Posted by: willenvelope | June 26, 2008

Warning: You are being trusted.

The record industry is understandably concerned about illegal file sharing. One way that labels try to head off piracy is by creating “watermarked” CDs: The promotional copies they mail out are encoded with the recipient’s name, so if the songs later wind up on Soulseek, they’ll know who’s responsible. Here’s the language from a Peter Morén CD that I recently found in the Slush, courtesy of Quarterstick Records.

Sticker #1 (on jewel case):

You are being trusted with pre-release music that is not to be shared. DO NOT load this onto your computer until you have made sure that the folder your music program (ie: iTunes, etc) will place the files into IS NOT SHARED OR PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE. If you do not know what this means or how to do this, DO NOT PUT THIS CD IN YOUR COMPUTER. [plus a serial number and the music editor’s name]

Sticker #2 (on the spine, sealing the case shut):

This is a watermarked CD.

By opening it, you agree to not copy, upload, or share in any manner the contents of this CD.
[serial number, editor’s name]

Printed on the CD:

[Serial number, editor’s name]
This promotional CD has been watermarked and is uniquely traceable back to you, the authorized recipient. This CD is intended to be listened to solely by you, and it may not be sold, altered, copied, uploaded to the Internet, or made available to any third party.

By the unique watermark on this CD, the Copyright Owner is able to monitor use of its contents and identify the source of any unauthorized copies or internet leaks. The Copyright Owner will take appropriate action regarding any misuse of this recording.

Please be responsible and do not share the contents of this CD with anyone else. Peter Morén thanks you, and Quarterstick Records thanks you.

So, okay, I get it. Jeez. In Quarterstick’s defense, they’re a small label, they’re probably losing a lot of money, and they’re not the only company doing this. But is it really a good strategy to yell at the people who are supposed to help you? After being addressed repeatedly as though I’m either a child or a criminal, I didn’t even feel like listening to the stupid CD anymore. (Not that I’m technically allowed to anyway, considering I’m a “third party.”) Would Peter Morén really thank me for that?



  1. Spot on. Why would a reviewer want to reviews something that appears to have come from the inner sanctum of the White House? Don’t these companies get it?

    This might make sense if the rules applied to the latest Madonna or Coldplay album, or something the world was really gagging to hear. But who on earth is Peter Moron (sic) anyway?

  2. He’s from the Pitchfork-darling band Peter Bjorn and John. I have an illegal copy of their album “Writer’s Block” somewhere — thank God I didn’t pay for it. Downtown Wimpville.

  3. The proscription against “sharing in any manner the contents of this CD” is ludicrous. In *any* manner? That means don’t play it at a party, or in your car if you have a passenger or the windows are down, or in your place of business. What if the big-shot music editor wants the intern to review it? That’s sharing! Not allowed.

  4. Yeah, after I read all those warnings I would have felt kinda put off and not felt like listening to it either. But I guess small labels gotta watch their backs.

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