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CD Copy "Protection" in California 377

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wonder-how-long-that'll-last dept.
Tabercil writes "According to this New Scientist article, the SafeAudio system has been employed here in North America in an unidentified CD which has already sold 100,000 copies." It'll be interesting to see what CD it is. My biggest concern is the car CD players that actually are computers not being able to play these discs. Presumably the copy protection will be broken soon enough, so thats not really an issue.
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CD Copy "Protection" in California

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    If a CD contains pops, hisses, or is otherwise unsuitable use it should be returned. Here is an interesting question, when I buy an Audio CD, isn't it implied that it will be to the Orange(?) Book standard? Obviously, this scheme violates the standard. Can they still call this a CD and use all the Philips logos? Since an Orange Book CD can be ripped, it is reasonable to expect that a CD can be ripped, and therefore, the inability to rip a CD should be grounds enough for returning it. Of course, I do seem to remember that a players up to Orange Book standards are not supposed to allow access to the raw digital data if the copy protection bit is set. Sounds to me like SafeAudio is tooting its own horn. I cannot believe that such a system would be even moderately difficult to defeat. It really bothers me when there is a good, established standard (like Audio CD) and it is deliberately screwed up for no real gain. This is going to set off an arms race of copy protection/ anti-copy protection schemes, and Audio CDs will eventually be in the shape that copy-protected computer CDs are in right now, with incompatibilities between CD and equipment. Lastly, as far as the quality of a 'poor' analog copy goes, I doubt many people could tell the difference between a direct digital copy and a copy that went through an analog stage. The weakness in analog has always been the media (lp, tape), not the electrical signal. The big problem is that the first copy would need to be made in real time, which means that it would probably be faster to obtain a digital copy from the internet than it would be to make your own. Kind of ironic...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:47AM (#81331)
    I should have charged the company for breaking their multimillion dollar encryption.
  • good quality PCI alternatives? you mean like the $40 zoltrix nightingale that i mentioned in the previous post?

    --
  • by mosch (204) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:12PM (#81334) Homepage
    or more likely the scheme is just so utterly useless that nobody noticed the cd is "protected". After all, I really fail to see how they can make a cd unrippable without also breaking a standalone cd player's digital output.

    Even if they make something that my cd-rom drive doesn't like, I can still just connect the digital out on my cd player to the spdif in on my sound card. WHOOPS, did I just get a perfect digital copy? MY BAD!

    --

  • by mosch (204) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:47PM (#81335) Homepage
    My MOTU 2408 [motu.com] has a perfectly functional, non-resampling s/pdif input, and my MOTU 308 [motu.com] has 8 of them. If you're on a budget, i think you can hack a zoltrix nightingale for $50 to have non-resampling S/PDIF.

    --
  • by Wakko Warner (324) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:46AM (#81336) Homepage Journal
    content providers who try to protect their content by making it unreadable/unwatchable/unlistenable are funny. especially popular content.

    it's sorta like saying "okay, you can LOOK AT this bag of dog shit, but you CAN NOT make more bags of dog shit and give them to your friends."

    oh darn.

    --

  • by jbuhler (489) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:46AM (#81337) Homepage
    If the article's speculation is correct, the copy protection simply consists of inserting bogus samples in the digital recording. A regular CD player interprets the samples as errors and interpolates over them, while a ripper copies the errors and hence leaves nasty noise in the ripped audio file.

    If memory serves me correctly, programs like CDParanoia already interpolate across unreadable samples when ripping a CD. It seems simple enough to check for "obviously" bogus samples and weed them out. Viola - end of copy protection.

    OK, now someone who knows what the real deal is can explain to me why this argument is complete hogwash :-).
  • by jbuhler (489) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:50AM (#81338) Homepage
    Oh, I almost forgot -- if the above is indeed how the copy protection works, guess what's going to happen to a zillion or so Windows users the first time they try to play such a CD with Windows Media Player? Last time I looked, WMP is configured by default to rip the CD on the fly rather than using the CD drive's analog output. If your CD listening is accompanied by funky psychadelic animations, your WMP is using this mode (or you've just taken some really good pharmaceuticals).
  • by phil reed (626) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:17AM (#81339) Homepage
    (Showing my age here)

    When *I* was in college, around 1975, a high-priced LP was in the $9 range. Using the Cost of Living Calculator at http://www.newsengin.com/neFreeTools.nsf/CPIcalc?O penView we find that $9 in 1975 is the equivalent of $29.44 today. In other words, if a CD today costs $15, then its about HALF the cost of a music recording in 1975.


    ...phil

  • The SP/DIF in on most soundcards converts the audio data from 48.0 to 44.1 kHz. The quality of this conversion varies. I've heard that the SBLive conversion algorithms are fairly crude
  • Recording CDs in the anlog domain is no job for a computer. I had a great deal of trouble with analog noise until I ripped the analogue cable from my CD and soundcard, and replaced it with a digital cable. Now, I use an external DAC.

    DAE provides a staic free copy-- the best possible staringpoint for a Vorbis or MP3 encoder.
  • Well back when *I* was in college, around 1987 or so I purchased my first CD player.

    CD's cost me $15-17 at the time.

    Today I buy them for $13-15.

    I don't know about cost of living, but that isn't a price increase in my book.
  • Like most CS labs, many people brought in CDs and listened to them on their headphones using the CD-ROM drive on the machines.

    But then you must find another place to leave your beverages.
    __
  • by cjsnell (5825)
    Nope, it's actually "Yoko Ono: The Polyester Years".


    --
  • So long as I can buy CDs with cash, I don't exactly see this as being a problem. Although a mark-of-the-beast style purchasing scheme would kind of make sense, what with Hillary Rosen being the antichrist and all.
  • The funniest quote from the Amazon reviews: (emphasis mine)


    Cd Info, June 12, 2001
    Reviewer: A music fan from Tx
    This is an Excellent cd,to all of you that want to know, it will play in ALL cd players, Just not on cd roms,When you put it in your cd-rom drive you will be directed to a site where you may download the MP3 songs after you have given your info. To those people who do not like this, It is because you are thieves and upset you cannot get something for nothing. Your days are numbered

    YOU HAVE NO CHANCE TO SURVIVE MAKE YOUR TIME
  • There will be ways around that and hardware makers will upgrade their firmware to adapt. Remember old Atari and Apple games in the 80s and how they used bad sectors to prevent floppy copies? They got around that. Sometimes with bad data (e.g., the bootleg copy of Zork III for Atari was missing a paragraph of text), but most often things were just fine.
    --
    You know, you gotta get up real early if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)
  • No, but it WOULD be a violation of trademark if they included Sony's "Compact Disc Digital Audio" logo on the disc packaging anywhere. If it isn't compliant, it probably doesn't have the rights to use Sony's logo. Similarly, "cheaper" DVD players out there that can't play cdrs also don't display the sony logo, since cdrs normally follow the standard (Abiet as loosely as they can get away with).
    --
    You know, you gotta get up real early if you want to get outta bed... (Groucho Marx)
  • But then you must find another place to leave your beverages.

    Actually. . . The lab consultants always used a particular workstation at the front of the room. Since there was a consultant there 6 - 12 hours each day, that workstation got hit the hardest, including the CD-ROM drive, which blew a gear or something sometime during the second semester, so it stopped working. One day I jimmied the tray out and set my Coke can on it (it's not like I was going to break it, right? And the Coke was still sealed, so it wasn't going to spill.) One of the other consultants came into the lab, took one glance, and colapsed on the floor laughing. Good times, those.

    -"Zow"

  • by "Zow" (6449) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:31AM (#81359) Homepage

    My vote is definitely for John Tesh (I got a good laugh out of the ad he did for that new show on Comedy Central).

    Back in college I worked as a consultant in the undergrad computer science lab (only CS students had accounts). Like most CS labs, many people brought in CDs and listened to them on their headphones using the CD-ROM drive on the machines. Ocassionally someone would forget their CD when they left, but we'd just put them next to the machine and they'd be back for them. One time someone forgot their John Tesh CD. We put that one up next to the blackboard with a big arrow and something like "Whoever forgot their John Tesh CD it's right here->".

    Nobody would claim it.

    It sat up there for the next month until the semester was over and the CD was, presumeably, discarded. Hence my vote is for John Tesh all the way!

    -"Zow"

  • by hatless (8275) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:24PM (#81362)
    Funny, but I came to the LP game later, in 1983 or so. And at that point, most albums were $$8 with, yes, the premium titles with gatefold sleeves and booklets and holograms and crap at $9. Double albums were $11.

    Were were you buying records? Sam Goody? Mall chains? (Where, incidentally, most CDs sell for $17 in-store today, not $15. They're $15 online, where the difference is mde up in handling fees.)

    By my calculations, an album that ran $8 in 1983 is $14 and change in today's dollars. Which is about right at most of the places I shop--independent record stores.

    However, inflation has just gotten us there. By my reckoning using the same calculator, CDs should have been selling for $10-$12 ten years ago if they were priced to mirror vinyl pricing. And since the early '90s, CDs have been much cheaper to produce and distribute than LPs, and are less vulnerable to heat and water damage or breakage while in transit.
  • by mattkime (8466) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:54AM (#81364)
    Why should we be upset? This, my friends, appears to be the perfect copy protection scheme. It is, in fact, so perfect that it cannot be detected.

    Prehaps the CDs we're been buying all along have had this protection.

    With 100,000 CDs sold and no large scale complaints, it may be the case that this new form of copy protection is exactly the same as having no copy proection at all.

    Score one for the RIAA!
  • What's Louisiana's basis for a legal system and how does it difffer from common law?

    If I remember correctly, Louisiana law was originally based on the Napoleonic Code, owing to its status as formerly French territory. The only notable differences that I know of are in the areas of estates and inheritances and stuff like that...
  • Apparently you have forgotten the golden rule of car audio: All cassette car stereos shall eat 50% of all cassettes placed into them, without fail. It's funny we talk about this because one of the benefits of the CD revolution is pollution wise (well...apart from the fact that billions of cassettes were dumped in the garbage, cast off as obsolete): I remember being younger and quite frequently you would see several hundreds yards of tape floating down the street, or a case smashed into a million pieces, etc. Because of the "stereo must eat cassette" cardinal rule people were often quite frustrated and hurled the result out the window.

  • I have to admit that I have never dropped a CD in the car, and I haven't had a CD that was so scratched that it was unplayable since the sunrise of the CD revolution (when I was a little less careful).

    Cost-wise I don't know if I agree with your assertion: You're talking about a dupe, so given that we should compare a CD-R to a good blank cassette - Here in Canada I'd say that a 100% quality CD-R is about $0.70 CDN each, whereas a good quality cassette (it's been a long time since I bought one) is about $2.50.

  • Yup, you're right. :-)

    In a humorous coincidence I was actually just coming on here to post a follow-up correction: My memory was spurred when I pulled up IMDB to check if the consensus opinion on 13 Days was as bad as I found it to be.

  • by ergo98 (9391) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:01PM (#81370) Homepage Journal

    They state that it doesn't prevent analog copying, so yes you could copy the analog signal.

    Copy protection is not what most "everything for free" Slashdotters think it is: It is not black and white, and just because a techie with a lot of free time can "break" it doesn't mean that the protection is a failure. It doesn't have to be 100% effective to be effective.

    All copy protection has to achieve to commercially protect a product is that it makes the process more inconvenient for the average Joe/Jane than simply going to the store and picking up the CD: Whether it degrades the quality enough that they are willing to just buy a copy, or it makes the process inconvenient enough (i.e. The deCSS process in the early days was ridiculously inconvenient for the average Joe, which is why they sought to squash it in the early days before it becomes a Windows "wizard" to rip a DVD to a MPG), or it takes too much of their time: For the $15 level that we're talking about it's a very small "nuisance factor" that will lead most average citizens to just go buy the product rather than waste their time. I've ripped MP3s just because I can go in and select a track (and through IMDB instantly it's even titled correctly and everything), and it automatically pulls an MP3 copy. If, on the other hand, I had to sit here pressing record and stop at the right moment, and prune off the ends, and live with a degraded copy (all audio-in channels on the major soundcards are garbage), and manually identify each track: There's no way I'd do that, and while there's lots of little kids with nothing better to do who are willing to, a large majority of the consumers would rather part with $15 than deal with the hassle.

    It's similar to the software market: There are warez channels on IRC, and to most people that is the downfall of the software industry...then after a couple of 1GB+ downloads which were corrupt you give up and never touch warez again. Even if you duped the CD off a friend, often you need a crack and most people are extremely wary of cracks (trojans, viruses, etc.), so they'd rather just buy the product that endure the risk.

  • there is no law that states what is and is not fair use. moreover, there is no law that requires companies to give consumers those rights.

    There is case law. The Betamax case is the most famous, but there's also some that relate to video games (maybe modchips) I think. Actually, now that I think about it, the Audio Home Recording Act is a "fair use" law.

    however, it is completely legal for companies to use technical measures (but not legal measures) to try to prevent you from doing those things. this btw, is precisely why dmca is so dangerous: it turns any technical protection measure into a legal one as well.

    You sound confused. If DMCA turns a technical protection measure into a legal one, then by your previous sentence this means that companies can't do it. That would actually make DMCA a good thing.

    You've stuffed up somewhere in your logic, but I'm not sure where. I think it's where you draw a distinction between technical measures and legal measures. I don't think there's any such distinction, and the laws apply to any measures (legal or technical) which restrict fair use rights. The more interesting question is has fair use been restricted if technical measures prevent lossless duplication, but allow lossy duplication?

  • by GoRK (10018) <<moc.ocbrulb> <ta> <lnhoj>> on Tuesday July 17, 2001 @12:04AM (#81374) Homepage Journal
    The newest driver in CVS from opensource.creative.com (CVS tag v0_15) have support (as of a couple days ago) to do PCM passthrough at 48KHz instead of downsampling to 44.1. (Yeah AC3 passthrough has also been supported for a long time too) Actually, the Linux drivers at this point rock the windows ones as far as control over the hardware goes. (Let's see if the windows driver lets you download DSP microcode!) The only feature missing at this point is support for the software synth, which IMHO isn't as big a deal as a lot of people think. Anyone who is seriously using MIDI is probably using external synths anyway. Plus, it's planned...just last on the list

    ~GoRK
  • The article says that it puts bad blocks on the cd, standard audio cd players play rigth over them, but a computer will think the cd is very very scratched and unplayable

    A trick which game software companies have been using for some time, which is trivial for existing software to already work around. Hardly safe from ripping, though presumably you'd need more sophisticated software.

  • Oh frigging great, So my Cd player with the SPDIF out will start streaming crap instead of higher quality audio.... This HAS to be the case, otheriwse I can make a perfect digital copy of this "protected" CD with my computer (SBLIVE platinum) and my CD player by using SPDIF.

    If they added crap to the audio stream, they really slit their own throats with every audiophile.... but then they might just be doing this to rap and grunge.. then noone will notice that anything was done to the audio.
  • by Sangui5 (12317) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:31AM (#81377)

    First, they aren't mucking with the TOC, but putting delibrate errors in the data, and mucking with the ECC

    However, they are still selling CDs which aren't standards compliant. This leads to a rather interesting question: If you sell a "CD" that purposely doesn't conform to the standard, is it fraudulent to sell it as a CD? It could be possible to claim that as their CDs don't have the proper ECC, they are lacking a standard feature present in all other functional and non-damaged CD's, and the manufacturers are knowingly selling a defective product.

    I doubt that they could be hit under fair-use laws, but if the packaging of the CDs claim that they are normal CDs, without mentioning the copy protection, they might be liable under consumer protection laws.

  • I have a Delta Dio 2496. It works perfectly, plus is has a digital channel mixer which can move sound into any i/o port on the board (including loopback.. ehh hehehe)

    There's linux sound drivers on the site as well.

    Pan
  • Read the article. It's a different company and a different technology.
  • No. Read the article. Different company, different technology.
  • by Quikah (14419) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:58AM (#81384)
    The article is talking about SafeAudio from Macrovision. The Charley Pride CD is using Mediacloq by Suncomm.
  • (I don't usually respond to trolls. But this is an insidious meme that must be fought.)

    The reason for your lack of power is that you are apathetic. You say that other people do not have the power to change the world, but that is not true. You can not deny that change happens. And it must always start with an individual.

    But you attempt to discourage others from working for change, so that they will become impotent like you. You are using what little power you have to try to make this negative change occur. That's not a very nice thing to do.

    -=Ivan
  • Maybe I'll go into his house, copy all the source code behind a company he's starting up, and spread it all over the net.

    Tan.
  • Yes, but the BIG point is that while it is legal for you to excersise your right to fair use, the makers have no legal obligations to allow you to exercise such right. Now if the government started getting directly involved with helping corporations invade your right THEN a law is broken. For example if the government created a law that said you cannot break a copy pertection, then that would go against the fair use law. OPPS they already did. Nevermind.
  • If you read the article, basically the cd is designed to be unreadable by a CD-ROM but readable by a regular cdplayer. Depending upon how they did it, one method recording errors, a bit by bit copy would be playable in a cdplayer but not a CD-ROM, another method mentioned by another poster, would be to have pits that are half-depth. Which would be read as a regular pit by a CD-ROM thinking they were burned by a CD-R, and not read by a cdplayer, these half pits would be reburned as being all the same depth, and then you have a completly errored disc that won't read on either type of player. Either way it will take reengenering of the CD-ROM to be able to rip these disk. Of course you can always line-in the disk.
  • ...country music singer Charley Pride [charleypride.com]'s "A Tribute to Jim Reeves" cd.

    According to this [zdnet.com], someone's already posted mp3's of the tracks, but the label denies that the copy protection was truly circumvented.

    And, incidentally, this looks like old news--the press releases I saw were dated in May.
  • Funny thing for me is that I only have two CDs that are badly trashed and that I would have liked to have had backed up. One is Prince (1999, I believe) and the other is Metallica (black album). Guess which one I likely won't replace?

    (FWIW, I've been collecting CDs since 1985 or 1986 when my father got his first CD player. Single disc JVC. ~$400, marked down from $700.)

  • To the end user (plaintiff) the individual suit is usually better. But it's a tangled web:

    If I sue Sony in small claims court and win, great. But there is an up and a down. Up is, I win, and it wasn't too expensive. Down is that there really isn't any precedent that is applicable to you (unless you live in Charles Co. MD, USA)

    But, it probably won't happen. From what I heard somewhere (and not only am INAL, I'm Not a Good Listener:) Sony will likely try to get the case moved to some larger court.

    Okay, let's say that it goes to a larger court. I need a lawyer to make my $15 claim. He doesn't want to do work for a contingency fee of $5, so he says "how 'bout a class action?" So we get a bazillion people to sue Sony. Sony says no, but really means yes (to the class action, that is). We're going to pay the same amount of lawyers (companies like that don't have small court cases) and take care of a bazillion cases. So immediately, they have saved a bazillion*(number of cases-1) dollars.

    So, I win my $10. I may or may not have to pay my attorney's fees. And my attorney gets fees + bazillion*$5 (he's getting a contingency on all members of the class).

    So, 'my' attorney wins, Sony wins, and everyone else loses.

    Pretty shitty system, huh?

    (Of course, there are many other ways that this can happen, but Sony knows that the real costs are attorneys, not plaintiffs. If they want class action, or a quick settlement, it should automatically mean that that is not in your favor as a plaintiff.)

  • No, you were right the first time. You bought the CD. Last time I checked, you didn't sign some B$ license saying you only bought the right to use the data on the disc in some proscribed manner.

    Don't expect this to last, though. Sooner or later, Congress (and/or the courts) of the US will change this to saying that you did NOT buy the tangible property, you merely licensed the data on it for specific uses.

  • Blockquote:


    I thought there were costs built into blank CDs to offset some of thus. Does this mean the prices of blanks will decrease?

    Also, since this wonderful copy protection prevents piracy, will the cost of a CD go down because of the increase in revenue on more sales of "originals"?


    LOL. Hahahaha! Man, that is the funniest shit I've heard in a long time.

  • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:32AM (#81403) Homepage Journal
    Didn't think of this earlier:

    You ripped a perfect copy. If you burn the copy, warts and all, wouldn't it still play identically to the copy that you bought? I haven't read the article (unusual on /., eh?) but I don't think this tech should preclude doing that.

    It's like some of the old copy-protection schemes for computer games: if you copy the disc, warts and all, you were successful (Yes, I remember that sometimes that only worked on REALLY good floppy drives, and under some other circumstances, but the last ditch effort in copying a game was just to do a damned good bit-by-bit copy)

  • Well for one thing, steganographic signatures can be overlayed on the music which, while not discernable by the human ear, can be detected by analysis, even after a sample has been "degraded" by the analog conversion. Expect steganographic signatures to become very widespread on music distribution media soon. MP3's would be traceable to the source they were copied from.

    -----

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:40PM (#81406)

    I'm tired of hearing the same old tired argument of "so what if they implement stuff like this, somebody will just crack it anyway". The implicit message is that it is acceptable behaviour for companies to implement any level of copy "protection" that they want. It isn't - the message that consumers should be sending is "it is not acceptable IN THE FIRST PLACE", not "it is acceptable, go ahead, somebody will crack it". The former approach deems the RIAA's behaviour "good" and the crackers' behaviour "bad". The latter approach deems the RIAA's behaviour "bad". This is a very important distinction. Whether or not someone will crack it, "somebody" shouldn't have to crack it in the first place.

    And I don't disagree that recording companies should be allowed to protect their IP - those who push this argument are missing the real motives of the recording companies, which is not just to protect their IP, but to monopolize content creation and distribution channels, as well as to eventually implement pay-per-view ubiquitously (with elimination of fair rights use being a side-effect).

    -----

  • The catch is that an audio player reads bits off a disk and dumps them into a DAC. No attempt is made to correct any of the data under the premise that if a couple bits are wrong, no one will ever be able to tell.

    When the drives switches to data mode, a single bit can kill a program. In this case, heavy ECC is called for. CD rippers work by reading an audio CD in data mode. The 'burst of sound' are designed to confuse the ECC algorithms. The answer is new firmware or a driver that will disable the ECC routines of the drive.

  • I'm not familiar enough with this audio-mangling technique to know for sure (and possibly not interested enough to hunt down the answer myself) so I'll just ask the question:

    Is this technique only effective when a disk is encoded as an MP3 or other lower bitrate format, or does it corrupt the actual raw CDA audio stream?

    The difference is important, because with storage becoming so much cheaper over the next few years, I expect more and more people will simply either copy the CDA files, or "rip" to WAV format anyway, eliminating the MP3/vorbis/whatever encoding step entirely. Would that buy you anything in this circumstance?

    Any insights?
  • by chill (34294) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:59AM (#81411) Journal
    I thought there were costs built into blank CDs to offset some of thus. Does this mean the prices of blanks will decrease?

    Also, since this wonderful copy protection prevents piracy, will the cost of a CD go down because of the increase in revenue on more sales of "originals"?
    --
    Charles E. Hill
  • In all cases, there's exactly one D/A conversion--either at the CD-ROM drive, at the sound card, or at the speakers.

    Oops, my bad. It just means the conversion occurs closer to the speakers, so you (theoretically) get better sound. The inside of your computer is electrically noisy, so it's best to keep things digital while they're in there.

    I'm not too sure about the details here, but I knowApple switched CD playback mechanisms with a fairly recent OS release (either 8.6, 9.0, or 9.1), and I know it went from analog-out from the CD drive to digital-out. Why did they do it? I'm not entirely sure--I can only guess. At least it doesn't suck much CPU time (1.5%).
  • by tbo (35008) on Monday July 16, 2001 @03:57PM (#81413) Journal
    It's because the audio is already analog by the time it hits your sound card - your system never sees the bits. The cd-rom drive contains the hardware to act as a player, and outputs analog audio on a separate wire to the sound card, which plays the analog audio directly.

    Ever since MacOS 9 (I think), the MacOS has handled CD audio digitally. The digital data goes into memory (DMA, I hope), and is converted into analog by the sound chip as with any other digital sound signal. The advantage is that, if you have digital speakers, there's no unnecessary D-to-A conversion.

    Macs will either be able to rip these CDs, or they won't be able to play them. Seeing as Mac users are a particularly rabid bunch (perhaps even more rabid than Linux users), it will be funny to see what happens when they Mac-attack the big recording studios.
  • by macdaddy (38372) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:38AM (#81414) Homepage Journal
    ...something not very popular with techie-types for none of us to know about it yet. Perhaps the latest Kenny G CD?

    --

  • The RIAA has reached an agreement amongst its members to reduce the quality of music in CDs released by RIAA members so that the net musical yield of any RIAA approved CD will be too low to copy. RIAA representative Richard Head said that it now took approximately 1.5 million KennyG albums to distil down a single work with the equivalent musical merit of Metallica's Enter Sandman, he said that "the system is already working, people just can't be bothered recording most of the stuff we release!". The RIAA plans to implement a "total chain" protection system that will impose strong legal and financial penalties on artists exceeding the RIAAs strict Ceiling Regulating Artistic Potential Music guidelines. "We need to make sure no-one goes around this protection measure if its going to work".

    Xix.

  • by phong3d (61297) <jim@in[ ].com ['omi' in gap]> on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:00AM (#81426) Homepage
    This is the link to the SEC filing mentioning the CD...

    http://www.secinfo.com/d1157k.43b.htm [secinfo.com]

    And, of course, here's a link to buy it at Amazon [amazon.com].
  • Does it matter with this? The "digital" quality of the sound has already largely disappeared via the "copy protection" scheme - you're hearing mosly interpolated bits, so nobody can even claim to produce a purely digital rip of this stuff...

    Not really.

    If they were smart, they'd only replace samples where the typical interpolation done by CD players would hit the original sample value on-the-nose, or close enough as not to matter. There should be PLENTY of those.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday July 16, 2001 @05:42PM (#81428) Journal
    I thought there were costs built into blank CDs to offset some of thus. Does this mean the prices of blanks will decrease?

    It might be interesting to institute a suit to block any company producing copy-protected CDs from receiving their share of the "tax" money. B-)
  • Heh, Macrovision says it's not discernible.

    Funny that Macrovision's video "protection" is quite discernible...

  • In Canada we have the same thing, what Quebec being under the Napoleonic Code, and the rest of the country under English Common Law. So now what happens is that of the I 9 (I think? or is it 7?) members of the Supreme Court, 3 have to be from Quebec to deal with the different system.
  • Actually, it's the other way around, I've noticed.
    I burned a CD designed for multisession only and hence didn't allow you to burn the TOC in the normal place (?). My computer read it just fine, but my CD player refused to see any tracks...
  • How does this indiscernable change in the bits compare to digital--> analog --> digital? Basically, to a trained ear which sounds worse? Ripping from a CD to a wave at 44K 16 stereo sounds a lot better than ripping to a 128K MP3, so what's to prevent me from ripping from CD to wave to MP3? Sure, I lose some of the quality going from digital to analog but wouldn't that be masked by the MP3 compression? IOW, does the option to rip a CD in analog in Musicmatch already defeat this copy protection since MP3s are lower quality anyway?

    I'm not a pro by any means, but I can hear most little inconsistancies in my music. I wish I knew which album they encoded so I could try to find it and try this myself.

  • The filters in the soundcard's DAC should remove the ultrasonic frequencies. So there's no need to build a filter, just use a loopback cable.

    --
  • If my ripping software can make a bit-for-bit copy of the disk, won't a CD player be able to interpolate across the errors in the copy just like it interpolates across the errors in the original?

    It looks like this scheme will only stop you ripping the CD to a WAV file (eg for MP3 encoding). It will still be possible to make 'perfect' (errors intact) copies of the CD.

    --

  • by jacobcaz (91509) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:39AM (#81445) Homepage
    Doesn't making media uncopyable violate my right to make a backup incase my original media melts down?

    I don't go making copies of CD's for friends, but if I want to make copies so I don't scratch the heck out of my originals isn't that something I should be allowed to do?

    I can't think of the copyright provisions that grant me this right off the top of my head, someone help me out here.


    -----

  • Considering that the first one was a Charlie Pryde CD, my guess is that this one is Slim Whitman.

    I'm surprised they didn't give the name of the CD, though; the sales would be through the roof. I bet most of the sales of the Charlie Pryde CD were from hackers feeling as though they had been challenged.

  • Why is it a Crime to break into someones house and steal their stuff?? I never do that!

    It's also a crime to shoot people who walk down the sidewalk next to your house because they might have been planning to break in.

    Why is it a Crime to kill people? I never hurt anyone!

    It's also a crime to punch anyone who comes near you because they might have been planning on killing you.

    I know, I'm pushing the bounds a bit there with my counters, but my point is that stopping something that is illegal is fine, but when it steps on the rights of people who aren't doing anything illegal, it becomes a problem.

    In my opinion, that is what this does. (Except that I don't think it actually will stop anyone, from what the article described.)

    --Ty

  • really...come on...all it would take...(and there are many really easy ways around this but here is one)...is some one with a digital mixer to dump its tracks over and then cut a new cd....and that would even be a lot more effort than needed.

    Interesting. I would how a digital console would react to such an incoming digital signal. The desk might balk and not recognize it at all.

    It would be interesting to try this.

    Rich...

  • But there's no way in hell it's going to get this technology made illegal.

    Not illegal, fraud. They wont tell us the name of the CD because they fear a class action lawsuit ... How would you like your money back and 100$ in punitive damages x 100,000 people? The idea that a copyright holder is legally obligated to produce a work in a form that is compatible...

    Once again -- they can release their work in whatever format they'd like, but if they market it as a CD it damn well better be a *fully compatible cd.* Second of all, corporations do not have absolutle power over their works *by law* so get that out of your head. The act of selling a work alone reduces their rights -- if they want COMPLETE control then they musn't release the work.

  • by OmegaDan (101255) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:07PM (#81455) Homepage
    Your so full of shit its not funny. Authors do not have the right to *complete control over their works*. When you buy a copyrighted thing, you are granted fair use rights. This is simply an attempt to underminde fair use.

    Up to including music CDs with microbursts of static interspersed with the music.

    This is also wrong -- the cd has errors on it on purpose *to undermine fair use*. I open each of my cds exactly once, make mp3s of it, and then the cd goes in a box in my closet -- I listen to all my music on my computer or my mp3 player. I don't even own a cd player. *THIS I PERFECTLY LEGAL.*

    The fact alone that they are unwiling to say what cd(s) are copy-protected is essentially an admission of guilt -- they are *misrepresenting the CD* and this is fraud.


  • If this new protection scheme doesn't work in car radios, can I "protect" a few of the cd's owned by the little thug-wannabes in my neighborhood?

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday July 16, 2001 @03:34PM (#81460) Homepage
    What right to make a backup? You can't think of the relevant copyright provisions because there are none.

    Fair use does NOT give you any rights. Rather, it makes it so certain things are not copyright violations, so if you do them, you can't be sued for copyright violation.

    Nothing in there says the copyright owner has to help you do them, or can't take steps to stop you from doing them (or can't refuse to sell you the copy unless you contractually agree not to do them, although this generally won't happen for music CDs).

  • No Michael J. Fox is the anti Elvis, and Elvis is in Joan Rivers but he's trying to get out. -- Mojo Nixon paraphrased
  • They shouldn't be able to stop me from copying a copy protected cd either. For the longest time cd's were uncopyable without special (expensive) exquipment. In the industry's eyes they were uncopyable, right? Now they have to put some sort of extra protection on the cd. Say I find a way to copy a protected cd, it's no different than before when I needed to find a way to get a hold of equipment. I am paying for a series of 1's and 0's. I don't care if those values are necrypted or not. I can copy them if I want. In a fair world that is, of course in our world, enter the DMCA.
  • That's not true at all. CD-ROM drives are different hardware than cd sudio players. They are two different specifications. There are ways to stop a cdrom from playing a disc that will play in a normal audio device. It's not just a matter of software. While it may be possible to write a driver to try and get around it, this may not be possible on all drives.
  • by jgerman (106518) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:43PM (#81467)
    Uh don't forget to figure in the cost of production. A vinyl lp cost ALOT more to manufacture than a cd. You need to weigh all of the factors... not just the ones that make your point.
  • by jgerman (106518) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:03PM (#81468)
    True enough. However, if it does't play in my car they should refund my money, compensation for my time, and punitive damages for <sniff> ruining my faith in the music industry for buying what I thought was a compact disc, but didn't adhere to the specifications.

    I agree the DMCA may not hold up in the long run over this, but I'd not want to be one of the first few tried against it.

  • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday July 16, 2001 @02:01PM (#81488) Homepage
    Making MP3's for you own use of CDs you own is also of dubious legality. Although no one would care if you weren't trading them on Napster, a digital copy of a digital work is ONLY legal if it made using media for which royalties have been paid and on a device that implements SCMS.

    If you believe I am wrong please read this before flaiming.

    Perhaps you should read it in depth youself, particularly the part right here [cornell.edu] where it says:

    Sec. 1008. Prohibition on certain infringement actions

    No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright based on the manufacture, importation, or distribution of a digital audio recording device, a digital audio recording medium, an analog recording device, or an analog recording medium, or based on the noncommercial use by a consumer of such a device or medium for making digital musical recordings or analog musical recordings.

    That certainly seems to suggest that there is a loophole written into the law that says that personal, non-commercial use of such devices is specifically allowed. There is also no mention that the rule is changed if the recording is switched from one format to another, so this applies not only to copying from one CD to another but also to converting CDDA tracks to MP3s so that you can play them on your portable MP3 player.

  • by rgmoore (133276) <glandauer@charter.net> on Monday July 16, 2001 @03:53PM (#81489) Homepage
    If you look at the definition of digital audio recording device/medium, you will see that hard drives do not fall under that definition. Monkeydo is perfectly right that the Audio Home Recording Act does not protect against copying which doesn't occur on AHRA media or devices.

    But you can argue the flip side as well. The requirement for copy protection schemes mentioned in the same section also applies only to digital audio recording devices/media, so one is not legally required to implement them on computers. IOW, making MP3s on your computer is either specifically protected because they're for non-commercial private use or is specifically exempted from the need for protections altogether because the computer isn't an audio recording device.

    This is the essential issue in the Diamond Rio case. By copying music onto a hard drive, it ceases legally to be a digital audio recording because it is no longer stored on a digital audio recording medium! While this seems to be ridiculous, that is exactly what the Appeals Court ruling [bna.com] concluded:

    The district court concluded that the exemption of hard drives from the definition of digital music recording, and the exemption of computers generally from the Act's ambit, "would effectively eviscerate the [Act] " because "[a]ny recording device could evade [ ] regulation simply by passing the music through a computer and ensuring that the MP3 file resided momentarily on the hard drive." RIAA I, 29 F. Supp. 2d at 630. While this may be true, the Act seems to have been expressly designed to create this loophole.

    Thus, it appears that there is a specific legal precedent that allows circumvention of serial copy managment just by copying the data onto a computer hard drive, as it then ceases to be legally considered to be a digital audio recording. And the Appeal Court ruled that this was not only true by the language of the law but also by its legislative history:

    In fact, the Rio's operation is entirely consistent with the Act's main purpose -- the facilitation of personal use. As the Senate Report explains, "[t]he purpose of[the Act] is to ensure the right of consumers to make analog or digital audio recordings of copyrighted music for their private, noncommercial use." S. Rep. 102-294, at *86 (emphasis added). The Act does so through its home taping exemption, see 17 U.S.C. S 1008, which "protects all noncommercial copying by consumers of digital and analog musical recordings, " H.R. Rep. 102-873(I), at *59. The Rio merely makes copies in order to render portable, or "space-shift," those files that already reside on a user's hard drive. Cf. Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, 464 U.S. 417, 455 (1984) (holding that "time-shifting" of copyrighted television shows with VCR's constitutes fair use under the Copyright Act, and thus is not an infringement). Such copying is paradigmatic non-commercial personal use entirely consistent with the purposes of the Act.

    That appears to me to be a pretty strong argument that making MP3s so that you can take them with you is legally protected.

  • by lowe0 (136140) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:42AM (#81493) Homepage
    Let's assume there won't be a price drop. We already shoulder the cost of piracy in CD's, or so they claim. Therefore, not dropping the price is an admission of one of two things:

    1. The copy protection scheme is ineffective.

    2. They've been lying about the costs of piracy to extract more money out of us.
  • by zsazsa (141679) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:49AM (#81497) Homepage
    Or, easier still would be to just use a standard CD player with a digital output (SPDIF with either toslink or coaxial) and record it with a sound card with a digital input.

    Yes, it means that you'll be "ripping" at 1x, but 1x is infnitely faster than 0x. :)

    Ian
  • by djrogers (153854) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:47AM (#81503)
    The article says that CD-player error correction overcomes the introduced garbage, wouldn't a CD-ripper's error correction ability be able to overcome this as well? Even if current software rippers can't, it doesn't sound all that hard to deal with...
  • by DeeKayWon (155842) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:10AM (#81511)
    My DVD-ROM drive has a digital CD output. I haven't listened to a CD though its analog out in two years. How would SafeAudio get around this?
  • by vsync64 (155958) <vsync@quadium.net> on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:47AM (#81512) Homepage
    I agree with Martin Colloms. I cannot believe the gall of the record labels to (apparently surreptitiously) deliberately introduce errors and data corruption into music CDs that customers are expected (and "legally required") to purchase with their hard-earned cash.

    A question I have is, what if the CD gets scratched? If the error correction is already strained by having to interpolate between their deliberately induced data corruption, will audible distortion occur sooner when the medium is actually damaged? And since you now have no way to make a backup copy.....

    --

  • by tshak (173364) on Monday July 16, 2001 @12:50PM (#81524) Homepage
    It doesn't have to be 100% effective to be effective.

    Tell that to the Napster Judge [slashdot.org].
  • by garett_spencley (193892) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:47AM (#81546) Journal
    If the cd manufacturer is mucking with the audio on the cd, isn't it violating the music's copyright?

    --
    Garett

  • by GungaDan (195739) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:47AM (#81554) Homepage
    "Here in Texas, you can return anything for 3 days."

    DAMMIT! Why didn't they tell us that back in January?

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:56AM (#81573)
    From the article : "SafeAudio works by degrading the digital code. The CD will still play on an ordinary player or through a computer's speakers or headphones. But it cannot be copied. Macrovision says that the changes made to the music are not discernible."

    Is it one of these schemes where an ultrasonic component is added to the sound that confuses MP3 encoders and generates low-level lound beat frequencies when played back ? Well, whether it's that or not, here's what's going to happen : people who have an ear for musical quality (such as music professionals) won't like this at all, and may actually be able to hear distortions in the masters.

    As for the rest of us who can't really distinguish between a 128kbps MP3 and the original on CD and really want to create an MP3 version of they CD to play on their MP3 player, they'll just bypass the protection by playing the original, filter it with a low-pass analog filter of some sort, re-digitize it and MP3-encode it (the hardware to do this is a PC with a full-duplex sound card, and 50c worth of electronic components anybody with two hands can solder together). Most likely, most people won't hear much of a difference in terms of quality if the process is done right, kind of like a watermarked JPEG that's blurred, sized down a little, then resized up, to remove the watermark : sure, the photo isn't as good as the original, but it's good enough if you're not a professional photographer.

    All in all, a hassle for everybody courtesy of the copyrighted music mafia.

  • by Goldenhawk (242867) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:43AM (#81599) Homepage
    The article claims that it prevents ripping by introducing "wildly erroneous" data and also munging the ECCs. So what; if you leave ECC off (an option in MusicMatch) or rip in Analog mode (also an option in MusicMatch), I would assume these things would not really be a big deal. The quality would still be good enough for most people. Then if you need a copy you can use on another computer, you simply burn one from THAT rip, not the original. What's the big deal?

    (Aside from the completely ODIOUS idea of deliberately introducing distortion, of course...)
    --Brandon
  • by chriso11 (254041) on Monday July 16, 2001 @01:32PM (#81604) Journal
    Of course the record labels don't care about killing the CD. They want it to exit stage left because:
    1) People are catching onto the fact that the CD only costs ~$0.80 to make, and they have been raping us in higher costs, and
    2) because CDs and MP3s get along so nice, they are a menace to profits, and finally,
    3) they want everyone to replace their entire CD collection with the new DVD-audio, which has built-in encryption.

    It is actually a pretty good plan: screw up the CD, so the audiophiles move onto the DVD-audio, and the MP3 problem with everyone else dies off.
  • by AnotherBlackHat (265897) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:55AM (#81611) Homepage
    If memory serves me correctly, programs like CDParanoia already interpolate across unreadable samples when ripping a CD. It s eems simple enough to check for "obviously" bogus samples and weed them out. Viola - end of copy protection.

    OK, now someone who knows what the real deal is can explain to me why this argument is complete hogwash :-).

    You can only interpolate across sectors that you can identify as bad. If the sector reads correctly, but the error correction says it's bad, then most players will "correct" it anyway, while most computers will read the sector as OK. In other words, CDParanoia won't realize it's an obviously bogus sample. And it doesn't have to be white noise, it could be a click, pop, or even a sour note.

    IF you had access to the raw data as it came off the head, then silliness like this would be a minor software upgrade - but the average consumer doesn't have access to the raw data, and has to make do with the "corrected" data. Personally, I want the raw bits, or rather, I want the option to get them raw. I can do my own processing, thanks.

    Overall, I'd say this is even more doomed than Macrovision was - it makes the music sound worse, (even if only a little) it doesn't stop anyone from distributing copies once they make that first one, and it prevents users from making personal copies for download into their RIO, unless they pirate them.

    i.e.

    I only download music I already own - I wouldn't do it if I could make a copy for myself...

  • by nanojath (265940) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:15AM (#81615) Homepage Journal
    Fair use is a tricky thing. The Supreme Court has traditionally protected the rights of individuals to make copies for personal use and related uses - students copying articles in the library, that sort of thing. But I don't think there's ever really been any literal statement that a copyright holder has to make it EASY, or that the copy you can make has to be PERFECT.

    THEY OWN THE COPYRIGHT. That means they have the right to release the information any way they want to. Up to including music CDs with microbursts of static interspersed with the music. In fact, an attempt to prosecute them on a fair use claim would be in violation of their First Amendment rights.

    Fair Use is a real protection - they can't stop you from ripping your non-protected CDs because it's perfectly legal to make copies to shift formats, make it more convenient to use a product, or as a back-up against breakage or degredation. But it doesn't stop anyone from making a product that copies poorly. Your beef in this case is with the creator for producing a less useful product... unfortunately, whoever is responsible for the information on the mystery CD lost control of their product as soon as they signed their contract - making the de facto creator the company, and giving the right to fuck up their product any way they want - including replacing their music with meaningless bursts of noise.

    Funny thing, if I were a musician I would object to that. I wouldn't sign with a major label. I'd get a day job and work with really intelligent people on cutting out the middleman of industry entirely, understanding that compressed song-file trading is like free play on the radio, and selling CDs is still a perfectly viable business plan for the independent musician decades to come.

    Oh wait, I am... and I do... and I won't... and I do...

  • by TheWhiteOtaku (266508) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:00AM (#81623) Homepage
    I highly doubt it is pop/teenybopper trash. Follow my logic.

    1) 14 year old girl wants the CD "Dudez-A-Plenty - Baby I wish you were my Baby"
    2) 14 year old girl searches Aimster or whatever the hell 14 year old girls use to trade files.
    3) 14 year old girl gets no matches as CD is protected.
    4) 14 year old girl gets easily manipulated 14 year old nerdy guy to help her (weren't we all that desperate?).
    5) 14 year old guy instantly realizes what's going on, alerts message board, and suddenly we aren't having this arguement.

    Nah, I'll bet it's some new age crap, Christian Deathmetal, or Country/Western.

  • by rlanctot (310750) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:44AM (#81630)
    Heh, isn't Kenny G himself enough incentive to not copy his CD, much less the copy protection on it? I mean, to really copy protect, they shoulc have a Kenny G track on EVERY CD.
  • by tb3 (313150) on Monday July 16, 2001 @11:37AM (#81632) Homepage
    Yup. And the copy protection didn't work. Here's the CNet article [cnet.com].

    And this is old news, here's when I first submitted it:
    2001-05-15 14:01:23 Copy Protected CDs Arrive (articles,news) (rejected)

  • by s20451 (410424) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:51AM (#81647) Journal

    if we can play it on a computer why can't we write a driver that captures the data going into the sound card, (like a screenshot or in this case a "SOUND SHOT")?

    It's because the audio is already analog by the time it hits your sound card - your system never sees the bits. The cd-rom drive contains the hardware to act as a player, and outputs analog audio on a separate wire to the sound card, which plays the analog audio directly. Whatever cd-playing software you use merely acts as an interface to the cd-rom drive, and doesn't manipulate the signal at all.
  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:39AM (#81655) Homepage
    It's the "RIAA's greatest hits CD!"
    --
  • by MajorBurrito (443772) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:44AM (#81657)
    If for no other reason, this scheme is horrific for the fact that it intentionally degrades audio. From the article:

    ... the system deliberately gives some of the digital code on the CD "grossly erroneous values", adding bursts of hiss to the audio signal. In addition, the error-correction codes on the CD, which would normally correct such errors, are distorted. So error correction fails, leaving tiny gaps in the music.

    The company claims that no one can notice the difference, but I think their test group was too limited. I have a friend whose wife will only use fresh VCR tapes because the distortion caused by reusing a tape is noticable to her. She also can tell the difference between CDs and analog sources, such as cassette tapes. Again from the article:

    But this doesn't placate hi-fi buffs. "It's a dreadful, dreadful thing to contaminate the sound deliberately, says Martin Colloms, a British hi-fi expert whose columns are syndicated around the world. "We all hate piracy but the idea of mucking up the sound of a recording is reprehensible. It's like slashing paintings in a gallery to stop someone stealing them."
  • by SaturnTim (445813) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:58AM (#81658) Homepage

    If it doesn't play right in your car, return it.
    any senseable person would agree that the CD has a defect if it does not play as you expect it.

    If enough people start doing this, The record companies will get the idea that this is unacceptable.
  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Monday July 16, 2001 @10:49AM (#81668) Journal
    >> Presumably the copy protection will be broken soon enough, so thats not really an issue.

    > Its going to be very difficult to break "protection" on a CD that won't even be recognized by your CDROM drive as a real CD.

    I can see how computer CD software might not recognize it as being a "good" format, but I can't see how the hardware would fail to read it, since the essentially same drive hardware is being used in both cases (the consumer black-box audio device and the computer). So breaking it would just be a matter of writing some software.

    Now, this may be a problem since only major corporations can write software and none of them would be motiva--oh wait, I forgot, some scattered individuals write software too. So yeah, I suspect it will be broken.

    -- MarkusQ

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