conduit. But you seem to see everyone as the pirate.


    Find the guy who put it out there and prosecute him. Oh, but it's easier to go after Google or a page that links to a site that links to a site that has downloads. Because it's easier to get someone not actually infringing (because they're not trying to hide) we'll hear of great victories of extraditing someone for doing something perfectly legal in his own country.

    If you believe watermarks are necessary, then find a way to watermark that doesn't damage sound quality. If, as you say, someone will remove the watermarks, then you are admitting that they are ineffective while simultaneously damaging sound quality -- which is bad for paying customers and good for pirates.

    Hint: focus your efforts on something that is GOOD for customers (you know, those people who PAY), and BAD for pirates, not vice versa.

     

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  52.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:11am

    Re: Re:

    The only thing UMG has passion about is money, and getting more of it from you, as many times as possible, for the same thing you already paid for.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    hobo, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    As the others have alluded to, the government reacts to moneyed interests, not you or me.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:18am

    Re: Re: An execs view?

    Wrong, the file lost information.

    There is a fixed amount of information in the file (it is a FLAC, so it decompresses to a fixed amount of bits per sample and a fixed amount of samples per second). This information is signal plus noise.

    By increasing the amount of noise, they are unavoidably decreasing the amount of signal, for the same fixed amount of information. And it is the signal that the audiophiles want.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:36am

    You lost me...

    It was a good article until you started talking about sound files. Tell me more about that war. Did the pod people really win?

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You said: "Are you seriously saying that people who paid premium money for lossless (notice that important detail) quality are the bad guys, just because they removed the watermark?"

    Me: nope, they aren't bad guys for removing the watermark. In fact, they can remove anything they want, they paid for it. More power to them.

    They are, however, bad guys if they remove the watermark because they want to pirate it, and seed it for hundreds of other people who aren't going to pay.

    I know the difference is subtle (as a hand grenade) but I think you might be able to understand it.

     

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  57.  
    icon
    Aaron Martin-Colby (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Huh?

    I don't really get the bullet analogy at the beginning of the article.

     

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  58.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:04am

    Re: Huh?

    The watermark is designed to combat piracy, supposedly, yet the only one's it's effecting are UMG's customers, or allies. Get it now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You said: "If they are willing to rip off the watermarks, they aren't really customers, just conduits between the paid world and the free world."

    Don't try to back out on it now. You CLEARLY said that simply removing a watermark makes you a pirate. Nice waffling - you've shown your true colours.

    The people in this article specifically said they were removing the watermark in order to get the product they paid for, not for the sake of piracy. You said they "weren't really customers"

    You are such a joke. You can't even keep your own bullshit straight.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    Re: Aussies who rented videos in the mid 1990's will get it

    I also hate excessively compressed, loud recordings. However, any mastering engineer will tell you that it's generally the artists themselves who make the request for the master to be "as hot and loud as possible." I'm sure that labels are sometimes responsible, but for the most part it's the artist's decision (who is trying to impress a major label or compete with radio hits, perhaps).

    A musician has to pass on a bit of musical input to the mastering engineer, the label doesn't really have that much input to the process. Typical questions from a ME like "is the guitar supposed to be so bright?" or "are the vocals supposed to be so buried?" or "there are problems with the zero-point crossings, is that on purpose?" wouldn't be the kinds of questions a label would be able to answer.

    A label might ask for a too-quiet recording to be remastered, or they might request something like a "vocal-up mix", but even then it's the artist/producer who sits down with the ME to make the adjustments. Labels will exert some influence over the process, which mostly boils down to admonishing the artist to write a single, but for the most part they're not in the studio making comments about where to pan the bongos or bitching about audible click-tracks.

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Would they also be bad guys if they remove the watermark because they want to rape and pillage, and murder hundreds of other people who aren't going to pay for it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Re: Re: Re: An execs view?

    Missed a bit of sarcasm didn't ya.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No no, he's gonna buy some, scan and share with the community who might or might not buy the original too.

    Do I have to draw?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:04am

    Customers are people?

    Customers are really more like farm animals. They exist to be sheared, plucked, milked, slaughtered and otherwise exploited. You freetards just don't know anything about business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    1) Most of the albums are digital. It's so much easier to carry around a 30G mp3 player with 8,000 songs on it then several large cases with 800 CDs.

    Hate to tell you this, boy genius, but CD's are digital.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    FuzzyDuck, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Like you don't understand his point.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Marcus, you are such a dweeb at times. The "fans" won't take the watermarks off because they don't really matter to them. You would only be taking the watermark off if you had a reason to hide.

    The only bullshit is what you type Marcus, remember that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Zot-Sindi, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The "fans" won't take the watermarks off because they don't really matter to them.


    are you fucking serious...

    The only bullshit is what you type
    No U

     

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  69.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Umm, the whole reason this started was that the watermarks were clearly audible on the tracks.

    Do you not understand what kind of watermark we are talking about, perhaps? This isn't file metadata - it is an actual sonic watermark that lowers the quality of the recording.

    So do you still content that the only reason to take it off is to "hide"?

    Or are you ready to admit you were wrong?

     

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  70.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hmm... I think I'm being too easy on you, and giving you way too much credit by trying to talk to you like a grownup. Come back when you've finally given up your teddy bear, and stopped using crying-and-holding-your-breath as a debate tactic.

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    oooohhhh we can scan people now? someone find me a 26 year old jenna fischer

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    phew...

    Talk about good timing. I was going to purchase a couple of UMG compilations from Passionato but I noticed this gem in my RSS reader. I got a FLAC copy from TPB instead. If I'm going to pay for a FLAC copy, I expect it to be just that. If I can't get it from the people I pay to provide it to me, I'll get it elsewhere.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Huh?

    maybe if you compared it to cars....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Somehow, i think he meant wholly digital, whereas CDs have a purely physical element to them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    HothMonster, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    oh look he ran away, im very suprised

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    icon
    BearGriz72 (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    Re: What about point #3?

    AdBlock worked for me, granted I had to manually block the element. (Note: I was not using AdBlock on TD until this)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    That's just because you Americans have this weird two party system. Were you to have more parties to choose from, the politicians would have more competition, and would actually care more for their constituents.

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    A Guy, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 3:23pm

    Technologically Clueless... or Malicious, Take Your Pick

    I cannot believe they are unable to make an inaudible water mark. I could do that.... easily. Just give me the recording and a couple hours with matlab and done. I vote for driving sales directly to them to cut out the middle man.

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    JMT, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Re: What about point #3?

    Congrats, you win the whiney-bitch-of-the-day award.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    icon
    Galashiels (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:59pm

    Good Customer Relations

    If the purpose of the watermarking was to reduce piracy, then you could argue that it may have seemed an effective deterrent. However, these weren't files released to individuals who subsequently tried to pirate them. No: They were provided to an authorised agency dealing with paying customers!

    Audiophiles, as with any eclectic bunch of hardcore users interested in a particular pastime, will most likely up sticks, & move to another service. If the only viable service around is untouched (or remastered) pirate copies, ergo, well....you know the rest.

    Why is it, that time & time again, these major companies keep shooting themselves in the foot. Or, as a nod to the original analogy, keep blowing themselves up, taking the limbs with them.

    Unbelievable.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    We can. It's called the Kinect hack.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:10pm

    Re: Re: What about point #3?

    Very annoying having to scroll all the way back up after reading comments to get the next article. =(

    Every system has a CTRL-Home to get to the top of the page.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 10:07pm

    Everyone seems to be missing that buying from UMG directly provides decent files, it's what UMG is giving to its resellers that sucks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Somehow, i think he meant wholly digital, whereas CDs have a purely physical element to them.

    Huh? You think physical and digital are mutually exclusive or something? Or maybe you think MP3 players aren't also physical? Or maybe you're using words that you don't know the meaning of.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Marcus ... you just used his own method against him ... Google +1 (if techdirt did that on comments)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 13th, 2011 @ 1:29am

    Re:

    So they are actively hurting their business.

    Because quite honestly even if one could get "clean" files from UMG, after getting a file they purposely screwed up to give to the resellers, why would I have any faith in them not screwing up more just because I bought from them?

    Some exec somewhere decided they weren't making enough money on their contracts with the resellers, they have invested in this spiffy watermarking program (that is heavy handed and distorts the music)... you put 2 and 2 together and your getting 5!

    While this is just a small niche market, I hope the resellers sue UMG. I hope the fans boycott UMG. I hope they make enough noise that even a record exec figures out that doing this is a bad idea.

    Because if this went unchallenged, how long until they manage to create a crappy iTunes knock off for the labels, and just "watermark" the files supplied to Apple or the other retailers...

     

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  87.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re:

    You guys still trying to get mileage out of the lie that record labels don't pay musicians?

    Marked as funny.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    icon
    Ophelia Millais (profile), Apr 4th, 2012 @ 2:29pm

    Matt Montag researched the issue further and concluded that it is almost certainly a digital watermark.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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