By Larry McShane
Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK -- A system designed to help the hearing-impaired at concerts has provided bootleggers with a new tool to make illegal live recordings of exceptional quality, the record industry claims.
This latest wrinkle in the multimillion-dollar bootlegging industry takes advantage of a federal law requiring arenas to offer patrons use of an assistive listening device.
"We know through criminal investigations and informants that this is a common practice," said Frank Creighton, senior vice president of anti- piracy at the Recording Industry Association of America.
Bootleggers can request a headset, which provides a high-quality feed of a live show via a low-level FM frequency broadcast inside a facility.
The music pirates then steal the headset feed, giving them concert performances devoid of the usual bootleg problems such as random crowd noise or distortion, Creighton said.
"What concerns me is if this becomes so prevalent that the service is dropped," said Mercy Coogan of Gallaudet University, the Washington, D.C.-based college for deaf and hard of hearing students.
The Recording Industry Association of America becomes involved once
the illegal material is manufactured and distributed, Creighton said. The
association says that hundreds of millions of dollars are lost annually