Dec 13, 2010

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Purchasing 4′33″ Outside the UK

The Cage Against the Machine campaign aims to make John Cage’s 4′33″ the number one single in the UK this Christmas. This is a campaign which I support wholeheartedly, and I wished to participate.

However, UK digital music vendors limit sales to computers with IP addresses actually in the UK. Here is a summary of the steps I took to purchase the album anyway. (Note that the operative word here is “summary”; some degree of technical skill may be needed to follow this procedure.)

WARNING: Even though this post explains how to purchase music, not how to pirate it, it is entirely possible—maybe even likely—that following the steps described here violates some terms of service agreement or is otherwise illegal.


Here are the steps I followed. You may need to vary them somewhat to suit your taste.

  1. Download and install Tor if you haven’t done so already. Set it up in such a way that you can browse the web anonymously. (Note that steps taken later in this document will completely break your anonymity.)
  2. Use Vidalia, Tor Status, or some other means to gather the fingerprints of a few reasonably fast exit nodes in the UK.
  3. Edit your torrc file to contain the following lines, and restart tor to make your changes take effect.
       1  ExitNodes $fingerprint1, $fingerprint2, ...
       2  StrictExitNodes 1
  4. Have your browser use tor, and verify that your HTTP connections are indeed coming from the UK.
  5. Visit 7digital’s Cage Against the Machine page and follow the steps there to purchase the single or the 8-track collection of remixes.
  6. You can sign up for an account using your usual contact details. On the payment page, make sure to use a credit card. It’s apparently okay if you leave the country on “United Kingdom”; just enter your US ZIP code (or other foreign postal code) in the postcode box. Do not attempt to pay with PayPal—logging in to PayPal through tor will apparently cause your account to be locked.
  7. After you have paid, you will be taken to a page with links to download your purchase. After you have arrived at this page, but before you click on the download link, disconnect your browser from tor.
  8. Now you can download the files without tor, conserving the bandwidth of the tor network and allowing your download to complete in a reasonable amount of time. (You’ve already completely destroyed your anonymity by providing your credit card number.)
  9. Remove the lines you added to your torrc and restart tor again, so that you will use any nodes in the network next time you use tor.

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