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Universal Music Group's New Music Sharing Service

timothy posted more than 11 years ago | from the wheels-of-progress-inch-along dept.

Music 446

Reader darnellmc writes with this review: "I have been waiting for a service where I could download and burn popular music for a reasonable price. I know even $9.99 a CD or 99 cents a track is still price gouging given the record industry's cost to allow me to download music, but I can live with that. So I gave UMG's new music downloading service a try and wanted to share my experience, since it may help others." Read on for the rest of darnellmc's description of the UMG system's pros and cons. Hint: if you don't have IE handy, you might not find this service very friendly.

First I had to decide which reseller of UMG music to use and decided on Liquid Audio's On-Line store. One reason I picked this service is because they are the technology backers of this venture, so who better? I'm really glad I picked them, and you will see why after you read about the issues I faced.

Of course, there were plenty of music choices to pick from and it was pretty easy to find artists I was looking for. I first noticed that not every track is 99 cents. Some are higher -- it seems that the less popular stuff cost a little more. Some singles cost $1.49, but I found one free track on this CD.

After finding a CD I wanted, I purchased and downloaded the tracks individually and as one large download, since they provide both options. After downloading the files I could not get any of them to play. For some time this confused me, then I tried clicking on a link provided in an e-mail that was sent to me to confirm my order. Well, they did not tell me this on the website, but clicking that link authenticated me to listen to the tracks. This was a bit frustrating, but survivable. Also, I found you can only go through the process of purchasing and downloading with IE. I use Mozilla by default and was not able to purchase with that browser. You also need to use IE to open the URL in the e-mail that authenticate your tracks.

Once done with that I attempted to burn tracks to a CD. I was using a machine with Windows 2000 SP3 and Windows Media Player 9 (current release candidate for Win2K). Whenever I'd try to burn a track, the Roxio software would die. So I gave up on Media Player 9 and downloaded Liquid Audio's Player (v 6.1). When trying to burn with this player it could not initialize my HP DVD writer (model dvd200i) and for some reason was calling it a 200j instead. I also tried downgrading to Windows Media Player 7.1, but that did not work either. The burning software did not even know my DVD Burner was there. I also tried Real's RealOne player, but it can not burn WMA files.

So I gave up and contacted Liquid Audio's Customer Service. They informed me (via e-mail exchanges) that their software could not recognize my DVD Burner and I would only be able to burn using a CD Burner, not a DVD/CD Burner. I was offered a refund, but I did not want that. I've got a CD Burner, but on another PC. So I thought I'd be able to move the files and burn there. I came to find out find out that I can move files to listen to them on another PC, but they can't be burned on a PC other than the one to which they were first downloaded. So Liquid Audio sent me another link to download tracks with after hearing I had to go to another PC. Then I was able to download and burn tracks with no problem.

You can play the tracks as much as you like on your PC, burn to CD as many tracks as you want, copy the burned CDs, and use the CD to make MP3s. Keep in mind there is supposed to be some form of digital watermarking on the tracks though. So if you give the music to anyone else, they (UMG) are supposed to be able to know it was you who violated their copyright.

So overall it was pretty frustrating making my first CD with this service, but I'll probably be using it again in the future. Like Tuesday, when some new music comes out. I have been boycotting UMG for almost a year, since when I heard they would copy-protect CDs. With this service I have officially ended my boycott.

Pros:

  • Easy to download and burn a CD if you have Windows, IE and a CD Burner (not a DVD Burner).
  • Easy to find tracks from UMG artists that are well known.
  • Good customer service. They really helped as much as they could given the software limitations and offered a refund even though I would have been able to keep playing the tracks on my PC.
  • No need to go to the store in the Winter!

Cons:

  • No player seems to be able to burn using a DVD burner.
  • Tracks are not authenticated till you click a link in an e-mail sent to you.
  • Unable to use the service to purchase tracks using Mozilla.
  • No small intro type tracks available, even when you buy a full CD of tracks.


Slashdot welcomes reader-submitted features and reviews -- thanks to darnellmc for this review.

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hgjhgjhjcgfhj (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759810)

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You go girl (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759813)

ya!

Liquid Audio (5, Informative)

SealBeater (143912) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759817)

From the article, First I had to decide which reseller of UMG music to use and decided on Liquid Audio's On-Line store.

In other news, Liquid Audio's CEO resigned. Here's the link [yahoo.com]

SealBeater

Re:Liquid Audio (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759935)

Is there a mac version? I don't want to use that WiMP trash...

IUMA (4, Interesting)

dirvish (574948) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759820)

Doesn't sound too bad, but I think I will stick with IUMA [iuma.com] . I would rather support independents than coorporate whor....errr, I mean popular artists.

Re:IUMA (5, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759931)

How about simply supporting those whose music you enjoy?

Re:IUMA (2, Interesting)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760042)

Damn right! IUMA is a fine service but pretty irrelevant in the great scheme of things - What most people want is major music, downloadable in a form of their choice, cheaply, online. IUMA is not that service. Universals service is nearer to this goal, but not quite - when they offer lossless encoding (monkeys, flac, whatever) cheaply and compatible with any platform then I will *definitely* subscribe to this service.

*Most* people want a service that is better than p2p. Universal are nearer this than IUMA but they need encouragement, not flaming, to offer us this.

Lossy or Lossless Encoding (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759821)

One thing you don't mention is whether the files are compressed? If they are compressed using lossy encoding, like mp3, that would reduce its appeal to me, since I prefer my 44.1kHz pcm audio. I'd resent paying for inferior quality data, but that's just me. Oh, and since I don't have Windows or a Mac I can't use IE anyway, so it's all academic.

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (2, Informative)

Kentamanos (320208) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759863)

I would have to assume it's a lossy compression. It sounds like it was a WMA file.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a lossless compression exists that will make the file size small enough for "most" people to download. That is to say make the audio about one tenth the size of the raw audio.

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4760069)

It sounds like it was a WMA file

Yes, since he actually mentioned .wma in the article, Im guessing that's what they are too. I'm uch rather if they were .ogg, .mp3, or .wav, but since there's no linux support anyways... Oh well.

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (-1, Troll)

zerian1515 (204955) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759893)

Yeah...have fun downloading the uncompress pcm format...idiot

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759942)

Dude, I have broadband. I am used to downloading CD images (up to 700MB of data) e.g. things like KNOPPIX, Mandrake, Slackware etc. It's all the same stuff, 0s and 1s. It wouldn't take any longer to download 650MB of audio that 650MB of Linux distro. And another thing, you can get lossless audio compressors like FLAC which can give you up to 50% compression without losing a single bit of information. Go back under your bridge.

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (1)

Kentamanos (320208) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759982)

Even at 50%, you're still talking about 5MB per minute, which is too big for "mainstream" users. God help them if they wanted to download that 2112 track or something ;).

Of course I'm in the same boat as you. I downloaded 3 linux distros last week...

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759989)

Yeah...have fun downloading the uncompress pcm format...idiot

Gotta love it. For you non-idiots out there, you may want to consider the concept of lossless compression. It does exist, and I use it quite often to trade music. There is SHN and FLAC, along with a few less portable formats.

Large files still (roughly 50% compressed), but I often d/l SHN files by FTP. What do I care if it takes 8 minutes or 8 hours when I'm asleep?

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759992)

There are compressors that don't lose any information. You just might have to uncompress it after downloading it to actually *play* the file.

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (2, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760020)

I fail to see what's idiotic about downloading uncompressed audio. A single song is what, 30 meg?
On any decent speed DSL line, that will take about 5 minutes, 20 seconds - a perfectly reasonable time to wait for an Actually-CD-Quality audio track.

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (5, Insightful)

sporty (27564) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760071)

How much cost in bandwidth, monetary, will that be again?

I'm even more elitist than you (5, Funny)

IvyMike (178408) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760076)

If they are compressed using lossy encoding, like mp3, that would reduce its appeal to me, since I prefer my 44.1kHz pcm audio. I'd resent paying for inferior quality data, but that's just me. Oh, and since I don't have Windows or a Mac I can't use IE anyway, so it's all academic.

Hrmph. 44.1kHz just doesn't cut it for me; I prefer my audio at 196kHz, 48 bits per sample, 6.1 channels, and I resent paying for anything less. But then again my computer is a Thinking Machine CM5, which doesn't even come with a sound card, so I guess it's all academic for me, too.

Re:Lossy or Lossless Encoding (4, Interesting)

scalveg (35414) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760099)

Liquid's technology is just an envelope that can securely transfer any kind of file. There are even a few non-music files in the system for various specific purposes.

The audio compression types that I was aware of while I was there were mostly Dolby AAC [vialicensing.com] with a handful of MP3s. They were working on WMA when I left the company, so I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the current library is in that format.

Chris Owens
San Carlos, CA

8===m=D ~ ~ ~ ( o )( o ) MOMMY has Mozilla (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759822)

In her fat Vagina!

Fuck universal for trying to kill the little man and FREE p2p.
This is just the first link in the chain of their seek and destroy campaign. When their CLOSED format is king, what we gonna do when they flip the swithch?!!

This post for Junis whereevAr he Iz.

Thanks for the review (5, Insightful)

mcg1969 (237263) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759823)

Even if this isn't everything we might want in a downloadable music service, I think that supporting this service will help convince UMG and other companies of the effectiveness of this business model. This is a step in the right direction...

Re:Thanks for the review (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759979)

I think that supporting this service will encourage the continuing price fixing and gouging for music. The middlemen have made so much money off artists & consumers and I am hoping that the digital revolution will turn this around.

I don't mind paying for something, but the middlemen in the music biz add very little value, and IMHO screw a lot up!

I want to listen to lots of music but I can't afford to with a big mortgage and kids. I have several music mad friends who buy 100's of CD's a year - and they'd buy more if they could afford to. Basically we want to pay the creators of the music, and I don't see these services moving towards that so I shan't support them.

Read this Courtney Love [salon.com] article - she is so right (even if I was a bit dismissive of her before I read this).

That's what it's all about, not whether I can buy 'n download from the net! That kind of tech is just a way for us (musicians & fans) to cut out the fat cat middlemen, and introduce middlemen who get paid for the value they add... Thanks for listening, Andy. (UK)

Re:Thanks for the review (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4760090)

I don't think I would support this model. They are still using proprietary technology on a limited number of platforms to charge you, arguably, a large sum of money for audio that is tampered with (ie its encoded in a lossy format, watermarked, whatever).

There are a couple of other places offering a less restrictive service. One that I use is EMusic.com [emusic.com] Yes, it's still MP3, but its a flat monthly rate, you have direct access to the files (ie no particular player is required and there is no authentication needed to play the files, only to download them).

What's that, you say? EMusic doesn't have the latest Britney Spears album? Of course their selection is limited but that's not a reason to not support them. Support companies like EMusic now and show the artists and record labels the kind of freedom you want from these types of services. If everybody sits back and says "Oh I can't download the new N'Sync, I'm not buying there service" they'll never get your N'Sync.

Until they loosen these silly restrictions they won't be getting my money.

(Oh, and no, I am not in any way affiliated with EMusic.com, just a customer)

A few posts down... (1, Funny)

YaleL (597476) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759824)

BBC says "Avoid Explorer" Posted by CmdrTaco on Tuesday November 26, @07:41AM from the no-disagreement-here dept. twitter writes "Citing security flaws that lead to ads and spys on Microsoft infested computers the BBC in this article recomends avoiding Internet Explorer." Ain't it the truth? Mostly its about adware & spyware and other wretched bits of software that make the internet suck a little more each day. Hehe :)

well, atleast the customer service seemed nice (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759826)

otherwise, this all seems like a giant waste of time to me.

A step forward for legitimate music burners, but most probably wouldn't use this technology yet, since it's easier to use free p2p.

Re:well, atleast the customer service seemed nice (3, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759961)

since it's easier to use free p2p

Uh, but isn't the whole point that this is a _legal_ way of attaining the music. So first the excuse was that the music was too expensive, now it's that it isn't quite convenient enough?

Re:well, atleast the customer service seemed nice (1)

BlackHawk-666 (560896) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760109)

But it's still too expensive! 99c per track is still $9.90 for a 10 track "album".

Why? (3, Insightful)

BluGuy (617572) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759827)

Why go through all that BS to pay the same amount for a CD that you can go to your local RecordStore and pick up. Is it worth it to say "I made all by myself?" Next question: Will it work on *nix/Mac?

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759995)

Two words, Instant gratification. The author mentions that it is easier to do this than to venture out in the middle of winter (after living in Canada, I can relate to this) to purchase a cd. So the real question is, is this truely better than going over to Amazon, purchasing the cd and waiting the week or so for it to show up?

As to will it work on *nix/Mac, didn't the original announcement of the service say that it was pc only initially? Plus with the problems the author had using a pc, hard to imagine they have it working on anything else yet.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4760074)

wow, do you RTFA _at all_ before posting??

d/ling an album while watching tv and drinking a beer is a lot easier than hauling your ass to the record store, or as the author points out, going out during winter especially blows

also, it requires IE so it doesn't work on *nix
gj

Re:Why? (1)

dabuk (573028) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760092)

There are a lot of people out there who want specific tracks. They might not want the rest of the album or whatever else was put on the B-side.

This way you could download your favourite 10-20 songs and make your very own CD. No more "Now That's What I Call Music 76" crap.... which can only be a good thing.

Re:Why? (3, Interesting)

Idaho (12907) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760111)

Why go through all that BS to pay the same amount for a CD that you can go to your local RecordStore and pick up.

Why go through all that BS by going all the way to your local RecordStore where you'll pay a stupendously large amount of money for something as simple&cheap as a CD when it's so much easier to just download it from the Net for free?

OK I know....you're screwing the artists too...they should have public bank account numbers so people could donate some money to them...Their share is at most $2 per CD anyway (the standard CD price in Europe being more like $22)

How could they know if you share the music? (5, Interesting)

elliotj (519297) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759828)

You can play the tracks as much as you like on your PC, burn to CD as many tracks as you want, copy the burned CDs, and use the CD to make MP3s. Keep in mind there is supposed to be some form of digital watermarking on the tracks though. So if you give the music to anyone else, they (UMG) are supposed to be able to know it was you who violated their copyright.

I'd be interested to know how anybody could tell if you've shared the music and what this 'digital watermarking' is all about. If you made MP3s from the CD you make, how would UMG know you violated the copyright? Is my iTunes gonna email them when I play the pirated MP3?

This sounds dubious but will no doubt be tested by tons of people to see if it's true.

It also begs the question of what consititutes illegal sharing and fair use. Shouldn't I be able to listen to this stuff on my iPod? Would UMG know?

Re:How could they know if you share the music? (5, Informative)

barnaclebarnes (85340) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760001)

Digital watermarking essentially puts a mark in the music that can be read by special software. It is meant to be non audable to the human ear but that is debatable.

Watermarking is probably the lesser of evils as it does not stop you copying the music (AFAIK). What it will do however is provide an audit trail of where the music came from. Say a street vendor was busted for selling pirated CD's. They could test the CD's and see that it came from UserX on the UMG service. They could then go to userX and asked him/her how the music ended up on thousands of pirated CD's.

It seems they are trying to create a balance between fully restrictive downloading and playing and free for all mp3/ogg files. Personally I think it is the wrong way to go but time will tell. /b

Re:How could they know if you share the music? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4760009)

The point is if they find a watermarked mp3 that you created is being illegally distributed (using a bot on a p2p network or some other means), they can trace it back to you.

They may partner with companies that make mp3 players, but I seriously doubt that any would conform to notifying UMG, unless they were legally bound to include such functionality.

Fair use is entact in this case. You can listen to it on your iPod without risk. You can even share it with your friends, but you are liable if they in turn (or someone else in the chain) mass distributes the mp3.

Re:How could they know if you share the music? (1)

TheDawgLives (546565) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760087)

I'd be interested to know how anybody could tell if you've shared the music and what this 'digital watermarking' is all about.

I'm fairly certain that he isreferring to sharing mp3s on the Internet. If UMG finds their songs on the Internet, then they just have to look at the watermark (unique white noise that is inserted in the file) to see who they need to arrest/sue.

Re:How could they know if you share the music? (1)

tusixoh (561920) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760102)

actually, the point in the watermarking feature has nothing to do with using your iPod or any other of your own devices. the point of it is if they find the song shared on a p2p network, they can see whether or not the song was purchased from them. if it was, they can track down who purchased it and bust them for sharing said song as a copyright violation.

Re:How could they know if you share the music? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760113)

The point is, that if UMG found a song being traded on gnutella, and examined it, they could theoretically (if they applied the watermarks well enough) find out who leaked it. So of course you can put it on your ipod, you can even load mp3s of it to your friends, but you'd have to trust your friends not to share them. Of course UMG is likly not going to bust most, but they definatly will bust someone who is a mass trader.

first post not by a moron! (-1, Offtopic)

Grog6 (85859) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759829)

good?

Emusic (5, Interesting)

seizer (16950) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759832)

It's been said before, and it should be said again. If you wantw true value for money, emusic [emusic.com] are a better deal. Pure MP3s, no corrupt watermarks, and no DRM. And cheaper, too - one monthly fee equals full unlimited downloads.

If I was going to go for any of these services (I'm not, yet) that would be my choice.

Re:Emusic (1)

buckminster (170559) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760002)

I believe UMG now owns emusic. Also, this past summer quite a bit of UMG's back catalog began turning up on emusic. I wonder how long this will last?

Re:Emusic (1)

fuzzbrain (239898) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760013)

Emusic are quite good and they are set up to work with Zinf, but I got pissed off with them and stopped my subscription beacause many alot of their music (esp all my favourites on the Matador label) is only downloadable from within North America. I was paying the same price as a North American but only getting half the service.

Re:Emusic (2, Informative)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760108)

all the samples I've downloaded from emusic's site are a cheezy-sounding 128kbs MP3. That's hardly hi-fi in my book. Are the ones you buy any better?

I just spent 50 bucks on new releases (2)

Desult (592617) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759834)

And it took me all of 10 minutes in store, no hassle, I'm listening to em right now.

I can copy, rip, whatever I please. I'm willing to pay an extra 10 bucks per disc for a) good music and b) missing out on the hassle that you went through.

My time is certainly valuable. The only benefit of online downloading was saving me the 15 minute drive to the store. The downside is no cover art, no reliable copy, and no fun unwrapping process.

For those interested:

The Roots - Phrenology (w/ DVD)
Thievery Corporation - The Richest Man in Babylon
The Lenny White Collection

-Greg

Re:I just spent 50 bucks on new releases (0)

freeefalln (541648) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759984)

ohhh nice selection of music there... check out J-Live's latest. its great.

Re:I just spent 50 bucks on new releases (1)

spookymonster (238226) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760046)

Yeah, but I can use Gnutella to listen to every track on those albums, decide which ones I want to buy, and then download the 10 songs I really want, saving me ~$40.

Or,I could buy all 3 albums @ $9.99 a pop, saving me only $20.

Re:I just spent 50 bucks on new releases (2)

jred (111898) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760103)

Wow, what a rip-off. I just spent ~$30 and got 4 new CDs. And I didn't have to go anywhere. Heck, the receptionist even brought them to my office so I didn't have to go to the front desk. Of course, a couple of them were indy artists, but still.

I got a couple of Shonen Knife CDs, for $6 & $9, a High School Hellcats CD for $9, and a Die Cheerleader Die CD for $5.

Shonen Knife I got from half.com. A quick email to DCD & HSH and both setup paypal accounts so I wouldn't be forced to find envelopes & stamps.

Now that I think about it, I also recently purchased a new CD at Best Buy, so that *almost* brings me up to $50 (it was the new Johnny Cash CD, that old man rox u).

$3.49 footlong subs at Subway! (-1)

Trolling Stones (587878) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759835)

At subway, you get a sub prepared anyway you like, by the friendly, efficient staff. Choose from mouth-watering veggies, succulent meats and cheeses, and a variety of freshly-baked bread. Why not stop in today and pick up some subs for the whole family to enjoy. I suggest the Italian BMT, piled high with genoa salami, pepperoni, ham, and provolone cheese. Top it with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles, add a few spritzes of italian dressing and you've got a meal fit for king. Subway: eat fresh!

g to the oatse
c to the izzex
fo shizzle my nizzle click here [jareddispatch.com] (note: the site is currently down. I expect it to come back online around Thanksgiving) to dispatch Jared and his formerly overweight goons to crack down on Subway if they don't honor the $3.49 Troll Tuesday deal. Make sure you provide the store number and address. Mine is store number 5839. Don't believe me about the concept of the jared dispatch? Yahoo has an article about it here [yahoo.com] , although it is pretty light on the details.
Note: I've gotten a few comments that the link to Jared Dispatch doesn't work. I think the site got taken down because of abuse of the service. Although the site got taken down, I still highly reccomend Subway and their high quality subs. To show my appreciation, here is a link to Free Subway Coupons. I had to redirect it through Yahoo's site redirector, because my of the filter at work. Anyways, here is the link! [yahoo.com]
Note 2: I've received word that those links to yahoo actually point to goatse.cx. I am truly sorry about that, and I found the cause. A couple weeks ago, a hacker broke into yahoo and set up some scripts that redirect the user to goatse.cx if a file is in a certain directory. I accidentally tried to access a file in one of those haunted directories. I fixed the links (I have a cousin who works at yahoo), so they should bring you to the actual sites now, not goatse.cx. Update 10/28: The hacker, or should I say hax0r [mailto] , actually has posted a page on yahoo on how he did it and how the goatse redirector works. It's a very good read. I suggest reading it soon before yahoo finds out about it and takes it down. Check it out ASAP [yahoo.com] !
Note 3: I am working on locating the articles using google's cache. It is taking some time because I don't remember the exact titles. However, I hope to have the links fixed and working very soon. Keep eating at Subway in the meantime, and request that they bring back the jalepeno cheese roll. It is a fanscrumptiously brilliant roll.
Note 4: To all those who think that sub is an incorrect term, I live in upstate NY, and we call it a sub here. There are no hoagies, grinders, po'boys, footlongs, heroes, or any other made up names. It's not hoagieway after all, its Subway.
Important: It is my duty to report to you, loyal low-threshold readers, of a very disturbing incident that happened to me last week. I went into subway at the normal lunch time, but instead of the standard line out the door, the restaurant was vacant. Normally, the queue doesn't concern me, since the crew knows enough to make me a footlong Italian BMT with my standard fixin's and have it ready at 11:30 sharp, on tuesdays. I approached the counter casually, when two bulky men appeared from each side of the potato chip display rack. They held me down, and Jared appeared from behind the counter. He took my preprepared footlong BMT and cracked an evil grin. The manager grabbed the bottle of italian dressing and lubed up my general ass area. Jared shoved the footlong Italian BMT repeatedly into my ass, mixing it with the chucks of feces that were in my bowels, until the fresh crisp veggies resembled brown spoiled food. I begged him to stop, but little did I know the torture waiting for me. He took the italian dressing, and squirted it into my pee hole. Now, it burns when I pee, and it hurts when I sit. I asked him why he was doing this, and he said that they had tracked me down for my abuse of the Jared Dispatch system. You see, Jared gets airsick, and his constant flying over the country has caused him to lose weight due to his vomiting on planes. Normally, this loss of weight would be a good thing, but Subway can't actually claim that he lost weight by eating Subway subs. They told him to put the weight back on and then lose it again by eating subs, somthing Jared does not want to do. As a result, they are the ones who closed down Jared Dispatch. I am begging you, loyal readers DON'T GO TO JARED DISPATCH [yahoo.com] ANY MORE. Thank you for your time. I have to go to Subway now, and tell them that I want less italian dressing on my footlong Italian BMT. Remember, if you don't eat at subway, then the terrorists win! (note: On the link above, I used client-side redirection. Therefore, if it sends you to goatse.cx, it is a problem with YOUR COMPUTER, NOT THE WEB PAGE!)

Yeah but... (1, Troll)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759837)

This sounds like a lot of trouble to go through to buy music. All these problems can be solved simply by purchasing your music through Gnutella. Not to mention, it's much cheaper.

Re:Yeah but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4760105)

why not just pay for certain tunes on their web site and then download the mp3s with your favorite file sharing client? wouldn't that be legal? no watermarks that way.

Windows and IE? (5, Insightful)

muyuubyou (621373) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759839)

Anything involving windows, IE and Media Player is too suspicious for me giving it a try.

You also need to use IE to open the URL in the e-mail that authenticate your tracks

The price is not the problem. The problem is what they allow you to do and what they don't. Next.

Let me get this straight... (5, Insightful)

Mr_Person (162211) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759845)

I pay the same or more for the download service as for the CD, download the tracks slowly, install their software several times until it works, burn it on a CD, rip it, encode it, then listen to it? And the music companies wonder why their online services aren't insanely popular...

Re:Let me get this straight... (2)

sulli (195030) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760114)

Sounds like a big pain in the ass to me. I'll stick with buying and ripping CDs, or buying MP3s from artists [coolears.com] who actually sell the real thing, thanks.

Hint about IE is well-advised, work around (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759846)


Don't have IE handy? No problem! I'm getting a handy from your mom and it's working out just great! And the best part is no sticky residue - she'll lick it up off the floor when you're finished. Gotta love that.

Sounds like a great service (-1, Troll)

PhysicsGenius (565228) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759849)

Unfortunately the courts have already decided that downloading music == stealing, so I don't expect this "service" to last very long. I certainly wouldn't throw money down this particular short-lived hole.

This is not illegal (1, Redundant)

lorcha (464930) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759914)

Downloading music is not stealing if you have permission of the copyright holder. In this case, you pay the copyright holder for permission, so you have permission to download. Nothing illegal about that.

Re:Sounds like a great service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759986)

You people are pretty hard headed. HEY MORON!!! READ THE F&^KING TITLE!!! Universal Music Group.... Hmm... Seems to me that they own the music they're distributing.

Digital watermarking? (3, Insightful)

Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759850)

So... how long until somebody figures out how to remove the digital watermarking? Maybe it wouldn't be the easiest process in the world, but it probably would scare the pants off of them as a proof-of-concept.

And probably get their lawyers all excited with the possibility of DMCA-related charges.

Point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759856)

Seems like a complete waste of time, oh and the experience is further enchanced with the required use of IE.

The service that you pay for doesn't like alot of things either by the sounds of it, why bother with it until its a bit more flexible?

When will they learn? (5, Insightful)

Stubtify (610318) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759861)

The article says you're limited in your freedom to use the files you purchased on another computer, this seems like its just as bad as those stupid new Audio CD formats which are being thrown around, except at least those boast better quality sound. Why limit yourself to IE and put all those stupid DRM in when you know people will get around them anyway.


He didn't mention it but I assume these are not cd quality audio files, unless I'm missing something here. So I'd pay a small amount to be able to download and manipulate files as I please (50 each maybe) but add all the DRM to those files and I'd pay less. It only makes sense considering you're crippling my downloads.


I guess it boils down to... why use this over kazaa/limewire/winMX etc. etc. etc...

That's easy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759865)

Sounds much quicker, easier and more convenient than Kazzaa.

Where do I sign up?

Price Gouging? (2, Insightful)

Vaulter (15500) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759867)


How is .99 a track price gouging? What is price gouging anyway? I'd define it as charging more for something that a customer _has_ to have. Like electricity. You can charge more because the consumer has no choice. I.E, the result of a monopoly.

If you think .99 (or 9.99) is too much, look at the profit statement of the company selling it. If their expenses are more than the profit (I bet they are ), then maybe .99 _isn't enough_ .

The same goes for all the whiners about $16 or $20 CD's. If you think the company is making sooo much profit from this, then you damn better well be investing all your money in the industry, since it's such a profitable, sure thing business.

Personally, I think $.99 is extremely reasonable, given that I can't hardly buy a 20oz Coke for that much.

Re:Price Gouging? (4, Informative)

scumdamn (82357) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759938)

I wish there was a mod for -1 silly!
Just because the profit sheets show a company not making profit does not mean that billions of dollars aren't being made.

Re:Price Gouging? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759996)

You can't download a Coke, but you can use a free news service to post stupid analogies!

Re:Price Gouging? (3, Insightful)

gjt (93855) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760023)

The margninal cost of providing the track to the user is a fraction of one cent per download. The artist maybe gets as much as five cents in royalties. Considering the markup and the constriction of the market by a few large recording companies, it's price gouging.

Coke does well, but doesn't nearly get that kind of a markup on a 20 oz. Coke. Coke has to pay for manufacturing and trucking costs. The retailer that sells the product then has their own labor and real estate costs.

Re:Price Gouging? (2, Insightful)

BigBir3d (454486) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760079)

15 songs at 99cents is still $14.85

no disc, no case, no jacket with said case.

still a waste of money, IMO.

prolly as much profit as selling cd's in the store too.

it is a step in the proper direction though.

i wonder if browser masquerading fools the system into letting you use it with opera or whatever?

Re:Price Gouging? (1)

retards (320893) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760082)

Yes, and we all know that people don't really need Big Label music, since there are so many easy ways for independent artists to put their CD:s in stores. I so glad we cleared it up: it's the consumer choice that there should be:

1. Bloodsucking agents
2. Resellers who whore for the labels
3. Almost no royalties for any artist, except the ones who are big enough to cause a ruckus.

I think there might even be a clause in the Constitution saying that the music business must make billions of dollars a year for a few shareholders or it will fail, and thus also, Western Civilization.

Out.

No thanks... (3, Interesting)

flirzan (133046) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759868)

Media that I can download only using proprietary software, and listen to only on the computer I donwloaded it on (what if I don't have/want a CD burner?)... I think I'll pass. It shouldn't be that difficult to get the point across that we will happily purchase music for download, as long as we're allowed fair use.

it's still a hassle (1)

newsdee (629448) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759869)

We have been buying for years CDs at the store, that we remix and reburn. When the songs were too expensive but popular, we taped them from the radio. However, we still bought enough music-related things for companies to make large profits.
All these years of habit makes me allergic to any kind of DRM implementation. If a company doesn't trust me to not violate their copyright, then I'll move my business to somebody who at least would get some benefit from it (free exposure for an unknown artist) and does not assume that anybody giving them money is a thief.

Missing Con's (5, Insightful)

Christopher Bibbs (14) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759871)

Must remember to surf with IE rather than a browser you prefer.

Must remember to download tracks only while sitting on a machine with a CD-R or CD-RW

Must remember to never let your machine die or be replaced. If you do, you'll never be able to reburn the audio.

Thanks, I'll stick with Slamjamz [slamjamz.com]

Re:Missing Con's (1)

MKalus (72765) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759953)

You forget:

Must use Windows (okay, that was sort of included in the IE remark).

Re:Missing Con's (2)

3am (314579) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760041)

That was childish, but will probably get modded way up for being so righteously indignant...

Right there, in the review, he says:
  • No player seems to be able to burn using a DVD burner.
  • Unable to use the service to purchase tracks using Mozilla.

And as for the 3rd: "Must remember to never let your machine die or be replaced. If you do, you'll never be able to reburn the audio." ... Considering how they allowed him to download the songs again for free (with his machine still in perfect working order) when he found out he couldn't used a dvd/cd burner, my guess is they would do the same for a person whose computer died.

Begining of the end for mass p2p sharing? (4, Insightful)

lorcha (464930) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759873)

I've always thought that the end of Napsteresque p2p sharing would be when the record industry released a reasonably-priced alternative. I mean, how much would you pay for a professionally ripped track from a high-bandwidth server found using a simple and fast search engine?

The pricepoint is a little higher than what I'd like to see, but this is definitely a step in the right direction for the music industry. Kudos to them for actually trying to solve the p2p "problem" by giving consumers (almost) what they want instead of trying to lock down every electronic device. It may be a clumsy interface, but it seems like a good first stab at a compromise between consumers' fair use rights and copyright holder interests.

Re:Begining of the end for mass p2p sharing? (5, Insightful)

mcwop (31034) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759945)

I agree on many points, but not as a p2p killer. Baby steps - a move in the right direction - but still very flawed:

  • Useless to a mac user
  • Songs are not already in mp3 format
  • email verification sounds annoying
  • song library is lame (for my taste at least)
  • Definately needs to be cheaper by the song with discounts for volume purchase

Re:Begining of the end for mass p2p sharing? (2)

LiquidAsphalt (627915) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760080)

I honestly think the end all of mass p2p sharing would be if the record industry purchased a familiar interface (Napster), spruced it up a bit, and make simple searching, and downloading of high quality mp3s then p2p would end. That plus the added benefit of no spy ware, and a cheap cost, like $5/month, and I honestly think people would pay that and the music industry would make a ton of money.

What the RIAA wants to hold on to is the mega $$$ they are making by selling CDs without any added benefits (DVDs including music videos, extra tracks, etc. etc.) and keeping the same profits. Sorry guys, times change, even kodak realized traditional film and camera are no longer the money maker and they adapted. For a big successful business, these guys really have no clue.

Ogg Vorbis (5, Interesting)

gjt (93855) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759875)

Wouldn't ripping the tracks from the CD into Ogg Vorbis defeat the track watermarking. I'm guessing that their watermarking technique is based on the properties of the MP3 algorithm, which would be diffrent in Ogg.

Re:Ogg Vorbis (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759940)

More importantly, is the watermarking removed when the tracks are converted to .WAV and then back to .MP3?

Re:Ogg Vorbis (3, Insightful)

Idaho (12907) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760068)

Wouldn't ripping the tracks from the CD into Ogg Vorbis defeat the track watermarking

So, let me get this straight...you are proposing to convert WMA->WAV->OGG to get rid of a watermark that supposedly *cough* doesn't have any influence on the music itself....and think you'll get a result that even resembles digital quality audio?

Not likely....

Btw. the first problem is that you got to have IE ofcourse...I have finally (after several years) deleted Windows entirely (after not using the partition for months and finally needing the space :), so I can't use IE, not to mention WMA files.

What's the problem with going to a story on winter (1)

$0.02 (618911) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759896)

A CD is still $9.99 (too expensive) and you even have to download it. The argumet is that one does not have to go to a store on winter. What's the problme to go to amazon.com, wal-mart.com, or similar stores on winter?

Re:What's the problem with going to a story on win (1)

Ehsan (606618) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760032)

Actually $9.99 is much better than being billed $16 [theregister.co.uk] for every album you ever downloaded from KaZaA!

Watermarking? (5, Insightful)

Patik (584959) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759898)

You can ... burn to CD ... copy the burned CDs, and use the CD to make MP3s. Keep in mind there is supposed to be some form of digital watermarking on the tracks though.
How are their watermarks supposed to stay intact once you use lossy MP3 compression?

Wow, this is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759904)

Good article, man. This little summary is a perfect microcosm of everything that makes DMA difficult to the consumer.

This article should be spread all over the place.. it would be great if as many non-computer-ultra-saavy people as possible could read this, and get the message "hey, lookit all the annoyance and trouble that this computer-saavy person had to go through just to get this corporate, DRM-tainted music to work. do you think you'd be able to handle that at all? and look at what they had to do because they couldn't exercise the fair use rights the law normally gives them-- the DVD-R player on their computer didn't work, but they couldn't transfer the music to their other computer to burn, so they had to re-download EVERYTHING. Once DRM becomes widespread, EVERYTHING is going to be this nasty and difficult. don't you think it would be good if you encouraged companies you buy from not to use DRM..?"

-- super ugly ultraman

Re:Wow, this is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759987)

lookit all the annoyance and trouble that this computer-saavy person had to go through just to get this corporate, DRM-tainted music to work. do you think you'd be able to handle that at all?

You've left out what the most important problem with DRM is: vendor lock-in. Because everything is based on secrecy and encryption, and not open standards, a given DRM file will work only with those programs blessed by the producer of the DRM file.

Ordinarily if you want to burn a CD, but the CD burner program doesn't work with your computer-- or is just too difficult for your grandmother to use, or something-- you can just get a different cd burner program, because all you need is a program that does the same thing. With DRM, you can't use "a program that does the same thing", you need the DRM producer's program or someone who licensed from them. (And licensing is unlikely to become too widespread with too many of the DRM "standards", because half the point of DRM is so that the producers of DRM-enabled-playback software can eventually gouge on their player software becuase they're the only ones who can produce it. (Witness the DVD consortum.. what, you think CSS is there to protect the movies? It's there to ensure no one makes a DVD player without paying the DVD consortum's licensing..)) It would be good if more people understood this.

Why only IE (0)

Kentamanos (320208) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759908)

I'm curious why it only works on IE.

Did they install any ActiveX controls on the page?

Or did they use encrypted javascript?

As far as I know, that would be the only REAL reasons they'd be that strict...

99 cents a track? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4759916)

That adds up to be about the price of a new CD. What a ripoff.

End of P2P (5, Funny)

jvmatthe (116058) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759934)

To quote the author:
After downloading the files I could not get any of them to play. ... For some time this confused me, then I tried clicking on a link provided in an e-mail that was sent to me to confirm my order. Well, they did not tell me this on the website, but clicking that link authenticated me to listen to the tracks. ... Whenever I'd try to burn a track, the Roxio software would die. ... So if you give the music to anyone else, they (UMG) are supposed to be able to know it was you who violated their copyright. ... So overall it was pretty frustrating making my first CD with this service

Holy cow!!! That's way too easy! At this rate, it sounds like they're going to have Kazaa and all the other P2P file sharing programs on the run in just a couple of months.

I guess that when we threw down the gauntlet and said "Ok, Music Companies, let's see some real innovation and get an easy to use, cheap, my-mom-could-use-it service for music" they went and did their homework. I bet my mom's already signed up, downloaded lots of tracks (on 56k), failed to burn copies, downloaded all the different players (again 56k), tried burning her music with them and failed, called support, copied the tracks to her other computer, failed to burn again, contacted support again, redownloaded the tracks again (56k, remember), and finally got them to burn so she could listen to them in her car.

It's that easy. Wow.

$9.99 is NOT price gouging (0)

freeefalln (541648) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759954)

Come on! How is 9.99 expensive?! I think CDs are more than worth 9.99. Has anyone else noticed the recent onslaught of cds being released as 6.99 - 9.99? best buy especially. i think its great. I am more than happy to pay 10 bucks for a CD. im not sure if labels are realizing that price does matter.

and by the way. Downloading songs per track sucks ass. This is a big problem i have with the current state of music, they only release songs. What i mean is, singles are pushed instead of the album as a whole. yea i understand the inability to puhs an entire album and the point is for you to buy it for the single. but some of the greatest albums i know of, are great because all of the songs as a whole, make up the record. like Jimmy Eat World's Clarity. that album from start to finish, flows. you dont have that when you listen to songs randomly.

Does the BBC know? (2, Funny)

front (159719) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759964)

"Hint: if you don't have IE handy, you might not find this service very friendly. "

Does the BBC know?

cheers

front

Great for windows users ... but (2)

joelwest (38708) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759971)

Sounds great for windows users...

I use Linux on all my boxen. No MAC user will be able to use this either as it requires DRM stuff.

Of course as they say.. if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.

Suicide (2)

fobbman (131816) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759983)

I know of no other industry who makes people work so hard to use their product. If only the quality of the product was enough of a carrot to justify the effort.

Technology Preview? (3, Interesting)

codeonezero (540302) | more than 11 years ago | (#4759988)

Sounds to me like they still need to work out issues before making it a service that the average Joe and Jane can use.

What kills it for me (but then again I'm probably not in the majority they are targetting) is the requirement of Windows 2k/XP and Windows media player...

Well its not like I'm downloading MP3s left and right anyways. Most of my music is bought at a store or via one of them music clubs...(Where you can get like 11 CD for 1 cent, so long as you buy 4 more at regular price in 2 years time...which if you play smart you can gets tons of CDs cheap, assuming you dont need the latest release)

Maybe by the time I get a broadband connection, these services will use a more open standard format, and the service will be a lot more flexible.

A price reduction would be nice, would encourage people to buy the songs the like from a website instead of leeching off gnutella or [insert favorite file sharing client/server here].

50 cents a song sounds good to me :) Maybe for a certain quality, and raise the price up from there for better quality encoding and/or more flexibility. (i.e. pay 99 cents and you can choose your format of choice to download...etc, pay $1.49 and get dvd quality audio...you get the picture :)

Maybe they can come up with better pricing though.

Hey I can get 4x6 photo prints of my digital photos for 50 cents from Kodak online services!
(Well yeah shipping is like $2.99 though hehe)

UMG Artists and Emusic (5, Informative)

slutdot (207042) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760007)

If you're looking for some UMG artists, try emusic [emusic.com] . Emusic is owned by UMG and contains quite an extensive UMG listing [emusic.com] . For $10/month, you get some UMG artists as well as really good indie labels. If you're into industrial a couple of the labels like Metropolis and Cleopatra are there.

Perfect for Apple (3, Insightful)

binaryDigit (557647) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760024)

This authors experience bodes well for Apple if they can get the licensing straight. If they can interface with these music sites and make them as easy to use as say the iPod, then they'd have a killer combo. Imagine being able to add tracks to your inbox, pay for them, click a button and have it download AND burn for you automatically. Or download/convert to mp3/shove it over to you iPod automatically. This could be another area where the Mac shines, again, if they can get the necessary buy in.

Except for Windows and IE ... (4, Funny)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760035)

This seems like just the solution I've been looking for. Oh, and the DRM and the problems with the DVD burner. Except for those four little things, this is it.

Must use IE? (1)

ToadSprocket (628571) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760049)

(insert typical "why the hell can't anyone write a decent cross browser page/app?" rant here)
I never understand why companies don't do things right the first time, or at least make an attempt to get it right the first time. First off, it sounds like they did next to no testing on this thing since the hardware support is so crappy. Second, why shouldn't I be able to take this music that I paid for with my money and play it anywhere I want to? Maybe that would be on my friends computer for shits sake. When I buy a CD from the store, I don't have to worry about that sort of BS, why should this be any different? What, because it came to me digitally (yeah yeah, maybe you can argue getting a CD at the record store gets to you digitally as well since the clerk uses his fingers to hand it to you, but get your digits out of your stank hole and stay with me here!) it is treated different? Good Hell, when are these companies going to get a friggin' clue about the world we live in today?

Damnit, I think I just gave myself shingles.

I'll mark you as a freind (2)

Jonny Ringo (444580) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760064)

So if I mark darnellmc as a friend, then he should be able to (with out any moral problems) share his music with me right? I'm mean how the the record industry get me because I share with my freinds :-)

Thanks /.!

Why not just buy the cd? (4, Interesting)

draed (444221) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760073)

i've found that with a little searching i can find the CDs i want, brand new, online for around $9-$12 shipping included.

some good sites to find cheap prices :
  • mysimon [mysimon.com]
  • is a good search engine that typically finds the cheapest prices for cds(and most everything else)
  • deepdiscountcd [deepdiscountcd.com]
  • has very cheap new CDs

More info on UMG's service (5, Informative)

no_opinion (148098) | more than 11 years ago | (#4760095)

I tried this service too. It worked pretty well for me, though I had to click the download link twice to get the file. Some comments:

1) they're selling the files in 2 formats, the Liquid format and Microsoft's WMA format. I tried both and the Liquid format only works in the Liquid player, while the WMA files will play in Winamp, MusicMatch, WindowsMedia Player, and others. WMA seems to be the default except in a few cases, so check your format before you buy (and you probably want WMA).

2) surprisingly, there are no burn count limits! When you download, the site tells you what the content usage rules are, and you get unlimited burns!!! Sure enough, I made a few burns of the stuff I downloaded and when I checked the properties, there is no burn counter (you can check the license properties on XP in the WMP).

3) portable device support is limited, but they've covered the major players. Again, this varies by format, but for WMA files you can use your Rio X00 or Creative Labs Nomad. I've got a Rio800 and it worked fine. Another surprise - no transfer limits!

4) I was worried about the audio quality, but the files sound great vs your typical kazaa download.

5) I found the different track prices confusing, but eventually I realized that not all of the content in the liquid store is UMG's.

So I found the whole thing to be remakably easy to use (I didn't have any of the download or burn problems mentioned in the original post) and I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of burn or transfer counts. The files do use DRM, but they've got relatively loose rules. My primary complaint is that the selection is still not fantastic. A bunch of things I searched for were not up. Anyway, it's a good start and I hope that the other music companies follow UMG's lead.

Music Royalties (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4760100)

I always hear about music lovers wanting to pay for music without all the hustles. They will continue to use P2P until purchasing music is hastleless (and reasonably priced). In fact...I bet some people would even pay for music which has already been downloaded by P2P to make amends. Why do these music industries try so hard to put DRM into everything? Let people pay for the music and do with it as they wish. Listeners are not stupid, they know they need to support the artists which they enjoy. Does there have to be so many restrictions? Is the music industry afraid that the music industry would die and we would have no more music? I doubt that would happen!

Who cares (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4760104)

Your OVER priced download bullshit! Jesus, what a fucking lame article. Did you write a PERL script to generate the excessive lameness? Someone needs to replace this guy! Do it now!!!!!
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