Hackers Have Field Day with Madonna Decoy

By | April 28, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Anyone who thinks they can control the Internet received an object lesson during the past week.

It all started when Madonna literally lent her voice to a popular antipiracy technique. Warner Music Group had audio files purporting to be her new songs uploaded onto peer-to-peer file-sharing services. Anyone who downloaded the decoys, however, heard nothing but the pop star swearing at them. But since then, the pithy profanity has taken on a life of its own.

Some observers thought Madonna was smart to fight piracy with its own tools. Others perceived a thrown gauntlet – hackers soon defaced Madonna’s Web site with an equally profane retort along with several downloadable files of the then-unreleased songs. The defacement also carried a marriage proposal to Morgan Webb, an associate producer and on-air presenter at TechTV who had nothing to do with the prank.

A third group saw a creative opportunity. “What the f– do you think you’re doing,” Madonna’s now-infamous phrase, is turning up in dozens of remixes and the computer-aided musical collages known as cutups or mashups.

Independent music community DMusic is now hosting a competition for the best Madonna-based track, with the first prize being a “boycott-riaa” T-shirt and stickers.

Links to other related tracks are being put together at http://www.iriXx.org/madonna/ and other sites.

“Madonna was trying to put one over on the kids… and they in turn wanted to let her know that she’s not in as much control as she thinks she is,” Webb said, adding that “coke, anger and boredom” were also possible motivators.

Madonna’s “American Life” was released Tuesday and is predicted to enter Billboard’s charts at No. 1, albeit with sales considerably lower than that for her previous album “Music.”

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