Reviewers hate the RIAA

January 17, 2008 | 09:41

Tags: #laws #mpaa #piracy

Companies: #riaa

The RIAA feels that it doesn't get enough hate from pretty much everyone these days, so it's putting both feet in the deep end with an anti-piracy scheme that's got reviewers hot under the collar.

Like the film equivalent the MPAA, the RIAA is concerned about pre-release copies of popular albums being made available before the official commercial launch by naughty reviewer types. It's a fair point: fans will likely download the leaked copy simply to get a head-start on enjoying the music, and a fair few will probably think twice about then paying good money for something they already own.

Rather than trusting the reviewers---the people who are basically advertising the product to the masses and ensuring people will bother to buy it at all, piracy or no piracy---the RIAA has come up with what must be the most hair-brained scheme in the history of piracy: voice overs.

Anyone who has seen a pre-release 'screener' of a major film will be familiar with the scrolling text that crops up at varying points of the film, warning you that if you're watching this and you're not a reviewer then you're killing Jesus' puppy (or something). The RIAA decided that these were a good idea, and set about inserting a similar concept into pre-release music.

But how to replicate the non-intrusive scrolly text in a purely auditory environment? Meh, why bother: they'll put up with the music fading out occasionally to be replaced with a voice---for some reason with an Italian accent---telling you how naughty it would be to steal the broken copy they've provided you with.

Many reviewers are up in arms about such an intrusive system of basically telling them they're criminal scum who are not to be trusted, and at least one is making his feelings known in a very public way. TheSpunkyLobster, a contributor to music site Komodo Rock, has published a review of one such album featuring this 'protection' that is extremely scathing of the 'technology'.

Describing the CD as “an album that can best be described as perhaps the Mona Lisa after a two year old covered in chocolate has crawled all over it”, the reviewer claims that the extremely low score of 22 percent is due to the fact that “as a reviewer I have to review what is put in front of me, what my ears hear, [not] what I want them to hear.”

So, it looks like it's another own-goal for the RIAA. Way to go, guys.

Are you a music reviewer hit by these wonderful new CDs, or should the reviewers just suck it up and pay the price for listening to pre-release music for free? Let us know your thoughts over in the forums.
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