Jay-Z and Kanye Show How to Prevent an Album Leak in the Digital Age

Biometric fingerprints! Disabling of WiFi capabilities! Forcing hip-hop collaborators to actually do their work in person! These are among the steps Jay-Z and Kanye West took to prevent their new album, Watch the Throne, from leaking onto the Internet prior to its release date a week ago, according to Billboard:

Conceived during three iterations in Australia, New York City and Paris, "Watch the Throne" was kept secure by three core engineers -- Mike Dean, Anthony Kilhoffer and Noah Goldstein -- who disabled their computers' Wi-Fi at pop-up studios constructed in hotel rooms. Due to compromising hacker attempts for West's 2010 release "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," outside producers such as the RZA and Swizz Beatz were asked to appear in-person for works-in-progress -- no emailed song drafts were allowed.

To combat pre-release piracy, Kilhoffer, Grammy Award-winner for West's Graduation and John Legend's Get Lifted, claims that all sessions were saved offsite to hard drives in Goldstein's locked Pelican briefcase over the course of nine months. "Everywhere we went in hotels, we were locking hard drives and Noah took them with him," says Kilhoffer, who now travels with external memory units that can only be accessed by biometric fingerprints.

The technology, which Kilhoffer implements while traveling on West's current European tour, takes a live scan of one's finger to serve as key to access protected material. For less than $100, devices such as the Eikon Digital Privacy Manager and Zvetco Fingerprint Reader measure the finger's ridges and valleys with conductor plates, transmitting imprints through a USB cord to safeguard hard drive contents. While on the road, Kilhoffer and Dean are the sole gatekeepers to unlock the digital safes.

Read the full story at Billboard.biz.

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Spencer Kornhaber is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he covers pop culture and music. He was previously an editor at Patch.com and a staff writer at OC Weekly. He has written for Spin, The AV Club, and RollingStone.com.

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