1. Open Letter to Trey

    brian on 2005.11.10
    at 07:15 pm

    Album Cover of Trey Ananstasio's 'Shine.'

    Dear Trey, *

    I’m writing you on my blog because you have no contact information at your website. Also, the topic of my letter is one that’s in the public eye at the moment.

    I’m very interested in buying your new solo album, Shine. However, I was very disturbed to learn that it is at the center of the Sony/BMG rootkit scandal.

    To those of you who are unfamiliar with the situation, Sony took it upon themselves to place “content protection” on their CDs. This “protection” is a secret and hidden piece of software that is installed on Windows user’s computers. The software is hidden in a place that your anti-virus software cannot see and is uninstallable under normal methods.

    I am, of course, not a Windows PC user. This program is totally impotent on my Macintosh, and I would thus be totally unaffected by this application on this disc. However, it is against my values to give money to support a company that would do such a thing.

    New reports are coming out as I write this that Sony does have a Mac version of this disabilitating malware, as reported on MacinTouch. (search “”) The application installs kernel extensions (kext)s which is generally looked down upon in software development as they are one of the few things that can destabilize a modern OS, if they are written poorly. To put it bluntly, they are a security risk. This only bodes poorly for the future of digital music.

    Update There has already been a virus written to exploit the rabidly insecure rootkit.

    For Windows users, this prevents their fair-use right to put their music on their own iPod, which is the world’s best and most popular digital music player. This is an outrage! What’s next? The disc will only play back on a Sony-made disc player?

    I will now, and forever more boycott the purchase of “content protected” physical media which prevents me from doing what I wish with in my fair use rights with media I have purchased.

    I know that your music is available from the iTunes Music Store, which uses a reasonable digital right management system which has never prevented me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do with my music.

    The down side to the music store, and the reason I don’t purchase all my music there, is the audio quality. To most people the 128kb AAC encoding is indistinguishable from the quality of CD audio.

    Some aficionados, myself included, can hear the loss of audio quality. Whereas this is acceptable to me in at least half of my purchased music for my collection, some artists whose music I purchase, I prefer lossless audio. These are my favorite artists whose music is most important to me.

    For these artists, I purchase CDs or download FLAC audio files from their websites. I then convert the music to the format an encoding I prefer, while archiving the lossless audio disc for future technologic advancements (for example, I re-ripped most of my collection to AAC and discarded my MP3s when it was clear by experiment that AAC had better audio fidelity while having smaller file sizes).

    My last purchase of this kind was the latest Dave Matthews Band release on DualDisc. This disc as well had anti-Windows copy protection, which did not affect me. Had I known the disc had this limitation, I would have seriously reconsidered purchasing this disc. I happily ripped the disc to my favorite file type and compression bit rate.

    So Trey, help. You are a trailblazer in digital music, in both your liberal taping and trading policies, and with your Live Phish project, of which I am a customer!

    Tell your record company that you don’t support them crippling your music. You don’t support them dictating how your fans listen to your music. They are literally loosing sales for you on your behalf (if you care to look at it in purely economic terms). I for one, will be telling everyone I know to not purchase these discs.

    Trey, stand up for your music!

    Thank you.

    Brian Christiansen,
    Musician, internet citizen, tech industry employee, and fan.

    *= Trey is Trey Anastasio, musical renaissance man and the former frontman for rock legends Phish. PS- please consider getting back together at least occasionally, boys!

    Posted in: Music


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