Have You Been Punked By TOTC?

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For the last four years people have been downloading the latest albums of their favorite artists, blissfully unaware that they have been modified. From The Pirate Bay to OiNK, downloaders have been getting unique versions, unavailable in the shops, all thanks to The Overdub Tampering Committee.

TOTCAlmost everyone in the file-sharing community understands the concept and menace of fake files. Movies with adware or spyware attached or even music tracks that turn out to be completely blank. Fake files are always nothing but a menace – until now that is.

A group of musicians calling themselves ‘The Overdub Tampering Committee’ (TOTC) have just made a rather unusual announcement. For the last 3 years TOTC have been downloading newly-leaked albums from the internet and using them to create new versions of the tracks. They added their own instruments, and used additional production techniques in the style of the original recording, to create a subtle remix of the original.

Within hours, they then re-released the slightly modified albums back onto file-sharing networks and BitTorrent sites such as OiNK and The Pirate Bay. “If you illegally download music on the internet the chances that our work is in your collection is very, very likely! In fact, you might have a whole lot of us!”, they claim. In fact, ‘Polluting’ P2P networks with this music didn’t end the spread. TOTC have seen their works spread as far as radio stations. No prizes for guessing where they got it from.

It all started around 4 years ago, a member of TOTC downloaded an album only to hear that someone had tampered with it in the middle. This got them thinking: “What if this problem got more insidious, subtle, and widespread? What if there was a network of musicians who got a hold of albums right as they leaked, added subtle yet very much additional overdubs all over the album, and then re-leaked it to the internet?” That’s exactly what they have been doing for the past few years.

Even though the group seem to want to ‘pollute’ P2P networks with these ‘remixes’, they also dislike the music industry:

Attempting to police and punish “illegal downloaders” with lawsuits and fines is misguided and, in our opinion, a waste of time. This model treats the music fans as criminals. That’s an insane business model. But we expect nothing less than insanity from large, crumbling corporations. We do not know how the music industry will change in the next few years and we don’t know how a method will arise to ensure that musicians are properly paid for their recorded work. We have no solutions.

TOTC, who are all members of other active bands, say they have even released tampered versions of their own songs, and uploaded them to the Internet. “That was particularly fun for us.” they said. But what is the group’s opinion on file-sharing itself? They say they don’t think it’s wrong and download stuff themselves to test before buying on physical media.

So what was their motivation to do this?

“All we wanted to do was fuck with the treasure everyone’s hunting for to realign everyone’s perspective.”

We contacted TOTC for some additional information, but they haven’t replied so far. The Overdub Tampering Committee manifesto can be found here. (via Idolator)


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