[rumori] Bootleggers Use Hear Aid To Record

From: H. (hATweirdness.com)
Date: Mon Jul 31 2000 - 03:29:20 PDT


A system designed to help the hearing-impaired at concerts has provided
bootleggers with a new tool to make illegal live recordings of exceptional
quality, according to therecord industry.
    This latest wrinkle in the multimillion-dollar bootlegging
industry takes advantage of a federal law requiring arenas to offer
patrons use of an assistive listening device (ALD).
    ``We know through criminal investigations and informants that
this is a common practice,'' said Frank Creighton, senior vice
president of anti-piracy at the Recording Industry Association ofAmerica.
    Bootleggers can simply request an ALD headset, which provides a
high-quality feed of a live show via a low-level FM frequency
broadcast inside a facility.
    The music pirates then steal the headset feed, giving them
concert performances devoid of the usual bootleg problems such as
random crowd noise or distortion, Creighton said.
    ``The quality is much higher than a typical bootleg,'' Creighton
continued. ``No question about it.''
    Bootleggers are using the devices provided for the
hearing-impaired to record near-pristine versions of concerts by
veterans like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan plus a plethora ofnew acts.
    ``Every major act that's in the Billboard top 100 is getting
bootlegged in some manner,'' Creighton says.
    Advocates for the hearing impaired were appalled by the new
pirating technique. ``Oh my goodness! What concerns me is if this becomes
prevalent that the service is dropped,'' said Mercy Coogan of
Gallaudet University, the Washington, D.C.-based college for deaf
and hard of hearing students.
    ``That could prohibit a whole lot of hard of hearing people from
this very important mode of access.''
    Arenas are required to provide the ALDs under the federal
Americans with Disability Act, which marked its 10th anniversaryWednesday.
    Typical of the ALD bootlegs is an Aug. 22, 1999, Springsteen
concert from Boston's Fleet Center _ one of the most popular
illegal recordings of the Boss' E Street Band reunion tour,
according to Internet sites.
    The three-CD collection is advertised as ``soundboard quality,''
with various mentions that it was done via an ALD.
    ``If there (is) anybody who don't own a single boot, buy this,''
raved one bootleg buyer at a Springsteen site. ``The sound is so
good you'll think it's an official release!!!''
    Another enthusiastic reviewer offered this praise: ``The
instrument separation is outstanding and well-mixed, making this
set a joy to listen to.''
    The ALD rip-offs were news to officials at several major concert
venues from coast to coast, including the new Staples Center in Los
Angeles and the First Union Center in Philadelphia.
    ``We have the devices, but I haven't heard of this,'' said Ike
Williams of the First United Center in Philadelphia.
    Creighton says that arena policing is generally left up to bands
and their road crews; many groups, from the Allman Brothers to the
Dave Matthews Band, have encouraged their fans to tape and trade
live performances. The Recording Industry Association of America only
involved once the illegal material is manufactured and distributed,
according to Creighton. The association says that hundreds of
millions of dollars are lost annually through the various forms of
bootlegging, and this new technique should add to that total.
    ``They're plugging into soundboard feeds _ high quality,''
Creighton says. ``Those types of recordings garner the largest
bidders in the bootlegging underground.''


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