MediaDefender Remixes: Chopped & Screwed!

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!)

26 Responses to “MediaDefender Remixes: Chopped & Screwed!”

  1. Replican't Says:

    Last night I downloaded a song which I thought was song X by artist Y, but actually was a spanish rock thingie. Wonder if this is part of Media Defender strategy or a social engineering prank.

  2. howsthatsound Says:

    hahaha, this is great! your version is so much better than anything on the radio at the moment! i really like the combination of the intermittent beeps and the downsampling. it does a little synthy squiggle at times.
    it actually reminded my of listening to a badly tuned radio. ever have the experience of tuning trough to a station and hearing this amazing sounding music throught the fuzz, but then as you start to get better reception, you realize the song is uninteresting crap and it just the din making it sound interesting? your remix reminds me of that in a way, and what is even better is that the track falling right after that in my itunes playlist was a recording i made of shortwave static! the two went together perfectly.

  3. Tony Y Says:

    Brilliant! I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard! This is one for the books, and if it doesn’t bring startlingmoniker the attention it deserves, I’ll be surprised. As soon as I have some spare time, I’m going to make my own.

    T

  4. Zop Says:

    I cannot get mediafire to let me download, netiher with IE6 or Mozilla!

  5. Steve Says:

    HNGH! Mediafire’s download server keeps timing out on me. Not fair!

  6. startlingmoniker Says:

    I have also uploaded the file to RapidShare– hope this helps. The link is near the end of the entry, in the third update. Sorry for the trouble!

  7. Steve Says:

    Hee hee! Brilliant. I might have to have a go at this Media Defender remix business… Bizarrely, as I was leafing through the emails leaked, this HOWTO was the first one I clicked on, completely randomly.

  8. AKMA Says:

    Well, there goes my reputation — people might think I actually collaborated with Britney on this recording. . . .

  9. andyfox1979 Says:

    the part about people editing three “bad files” into one good file is like typical of corporations who don’t even understand what their job is. I have audio editing software on my computer and it would never occur to me to do that, and even if it did, that would take a lot of time and effort just for one mp3 file.

  10. Joe Says:

    Replican’t: You were closer with “social engineering experiment”. Sounds like you got duckrolled, minus the picture.

  11. shanejr Says:

    payola and the Ringle are almost as asinine as the chopped and screwed. with all the money these assholes are losing you’d figure they’d actually embrace technology. good post.

  12. startlingmoniker Says:

    I hadn’t heard about the “Ringle,” thanks for the heads-up Shanejr! If someone has the top ringtone, does that make them a Ringle Star? Ack.

  13. Noah Says:

    I love it! Sounds so much better than the original.

  14. dubc Says:

    if i had made a song according to these rules… and i uploaded it to the internetz… how do i know this is not some sort of honeypot for me to get pwned by the R(MAF)IAA? i mean i know someone who might have possibly in some past of future moment could have concievably made a remix that would make the audio perverts at the RIAA proud but would be unwilling to share for fear of being sued?

  15. fairuseartist (PWN3D-3M41LZ) Says:

    http://rapidshare.com/files/58038974/brit_vs_thebillofrights.mp3.html

    muahahahahahahhaha/// this took my friend like 30 minutes! what a waste of time and good bandwidth! (sorry brit, i had to do it, can we still hang out?)

  16. %20 Says:

    This is a FAKE. I REPEAT THIS IS A FAKE DECOY. Don’t be fooled by this oblivious parody. n0!z3 like this is not indicative of the true Interdicters, OVERPEER…. of right they went bankrupt… thee Media Enhancers… i mean MediaDefenders. Share the real fakes with friends. RIAA for best band of the year 2007!!!
    http://noneinc.com/RIAAEM/RIAABlog.html

  17. GHM327 Says:

    I find it an interesting concept,

    for someone to work hard to get their music distributed by a label, and to have that very same label sabotage your tracks, them release them into the web only to have interested new fans trying to listen to your work only to encounter bad sound quality and bizarre spoken word excerpts laced into the tracks!

    if i was in a band, and that happened to me, there would definably be a reaction on my part towards my label!

    ————————————————————————————
    Also, when you go to download a track that turns out to be a similar sounding band, thats just a new band trying to get themselves known to fans of the style of music they play. and not a record company stunt.

  18. Zop Says:

    Thanks for rapidshare link! HILARIOUS! I can’t wait to put it on the net!

  19. fairuseartist (PWN3D-3M41LZ) Says:

    well of course i’s a parody! we made it according to the R(MAFF)IAA guidelines. in our version however we did tone down the results so it would not be ear peircing and speaker blowing like the real decoys would be if you came across one.

  20. Pimpdaddysupreme Says:

    Couldn’t find an email addy for ya to send this to, but here’s my submission for the CONTEST (Whoo-Hoo!!! I hope I win!!!!)

    (see next comment for linked mp3. –Ed.)

    This is the hottest song on the radio!! Get it here for FREE!!!

    Encoded at 320Kbps!!!

  21. Pimpdaddysupreme Says:

    Seems the Parenthetical doesn’t work.

    Let me try this again.
    [audio src="http://www.pimpdaddysupreme.com/SouljaBoy-CrankDatSouljaBoy_Explicit.mp3" /]

    This album comes out on October 2nd 2007!!

    Perfect quality Pre-Release at 320 Kbps!!!!!

  22. mikrosopht Says:

    great article! i will see what i can do given the remix specs & get back to you.

  23. thaddeus Says:

    @ andyfox1979

    re: “the part about people editing three “bad files” into one good file … it would never occur to me to do that, and even if it did, that would take a lot of time and effort just for one mp3 file.”

    i don’t do this anymore, but i have done it. years ago, in 2001, i pieced together a portishead b-side from two broken files (actually bought that single years later). tried it with a radiohead bootleg once, but it didn’t work.

    you may not have thought of it or done it, but are you a broke teenager obsessed with a band? i have to give them credit for doing this. this prankster method of combating fileshares may not be all that effective, but they get points in my book for being inventive and creating accidental musique concrete.

  24. Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 9/29/07 « Startling Moniker Says:

    […] It’s 6 a.m. now, so I’m kinda moving into Kids Kamp mode. Not as much musically, as just thinking about it. Running a kids show is quite a bit different than hosting an experimental one. Does anyone remember Captain Syrup’s Sound Spectacular? Well, there’s a reason why I cut that show short! Children’s programming is much more difficult than you’d think! All I have to do before Kids Kamp is make sure I play these Media Defender remixes– did you know I’m hosting a contest? Perhaps you should enter! […]

  25. %20 Says:

    Title:
    MediaDefender; New York Attorney General’s Office; Randy Saaf; Celine Dion – “Taking Chances” (thee Media Saaf-iee Way)

    [audio src="http://noneinc.com/sound/%2520&MediaDefender&NYAG&RandySaaf&CelineDion-TakingChances.mp3" /]
    http://noneinc.com/sound/%2520ReadMe/TakingChances-ReadMe.txt

    Yours when downloaded,

    Consumer Whore
    Corporate Shill
    Wannabee Cultural Chimera
    Part time music fan

  26. MediaDefender Remix Contest Winners! « Startling Moniker Says:

    […] of you who are a little slow, I started a somewhat ill-defined competition for folks willing to use the “approved” MediaDefender techniques for destroying mp3s to remix popular tracks. To kick things off, I shared my re-working of Britney Spears’ […]

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