As many savvy filesharers are now aware, about 700 megabytes of anti-piracy goon squad Media Defender’s internal e-mails were leaked a few days back. No doubt this is a serious blow to the company; whose tactics included flooding meta-sites with fake torrents, hosting honeypot distro sites, and generally muddying the waters around p2p.
That the music biz employs such cretins should be no surprise– the industry has a long and well-documented history of criminal involvement, underhanded methodology, and questionable ethics– everything from payola scams to keeping artists too doped up to read a contract has been tried at one time or another.
So while all this new news is in many ways old news, there’s still the occasional pearl to be found among the half-digested roughage. Yes, contained within 700 megabytes of MediaDefender’s anxious lists of IP addresses used to spoof 12-year-olds secretively downloading Akon tracks while mom is in the other room, are the TOP SEKRUT PLANZ for creating “chopped and screwed” remixes of popular mp3s for use as decoy bait.
DJ Screw is rolling over in his grave right now.
Anyhow, here’s how they intended to do it. Nevermind that this would sound nothing like any chopped and screwed music ever created. MediaDefender are innovators in the field, enough playa hatin’.
“Hi Randy, after some internal discussion, here’s our preliminary list.
1) Intermittent glitching (“mech, intermit”) done in a way that’s more random sounding vs periodic.
2) Bit-resample, such that there is audible artifacting (sounds like a bad mp3 encode).
3) shifting channels (sounds like a speaker cut out). Again, the goal should be to sound somewhat random.
4) Laugh-track, at a respectable volume level.
5) Saw-tooth volume, so long as the volume goes to (or close to) zero, so that the track can’t be fixed by an inverse saw increase.
6) Beep, at a high volume
In the future, you might do experiments with static noise overlays (sounds like faulty recording equipment), voice over (public domain audio), and overlapping songs.
You probably don’t want to apply any effect for the first 30-60 seconds, so the user thinks they got a good track. We should take some care to ensure that when there is intermittent effects they happen in the same places so that it’s not possible to take the good portions of one version and splice them with the good portions of another version to get a complete (and perfect) third version.”
I like the last part, where they actually suppose that someone might try downloading multiple track versions, and piece them together to make a complete unaltered track. Let’s be honest here– does ANYONE do this? By the time your average Britney Spears fan can find multiple versions of the latest single at Mininova, isn’t that album already pirated all to hell? Someone willing to go to this effort is surely at the very bottom of a gigantic pyramid of listeners. It makes no sense whatsoever to target these people, unless you’re simply trying to milk the business for as long as possible.
All this aside, I’m a little disappointed I’ll never get to hear these remixes. They would surely have been more interesting than the older RIAA efforts. I’m sure my ears would have burned a little at hearing the flaccid and underdeveloped creative efforts of these corporate types, but they might have been interesting to keep in a sort of aural bell jar as sideshow curiosities– fit only to frighten the kiddies.
Update: If anyone wants to remix a song of their choice using these techniques, I’ll host it here. If two or more want to remix tracks in this fashion, we can have a contest, with a prize and everything. No fair sending two tracks from different e-mails, either. Upload your track to MediaFire, YouSendit, etc… and send me a message. –DaveX
Update #2: Here’s MY version of a Media Defender-style “chopped and screwed” track, using each of the approved remix techniques. I have used the new Britney Spears single, “Gimmie More” as the basis for this remix; I believe this falls completely within Fair Use. The remix also contains a sample from an open source-licensed audio book of Lawrence Lessig’s “Free Culture,” read by A.K.M. Adam.
Update #3: A few people have had difficulty with the download. Here is another link to try. Sorry for the trouble! (Ironically, this remix keeps getting taken down by the same people who encouraged such remixes as a way to discourage downloads. Way to go, assholes!)