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Audible watermarking


Miska

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So, just to get this straight, if I buy music legitimately from Universal, it has this added distortion, but if I download an illegal copy for free, it has a greater chance of being pristine, since presumably the pirates aren't watermarking?

 

This hobby gets weirder by the hour.

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Well, that explains why listening to Spotify gives me a headache, and I have been buying CDs rather than downloading DG releases. (*sigh*)

 

I thought it was just age related hearing loss.

 

This applies to HD downloads too, doesn't it? Oh poo...

 

-Paul

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat DAC.

Robert A. Heinlein

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  • 2 months later...

Since these watermarks are audible and measurable and in the region (1 to 4 kHz) that human hearing is perhaps the most sensitive, why is this getting less attention than the differences only a subset of us can hear and few can measure in various cables, etc?

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Since these watermarks are audible and measurable and in the region (1 to 4 kHz) that human hearing is perhaps the most sensitive, why is this getting less attention than the differences only a subset of us can hear and few can measure in various cables, etc?

 

The definitive is always less interesting than the controversial.

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

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I'm being thick here maybe but what is even the point of the water marking?

 

Is the idea that (for example) UMG can track that 27 downloads that were made illicitly have all come from Spotify and 17 have come from iTunes? Or is each copy water marked slightly differently to identify it to an individual user?

 

I'm glad I still prefer to buy a CD...

 

Eloise

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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... I'm glad I still prefer to buy a CD...

 

Some sources say that UME are also watermarking CDs, but I haven't found any specific CDs mentioned so it may be sloppy reporting.

"People hear what they see." - Doris Day

The forum would be a much better place if everyone were less convinced of how right they were.

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Most people aren't aware, but the broadcast audience ratings company, Arbitron, has been using a watermarking system for quite some time. Every station that is to be included in their survey is encoded with essentially a watermark unique to their signal comprised of tones masked by program material so that they are inaudible. A randomly (hopefully!) selected group of potential audience members in surveyed markets are issued Portable People Meters (PPM) that they wear daily. The PPM "listens" for watermarks continuously, so even if a wearer walks into store playing the radio as background music (illegal, by the way), the watermark is sensed, and a log entry created from which ratings data like day-part and time spend listening is derived. The PPM is placed in a charger unit each night, which also uploads that day's data to the server.

 

Broadcast stations encode their signals...all of them, AM, FM, HD, even their internet streams, with a unique watermark, so each can be identified an differentiated. What stations are encoded? Arbitron is trying for every audio service that might capture a measurable portion of the listening audience in a surveyed market. So if you're somewhere like New York, L.A., or Chicago, that's every station on the dial and their internet streams. But if you're in an isolated area where there are only a couple of receivable signals from small town stations, they may not be encoded (yet), though internet streams from major market sources would be. Encoding equipment is provided to stations at no cost, though the station must install it and keep it operating. Every signal or stream has a main and backup encoder, plus a monitor that confirms proper encoding. It's a pretty good sized stack of gear.

 

The long and short is, if you've listened to radio in the past decade, you've been exposed to the PPM watermark. So far, nobody's complained that it's audible. But now that I've told everyone here...oh well. Sorry, Arbitron!

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So, just to get this straight, if I buy music legitimately from Universal, it has this added distortion, but if I download an illegal copy for free, it has a greater chance of being pristine, since presumably the pirates aren't watermarking?

 

I've also read that the watermark was not included in downloads from Universal's own sites. I only have one download from Universal, Bohm's Bruckner 3 on Decca. I'll have to listen for this flutter.

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Most people aren't aware, but the broadcast audience ratings company, Arbitron, has been using a watermarking system for quite some time.

Fascinating. Thanks!

2013 MacBook Pro Retina -> {Pure Music | Audirvana} -> {Dragonfly Red v.1} -> AKG K-702 or Sennheiser HD650 headphones.

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  • 3 weeks later...
The PPM "listens" for watermarks continuously, so even if a wearer walks into store playing the radio as background music (illegal, by the way)

 

This is not true, at least here in the United States. If they were playing a CD, for example, it would be illegal, but playing a radio broadcast is perfectly legal.

I work someplace that sells stuff.

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This is not true, at least here in the United States. If they were playing a CD, for example, it would be illegal, but playing a radio broadcast is perfectly legal.

 

Not true (that it's not true) in the USA. There are specific exemptions, but it's Public Law No. 105-298, which amended 17 U.S.C. 110(5).

 

The exemptions are:

A food service or drinking establishment is eligible for the exemption if it (1) has less than 3750 gross square feet of space (in measuring the space, the amount of space used for customer parking only is always excludable); or (2) has 3750 gross square feet of space or more and (a) uses no more than 6 loudspeakers of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space; and (b) if television sets are used, there are no more than 4 televisions, of which not more than 1 is located in any 1 room and none has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches.

 

An other establishment is eligible for the exemption if it (1) has less than 2000 gross square feet of space; or (2) has 2000 or more gross square feet of space and satisfies the same loudspeaker and television set requirements as for food service or drinking establishments.

 

Clearly, the kind of installations exempted are either fairly small or far less than effective in delivering even sound or visual coverage to customers. In other words, if the business is small or the system is reasonably inadequate, then you're exempt. Another way to put it is, if the business is large and provide a well controlled experience for your customers with adequate video and sound for all, you are NOT exempt, and must pay royalties.

 

The situations can be legalized with proper licensing from BMI and ASCAP.

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I apologize for making a blanket statement. I went by the information on the ASCAP website that did not list the size restrictions for establishments playing the radio, so at the time of my post I believed it covered a broader range of locations than it does. Unless I misinterpret the rules, many small businesses fall well within these size restrictions.

I work someplace that sells stuff.

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Unless I misinterpret the rules, many small businesses fall well within these size restrictions.

Quite correct. However, it's also true that BMI and ASCAP do have enforcement agents, and they are as dogmatic as the IRS. The penalties for doing it wrong are huge, and frankly, 50 years of research into music for retail has proven that radio is a terrible source anyway. It's programmed to keep you listening, which increases their "Cume" and "TSL" for the ratings, which ties directly to their ad rates. Retailers or food service establishments don't want people distracted by music, they want it to be part of the experience. Music for retail, if done correctly, is programmed to inspire creative buying, create a mood for food or drink, or motivate the customer to do something...like eat quick and get out, in some cases. Radio fractures the mood all the time, and draws attention to itself by design. A good businessman would be careful to avoid fines, and choose music that is fine-free and accomplishes his business goal.

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Quite correct. However, it's also true that BMI and ASCAP do have enforcement agents, and they are as dogmatic as the IRS. The penalties for doing it wrong are huge, and frankly, 50 years of research into music for retail has proven that radio is a terrible source anyway. It's programmed to keep you listening, which increases their "Cume" and "TSL" for the ratings, which ties directly to their ad rates. Retailers or food service establishments don't want people distracted by music, they want it to be part of the experience. Music for retail, if done correctly, is programmed to inspire creative buying, create a mood for food or drink, or motivate the customer to do something...like eat quick and get out, in some cases. Radio fractures the mood all the time, and draws attention to itself by design. A good businessman would be careful to avoid fines, and choose music that is fine-free and accomplishes his business goal.

 

Interesting information. Does your familiarity come from your profession, or through some other source?

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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Interesting information. Does your familiarity come from your profession, or through some other source?

Actually profession(s). I've literally been on all sides of this. I've been a broadcaster, a record producer and engineer, I've licensed music from others, installed distributed audio systems, been a content creator and had my rights violated, and been a retailer who uses background music. The last one, retailer, led me deeper into the legalities of this than the others, and I found that non-licensed music use is rampant. I've been in huge multi-thousand square ft stores that play satellite radio and think they're just fine. But the goal of retail music providers is licensing, and sales of their service. Despite the fact that solid research into the effects and benefits of specific types of background music for retail has existed for decades, most licensed music providers ignore it and provide retailers with packaged music their clients ask for, not what they really need. For example, some of the worst music in retail is "oldies". Yes, people sing along...that's precisely what you don't want, though. They are reliving memories rather than thinking creatively.

 

But back on topic, I've installed the Arbitron watermarking gear at radio stations. So yes, all sides. But the side that gave me the greatest appreciation for the need for licensing and watermarking was being a content producer and getting ripped off. It was angering, frustrating, and humiliating. And I'm just a little guy.

 

That said, I do not support watermarking of any kind in recorded music purchased for personal use.

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  • 2 years later...
Since these watermarks are audible and measurable and in the region (1 to 4 kHz) that human hearing is perhaps the most sensitive, why is this getting less attention than the differences only a subset of us can hear and few can measure in various cables, etc?

 

I suppose, the watermark almost can't be detected by ears without comparison with non-waremarked original.

Though knowledge, what watermark (applied as distortion of audio stuff) in record is not good for me.

 

As I remember, at CD was used missing samples (bytes?), that computer is stumbled, but CD player interpolate and playback transparently for user.

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I think if someone wrote an easy app that displayed the watermark on recordings, this would gain much more attention. For example, just like people analyze their purchased recordings with the DR apps, if people could point a watermark detector app to a folder of music and see the output in a nice graph or something, people would be pretty angry.

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