Hackers Insert Pro-Piracy Slant On RIAA Web Site
Hackers attacked the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) Web site yesterday (Aug. 28) for the second time in a month, dramatically altering several pages of content in what appeared toHackers attacked the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA) Web site yesterday (Aug. 28) for the second time in a month, dramatically altering several pages of content in what appeared to be a protest against the industry group's position on file sharing. The altered site was taken down within an hour but had not been restored as of 11 a.m. ET today.
"There is a problem with our site that we are fixing," RIAA spokesperson Jonathan Lamy said. "It should be back up shortly." He declined further comment because the matter was still being internally discussed.
It is the second time in the past few weeks that the RIAA's site has been assailed. The earlier episode used a much less sophisticated technique known as a denial-of-service attack, which basically paralyzes a site by sending thousands of connection requests that overwhelm its ability to respond.
Yesterday's incident was more than a simple defacement. Articles were replaced with properly formatted, grammatically correct satirical messages, and many of the links connected visitors with other material. The introduction page of the RIAA's Web site was changed to declare: "RIAA against music sharing? Not anymore!"
The fake copy went on to say that the RIAA's attempts to block file sharing are "yielding only limited results and in some cases may in fact be harming sales and the artists' revenue stream." It also apologized for "the heavy-handed manner" in which the Chinese file-trading site Listen4ever.com was shut down.
Every track from "Reanimation," the new Linkin Park remix album that is No. 8 on The Billboard 200, was available in downloadable MP3 form as a "token of its goodwill" at the bottom of the page. Visitors could also click on a working link to KaZaA Lite, home of a popular file-swapping software program, "if what you want isn't on the list."
The main page of the RIAA site also was replaced. Under "current issues," the first subject was changed to read, "Piracy can be beneficial to the music industry," and the link connected to an article on CNet.com about a statistical study with that conclusion. Other subject lines included "Inside the RIAA with ["South Park" character] Eric Cartman," "Adult Entertainment," and "Where can I find information on giant monkeys?"
Some recent actions by the RIAA have been controversial. Most recently, there was concern from privacy advocates regarding its legal action against Verizon Communications to get personal information about a subscriber who the trade group alleged was involved in illegal file distribution.
The RIAA's support of the bill sponsored by Reps. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) and Howard Coble (R-N.C.) also polarized many industry observers. That legislation would allow copyright holders to use electronic countermeasures, including some currently illegal techniques used by hackers, against peer-to-peer networks and their users.