Writer Busted after Watermarked Advance CD is Uploaded

A writer for Arthur and Blender donated a bunch of CDs to a thrift store, and then got in big trouble after somebody bought one and uploaded it on a filesharing network. My Data Crime – The Ticking Time Bomb of the Watermarked Advance CD:

By watermarking their advance CD, Ba Da Bing was hoping not only that they would make recipients too paranoid to upload, but that the object itself would do the threatening. The physical advance, not the publicist or the label head, is now attempting to renegotiate the time-honored and rather informal promotional contract between company and writer. Such renegotiations can be aggressive, and such aggression destroys the aura of chumminess that rules between publicist and writer. One of the reasons I fucked up is that the Beirut advance did not clearly announce itself as being watermarked—my name was printed on the CD, which I didn’t even notice, and there was no further warning.

How is a record reviewer supposed to make any money if they can’t sell their promos?

MP3: Beirut – “A Sunday Smile” from The Flying Club Cup, due October 9 on Ba Da Bing.

Via bb.

4 thoughts on “Writer Busted after Watermarked Advance CD is Uploaded”

  1. Wow. That sucks.

    The label I work at has watermarked stuff for bigger releases, but they always take the time to get the mp3s out to writers as well.

    This just sounds very stupid by everyone involved and it’s lazy for the label to assume that they can just toss the writer’s name on things and assume it will prevent file sharing.

  2. There was a great piece on NPR (mp3) this weekend regarding the First Sale Doctrine, which basically states that once physical ownership of a copyrighted work (ex: a novel, a CD, etc.) transfers, the copyright owner loses control. Now, that’s not to say they lose control of the copyright, they just lose control of the physical product. This is what’s allowed record stores to re-sell used CDs, much to the labels’ chagrin.

  3. Gerard Cosloy (currently of Matador Recs) has been doing this sort of stuff since the ’80s (just a bit more low-tech than watermarking), when he was running Homestead Recs. He’d scratch the name of the journalist or radio station into the deadwax area of the vinyl promos he’d send out, trawl used record stores, find out who sold ’em back, and would then call them up and berate them.

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