The New Yorker has ran a fascinating story about Bennie Glover, a (former) CD factory worker whose job involved packaging albums from some of the biggest artists in the world. Glover was considered the top leaker from the early, influential music/piracy group RNS—then called “the most pervasive and infamous Internet piracy group in history”—which leaked more than 20,000 albums.
Glover, who worked at the massive Kings Mountain compact disk manufacturing plant in North Carolina, was held responsible for leaking albums from around 2,000 artists, ranging from Blink-182 to Jay-Z to Fall Out Boy. Starting in the mid-‘90s, Glover’s leaking came at a time when the music industry was in a period of pure extravagance: CDs cost around $2 to manufacture and were selling for $18. Basically, major record labels had license to print money.
If you downloaded music during the Napster era, there’s pretty a solid chance some of it came from this guy. He served three months in jail. “RNS’s final leak, released on January 19, 2007, was Fall Out Boy’s 'Infinity on High,' sourced from inside the plant by Glover,” TNY reports.
Here are some interesting points from the story:
A look at the subculture of early music pirates:
“Also, he could share files. Online, pirated media files were known as “warez,” from “software,” and were distributed through a subculture dating back to at least 1980, which called itself the Warez Scene. The Scene was organized in loosely affiliated digital crews, which raced one another to be the first to put new material on the IRC channel. Software was often available on the same day that it was officially released. Sometimes it was even possible, by hacking company servers, or through an employee, to pirate a piece of software before it was available in stores.”
Inside Glover’s head when he started leaking:
“At work, Glover manufactured CDs for mass consumption. At home, he had spent more than two thousand dollars on burners and other hardware to produce them individually. His livelihood depended on continued demand for the product. But Glover had to wonder: if the MP3 could reproduce Tupac at one-eleventh the bandwidth, and if Tupac could then be distributed, free, on the Internet, what the hell was the point of a compact disk?”
Some of what he leaked:
“By 2002, the duffelbag held more than five hundred disks, including nearly every major release to have come through the Kings Mountain plant. Glover leaked Lil Wayne’s “500 Degreez” and Jay Z’s “The Blueprint.” He leaked Queens of the Stone Age’s “Rated R” and 3 Doors Down’s “Away from the Sun.” He leaked Björk. He leaked Ashanti. He leaked Ja Rule. He leaked Nelly. He leaked Blink-182’s “Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.”
Read the full story at the New Yorker’s website.