Someone Is Stealing Tracker Songs And Selling Them
Today, in response to a tweet talking about old untitled song ideas, I mentioned that I had a strange file called “t.mp3” sitting in my downloads folder that had been there for years and have no attached metadata or hint as to where it came from. It appeared to be a complete recording of a chiptune song, and it sounded very nice, but I had no way of knowing the original source. To my surprise, someone else had heard the song and hunted down a source on youtube: S0 C1os3 - H4X0r.
But something was wrong. That video was uploaded in 2019. The file I had was last modified in January 2010, over 10 years ago, and for that matter it had been sitting in my downloads folder for almost as long. Perhaps the artist simply hadn't uploaded it to YouTube until recently? I decided to scroll through the comments, and discovered that someone posted the real name of the track: “So Close” by Floppi. I was even able to find the original XM file, and sure enough, it had been uploaded way back in 2003.
Now, some random person uploading an old song on youtube and trying to take credit isn't really that surprising, but this Youtube channel is special - it's a Topic channel, which is autogenerated from the Google Play Store. It even says in the description, “Provided to YouTube by DistroKid”. DistroKid is a music distribution service that automatically registers and uploads your album to all the major online music stores. I've used a similar service for my own albums, and do in fact have my own autogenerated Topic channel on Youtube, which is… kind of creepy, but that's besides the point.
The point is that someone has stolen 11 classic demoscene tracker songs and is selling them on every major online music store. The album is called “H4x0r R007z” and it consists entirely of blatantly stolen tracker songs lazily renamed using 1337 text, which usually means finding the original song is pretty easy. Because it was published via DistroKid, you can find it on Spotify, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, Deezer, iHeartRadio and it's been registered into the automatically populated copyrighted songs databases! That means the artist “H4x0r” could legally issue copyright takedowns for every other legitimate upload of the actual songs, or abuse Google's automatic fingerprinting system to force monetization on all of the videos and take all the income.
The songs that were stolen were often used in keygen cracking software that was popular in the 2000s to pirate software. Many people have noted that this was often their first introduction to tracker music, and this is likely the source of the name “H4x0r R007z”, even though the songs themselves usually had nothing to do with the hacker groups. The original tracker files are still available in the scene archives, and other Youtube channels have uploaded MP3 recordings of the songs with proper attribution. I was able to source 9 out of the 11 songs from the album, with the real name and artist, plus a Youtube or Soundcloud recording (if you'd like to play the original files yourself, you can use XMPlay).
- 0 Pr1m4ry
Real Name: “primary” by Ramosa
Original file: ramosa-primary.mod
Only exists on the H4x0r channel
Real Name: “Smurf-Esque ‘98” by AGAiN
Author Info: Made with FastTracker 2 by Three Little Elks (3LE): Android (Jonas Kapla) Ant (Anton Halldin), Coma (Daniel Johansson), Nude (Sten Ulfsson), Tabasco (Niklas Soerensson)
Original file: smurf-es.mod
- Vib35 F20m Pa57
Real Name: “Vibes From Past” by Fegolhuzz (Figge Wasberger)
Original file: fegolhuzz_-_vibes_from_past.xm
- Bra1n Wound
Real Name: “Brain Wound” by Ghidorah
Original file: bw.xm
- Hy8r1d 50n9
Real Name: “Funky Stars (Hybrid Song)” by Quazar (Axel Christofer Hedfors)
Author Info: Quazar is an old alias of Axwell, one of the members of the Swedish House Mafia.
Original file: external.xm
I was unable to source this song, possibly because the original song name was a mispelling of Dodecahedron
Real Name: “Sine-ister” by dreamfish
Original file: sineiste.mod
Youtube (Some recordings seem to have more clarity than XMPlay provides, but it's not clear if this was intended)
Real Name: “Automatik” by Rez
Original file: rez-automatik.mod
I was also unable to source this song, possibly due to spelling errors.
- S0 C1os3
Real Name: “So Close” by Floppi (Tero Laihanen)
Original file: intro13.xm
- 5or3 Po1nt
Real Name: “Sore Point”
Author Information: The original author of this song is unknown, although it was converted to .xm format for Infinitode 2. It was featured in several keygens made by AiR.
Original file: Unknown. Various conversions to other formats are available.