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CD Copy Protection Head Speaks 464

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the words-come-out-of-mouth dept.
Vonatar sent us an interview with the guy who is running the company that designed the copy protection being used in CDs that nobody really buys, and preventing people from playing CDs in their computers and DVD players. The article also mentions the first lawsuit about the record label not providing notice on the package. Anyway check it out if you're interested. There are some interesting bits.
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CD Copy Protection Head Speaks

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  • by Red Aardvark House (523181) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:21AM (#2363733)
    What it's meant to do is provide a speed bump to people who don't steal things, and wish to use them in the parameters that are suggested by the artists

    But what about the average Joe who want's to rip the CD for use on the computer, or a portable MP3 player? These are fair-use protected, as long as you do not distribute.

    And most average Joes lack the technical know-how to circumvent the protection, and even that is illegal under the DMCA.

    Copy protection is stripping away the last bits of fair use left. They're punishing all users for the actions of some.

    Most people do not like to lose their rights, even something as small as fair use.
    • From the top of page 2:
      Ours is the only copy-protection scheme that doesn't violate fair-use rights...We allow (people) to make copies for their own personal use: for their computer, for their compilation disc and for their MP3 player, so they can have portable use of their music. The only fair use that's left--and it's not fair use at all--is the "fair use" of sending thousands of copies to file-sharing services to be copied hundreds of thousands or millions of times. That's the only use we've limited and so that's not fair use; it's certainly not fair to the artist.


      Even if it's bullshit, either this guy or his PR agent has his head pointed in the right direction.

    • They're punishing all users for the actions of some.

      That's the effect of most criminal laws these days, unfortunately. Speed limits, gun registration, age limits on alcohol, etc.

      Does anyone think this was inevitable? Let's assume (in some mythical different dimension) that illegally-distributed music isn't a problem for the industry. Digital piracy, in this hypothetical world, is minimal enough to not alarm the record companies.

      Do you think they would go ahead and slip in these copy protection technologies for the hell of it...as a preventive measure? Meaning, do you think that regardless of the current climate, would the major labels have implemented these measures as time went along?
      • would people build giant walls around their huts if there were no predators or warring tribes nearby?

        the reason people build walls is to keep undesirable things OUT, and/or keep desirable things IN which they are afraid will go OUT.

        so if there was no fear of people taking value OUT, the companies would not be spending millions trying to build walls to keep those things IN.

        -sam
      • by Occam's Nailfile (522986) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:27PM (#2364291)
        Let's assume (in some mythical different dimension) that illegally-distributed music isn't a problem for the industry.

        Why don't we take that as a point in fact? The deluge of digital music available on the internet has not been followed by the collapse of the record industry. We do not see top 40 artists hanging out on the street pushing shopping carts full of pop cans. What we're seeing is a previously invisible economy of traded and shared music. Fifteen years ago, I did this with cassette tapes. Now it's done with mp3's. But the phenomenon remains the same. "Hey, check this tape out." If I like the tape, I go and make a conscious decision to buy into what the artist is selling. If not, I don't.

        Now that the economy of music-sharing is no longer invisible, record companies want a cut of the game. They don't yet understand that without the game of music sharing, there is likely no game of music buying. I get introduced to most of my music, most of my die-hard, must-buy-all-imports-and-special-prints artists because someone gave me a tape or (these days) an Mp3 of the music. I would not have even known most of these artists existed, or were worth checking out, if I hadn't had the "pirated" copy of their one of their seminal recordings given to me.

        They can't cut open the goose that lays the golden eggs without killing her. Culture exists as a free exchange of ideas. Putting gates at every point of exchange with the idea of collecting tolls is simply a guarantee that people will find other roads to travel. I don't understand why a multibillion dollar industry can't get enough, but I don't have any sympathy for them. They will soon find out how lucky they are to get any. I will not buy copy-protected CD's. I will take them back to the store and I will take my money elsewhere.

        • I will not buy copy-protected CD's. I will take them back to the store and I will take my money elsewhere.

          Since they do not play in certain devices, and there is no disclaimer indicating such, they can be considered defective product sold intentionally.

          We can vote "no" on this with our many happy returns.
      • Let's assume (in some mythical different dimension) that illegally-distributed music isn't a problem for the industry

        Right here, in this very real dimention, illegally distributed music isn't a problem for the music industry.

        At least that's what their bottom line says... they're making more money than ever. CD prices have remained high, despite the recently anti-trust investigations. Their one bogus study during the Napster hearings showed that sales were down, but only near colleges where internet-based ordering was significantly up. Other more indepentent studies, at least so far, have generally found that CD sales are increasing.

        Perhaps the "problem" is fear that future sales might be impacted, or some other non-profit definition of problem (like pride, control over the market, having new musicians by-the-balls, etc)

        Perhaps the "problem" is all those "lost sales" from people who heard the music without paying, but the truth is that this is nothing new... they had this "problem" when radio began, they had this "problem" when recordable cassette tapes appeared, etc.

  • by JMan1865 (223387) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:22AM (#2363739) Homepage
    It makes no sense - they guy SAYS that it can be broken - but it is meant to deter "casual copying". A bit like wrapping a chain around a bike without really locking it - to deter the "casual bike thief". But they bring up the DMCA - so until that gets thrown out, they have a good legal loophole with which they can go after anyone who manages to rip their CD's.

    And their big explanation is that the song title and artist don't show up, so therefore people can't copy them? Hell, I was copying CD's long before programs had internet lookup of CD's - I would rip the track - then label it...what a novel concept...

    • by mmacdona86 (524915) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:30AM (#2363806)
      It's not uncopyable because the song title and artist don't show up. It's uncopyable because the track directory information is unavailable (or odd-looking) to the computer so the computer does not think it is an audio CD. The question is if this can be got around in the player software or only by changing the CD-ROM firmware.
      • If the track directory information is not readable, does this not also make the CD unplayable in a computer CD drive?
      • Well, you certainly don't need copy protection mechanism to hide directory information from CD-DA. For example when I put a normal CD-DA in my Pioneer DVD-105 DVD-player Windows doesn't understand it as CD-DA. I cannot use this drive to playback music with any basic app. However, I simply start up CDex and I can get track names from CDDB and rip all titles without a problem.

        As long as these disks are readable they can be copied. Think about all the "interesting" stuff they use in CD-ROMs to prevent copying. Practically all current CD-ROM drives can read CDs in RAW mode - some can even read full subchannel information. When there's messed up stuff your CD-writer cannot write all the stuff similarly and CD-ROM copy protection is effective. On the other hand you could just burn audio tracks read in raw mode the way you want. As an added bonus, the disk quality is increased and minor scratches or something like that doesn't prevent you from listening your copy.

    • A bit like wrapping a chain around a bike without really locking it - to deter the "casual bike thief".


      More like hammering the wheels out of shape so that the bike would only works on out of shape roads which have been appoved...


      If they want to stop people copying CD all they have to do is put country and western music on it......

  • Gee... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Drizzten (459420)
    "The 53-year-old former on-air radio personality heads Phoenix-based SunnComm, one of dozens of digital rights management companies aiming to thwart would-be pirates from distributing copyrighted material over the Web."

    ...nice to forget about those of us who want to backup our CDs. I guess it doesn't bother this guy when his collection gets scratched over the years and slowly become unplayable.
  • no DVD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spav (36318)
    With DVD players becoming standard fare, how long do you think this practice will last? I only have a DVD player (in the computer and actual standalone unit) so that means that I'm screwed if I actually want to buy a CD anymore. Guess that means I'll have to turn on-line to find music, and we're right back where we started from. These record execs don't seem to understand emerging technology at all.
  • Go Vinyl! (Score:4, Funny)

    by quakeslut (107512) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:23AM (#2363747)
    Your records will still be playable long after your CD's have become obsolete.
    • Your records will still be playable long after your CD's have become obsolete.
      The needle doesn't track too well when you're driving, though. Also, you can't burn your own records (at least I haven't seen any "Vinyl-Recordable" or "Vinyl-ReWritable" drives for sale lately).

      (FWIW, I usually don't play CDs in the car either...tape is good enough, is easier to handle, and you don't have to worry about scratching it.)

    • You jest, but isn't the "fair use" provision on these CD's either:

      • Jump through hoops to prove that you should be allowed to try and download a crippleware copy-controlled version; or
      • Create an analogue tape, just like grandpappy used to do it.

      Mind you, I could be mistaken. This article doesn't address what they think "fair use" is, and it could very well be that wiring a 3.5mm jack from your CD walkman to your line in might be viewed as "circumvention of a copyright protection device" under the DMCA, even though there's an analogue step in the middle. It sounds risible, but have you read the DMCA recently?

    • Re:Go Vinyl! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mad_clown (207335)
      Your records will still be playable long after your CD's have become obsolete.

      The scary thing is... you're probably right! Thank god for vinyl. Classic rock always sounds better on vinyl than on CD anyways, if you ask me!

  • Artists' choice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jedwards (135260) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:23AM (#2363750) Homepage Journal
    What it's meant to do is provide a speed bump to people who don't steal things, and wish to use them in the parameters that are suggested by the artists

    Hands up those who believe the artist gets a say in whether their CDs are rendered unusable or not?

    Their whole "we are designing the software for the 99 percent of the people who don't want to steal the music" argument is nonsense; it doesn't benefit them.
    • Re:Artists' choice (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SlashDread (38969)
      ""Their whole "we are designing the software for the 99 percent of the people who don't want to steal the music" argument is nonsense; it doesn't benefit them'.""

      Devils argument: By reducing theft, they can lower prices, leading to happier real customers.

      Gr /Dread
      • Devils argument: By reducing theft, they can lower prices, leading to happier real customers.

        How much would you like to bet that by implementing copy protection, they will increase prices?

        Didn't I read something about a $200 million per year revenue stream from this?
  • Quick Question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FortKnox (169099) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:23AM (#2363752) Homepage Journal
    ... if it doesn't work on your computer, can't you just take it back to the store and say "it doesn't work, I want to exchange it"?
    • Re:Quick Question... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Shadow99_1 (86250)
      Sadly no... I have worked (recently) for a store who's policy is they do not except CD's back once opened... Hence If you open the CD, try it out on your PC & it doesn't work tough. Once you have purchased it, you own the CD & they don't want it back. You can't exchange, you can't return... You are screwed.
      • The Trade Descriptions Act in the UK should mean yes, you can do this. The product isn't what it says it is, i.e. a CD by the whatever-they-are standards. If it was, you'd be able to play it on a CD player. QED.

        Tom.

      • They won't take back defective product? I'd love to know the name of this music chain. That's insane.

      • If the disc is labeled with the compact disc logo, it's supposed to be compliant with the specification. If it is not compliant (and NONE of the copy protected stuff is...), it's either fraudulently labeled or the disc is defective.

        Run this one past them- do they willingly sell defective products? If they don't make the above point to them and see how fast they give your money back to you. They NEVER want the impression of knowingly selling fraudulent or defective products to the consumers. Bad for business and could bring on lawsuits like the one against these people on them.
  • by melquiades (314628) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:24AM (#2363758) Homepage
    From the article, it sounds like they do allow some ripping:

    Ours is the only copy-protection scheme that doesn't violate fair-use rights...We allow (people) to make copies for their own personal use: for their computer, for their compilation disc and for their MP3 player, so they can have portable use of their music. The only fair use that's left--and it's not fair use at all--is the "fair use" of sending thousands of copies to file-sharing services to be copied hundreds of thousands or millions of times.

    I'd like more detail on this. The only way I can imagine them accomplishing what they desribe is having some proprietary app "unlock" the CD. That, of course, would limit the fair use of playing the CD on your favorite non-standard OS. But I'm only guessing.

    Does anybody know what their technology actually does? How does is copy protect if you can download (presumably unprotected) MP3s to your portable player?
    • Based on their first CD that they tested, I think they allow you to download protected digital copies off their server, provided you have the CD. The article also mentions that you can make six copies of the music.

      While I don't necessarily like this technique, I have to admit that it at least tries to recognize fair use rights.

      Also, one of things the lawsuit was over was requiring registration to download the music.

      • If you're right about how it works, and if record labels go for this scheme, it would be painfully ironic ... since what you're describing is almost exactly what they tried to sue mp3.com out of existence for doing.

        Their legal arguments notwithstanding, it seems to me that labels don't actually object to the new mp3.com/napster/etc. technologies at all; they just want to go on owning everything in sight.
        • If you're right about how it works, and if record labels go for this scheme, it would be painfully ironic ... since what you're describing is almost exactly what they tried to sue mp3.com out of existence for doing.

          Not quite. MP3.com was sued for allowing people to download music without the copyright holders' permission. Presumably these guys have worked out a deal giving them permission to do what they say.
      • by Jeremi (14640) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:12PM (#2364188) Homepage
        From the interview:


        Our technology is not thief proof. What it's meant to do is provide a speed bump to people who don't steal things


        So it won't stop the pirates, and will inconvenience the honest folks. Sounds like a real winner! :^P

      • I think they allow you to download protected digital copies off their server, provided you have the CD

        What in the world is a "protected" digital copy? Jacobs later talks about setting up some kind of monthly fee music service that will dispense wares "of lesser quality, like MP3 quality," as if MP3s were inherently inferior. Is access to poor quality junk his idea of fair use? Once I have that piece of junk, what's to keep me from making as many coppies as I feel like?

        This is just more of the same BS from the people who once held a five company oligarchy over the publication of popular culture. It's over and all these efforts to turn back the clock are doomed to fail. I'm not going to buy it, and most people already don't. It's 2001, but the airwaves are filled with the same old music you grew up with or the radio station goes bankrupt. Why can't these clowns figure out that demand is low because their product sucks?

  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by c_monster (124327) <chris@globalspin.com> on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:26AM (#2363774) Homepage

    "From our standpoint, we are designing the software for the 99 percent of the people who don't want to steal the music... not for the 1 percent who are going to take the lock cutters and cut the lock off and steal music in an unauthorized way."

    If I'm hearing this right, he's basically saying, "Our product doesn't keep people from stealing the music, it just causes hassles for folks who buy music and want to listen to it on their computers."

    Where's the reason in that? Who exactly is getting protected here?

    ~chris

  • Flame-On (Score:3, Funny)

    by CyberGarp (242942) <Shawn&Garbett,org> on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:26AM (#2363777) Homepage
    "Still, consumers have not warmed up to the idea of copy-protected CDs."

    Hmmmm. I thought we were flaming this idea pretty heavy. Need to switch to Thermite.
  • Huh? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Q: Do you believe that copy-protection schemes violate fair-use rights?
    A:Ours is the only copy-protection scheme that doesn't violate fair-use rights...We allow (people) to make copies for their own personal use: for their computer, for their compilation disc and for their MP3 player, so they can have portable use of their music. The only fair use that's left--and it's not fair use at all--is the "fair use" of sending thousands of copies to file-sharing services to be copied hundreds of thousands or millions of times. That's the only use we've limited and so that's not fair use; it's certainly not fair to the artist.


    I'm confused: I can play this on a PC, I can rip it, I can make MP3s. How does the protection scheme actually stop copying? Did I miss something?
    • You can't rip it or play it directly. You put the CD in your drive and it sends you to a site where you can download a player / ripper / copier (or already-protected digital copies) which limits how many times you can copy it or whatever.

      As someone else posted, it at least TRIES to recognize that fair use, while trying to limit piracy.
  • Holy Shit (Score:4, Funny)

    by BiggestPOS (139071) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:27AM (#2363782) Homepage
    : The technology that we sell is a padlock to music. If you have a lock cutter, a bolt cutter, you can cut that padlock off. If you're determined to steal the music, the music can be stolen. Our technology is not thief proof. What it's meant to do is provide a speed bump to people who don't steal things, and wish to use them in the parameters that are suggested by the artists...If you give people what they want with respect to their ability to copy the music in ways that they think is reasonable, they will not ever attempt to circumvent the technology. Only hackers will attempt to circumvent the technology in order to prove that it can be done. We're not designing the technology for them.

    Hes fucking kidding, right? The manner suggested by the artist? So when we listen to a Prince CD we have to wear womens clothing?

  • by Monthenor (42511) <monthenor AT gogeek DOT org> on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:28AM (#2363792) Homepage
    ...that this guy has fallen into the same trap that most of the media has recently. They believe that the standard model of CD, hard-copy distribution is the ONLY model, and the model that artists want. He seems to take it as given that CDs are the divinely-ordained format for music, that the evolution of players has come to an end.

    I hope he goes bankrupt, but not necessarily because he's trying to protect music. It's because he's protecting CDs.

    I, of course, used a few p2p music sharers in my day, but you know what? I've filled out everything I want on my playlist, and aside from must-have stuff like the new Cake album, it doesn't change much anymore. On top of that, I bought more CDs after getting Napster than before...it's not a matter of already having the album for me, it's a matter of finding an ENTIRE ALBUM OF GOOD SONGS. If the record labels didn't rush out half-finished crap and charge almost $20 for it, I'd buy lots more CDs...
  • The article specifically adresses the fair use clause, and how SunComm belives that they have addressed the issue of fair use by limiting the number of copies made.

    I think this is going to run them into the ground just as the Ebook. They just made the number higher -- by saying you can make six copies instead of two. Granted, it will take longer for people to screw up their machines to run out of their six copies, but the hard limit on the number of copies is always going to run into the same problem -- too low and the consumer is angry, too high and the consumer will give said copies away just to stick it to the industry.

    The greater issue -- it's likely that technology can not solve this problem reasonably. Furthermore, the DCMA is not enforcable -- they are going to use it in select cases to scare people into abiding by it. Perhaps, the recording industry should look to create a culture where *gasp* neither the performer nor the consumer feels like they are getting screwed over.

  • by Jburkholder (28127) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:30AM (#2363807)
    Still an unanswered question: do these 'copy protected' CDs still conform to IEC 908 and can they be legally marked with the compact disc digital audio emblem [gnscd.com]?
  • by TheSHAD0W (258774)
    Y'know, when I heard Michael Jackson's new single was being distributed on a copy protected CD, I immediately hit the Gnutella net looking for pirated copies. Of course I found several dozen.

    I just took another look; it is now several hundred.

    CD copy protection won't help prevent music piracy; a few people will always be able to break the protection, and everyone else will download from them. The only people this will inconvenience are the poor schlubs who only want to listen to the song on their Rio players.
  • yet.

    what happens when we don't have a fucking choice? Fair-use seems to be on the way out. What are we going to do when it is all gone?

    :( we are going to be forced to buy this shit. Then what do we do?
  • by sting3r (519844) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:33AM (#2363838) Homepage
    the company that designed the copy protection being used in CDs that nobody really buys

    Don't let this lull you into a false sense of complacency. It's just being beta tested right now (except for Universal Music). When not enough people complain anymore about not being able to play CDs on their computers (and they will give up soon), some sort of copy protection will show up on every CD ever manufactured.

    On the plus side, copy protection is always an arms race and the hackers have the upper hand. Remember when Copy II Plus came out for the Apple II and it could break every single media-based copyprotect scheme that existed at the time? There is still hope.

    -sting3r

    • And copy protection on computers was a much easier deal, because you didn't have to maintain compatability with billions of existing non-programmable devices.
    • We may (or may not) have the upper hand technologically, but we DO NOT have the upper hand legally. The RIAA does. Ripping a protected CD will likely get you sued and/or prosecuted.

      Also, the copy/use restriction technology appears to cause the CD drive firmware to prevent the PC from even getting the bits. So a software hack wouldn't work.

      In which case, a CD maker which modified their firmware (which is what it would take to have the CD be rippable) to allow the PC to read it would very likely face CRIMINAL charges, including massive fines and 5 years in prison.

  • Worthless? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by supabeast! (84658) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:33AM (#2363843)
    From the interview -

    "From our standpoint, we are designing the software for the 99 percent of the people who don't want to steal the music but instead (want to) use it for whatever means--for whatever personal use that's allowed by the artist and the record label. The software was designed for those people, not for the 1 percent who are going to take the lock cutters and cut the lock off and steal music in an unauthorized way."

    So this software is designed to reign in the people who do not "steal" the music anyway? Does that not make this method of "cooy protection" pointless? It seems to me that this guy just admitted his company is ripping off record companies by selling them copy protection schemes that are really no good.
    • Indeed. The obvious ponderable here is how does most music start spreading through p2p systems anyway? A relative few people who got a copy of the album, legally or otherwise, encode the music and release it into the pool. The 99.9% (or whatever) of users that the guy says his product does not effect aren't the ones doing any illegal ripping anyway. So you're just adding an extra step into the initial "release" process, after which services like Aimster can continue to function like before. Assuming this extra step is a solvable software problem, this protection scheme will do nothing to stop p2p copying.
    • Re:Worthless? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Keith Russell (4440) <keith.russell@noSpam.gmail.com> on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:12PM (#2364486) Journal
      So this software is designed to reign in the people who do not "steal" the music anyway?


      That's right! They are, in essence, criminalizing fair use. Here's the world that exists today:

      1. Consumer buys non-copy-controlled CD.

      2. Consumer rips said CD.

      3. Consumer uses CD and MP3s in legal, non-infringing ways.

      4. Pirate buys same CD.

      5. Pirate rips said CD.

      6. Pirate shares MP3s on %p2p_network%.

      Notice how Consumer and Pirate never have contact, nor do they need to. Now watch what happens when the CD becomes copy-controlled:

      1. Consumer buys copy-controlled CD.

      2. Consumer tries to rip said CD, and fails.

      3. Consumer gets mad.

      4. Pirate buys same CD.

      5. Pirate rips said CD using DMCA-banned circumvention device.

      6. Pirate shares MP3s on %p2p_network%.

      Now, the Consumer has some options:

      1. Capitulate to the CD's given digital media scheme, if any.

      2. Do without.

      3. Stop buying CDs.

      4. Logon to %p2p_network%, and download Pirate's MP3s.

      Two acts of defeat, one act of sacrificial defiance, or a Federal offense. Wow, this is a brilliant business plan. No wonder CDs cost so much. RIAA's members need those profits to pay guys like Peter Jacobs the Big Bux.
  • the article claims that the software is for the 99 percent of the customers which aren't 'hackers'. i would guess that more than 1 percent of the customers would try to pay the CD in a CD-ROM or DVD, etc. although it's hard for me to think about such things, as almost everyone i know has a computer.

    but, having said that, even my parents use their computer to play CDs now. my wife's grandparents use their computer to play CDs. these are not 'hackers'.

    -sam
  • This guy has a job which is to provide a service to companies. Obviously there is a demand for this type of service. He didn't invent the demand, he merely responded. It sounds to me that he's just doing what economics demand--meet needs.

    We rub our greedy little hands and scheme how we can get around this new tool when what we should be doing is pressuring record companies who are demanding this type of protection. We should be economically sanctioning the companies that participate in creating rules that shackle fair-use. Don't buy the Michael Jackson album that has the protection (as if we would)...

  • by Lxy (80823) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:41AM (#2363902) Journal
    A: The technology that we sell is a padlock to music. If you have a lock cutter, a bolt cutter, you can cut that padlock off. If you're determined to steal the music, the music can be stolen. Our technology is not thief proof.

    Umm... so let me get this straight. Those who want fair use (downloading it to their Rio, whatever) can't have it. Those are determined to pirate the music pull out their bit cutters and rip the CD. So basically, you've accomplished the exact opposite.. fair use is discouraged, but piracy is still possible. I think somebody missed the point.
  • by sg3000 (87992) <.sg_public. .at. .mac.com.> on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:41AM (#2363909)

    I love the quote from the article:

    The technology that we sell is a padlock to music. If you have a lock cutter, a bolt cutter, you can cut that padlock off. If you're determined to steal the music, the music can be stolen. Our technology is not thief proof.

    So this guy is selling a technology that won't stop thieves, but it will stop users from legitimately copying music from their CDs to their computer hard drives? It sounds like they're tacitly admitting that they're using the guise of "piracy protection" to do what they really want. That is to make music more like software -- eventually if you want to play it in your car and your home stereo, buy two copies of the CD!

    There are plenty of legitimate reasons to be able to load software onto your computer:
    * I have a FireWire hard drive that I use to store all my music, and it's available to all my computers (including across my AirPort wireless network)
    * Even within my house, having a hard drive with random access to my entire collection is better than some slow CD jukebox with a crappy UI
    * I've had CDs go bad that can't be read (older ones with a lot of paint on them) or have gotten scratched. A copy of the songs on a hard drive provide protection against that degradation
    * When I'm travelling, I don't want to bring audio CDs with me. It's easier just have songs on the hard drive

    Simply put, I will not buy any CDs that can't be read on my computer -- normally. Some silly copy protection scheme that calls up Microsoft to confirm my credit card receipt every time I want listen to a song doesn't count.

  • Our technology is not thief proof. What it's meant to do is provide a speed bump to people who don't steal things, and wish to use them in the parameters that are suggested by the artists...If you give people what they want with respect to their ability to copy the music in ways that they think is reasonable, they will not ever attempt to circumvent the technology. Only hackers will attempt to circumvent the technology in order to prove that it can be done.

    What in the world does that mean? To me he seems to be saying that he's trying to prevent law abiding, honest people from making a backup copy with poorer sound quality (MP3) on their computer or portable MP3 player, but he's doing nothing to stop the "hackers" who will steal the music and then publish it on the web... this seems ridiculously backwards. I think it's awful that record companies and the music industry are moving towards not allowing indivuduals to make digital backups of their cd's. Is this an attempt to stop people from making a CD with all of their favorite songs on it from their album collection, so we'll be forced to buy those cheezy greatest hits albums off TV? Apparently they don't care if people steal the music and distribute it all over the place, but if you're just a normal person who doesn't "wish to steal things," they don't want you to be able to use what you purchased. I sure hope somebody stops this.
  • This is typical geek issue that's being blown way out of proportion.

    What do 99% of all CD buyers do with CDs? They listen to them in CD players at home and in the car. Then there's the 1% of people who put audio CDs in their CD-ROM drives. Some of those people are actually listening to them at work using their $2000 computer instead of a $50 CD player. Most of them, though, are ripping the files, especially from CDs that they borrowed from fellow office workers or dorm mates.

    The bottom line is that record companies aren't doing anything that interferes with what CDs are designed for. The people who are complaining are, as is the norm for these kind of topics, cash-poor students who use ripping as a primary method of getting new music. You can try to bring up other exotic justifications ("making mix CDs"), but they're too irrelevant to bring up. This cannot be considered any kind of breach of civil rights. Heck, if you want to record a friend's copy protected CD on to audio tape, no one is stopping you.
    • Actually, i rip all my cd's and burn them into mp3 cds. My car audio player is a mp3 player.

      I hate swapping cds.

    • by Uttles (324447)
      You can try to bring up other exotic justifications ("making mix CDs"), but they're too irrelevant to bring up.

      Huh? Have you bought a CD in the last 5 years? There's only one or two good songs on each album these days, if you're lucky. Not everyone out there can afford a 125 disc changer for their car, so us commonfolk get a cd burner and take all of our CD's and create our own CD's with the songs we actually WANT to hear. The record industry is just a bunch of bastards who want to continue to produce crap at the rate of as much as possible per day (just look at Cash Money Records as an example - the day after Juvenile's first song got really big there were 15 albums out by Cash Money, and they all sucked.) Anyway, letter of the law aside, the moral obligation of the music industry is to entertain people for a price, and if those poeple pay that price then they should be able to use what they buy, as long as they don't try and sell it to others.
    • I actually rip my entire collection to a server, categorise them into groups, and then stream them back into my stereo. This is a hell of a low nicer than individual CDs, as my entire collection is on tap instantly, and I can easily run out random playlists in certain genres if I feel like listening to "random noisy guitars" for a few hours.


      I virtually never download mp3s, because the quality is too low for my tastes, and the few tracks I have heard (and liked) online I've ended up buying the CD so I can rip them myself.


      If you really believe that the only people affected by this are "cash-poor students" then you haven't thought about the issues. There are plenty of legitimate reasons why this will piss people off, not just limited to my own case.

  • by dstone (191334) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:51AM (#2363991) Homepage
    SunnComm embeds a technology, called MediaCloq, into a CD to make the CD's directory structure invisible so it cannot be read by a personal computer. For instance, the names of the tracks do not appear on a computer's screen, and as a result, the music cannot be ripped and transferred to a desktop.

    I'm at a loss for words. Never before have I read such an elegant and technically accurate description of the ripping process. :-P
  • I was expecting some evil severed head to be the focus of this piece, given its title.

    Oh well, we may feel like these things are created by giant, evil aliens deep in the earth's crust sometimes...
  • The technology that we sell is a padlock to music. If you have a lock cutter, a bolt cutter, you can cut that padlock off.

    There's that bullshit analogy again. Well duh, I'm going to cut the lock off anything I buy and put in my own home. If I bought a 2-slice toaster and it had a lock across one of the holes (upgrade to our Professional Toaster Pro and get the key) there is an incentive for me to cut it off!

    Combine that with the fact that "Software encapsulates skill" as Bruce Schneier (sp) says, and everybody who wants to, will cut the lock off. Painting people who do this as hackers is missing the mark.

    Of course let's not forget, bolt cutters ARE PERFECTLY LEGAL to own and use in your own home. Of course you can commit a crime with them but you will be punished for your crime, not for owning bolt cutters!

    Actually if I got one of these MEDIA-COCK CDs I would probably just return it and then Napster myself a copy. Or smash it to bits and mail it to Peter Jacobs.

  • If you're determined to steal the music, the music can be stolen. Our technology is not thief proof. What it's meant to do is provide a speed bump to people who don't steal things, and wish to use them in the parameters that are suggested by the artists...

    I'm confused. Is this an out-right lie or a really bad analogy?

    First of all, I just have to state that I am very offended that I am being labelled as a THEIF simply because I would like to exercise my fair use rights.

    Second, it's not just a "speed bump" against my fair use rights. A "speed bump" would mean it merely slows me down. This "speed bump" is an assault on my rights and an insult to my character. It also makes me a felon under the DMCA and I'm definitely not down with that.
  • Speed bumps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petros (47274) on Friday September 28, 2001 @11:58AM (#2364066) Homepage
    I find the speed bump analogy in the interview interesting, because speed bumps are also devices that punish the legitimate users. Doesn't matter how slowly you drive over them, you're still being punished. Sure, they might discourage someone from driving like crazy, but the people that we going to are probably just going to drive really fast between bumps and slow down at the last minute.
  • He's _hoping_ to make $200 million a year off the music industry? That's it?

    I hope he starts to realise how much money goes into the coffers of the large music houses compared to his and the artists' and starts thinking about telling them to drop the price on CDs a little. Now _that_ would help copy protection issues.
  • Yeah, this guy is a real hero to the recording artists out there. Check this statement out:

    "Yes, I have. I've used Napster, and both my kids have used Napster."

    What this guy is saying is that while he was downloading Jim Nabor's songs during his permanent unemployment from the DJ business he realized that those recording industry executives probably didn't like this whole file sharing thing.

    Being that most of these execs are still convinced that there is a really small needle that is used to play compact discs he realized that there is probably a lot of money in creating a "copy protection scheme" for audio CD's using a technology that uses a lot of technojargon with just a hint of smoke and mirrors .

    By the time this copy protection gets bypassed by someone in his youngest childs daycare class he would have already pocketed hundreds of millions of dollars and can then work on the latest release of his product which uses higher quality mirrors and a different color smoke.

    Bravo to him for moving from turntable flunky to recording company fleecer.

    Oh, and a correction. Those aren't speedbumps, those are the folks that are buying CD's and trying to use them in a legal fashion.

  • by naasking (94116) <naasking @ g m a il.com> on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:19PM (#2364240) Homepage
    Only hackers will attempt to circumvent the technology in order to prove that it can be done.

    Those nefarious, evil bastards.

    We're not designing the technology for them.

    Oh, good. So I guess it's ok if we break it then. Yoink!

    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits users from circumventing copy protection. It's now a crime in America to do that. Having said that, it's certainly up to the record companies to decide how they're going to manage hackers that circumvent the technology in the future.

    And all this time I thought that it was the legal system's job to deal with law-breakers. I stand corrected: I guess the record companies are now charged with handling our laws.

    From our standpoint, we are designing the software for the 99 percent of the people who don't want to steal the music but instead (want to) use it for whatever means--for whatever personal use that's allowed by the artist and the record label.

    Oh, so the law no longer governs the fair use of a purchased item, now the record companies have that power. Hm. This must be an extension of the fact that the record companies are now making and enforcing our laws. I guess this also means that a person no longer owns the items they buy. So what is the law now? Do we just pay for the privilege of using said items?

    The software was designed for those people, not for the 1 percent who are going to take the lock cutters and cut the lock off and steal music in an unauthorized way.

    Hey! You mean there's an authorized way of stealing music?

    How many copies do you allow people to make?

    It's up to the record company, but six is the standard right now.


    Right, cause if I'm making more than six copies, I must be pirating it. And the record companies are really trustworthy, so we should let them decide.

    Perhaps this is the source of the mental blocks people have when they stand against fair-use and creating technologies like this. They seem to think the record labels should have absolute power over what the user does with an item they purchased and now own.

    Why are you in this business? It's not a market that would make someone rich,

    Oh no, of course not. How many billions of dollars a year are music sales? How much would the music companies pay to ensure that they couldn't be copied? How many protection schemes have already been tried? How many have already failed? Do you notice how they keep trying? Uh-huh, this is definitely a losing market, no money here.

    The problem is, if digital property just becomes public domain the minute it's released, then the whole incentive model for distributing that property goes away.

    It doesn't become public domain, it's still protected by law and owned by the creator. If I create a machine and start selling it, is the design now public domain? No, of course not. Where is this guy from? Mars?

  • How many copies do you allow people to make? It's up to the record company, but six is the standard right now. So they can make six copies; as long as their disc is in the tray of their computer, they can make those copies...It's hard to get your arms around copy protection as a technology, and I get that Everybody here gets that. The thing is how do you make it warm enough for people to accept it.

    The guy has had his PR training, but what a fscking joke. Anyone who suggests that you have to download a music clip (and I bet it's not MP3) just to listen to it from a CD is smoking a particularly strong brand of crack. What, he never heard of laptops? On airplanes? Or dial-up connections where internet access is so slow that a download is impossible?

    I hope this guy goes bankrupt, and sooner rather than later.

  • ... most of them will also be happy with rips from decent analog sources. Companies can invest entire GNPs into research on how to prevent it, but analog ripping will be an option for a long, long time.

    This whole anti-piracy push seems to be a sign of companies that have reached the apex of their business plan, where growth has stagnated. So they're trying to squeeze a few more growth percent fractions out of stolen music, but what after that? How are they going to maintain growth after achieving zero piracy? I guess the next big thing will be perishable media, forcing you to re-buy the same things again and again. Circuit City was the pioneer there with DIVX, may they all share its fate.
  • I have no stereo (Score:3, Informative)

    by RESPAWN (153636) <caldwell AT tulanealumni DOT net> on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:28PM (#2364300) Homepage Journal

    What annoys me the most about these kinds of copy protection schemes is how they limit me, the average consumer who does buy my music. I spend 9 months out of the year away at college. Frankly, I don't want to take apart my entire stereo and cart it back and forth every year. It's a pain in the ass, and I just know that something would sooner or later get broken. My solution? Play all my CD's in my computer. I paid $2000 for this thing, I damn well better be able to do more than type papers on it.


    Furthermore, I like to rip a lot of my lesser used CD's to .mp3 so that I don't also have to bring my entire collection of >200 CD's to school each year. That is just another invitation for something to get lost or broken. Not to mention, I don't have enough room in the car for all that crap.


    Oh yeah. I also like to run. (Yes, I am a geek who likes to get exercise.) But you know what I like to do when I run? Listen to music. Music on my solid state mp3 player that will not skip as I run. Let me rephrase that: I like to listen to my legally purchased music on my mp3 player while I run.


    I'm not going to lie and say that I've never used Napster. I have, and I probably do have a few mp3's for which I do not own the CD. But for the vast majority of my mp3 collection I also have the CD's to accompany them. All the record companies are doing is serving to piss off people like me. People who do buy their music, but who wish to listen to it in a device other than a standard CD player. In fact, if I ever purchase a CD that I cannot play in my computer, I will return it. And then do you know what I will do? I will turn around and download the mp3's off my favorite p2p file sharing utility, because I have every confidence that despite whatever copy protection methods the record companies try to use, the mp3's will always be out there. After all, if I can't listen to my legally purchased music in the device of my choice, why should I pay to listen to that CD at all. If you're going to treat me like a criminal, then I may as well act like one.



    Although, I must say that I am certainly glad that I am not a Michael Jackson or Charley Pride fan, because I loath the day when the record companies force me to actively pirate music just to listen to it on my preferred listening devices.

  • by egburr (141740) on Friday September 28, 2001 @12:38PM (#2364355) Homepage
    we are designing the software for the 99 percent of the people who don't want to steal the music but instead (want to) use it for whatever means--for whatever personal use that's allowed by the artist and the record label.

    So, they're designing it to annoy the 99% of people who want to legitimately purchase the music and make a legal fair-use backup copy or who want to copy it to their computer for use while storing the CD as the backup archive?

    Our technology is not thief proof. ... Only hackers will attempt to circumvent the technology in order to prove that it can be done. We're not designing the technology for them. ... not for the 1 percent who are going to take the lock cutters and cut the lock off and steal music in an unauthorized way.

    So, they admit that the people who will make an active effort to steal the music will hardly be hampered by this at all.

    What a sales pitch! We'll stop the people who don't steal, and we won't stop the people who do. Now, could someone explain just why anyone is paying them for this technology?

  • by Niles_Stonne (105949) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:19PM (#2364526) Homepage
    The software was designed for those people, not for the 1 percent who are going to take the lock cutters and cut the lock off and steal music in an unauthorized way.

    So what is the authorized way to steal music?
  • Another problem (Score:4, Informative)

    by ethereal (13958) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:25PM (#2364556) Journal

    See this article: http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-201-7320279-0.htm l [cnet.com]

    At least in some cases, the tracks are WMA. So even this level of so-called fair use is not available for non-Windows users. I don't know if the guy being interviewed above is part of the WMA-using company or not.

  • by Arkaein (264614) on Friday September 28, 2001 @01:30PM (#2364572) Homepage
    This guy goes on about how only 1% of the people out there are hard core music pirates that will have the diligence and know-how to defeat the protection schemes, but what happens when these skilled CD ripping individuals put the ripped tracks on Morpheus/Gnutella/(insert favorite P2P file sharing app here)? Then the 40% of us who are the casual pirates have the music just like before.

    Most of us never rip our own tracks. We get them over the net and share them over the net. It only takes one person to rip a song to get the song beyond the copy-protected barrier for everyone.
  • DefTonez Protection Inc. announced its new copy protection scheme for compact discs, which they claim is uncrackable and vastly superior to the protection schemes of SunnComm and other competitors.


    DefTonez scheme is simple. They turn all of the tracks on a CD into static garbage. This makes it impossible for hackers to aquire listenable songs on their computers and distribute them online. In fact, this even prevents people from recording onto tapes or other media directly, as the sound waves themselves are modified.


    DefTonez CEO, Maximillion Profitz, describes his technology as being designed for 99% of all music consumers. "Most people probably only listen to one song on the CD anyway, and are too hard of hearing from listening to all that heavy metal crap to tell the difference between static and the crappy Backdoor Boys stuff they are used to listening to."


    When inquired about those who complain about the music being "defective," Profitz replied, "These people are not in the majority of 99% of all listeners. These people who complain about 'not being able to listen to the music' are nothing more than social ingrates who want a free ride. Our lawyers are already using the DMCA to make sure these people get 5 to 20 in ass pounding federal prison. Any responsible American knows that artists would never take the risk of allowing people to actually let people have a copy of their music that would allow them to play it in public, where many people who have not paid lisencing fees might hear it."


    When asked if consumers would seriously spend $20 on a CD they couldn't listen to, Profitz answered, "People have been shelling out $20 on Michael Jackson, Prince, and other crappy CDs. Why should this be any different to them?"


    DefTonez copy protection scheme will be featured in Britney Spears new album to be released later this month entitled, "You're CRAZY if you think my rack is real."

  • 99 Percent? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by peter_gzowski (465076)
    From our standpoint, we are designing the software for the 99 percent of the people who don't want to steal the music but instead (want to) use it for whatever means--for whatever personal use that's allowed by the artist and the record label.

    99% of the general populion don't want to make mp3s of their cds?

    From CNET [cnet.com]'s stats, it seems like about 13 million people have downloaded Kazaa, and about another 20 million have downloaded Morpheus (not to mention various other file sharing programs talked about on /. here [slashdot.org]). Therefore I think it's pretty reasonable to assume that at least 10 million individuals out there are trading mp3s with software that your average Joe can use. In the year 2000, 2.5 billion CDs were sold (according to this link [ifpi.org]). Assuming that average Joe buys, say, a couple CDs a month (reasonabe?), this comes out to about 100 million average Joes buying cds each year. Using my super-human mathmatical capabilities, I figure about 10% of the general cd-purchasing population wish to make mp3s with their cds. He's an order of magnitude off! In physics or chemistry this is fine, but for the CEO of a business, isn't it a bit much?
  • Show him he's wrong! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Merk (25521) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:13PM (#2364894) Homepage
    If you give people what they want with respect to their ability to copy the music in ways that they think is reasonable, they will not ever attempt to circumvent the technology.

    Yup. And most people want the music they copy to be either a direct CD copy of the music, or rip it in a standard MP3 format. So... if his technology allows that then how exactly is it protecting anything?

    We allow (people) to make copies for their own personal use: for their computer, for their compilation disc and for their MP3 player,

    For their MP3 player? Hmm... now I notice he didn't say in standard MP3 format. Maybe he means "for their MP3 player as long as it uses the special no-copy technology XXX and plays WMA format music". I would bet that his technology would prevent it from working on my MP3 player. Since I'm just doing what I want in a way I think is reasonable he wouldn't want to stop me right?

    What it's meant to do is provide a speed bump to people who don't steal things.

    Yeah, that's great. Thanks for treating customers with such respect.

    The technology that we sell is a padlock to music. If you have a lock cutter, a bolt cutter, you can cut that padlock off. If you're determined to steal the music, the music can be stolen.
    The Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits users from circumventing copy protection. It's now a crime in America to do that.

    So he's saying you know that the technological solution you've created is weak, and you intend to use the DMCA to enforce it? If the gov't were't owned by big coprorations like the record companies, I'd expect they'd complain. If I protected my house with a flimsy screen-door lock then expected the police to do everything they could whenever someone broke in, I think they'd get pissed at me pretty soon.

    Doesn't anybody want to think about what happens in the world where no music is paid for?

    No Britney Spears, no *NSync, only people who are into music for the sake of music. Man, would that ever be a great world!

    This business can be a very lucrative business if it's done properly [...] I think there's a huge opportunity for this company to expand not just from the CD music but also for CD software, digital data, streaming, et cetera...

    Ok buddy. So you think you're going to be in a lucrative business. You think you're gonna make loads of money when your goal is: "Make it easier for the record companies to squeeze me and prevent me from doing what I want with the CD[*] I bought". Guess what. I (and a few other people) want to convince you that it's *not* lucrative.

    If somebody can show me that I'm wrong, I'll be out of this business in two days.

    Any takers?

    [*] Note, the product bought, whie a shiny disk in a silver case is not actually a CD, sorry for any inconvenience.

  • by gol64738 (225528) <GAUSS minus math_god> on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:34PM (#2365044)
    a few things in the article don't seem to add up.
    but six is the standard right now. So they can make six copies; as long as their disc is in the tray of their computer, they can make those copies...

    ok, so they can make 6 copies, i would assume to a proprietary format so you can't make a copy from a copy (surely not mp3 format), but then he goes on to say,
    We allow (people) to make copies for their own personal use: for their computer, for their compilation disc and for their MP3 player.

    huh? you can make a copy for use in your mp3 player? then what's to stop you from copying the song as many times as you want?!?

    here's the other part i don't get:
    I hope to see a file-sharing service in the near future that will allow people the same effortless ability to download music even if it's of lesser quality, like MP3 quality, for a very small amount of money a month.

    huh?? lesser quality? i think our boy Peter Jacobs is jumping on the MS bandwagen trying to make the mp3 format sound like it sucks (no pun intended).
  • by Carthain (86046) on Friday September 28, 2001 @02:36PM (#2365060) Homepage
    ...We allow (people) to make copies for their own personal use: for their computer, for their compilation disc and for their MP3 player, so they can have portable use of their music.
    Umm... so, someone can put a copy on their MP3 player... which can means a couple things:

    The MP3 players will need special software to read the new CD's... in which case, someone will write a program to read those CD's... and convert them into MP3's on your HD.

    Someone transfers a track from thier CD to their MP3 player... then, they transfer the MP3 from their MP3 player to their HD... now whats stopping them from connected to a peer to peer network and sharing this?

    And what about DJ's who mix their own songs? Is swiping part of the song now going to mean breaking the DMCA?

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