Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged music

An upbeat song protesting NSA surveillance from the indie pop duo Yacht.

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From Al Jazeera:

In 2003, it transpired that US intelligence services had tortured detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib with music from Sesame Street.

Human rights researcher Thomas Keenan explains: “Prisoners were forced to put on headphones. They were attached to chairs, headphones were attached to their heads, and they were left alone just with the music for very long periods of time. Sometimes hours, even days on end, listening to repeated loud music.”

“The music was so loud,” says Moazzam Begg, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. “And it was probably some of the worst torture that they faced.”

The BBC reported in March on other music that’s been used as torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Ruhal, who was 19 at the time of his incarceration, says he learnt to cope with the physical beatings he often suffered but was traumatised by being short-shackled to the floor in a crouching position and forced to listen to Eminem’s Kim for hours on end at very high volume.

Strobe lights were shone in his eyes and guards with barking dogs surrounded him.

Reflecting on the practice of ‘music torture’ Ruhal says it’s worse than physical pain because you can’t block it out and you feel that you are losing your mind.

As well as Eminem, songs by AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica and children’s artists Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street were repeatedly played to Ruhal and other detainees at extreme volume as part of a ‘torture playlist’.

This is what the United States subjects its detainees to. They have not been charged of a crime and, often, after years of captivity are released. Is it any wonder that these formally innocent people now turn against the United States and contemplate terrorism?

If you can’t hear the BBC documentary on their site, you can download the mp3.

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Interestingly, my Alma mater is third on the list of top pirating universities.


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Rhapsody has announced that they will be shutting down their RAX DRM encumbered music system and that users will have until November 7, 2011 to convert any music downloaded before July, 2008.

On November 7th, 2011 Rhapsody/RealNetworks will no longer support certain music files you purchased before July 2008. These songs will continue to play after November 7th unless you change to a new computer or substantially update your current computer. However, we strongly recommend you back up these RAX tracks to audio CD to ensure you can continue to enjoy your music.

Once you take this small step, you can continue to play these tracks on your audio CD or rip them to any format you desire and play them on your PC.

Please don’t delay – after we shut off support for RAX files, you will not be able to play them if you move to a new computer or upgrade your operating system.

While Rhapsody is allowing its customers to back up and convert their music, it is not as easy as they claim. If you own a few tracks, it might by easy, but if you own hundreds or thousands of music tracks, it becomes a cumbersome and time-consuming task.

There is also a question of legality. While Rhapsody is telling people how to circumvent the RAX DRM, it may not legally be able to. According to US law, unless Rhapsody owns the copyrights to the songs that use RAX DRM, then they are actually aiding others in breaking the law.

Section 103 (17 U.S.C Sec. 1201(a)(1)) of the DMCA states:

Q No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.


(A) to 「circumvent a technological measure」 means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner; and

(B) a technological measure 「effectively controls access to a work」 if the measure, in the ordinary course of its operation, requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work.

In the closing of Rhapsody’s RAX DRM, we see, yet again, how the music industry is punishing those who wish to legally purchase digital music. There are so many of these companies that have shut down over the past ten years that it is difficult to fault those who turn to piracy. By doing so, users do not have to worry about the DRM. They also do not worry about making upgrades to their computers and risking the loss of their music. They also do not have to worry about the limits of how many computers they can keep their music on. They simply listen to their music where ever and whenever they want. After experiencing ten years of attempting to do the right thing only to be screwed over again and again, why would anyone want to return to unhelpful DRM schemes?

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This is how you treat your fans.

To launch our first single in eight years, AT&T helped us search YouTube for every instance of fans using our music without our permission. And then we rewarded them for it. This film is made out of clips from all those videos. Thanks for being a fan.

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