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RIAA Attacks Sites Participating in Its Own Campaign 384

Posted by Zonk
from the need-to-get-your-stories-straight-here-guys dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The RIAA is once again at their old tricks. The band Nine Inch Nails has intentionally 'leaked' songs via USB keys hidden at restrooms during their current European tour. Sites hosting the songs are now being sent cease and desist orders. 'Ironically, with its numerous pirated downloads available, the whole album has not leaked yet. According to a source, the only leaks are the ones Reznor approved himself. And whether he realizes it or not, Reznor may be building a new option for presenting music that augments the existing CD/tour scenario.'"
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RIAA Attacks Sites Participating in Its Own Campaign

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by g051051 (71145) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:32AM (#18620367)
    How is the RIAA attacking sites "participating in it's own campaign"? The RIAA isn't an advertising or marketing body. Did anyone check if the USB keys had a distribution license that would permit the songs to be hosted on web sites? Trent Reznor putting music on USB keys is not in itself a blanket license to distribute the songs at will.

    Zonk is missing on all cylinders today, why does he still get to be an editor?
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rucs_hack (784150) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:35AM (#18620421)
      who owns these songs? I rather suspect it isn't the artists any more.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by iminplaya (723125)
        who owns these songs?

        Once they're released, they belong to the public. The distributors steal from the public. So, yes, copyright is theft. It used to be something that "borrowed" from the public back when distribution costs were an issue. Now it justs takes and hoards and speculates.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by shark72 (702619)

        "who owns these songs? I rather suspect it isn't the artists any more."

        I don't know the details of NIN's contract, but generally the people who wrote the words and music own the words and music, and the people who funded and produced the recording own the recording.

        There are several record labels for which SOP is for the artists to own the masters, but -- and this is very important -- the artist must pay for and arrange for the production of those masters themselves. Magnatunes comes to mind here, but

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Crazy Man on Fire (153457) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:35AM (#18620425) Homepage
      Exactly. Just because they authorized the distribution of some promo copies of an upcoming release doesn't mean that the people in possession of those promos are authorized to distribute them to others. Yes, it is stupid of them to be killing the buzz around the album by sending these takedown notices, but I don't think they have a choice but to go after the people violating copyright.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BDPrime (1012761)
        I think Interscope and Reznor knew that if they left a thumb drive in some bathroom so some dude could find songs on an upcoming album, that the music would probably end up being distributed online. They may not have explicitly authorized it, but they knew.

        That being said, don't you know that anytime an industry makes its customers actually pay for something, it's a serious crime in these quarters?

      • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Halo1 (136547) <jonas.maebe@eli[ ]gent.be ['s.u' in gap]> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:48AM (#18620675) Homepage

        but I don't think they have a choice but to go after the people violating copyright

        They sure do have a choice. Unlike trademarks, copyright does not become suddenly void because you did not prosecute infringements (except possibly in some fringe situations, but in this case there's definitely no danger of that happening).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gregmac (629064)
          It's not even necessarily infringing. Case in point, open source. The authors of the work still hold the copyrights, but they've effectively granted a license to distribute it freely (GPL, BSD, etc).
        • by Dunbal (464142)
          Unlike trademarks, copyright does not become suddenly void because you did not prosecute infringements

                No but it makes it a lot harder for you to convince the judge that you are owed $150,000 (I'll settle for $3500) for each instance of infringement!
    • How is the RIAA attacking sites "participating in it's own campaign"? . . .

      Zonk is missing on all cylinders today, why does he still get to be an editor?

      How is it the editor's or submitter's fault that you disagree with the gist of TFA? The summary pretty accurately describes it. Take your beef up with billboard.com.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        Do you know what an editor's job involves? I mean, the Slashdot editroll squad clearly don't, but I was wondering if you're aware that one of the traditional functions of an editor is to check reported stories for accuracy rather than just republishing them verbatim.
        • Do you know what an editor's job involves?

          "Editing," I guess.

          I mean, the Slashdot editroll squad clearly don't, but I was wondering if you're aware that one of the traditional functions of an editor is to check reported stories for accuracy rather than just republishing them verbatim.

          I took the liberty of checking this assertion for accuracy (at least in a Slashdot context) and I found this:

          http://slashdot.org/faq/editorial.shtml#ed750 [slashdot.org]

          Now the Billboard editor's job should have been to check his/her

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by theStorminMormon (883615) <theStorminMormonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:41AM (#18620541) Homepage Journal
      More importantly - who steals USB drives from bathrooms?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Trent Reznor putting music on USB keys is not in itself a blanket license to distribute the songs at will."

      If it isn't I don't know what is anymore.

      What did he put them on the USB drive for to begin with?
      To _not_ get publicity?
      To _not_ get the songs distributed and heard?

      Seriously, it's like arresting people for taking part in a free give away.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by UnknowingFool (672806)

        "Trent Reznor putting music on USB keys is not in itself a blanket license to distribute the songs at will."

        There is a legitimate question of ownership here so the parent is not off base. If Trent owned the songs, he can do as he wishes. But if the record company owned them, he is not allowed to distribute them. The sad reality is that most bands have to give up their copyrights to the record company to get their first record deals. That's why some of the early Beatles songs are owned by Michael Jackso

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by shark72 (702619)

          "The sad reality is that most bands have to give up their copyrights to the record company to get their first record deals. That's why some of the early Beatles songs are owned by Michael Jackson and not the Beatles themselves."

          Not hardly. The Beatles were making too much money on royalties and were losing 90% of their income to taxes (the UK does not, or at least did not, have the caps on personal income tax that US residents enjoy). So, they formed Northern Songs as a corporation to manage the publish

      • by Marillion (33728) <ericbardes@gmail . c om> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:33AM (#18621471)
        From another article I read, Trent obtained permission to conduct this campain from his label. The label had full knowledge, hope and expectation that the few songs on the USB drive would be widely distributed.
    • by B11 (894359)

      Did anyone check if the USB keys had a distribution license that would permit the songs to be hosted on web sites?
      Was there a license that said they couldn't? If NIN, their label, lawyers, etc didn't want these tracks to be leaked out, they should have made it explicitly clear what their wishes were.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kingpetey (1054968)
      Actually, the RIAA is only "an advertising or marketing body." They are essentially a PR firm with one amoeboid client: the recording industry. They aren't a political group or law enforcement agency; they're Ambassadors of Jackassery. That's why their attempts to bully P2P music sharing is so ridonkulous. Nonetheless, I agree with you that just because NIN put some songs on USB keys doesn't necessarily mean that Reznor means for everyone everywhere to have access to them. However, he has given stuff out li
    • by gsslay (807818)
      You misunderstand. The article can be used to show once more how the RIAA are the hub of all evil who eat children and crush daisies under hob-nailed boots. Therefore details like logic and facts are irrelevant.
  • Thinking there was a rat under the covers, the RIAA has shot their own sock-covered foot...
  • by Nasarius (593729) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:40AM (#18620503)

    Ironically, with its numerous pirated downloads available, the whole album has not leaked yet.
    Ironically? So the band deliberately released a few songs (albeit in an unconventional way), but the album hasn't yet been illegally leaked. How are these two facts remotely related?
    • by Aladrin (926209)
      Maybe they thought it was the first reported case of intellectual property being legally available before it's on the internet? ;)
    • I guess you mean "not exactly legally" when using the "unconventional" word, because that promotion method is neither new nor rare. Of course, times change and having a few copies in cool clubs and thousands on the net do not bring exactly the same liabilities.
    • Most people don't know how to use the word correctly. Ask Alanis Morissette, her song, Ironic, didn't contain a single ironic incident.

      Oh wait, that was the whole point of the song wasn't it?
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      So the band deliberately released a few songs (albeit in an unconventional way), but the album hasn't yet been illegally leaked. How are these two facts remotely related?

            Not only that but if the MAFIAA were to be believed, surely the band (and probably the entire music industry) should be out of business by now due to those pesky pirates...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:40AM (#18620513)
    Dang, I saw Tool a year ago and all I found on the bathroom floor was vomit.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Did you look under the vomit??
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mwvdlee (775178)
      Did you try inserting it into an USB port?
  • by Jazzer_Techie (800432) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:43AM (#18620563)
    I just can't help but hope this doesn't catch on. Encouraging people to plug in randomly acquired USB keys is not going to be step forward in security. While I can't imagine it would be a viable option for widespread malware distribution, it could have a significant effect on social engineering one's way into closed networks. Want to infect corporation X? Put USB keys in the restrooms of places where their employees eat lunch. (Yes that could already happen and I think I've heard of it being done, and yes unneeded USB ports should be disabled, but one has to imagine that this would increase the chances of successful penetration significantly. )
    • With more and more keyboards coming with an internal USB hub, this is increasingly difficult. The box my employer gave me has six available USB ports, including two on the hub.

      Maybe there's a demand out there for a computer that has one USB port on the PC and one USB port on the keyboard.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RainierSnow (1058532)
      been done already :)

      check here http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/08/215 1222 [slashdot.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by delt0r (999393)
      And what kind of OS will just blindlty starting excuting the code on the USB? Oh... nevermind.

      But then again, its nothing new [schneier.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MMC Monster (602931)
      The problem of course is USB keys that autorun on insertion (which shoudn't even be an option on a modern OS) and people clicking on "virus.exe".

      Unfortunately, neither one of these is something that can be changed.
    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:45PM (#18622623) Homepage

      Really? How many viruses can be transmitted through simply mounting a drive? Of those, how many are very dangerous? Of those, how many will go undetected by antivirus software?

      I'm generally pretty cautious, but I think that I'd plug a USB drive into my computer without being sure what was on it. I wouldn't necessarily run any programs on that drive, but I'd be willing to risk plugging it in. You wouldn't?

      It just doesn't seem like a great attach vector for spreading malware en masse.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Really? How many viruses can be transmitted through simply mounting a drive?

        Windows will run arbitrary code upon mounting a removable device. I think with some effort and luck, you could convince an OS X or Linux user to run code from the drive unwittingly.

        More importantly, a little rectangle with a USB port doesn't have to present itself as a removable disk. It can present itself as, say, an input device, and then type arbitrary strings into the user's computer. I believe it can present itself as a video o
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      and yes unneeded USB ports should be disabled,

      good plan. problem all HP and DELL computers come with usb only mice and keyboards, oops the keyboards have usb ports on them. Oops the user can plug in a hub, etc...

      the solution is to disable removable storage, under windows its far harder to do than under linux or other OS's because windows at it's heart is a Consumer OS that wants to be friendly to you.

      I have done it, all usb ports are useable, no USB storage devices work in them and USB boot will not wor
  • RIAA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guerilla* Napalm (762317) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:44AM (#18620581) Homepage
    There's a special place in Hell for the RIAA. Right next to politicians and people who make reality shows.
  • "found" USB keys (Score:5, Interesting)

    by foodnugget (663749) <eric-slashdotNO@SPAMericfeldman.com> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:44AM (#18620599)
    I frequently take things I've found in bathrooms and put them in corresponding ports.
    Seriously, USB key, or, really, anything else, who is taking things they find lying around (in bathrooms!) and putting them in their computers?
    This might just give script kiddies the idea of a brand new way to start spreading worms...

    I'm not sure if i'm trying to be serious or gross, here, but i do know i would not be putting a found USB key in any box of mine (esp. if it is running windows...)
    Similarly, what kind of format are these being left in? MP3? WMA? something with some nasty DRM?
    • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:08AM (#18620965)
      "Seriously, USB key, or, really, anything else, who is taking things they find lying around (in bathrooms!) and putting them in their computers?"

      As if you wouldn't. You know, deep down, some little voice is in the back of your head saying "There might be something embarrasing for the owner of this key on here..." ;)
    • by faloi (738831)
      Now that I can boot to Knoppix on a trash machine, I'd be tempted to look at it to see what happens. I suppose, for the truly paranoid, you'd have to provide power to it outside just to be sure... But a CD or DVD, that wouldn't be a problem.
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:46AM (#18620625)
    When I first read the headline, it reminded me of a story that I saw on the RISKS list [ncl.ac.uk] (and if anyone can find the exact link please do so) In summary (and from memory only) it was:

    1/ A security company was contracted to do a pentration test of a bank.
    2/ The employees found out, so were being aware of typical social engineering type situations
    3/ The security company loaded up some special USB keys that had had key logger and other software on them
    4/ 15 to 20 of said keys were scattered around the door of the bank prior to opening hours
    5/ With 3 days something like 75% of the keys had phoned home and were reporting that they were connected to computers inside the bank.

    After reading this scenario I realised that if I saw a stray USB key I would just plug it in to see what was on it - and I would have fallen for the same trap as the bank employees

    Another scenario I heard of (also on RISKS I think) was to go to the front desk of a company, ask to use the bathroom (or toilet for the rest of us), and leave a CD in a prominant location that was clearly labelled with something like "Staff reductions". It wouldn't take very long before that CD was inserted into someones computer at that company.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:03AM (#18620903) Homepage Journal

      After reading this scenario I realised that if I saw a stray USB key I would just plug it in to see what was on it - and I would have fallen for the same trap as the bank employees

      After reading this scenario I realized that if I plugged it into my Linux box, that I would see the contents of the filesystem, and not be infected unless there was a buffer overflow and the USB key's filesystem had been maliciously crafted as well. But that seems unlikely.

      You could also disable autorun... But I never do, either. It's too handy. (I use Windows to run a couple programs.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cliveholloway (132299)
        Yep, it's so much effort to hold down the shift key when inserting the drive. I get tired fingers too, so I feel your pain.
    • After reading this scenario I realised that if I saw a stray USB key I would just plug it in to see what was on it - and I would have fallen for the same trap as the bank employees

      There's a Windows auto-run feature for USB drives? Great. Still, you gotta admire MS's foresight in making computer infection vectors that model the real-world microbe model. It sort of sucks that you can't put a CD or USB key or other medium in your PC to examine it (unless it's been in your possession since it was in raw-ma

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by freedomlinux (1072142)
        Yes, Windows will autorun a USB device.
        Solution #0: run Linux or Mac OS X
        Solution #1: override Windows autorun by holding Shift as the device is inserted.
        (Hold it until the device is shown in My Computer)
      • by OzPeter (195038)
        from what I remember the security team hacked teh drives to achieve what the wanted.

        However I recently purchased a USB drive that comes with U3 capability [u3.com]

        To me this is just plain evil. By default when you plug it in it runs code on the drive from a separate partition.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by _xeno_ (155264)

        I actually looked this up a while ago. The short answer is yes, Windows will indeed auto-run a USB flash drive. The longer answer is that making it auto-run a flash drive involves some special setup of the USB drive, so if you just dump an autorun.inf file onto a USB flash drive nothing will happen.

        Windows will only auto-run media that marks itself as "fixed" when it's queried. You can find details in this FAQ from Microsoft [microsoft.com]. (Note: there's no direct anchor to the question, so you'll need to scroll up two

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MulluskO (305219)
      Hold the shift key to disable autorun.

      Fixed.
    • by GenKreton (884088) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:48AM (#18621735) Journal
      This is why the non-windows using world can mount disks with permissions such as noexec (no execute) and other nice little flags and we can be sure it is safe first. I'm sorry to hear the windows users haven't discovered this yet. Someday the 1970's era technology of the un-security focused Unix guys will break through.
  • The article didn't say, but I'm guessing that these were just random USB keys in a bathroom, perhaps with a band label on it. I'm afraid that you wouldn't get me to stick such a thing in my computer, NIN or not. I'm reminded of an old hacker trick: put floppies (old trick, right?) with the label "Executive Compensation Program" on them, leave them in the public place in a building of the company you're trying to get into. Who could resist putting that in their machine and taking a look, right? But who
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:52AM (#18620747) Homepage

    RIAA reminds more of a rabid dog: Biting at friend and foe alike. An unreasoning animal with no clear objective.

    I'm not sure what strategy they're pursuing, but it's not working. One wonders why member companies continue funding an organization that frequently acts against their membership's best interests and frequently paints them in a bad light. It's just astounding to me how poorly RIAA performs their task and how ineffective in achieving their objectives. And they don't seem to learn anything from past failures. It's like a corporate version of the Bush administration.

  • As other posts have already mentioned some aspects of the nonsensical summary, another one is feeding the rabid fans with a USB key is somehow a new business model.

    There's no new business model selling music at shows. It's already been done. Some acts even sell the show the audience _just_ saw. (as in right off the sound board with no post-production)

    Even when an act does the hard work of getting in the van and doing shows at small venues for decades, you can be pretty much assured if you want the CD in
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @10:59AM (#18620841)

    According to a source, the only leaks are the ones Reznor approved himself. And whether he realizes it or not, Reznor may be building a new option for presenting music that augments the existing CD/tour scenario.


    Um...you really think Rez's leaking songs for something other than to augment his gravy train (CD/tour)? No, like most people trying to make a living in entertainment, he's picked up some marketing savvy along the way, and is using the same "try before you buy" technique that also works when selling software, illegal drugs and laundry detergent.

    The story about dropping USBs in the shitter is just a brilliant way to get even more free press: a band putting their B-sides on its web site is already quite common and won't get its story...
  • Nothing new (Score:3, Informative)

    by jlcooke (50413) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:05AM (#18620921) Homepage
    The Barenaked ladies did this in their last tour to support their "Barenaked for the Holidays" album.

    USB + MP3 + concert.

    Not to take away from Trent, big fan of his and the 'Ladies.
  • by qigong (688252) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:15AM (#18621111)

    It seems like the marketing brilliance of this entire scenario is being missed by a lot of people here. How much publicity would NIN gotten without the RIAA enforcement? Would we be having this discussion, for instance? This seems like a well-orchestrated stunt, and color me impressed.

    1. NIN scatter these songs around to their fans
    2. Predictably, the fans post the songs
    3. Somehow RIAA discovers this "infringement"
    4. NIN looks like the good guy, RIAA makes the news
    5. ...Profit!

    How do you suppose the RIAA discovered this infringement?

  • by dfay (75405) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @11:17AM (#18621131)
    What do you think they'll make of this?

    Trent Reznor has put the full album up on the official website for promotional purposes.
    http://yearzero.nin.com/ [nin.com]

    (no reg: http://yearzero.nin-thespiral.com/FLJoi4gjw2f/play er.html?reg=no [nin-thespiral.com])

    This is the first RIAA-produced album I'm considering breaking my boycott for. First, because it's very good, and secondly, because even if they may get some profit from it, the message to them should be very clear.
  • So it should be legal to distribute copyrighted material how you see fit, so long as you didn't pay for it? WTF?
  • Bad article (Score:3, Informative)

    by cwilly (888621) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:04PM (#18622005) Homepage
    The article does a horrible job of explaining the campaign. Here are http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070402/music_nm/ninei nchnails_dc;_ylt=AgIXkKsEUNycFRi_5MtSiIeVEhkF [yahoo.com]two http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/20 07/02/22/year-zero-project-way-cooler-than-lost/ [rollingstone.com]si tes that do a better job. This "new thing" everyone is talking about has less to do with the fact that he's giving music away on USB keys and more to do with the series of sites that are linked together and help promote the album. The first site's address to be "discovered" by fans was given in highlighted letters on a tour t-shirt. From there, further "codes" were solved and those lead to other sites, all related to NIN and the album. The keys/songs are just bonus material for fans at the concerts. The sites, with the USB keys, with the tour, with the album is what they are buzzing about, not just the USB keys.
  • by cliveholloway (132299) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @12:14PM (#18622167) Homepage Journal

    ...(probably) between when this article was submitted and now (here [demonoid.com]).

    But, because Trent GETS IT, it looks like they had a player already lined up, and you can legally listen to the album here [nin-thespiral.com] (I bet Rob can't wait to get slashdotted :)

    Of course the album will leak before it hits the shops. The RI(fucking)AA haven't a clue how to use this to increase sales, so they run around like a headless chicken. Trent decided that since it was going to happen anyway, he might as well be in control as much as possible as to what gets released and when. Makes perfect sense to me from a marketing perspective.

    Not only all that, but this album is the best in over a decade (IMHO) - look out for "Vessel" and "The Great Destroyer" (complete with a token nod to The Prophet's Song by Queen :) I think that TGD can best be summed up by (stolen from ETS [echoingthesound.org]), "I AM THE GREAT DESTOYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEER-BOOOM-ZOING-BOOOOM-ZOING- BOOOM, CUURr OAOOOOWWW TING TING BOW!" - yep, the noise is back :)

  • by krbvroc1 (725200) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @01:15PM (#18623009)
    Arthur: Who are you?
    RIAA Execs of NiN: We are the RIAA Execs who say..... "NiN"!
    Arthur: (horrified) No! Not the RIAA Execs who say "NiN"!
    RIAA Execs of NiN: The same.
    Other RIAA Execs of NiN: Who are we?
    RIAA Execs of NiN: We are the keepers of the sacred music: NiN, Ping, and Nee-womm!
    Other RIAA Execs of NiN: Nee-womm!
    Arthur: (to Bedevere) Those who hear them seldom live to tell the tale!
    RIAA Execs of NiN: The knights who say "NiN" demand..... a royalty!
    Arthur: RIAA Execs of NiN, we are but simple travelers who seek the musician who
    lives beyond these woods.
    RIAA Execs of NiN: NiN! NiN! NiN! NiN! NiN! NiN! NiN! NiN! NiN!
    Bedevere: No! Noooo! Aaaugh! No!
    RIAA Execs of NiN: We shall say "NiN" to you... if you do not appease us.
    Arthur: Well what is it you want?
    Knight of Ni: We want.....Royalties! All your music belong to us.

From Sharp minds come... pointed heads. -- Bryan Sparrowhawk

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