Hard To Believe: Computer Makers Giving In To RIAA Pressure, Disabling Sound Recording?

from the can't-really-be-true,-could-it? dept

A whole bunch of people are submitting this, though, the explanation is not passing the sniff test. The story is that a bunch of laptop owners (mainly from Dell) are frustrated after discovering that their laptop soundcard configuration blocks the recording of audio, even though it’s possible to enable it with a few tweaks. In other words, recording has effectively been turned off by the computer manufacturers. It didn’t take long for rumors and speculation to assume that somehow the RIAA has been pressuring these computer makers to turn off sound. Of course, with the entertainment industry, sometimes it seems that no concept is too evil to believe that the industry wouldn’t endorse. However, there seems to be no evidence whatsoever that the RIAA had any part in this. On the whole, it sounds like someone just made a bad decision in terms of how to configure certain sound cards. If someone can provide any evidence that the RIAA actually had a role in this, we’ll post an update, but there’s no reason to jump to conclusions without any evidence. That’s what the RIAA does.

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Comments on “Hard To Believe: Computer Makers Giving In To RIAA Pressure, Disabling Sound Recording?”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Sadly, no this isn’t surprising. At a guess, Dell was promised a juicy contract if they did this, and they (correctly) decided that the vast majority of users would not be affected by the disabling of this function. Note that it only affects recording of sound from the stereo mix function, not the mic port.

Of course, assuming that the RIAA was involved, this is pretty stupid for all concerned. The net effect of disabling this function on piracy will be nil. Dell’s gains may be offset by people deciding that their company’s next batch of PCs won’t be Dell if they can’t trust them not to try and control their PCs. Just another waste of money attacking a non-existent target while the real problems eat away at the RIAA’s business.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Jumping to conclusions

No reason to jump to conclusions, eh? Sure, because this blog never does that …

Huh? Willton, you’ve made it clear that you disagree with me, but if you have nothing substantive to say, why bother?

I try not to jump to conclusions, and I try to support my positions with a factual basis. If I don’t, I’m sure that you’ll be here to correct me. But I try to be as careful as possible. In fact, in this situation, most people would probably assume that I’d blame the RIAA, but I’m pointing out that there is no proof. I’ve done this before when the RIAA and others have been accused of things without proof.

I try to be as reasonable as possible, presenting my opinion based on the facts.

You imply otherwise, but show no evidence. If you have anything substantive that suggests I make false statements, then why not show it, rather than making some vague assertion implying I have done something wrong.

Paul (profile) says:

So, the ‘naughty’ people have the function turned off. Aren’t these the ones that bypass DRM etc. Aren’t they the ones that will not let a nasty bit of software defeat them. Aren’t they the ones that will hack this in no time flat?

As usual it is the innocent who will suffer while the rest just look on it as a moments inconvenience.

The usual short sighted response to annoy everyone apart from the target group. Why am I not surprised?

Matt Bennett says:

There is almost no chance that this was on purpose or sponsored by the RIAA. Firstly, not a lot of infringement occurs via microphone recordings, though quite rightly that doesn’t mean the RIAA isn’t stupid enough to complain about it anyway.

Much more importantly, however, Dell sells an awful lot computers, particularly laptops, to businesses. It has been my experience and I would hazard to guess that by far the most common use of microphones in laptops is for various business uses (boring stuff, webexes, VOIP conference calls, demos, training sessions). These applications are often used by dumb sales guys (like me) who can’t be bothered adjusting too many settings. Your average sales organization would be really, really pissed to find out they can’t get their laptops to record, particularly since they’re most like to figure this out about 15 minutes before a client call.

So, no Dell didn’t do it on purpose, and they’re probably rapidly becoming really, really sorry, as people with a whole lot more clout than your avg consumer are complaining.

Myndmelt says:

jumping ship.

If your using vista make sure that you have tried this solution before jumping to any conclusions.

I have a RealTek HD Audio and was concearned that I did not have a stereo mix function either
🙂 i just found it on the web. thanks videohelp.com

Go to ‘Control Panel’ (Classic View) >>’Sound’

Select the ‘Recording’ Tab.

Right click on ‘Microphone’ in the window.

Tick ‘Show Disabled Devices’ and ‘Show Disconnected Devices’

As if by magic ‘Stereo Mix’ now appears in the list, select it at click on ‘Set Default’

Haywood says:

Re: jumping ship.

Point being; this should be on by default. The capable, those who this was allegedly aimed at, will fix it in a heart beat. The average computer owner will never figure it out, and the computer will go to the recycle never corrected. The time when they wanted to save their child’s first words or whatever, lost.

Chris says:

My 2 cents

If this is true, then I say all laptops with the microphone and or microphone jack disabled do to the RIAA. The manufacturers should have to put a sticker on the laptops that say “Approved by the RIAA”. And we will see how well they will sell.

LOL I can just see the calls to customer support! I can’t do what???! OK give me back my money!

Tony (user link) says:

Re: another reason not to buy dell

You haven’t looked at Dell’s prices lately, have you?

As for service: A friend recently ordered a Dell Vostro. They messed up and put in an 80GB HD instead of the 320GB that was ordered.

DELL caught the error even before the computer arrived – and shipped an extra (and bigger) external HD for free.

Yep, pretty shitty service, there.

JP says:

Re: Re: another reason not to buy dell

The company I work for has about 20,000 PC’s….all from Dell. Their 4 hour response time for servers and 24 hour response time for replacement parts for PC’s is absolutely unacceptable compared to the days or weeks to get parts in from other vendors 😉 I love how so many people comment without any actual knowledge on the topic.

I hate the RIAA as much as the next guy, but I really don’t think that Dell colluded with the RIAA on this one, and if any company actually did, it would most likely be the component manufacturer such as Realtek.

Hirsch says:

Re: Re: Re: another reason not to buy dell

Sure, Dell’s service works great for companies that can lose them a lot of business if they fail, but when ONE consumer has a little issue they get stuck talking to a guy from India with a troubleshooting book that may arrive at a solution after 3 hours on the phone…
Who the hell wants to do that?
It would be easier to just bring it to a local computer store and explain what’s going wrong to them. They’ll figure it out in what…10 minutes or less?
Sure, it will cost a little money, but you don’t have to translate a heavy Indian accent for 3 hours straight.

(I don’t have anything against the people in India working customer service. They really are extremely common, and it really is hard to understand a lot of them. Also, don’t ever be the ass that says “let me talk to someone who speaks English”)/endofftopicrandomcrap

Fred P says:

Re: Re: another reason not to buy dell

DELL caught the error even before the computer arrived – and shipped an extra (and bigger) external HD for free.

Dell *USED* to be one of the kings of Supplychain management for years. If they can’t deliver correctly, they might as well not deliver at all. Surely it’s happening to others too.

Free is never free. Someone’s paying for it- other customers, shareholders… Someone.

John M says:

Wow… Talk about a misleading article title! I thought the RIAA had done something, but it was only referring to the dismissed speculation as to the source of this change in computer configurations. Even more amusing is it is only disabled, not removed entirely.

Why would anyone even suspect that this change would come from RIAA anyway? Cause you know, I download music and rip my friends CDs with my microphone..? Simply hilarious that the RIAA would be the first place people would point fingers, but there is absolutely no motive for RIAA to disable such features by default.

chris (profile) says:

the usual suspects

sure, some people jumped to conclusions, but the tragedy isn’t that the poor folks at dell and the RIAA were falsely accused by a cynical and disillusioned populace. the tragedy is that companies like dell and organizations like the RIAA have disillusioned the populace and made them so cynical.

the idea that the RIAA would collude with a PC manufacturer to disable a working feature on new PC’s doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. the idea that dell would sell its customers out to the RIAA for a few bucks is only slightly more surprising.

MarySue Tornabe says:

Re: Dell stock is tanking

You won’t regret getting a MacBook. The OS is easier to use and all the complications of using the Microsoft OS on a PC are virtually gone forever.

As for the mouse — get yourself a mighty mouse (wireless, if you want. There are 4 features you can turn on and off as you like and it definately has 2 buttons (and then some).

Good shopping and enjoy a new Mac.

Freedom says:

Dell's Response...

In the article referenced, a “rep” from Dell says the following:

>> If this is the case, our Sigmatel R171789.exe XP drivers unlock the “Stereo Mix” feature.

The biggest concern is the word ‘unlock’. To me this implies that it was blocked on purpose and we can all debate as to why.

What doesn’t make sense to me is why you would lock it in the first place. Not like you are going to sell a software add-on for $29.95 that enables it or some other BS. I highly doubt at this point it is a feature that causes problems like system lock ups. As such, why “lock” it in the first place?


Anonymous Coward says:

Headline Hijinks

Typical Mike. Your headline screams, “I can’t believe Dell would bend over and grab their ankles for the RIAA”. The article says, “There’s no way Dell actually did this because the RIAA said to. There are more logical explanations.” This is a perfect case of the headline contradicting the article. To paraphrase Rachel Ray, “Lame-o”.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Headline Hijinks

Typical Mike. Your headline screams, “I can’t believe Dell would bend over and grab their ankles for the RIAA”

Huh? No, the headline says the *opposite*. It says that those claiming this is the RIAA are saying something that is not supported by the evidence.

The article says, “There’s no way Dell actually did this because the RIAA said to. There are more logical explanations.”

That’s the same thing the headline says.

You’ve misread the headline. Did you miss the “Hard to believe” part at the beginning of the headline? I was pointing out that these rumors are not believable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Junk Blog

I’ve been meaning to delete Techdirt from my feed for some time now, as all I ever seem to read on this site are increasingly convoluted and desperate attempts to justify mass piracy.

However, after reading this particular “story”, which must surely have been written on drugs, I’m going to do it straight away. Bye.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Junk Blog

I’ve been meaning to delete Techdirt from my feed for some time now, as all I ever seem to read on this site are increasingly convoluted and desperate attempts to justify mass piracy.

Huh? Did you not read the fact that this post says the RIAA did NOT do what it’s accused of doing. Did you not realize that I’m saying that the RIAA is getting the bum rap in this particular case?

name says:

Hard to believe

Believe? You want the RIAA to tell you their plans?

Here they are :

1. Make everyone pay for every music file/cd/dvd they have.

2. Backups are ALL illegal. Period.

3. Everytime you listen to a song, you have to pay the

4. You must kiss the RIAA in the ass every hour,
every day.

5. You must pay 20,000 for a rented radio [ one month ].
You can only use the radio 1 hour a day.
All those artists in poverty need your money.

6. ALL recordable media is BANNED to the public.
No more blank DVD’s, tapes, bluray, etc.

The result : The RIAA has absolute power.

They make trillions of dollars per year, or month.

If you like the RIAA, go work for them.

Oh wait, you probably do.

I can’t wait to see what the RIAA disables next.

Maybe the RIAA will install root kits on every damn DELL

computer. THAT should be interesting.

Michael (profile) says:

RIAA Is Not A Factor In Much That Is Scammed Illegally

A group in California is seeking whom download files using a program, sniffers and snitches are members, might be that they once were p.o_r.n stars and because of NO BAILOUT FOR P.o_r.n Industry they found their pot of gold in cashing after HASH numbers that match a Copyright Claim of a client named as Smash Pictures Inc, known in California as Copyright Enforcement Group, LLC and is logging those they accuse of a Copyright Violation to their sites giving a login password & name for their case against them if they do not pay them for what they have which amounts to either doing that else you have to buy their clients p.o_r.n movie. Isn’t that the biggest California Scam you have ever heard of thus far? There are laws in California against what they are attempting to do esp. soliciting someone that they owe them and the client. Ever did a search for the Available in a Bit Torrent: Fook Me XXX [DVDRIP][Asian-Teens][www.sexotorrent.com]? Its hash number is 4bfb22bcc7e3e9b3e609013cf7c06593c289b812 which looks innocent enough from all the Google searches I turned up and they seem satisfied they have their violator. I call them out on this one, sure would like them to be bit by the State of california Attorney General’s Legal Procedures against their tactics.

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