Hackers, Madonna mix it up
By John Borland
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
April 22, 2003, 12:21 PM PT
Madonna just can't seem to find peace on the Net.
After releasing the first single from her new "American Life" album online a few weeks ago, the Material Girl saw her Web site hacked last weekend, with links to pirated versions of her full album replacing the site’s content.
The hacker's attack appeared to be in response to Madonna's most recent, typically colorful broadside against file-swappers seeking free copies of her music. The singer has put files that appear to be versions of her new songs onto peer-to-peer networks that actually contain recordings of her saying, "What the f*** do you think you're doing?"
The hacked page, as sent to CNET News.com by several readers, had a message that read, "This is what the f*** I think I'm doing." It also contained what appeared to be links to the album's songs.
Parts of the site remained offline through midday Monday, but were operating normally Tuesday.
Madonna's war with hackers isn't unique, but it has been one of the consistent threads of the battles over online music during the past few years. Several other artists and groups that have complained about file swapping and have seen similar attacks.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been the target of repeated hack attacks during the past year, sending the site offline several times. Metallica, the hard-rock band that proved to be one of Napster's chief antagonists, had its site hacked at the peak of that controversy.
Madonna's release of fake files into file-swapping networks is an increasingly common way of combating Net piracy, even if her own twist on the tactic has earned her more attention. Several technology start-ups have built businesses around duping downloaders this way. In Napster's heyday, these false files were dubbed "Cuckoo Eggs" by one group of independent piracy fighters.
Madonna's publicist did not immediately return calls for comment, but told Reuters that the hack was genuine.