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Music Media

Universal to Copyprotect All CDs 887

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can't-say-I'm-surprised-by-this dept.
angkor wrote in with a link to a story about how Universal Plans to copyprotect all CDs which will render them unplayable on Macs, DVD Players, PS2s, and some CD Players. And it won't even stop people from ripping MP3s I bet.
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Universal to Copyprotect All CDs

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  • by damieng (230610) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:19PM (#2720524) Homepage Journal
    Don't buy em.

    Vote with your wallet. It's the only true voice you have in a capitalist society.
    • I agree. Also, I think most 'normal' people won't buy them either (at least return the CDs), since they won't work in alot of equipment.
      • Go to your local music super store. Pick up a pile of 5 - 10 copy protected. When clerk rings up your 150 - 300 dollar purchase, reach for your credit card and then ask "Will these CDs play on my computer?" The clerk probably won't know and ask for a manager or supervisor. When he/she says they won't tell him/her that you refuse to purchase CDs that are incompatible with your computer and walk out. That will give the store manager something as he/she is returning the pile of CD back to the racks.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          I don't know who here remembers the "ban the box" movement back when cds hit the shelves in the 80's. If you remember, all cds used to come packaged in rather large wasteful boxes (about 2.5 times the size of the actual cd) someone had the bright idea of demonstrating just how much we disliked the idea, so instead of taking the cd home, you would unbox them in the store and leave the box sitting on the counter in the store..... this was to prompt the store managers to start complaining to the distributors who would in turn pass it on the line to the record companies..... you know what? it worked. I remember when I used to buy 10-15 cds per week and just leave boxes sitting there.....they eventually started leaving large boxes sitting in front of the counter and the folks who worked there would just push the boxes into the larger box and empty it eventually when it got full, but it generated enough of a statement that the record companies changed the packaging on cds.... I don't remember the last time I saw a cd packaged in that way..... leaving something physical sittong on the counter is a way to show someone what you think, and that message does sometimes get back up the chain. maybe this would work.... but it would have to get very large for it to actually have a chance at succeeding..... You would have to get several of the major news sites to carry a story talkoing about the protest for enough people to actually see it and take action.
    • But then they'll have teeth behind the SSSCA.

      "See, we copy protected them, and the Evil Hackers(tm) copied them anyways! We need to lock down all computers! How else can we make money???"
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:45PM (#2720791)
        > But then they'll have teeth behind the SSSCA.

        Funny you should mention that [wired.com].

        Quoth Wired: "Jack Valenti predicts that Congress will require copy-protection controls in nearly all consumer electronic devices and PCs."

        Quoth Tackhead: "Jack Valenti can take a long, hard suck on my arse."

        The scary part is the article's title: "A Call to End Copyright Confusion". I don't see any confusion. I'm sure Jack isn't confused either.

        Right now, ripping is legal. Distributing ripped MP3s isn't. Jack wants to make sure that ripping is also illegal, so he can sell us the same movie twice - once on DVD, and once on our PC. Just like Hilary wants to sell us the same music twice - once on copy-crippled CD, and once-per-listen on our PCs.

        The other scary quote from the Wired article: "'I am openly, unabashedly in support of the government stepping in to set standards,' said Preston Padden, head of government relations for Disney."

        1) Head of government relations. Nice title for your business card. That's right. Walt Disney, the cute little mouse company, has a position that might as well be called "Ambassador". No fucking wonder they get the copyrights on the Rat extended on demand. They've fucking got an embassy.

        2) The word "standards", and all that implies.

        I think we can see the spin for SSSCA right now. Existing copyright laws are somehow confusing. Existing copy control technologies are broken because they're not standardized across all devices. We therefore resolve the "confusion" by having the government adopt Jack and Hilary and Mickey's "standard" in all devices.

        If you make hardware that doesn't meet the standard, you're guilty of making things "confusing" for the consumer, and nobody will buy your product. (And men with guns, "empowered" by the new law, will "protect the consumer" by taking your hardware off the market.)

        • by ArtDent (83554) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:19PM (#2721092)

          You missed the really scary quote from that article:

          Disney's Padden wasn't buying it. "There is no right to fair use," Padden said at the event. "Fair use is a defense against infringement."

          Need we say more?

          • by Nurlman (448649) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:58PM (#2721369)
            You missed the really scary quote from that article:

            Disney's Padden wasn't buying it. "There is no right to fair use," Padden said at the event. "Fair use is a defense against infringement."


            What's so scary about that? I mean, besides the fact that it's legally accurate?

            Section 107 of the copyright at, which describes the doctrine of "fair use," sets for particular instances where reproduction of a copyrighted work is "not an infringement of copyright." Specifically, reproducing some portion of a copyrighted work is not considered a violation of Section 106 of the Act (which vests exclusive rights in copyright holders to control the reproduction and distribution of their work) where, among other things, the purpose of the reproduction is for "criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research."

            In other words, when I publish a review (i.e. criticism or commentary) of the new Britney Spears album, I can quote lyrics from the songs without infringing on the copyright in those lyrics held by the author, but can't republish those lyrics in part of my novel about a young teen pop star. I can use clips of the "Lord of the Rings" movie in a news story (i.e. news reporting) about the advances in movie technology, but I can't videotape the whole movie and give copies of it to my friends.

            Granted, the concept of a "right to fair use" and fair use being a "defense against infringement" is subtle, and probably just semantics. But the doctrine of "fair use" isn't the idea that you have a right to do whatever you want with a copyrighted work, as long as you consider what you're doing to be karmically "fair."

        • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @02:47PM (#2721815)

          Good article. There's another article that might explain Universal's reasoning for adding copy-protection. (HINT: It really has little to do with piracy.)

          http://www.wired.com/news/mp3/0,1285,49188,00.html [wired.com]

          On Tuesday, Universal Music Group becomes the first label to sell copy-protected CDs in the United States with the release of its soundtrack Fast & Furious -- More Music. This comes at a time when the recording industry is asking consumers to pay for music that can only be listened to on the PC.

          The newly released CD will keep people from listening to their music on the computer, game consoles and other digital devices. If they wanted to go through the major labels to buy the same music for their computer, the only way would be to sign up for Pressplay, one of the major label subscription services, when it launches later this month.

          Essentially, consumers would be required to pay once for a physical CD and once for the digital music file. The restrictions for online subscription services and physical CDs are part of a music industry-wide attempt to stop online music piracy.

          Bascially, they want to move everyone into a position where they get paid everytime you "space-shift" your music. Playing your CD in CD player? Pay for it once. Playing it on the computer? Pay for it again. <begin sarcasm>After all, we've got to keep those RIAA pockets filled, don't we?<end sarcasm>

          • by 4of12 (97621)

            are part of a music industry-wide attempt to stop online music piracy.

            Gotta hand it to them for defining the language in their own terms - that wins half the battle in the sea of unwashed masses. Kind of like defining your opponents as "terrorists" and your collaborators as "freedom fighters".

            Imagine how this would go over if the language were altered to read:

            are part of a music industry-wide attempt to stop unrestricted online distribution of music.

            This doublespeak is continued with phrases like "Digital Rights Management" that IMHO is more accurately depicated as "Content Use Restriction". Suffice it to say, you'll never see the daily newspapers and national media outlets use any terms except those generated by their owners.

            This is all to be expected, though, as evidenced by how he term "hacker" has acquired a strange foreboding and malevolence in the popular media, whereas the technically adept, those most like to "hack", know the difference between a hacker and a cracker.

      • by ryanr (30917)
        Right. Because of the DMCA, if you circumvent a protection mechanism in order to access a copyrighted work (i.e. ripping the CD) then you can be prosecuted under the terms of the DMCA. Unlike ripping a regular CD, which you've probably got a protected right to do, under fair use and the home videotaping decisions.

        So, it now becomes worthwhile for the RIAA to make examples of a few people in an attempt to scare everyone away.

        I had initially thought that this was a complete misunderstanding of what copy protection can do. Used to be copy protection was semi-effective against people who had to trade physical media (diskettes.) However, when you're talking about medialess copies (downloads) none of this applies. One technical guy makes an MP3 (which you can always do from the analog output if you have to), and everyone on Gnutella does an expotential expansion of the number of copies.

        However, I now think the first scenario I mentioned is much more likely.
    • by Peter Dyck (201979) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:21PM (#2720545)
      Uh... if you don't buy CDs they will see a drop in the sales.

      And do you know who that will be blamed on? Right. It's the fault of the nasty internet pirates! So, we need even more protections.

    • by bricriu (184334) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:25PM (#2720596) Homepage
      Also, keep a watch on Fatchuck's Corrupt CD list [fatchucks.com] to tell you what batches to avoid and who to contact.

      I've made my call to the Federal Trade Commission. Have you?
    • by rbgaynor (537968) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:26PM (#2720604) Homepage
      Better to buy them and return them as defective - that way Universal gets grief from their retail outlets as well as seeing their sales drop.
      • Obligatory Warning (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gmhowell (26755)
        Karma Whore alert:

        Remember, don't buy and return from the indy and/or mom-and-pop shops. Buy and return from Circuit City, Amazon.com, Wal-Mart, etc. (The bonus with buying from Amazon is that if they don't identify the offending CD, you might be able to get them charged with mail fraud)
        • by DoorFrame (22108) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:06PM (#2720982) Homepage
          Any why do mom-and-pop shops deserve anything better than the major stores? They're both owned by somebody. Just because the guy who owns Virgin is quite a few steps removed from the actual brick and mortar stores, doesn't mean that in the end, he doesn't lose whatever profit is to be made from the sale of that cd. It does get to the end of the chain eventually. When you return cds to the store, you're hurting the owner. I don't really see why it matters if they're far removed from the store, or directly in charge.

          Anyway, if the mom-and-pop stores really cared about their customers, and were really worthy of the support taht you people always want to throw at them, they'd save themselves the trouble and NOT STOCK THE CDS YOU'RE GOING TO RETURN. By selling those cds they are just as guilty as any store, if you're going ot be mad at HMV for selling defective disks and helping the record industry, you've got to angry towards the mom-and-pops as well.

          You're either for the copy protection, or you're against it.
          • by namespan (225296)
            Any why do mom-and-pop shops deserve anything better than the major stores?


            Two reasons:

            I. On principle. Because generally, the mom-and-pop shops are owned by people who are motivated by something else than pure profit. They're mostly music fans who're trying to make a living working with something they love. Ever seen the movie "High Fidelity"?

            It's a lot like Wendell Berry's description of old-school farmers vs agribusiness:

            "Though my father had left the farm and become a lawyer, though he had become in a sense more than a farmer, there was also a sense in which he refused to become less. In addition to, and in spite of, all else that he had become, he remained a farmer. Alongside the knowledge and abilities by which he functioned in courthouses and offices... he kept the farmer's passion that sees beyond the market values into the intricacy and beauty of the lives of things.... to him, crops and animals were not only to be sold, but to be studied, understood, and admired for their own sakes..."

            II. It will be more effective if you do it with a larger chain. They can absorb more loses, but they can also complain louder than mom and pop shops.

            This isn't to say you shouldn't return a CD that you bought from a mom/pop shop if it IS defective or you can't use it how you'd like. You should. Just don't go INTENDING to the that. Save that for the Media Plays, the Wherehouses, the Sam Goodys, and yes, even Tower Records.
            • by Mullen (14656) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @03:04PM (#2721922)
              Your argument is pure crap.

              You make three incorrect assumptions:

              I work for Amazon.com and hurting a retailer like us does not effect higher ups like Jeff Bezos, it effects people like me, the lower level owners of the company. My stock is not worth much, so when you damage the company your not hurting someone who owns a million or so shares of stock that they bought at 25 cents or less, your hurting people like me who own a few thousand where the buying and selling price is very narrow. If I sell stock, I do not get much, or worse yet, my buying price is above the market price!

              The second flaw is that everyone who works at a large company is evil does not care about customers and thus desires to be hurt. Most employees of large companies care alot about the customer and thier experiences with thier company. Alot of the large companies spend lots of money and time figuring out how to make the shopping experience better and more enjoyable.

              Third, you make the assumption that Mom and Pop stores are not motivated by pure profit. Mom and Pop places are just as motivated by profit as any large company, they just do it on a smaller scale. In the free market, all persons who own a business are motivated by pure profit, if they are not, they quickly go out of business.
              • by namespan (225296) <namespan@@@elitemail...org> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @03:46PM (#2722268) Journal
                all persons who own a business are motivated by pure profit

                Everyone needs to turn a profit from business, but that doesn't mean they are in business only for the profit. Many people I've talked with personally (including a number of record shop owners) derive utility from the work they're doing. They do it because they derive satisfaction from doing the work or providing the service, and are content with making a living at it. Let me reiterate: they have a motive -- other than profit -- for doing what they do.

                I have noticed that mom/pop/indie store owners tend to be more knowledgeable (breadth and depth) and passionate about music than their Media Play counterparts. Sure, they're there to sell something and keep the roof over their heads. But they're also there -- instead of getting their MCSE and getting paid double working in IT -- because they're doing work that's in line with their personal mission. In the process, they usually end up providing better service to customers.

                I'm not saying that every small shop is that way. They seem to tend to be, though. And conversely, I'm not saying everyone who works at a large corp is evil...but, I feel like I get poorer service at Media Play and Sam Goody and the like. My theory is that once a corp becomes large and public, the obligation to the (often absentee) owners becomes almost purely that of investment. In our current system, most of the owners are simply looking for a good place to invest their money which will get a good return. They're abstracted away from the operations and mission of the company, and often don't have any interest in the product at all. Just return on investment. Those who make policy decisions high up in the company are thus only affected by financial pressures, and thus customer service and product quality only means something to them in terms of costs and returns.

                My stock is not worth much, so when you damage the company your not hurting someone who owns a million or so shares of stock that they bought at 25 cents or less, your hurting people like me

                First off, no one is trying to hurt amazon or the retailers, but....

                Any action that people could take which would make an appreciable impact on stock prices in the way you describe would be noticed by the ceo, the board, and investors at large. Some of these people may have got in when the getting was cheap, but a lot of them didn't, and furthermore, they have large enough investments in the company that a fluctuation of a quarter can gain/lose them millions in some cases.

                Anyway, back to the point. No one is trying to hurt the retailer, but rather punish the publisher. The large retailers have much more clout with the publishers. Returning lots of CDs to Amazon won't hurt them -- they have the clout and motivation to write it off to the manufacturer/publisher. Thus, returning lots of CDs to Amazon is much more likely to hurt universal than returning them to Crandall Records in Orem Utah.

                Your argument is pure crap.

                While I realize this is not an uncommon mode of discourse/rhetoric on slashdot, avoiding statements like this will actually give you more credibility and respect. Try actually refuting my arguments next time.
          • Universal (Score:3, Insightful)

            by nuxx (10153)
            Universal gives fuckall about small shops that simply carry their product. A friend of mine owns a small record shop (which will remain nameless) in southeast Michigan. He's been told numerous times that until he is reporting to Soundscan [google.com] they will not support him in any way with posters, promos, anything that will help him sell music. It seems that Universal is simply interested in creating market share, not selling music, and they will use any little store to do so. You also need to remember that the difference between a large store like Virgin and a small store is the owner. A small store where the owner puts in 12 hour days 7 days a week doesn't have the same interest that the VCs starting up a place like Virgin do. The Virgin folks are (above all) interested in making money via their buisness, which happens to be a retail music enterprise. Most small shops are owned and run by owners who love the music enough to try and make a life out of it, whatever they can make. Most small stores don't turn a profit for two to three years, if they are even around that long. Reasons like those are why you should look favorably on independant buisnesses standing up to the corporate machine, even if they do have to sell some of their product to survive. It's turning the machine against itself. -Steve
      • by genericus (316911) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @02:12PM (#2721518)
        The problem with this approach is it does just the opposite of what it appears to. Theoretically, we want our $$ to go to the artists and not the suits, and that is just the argument the suits have been using all along: that these provisions "protect the artist". Well, artists don't get paid when records get returned but record companies do. Even if Universal accepts returns from stores at full price, they are still going to make money.
        Picture this scenario:

        The artist is in hock to the record company for a few hundred thousand dollars. This is typical, and pretty lowball, actually. The way the artists gets out of debt to the company is through royalty rates: Out of the sale price of the CD you've bought at Tower, Tower gets a cut, the distributor (possibly a shell company owned by the record company) gets a cut, leaving the wholesale price for the record company. Let's say that's $10, just to keep the numbers easy.

        The songwriter must get paid, by law. Last I checked, it was .066 dollars per song, per unit sold. Let's say there's 10 songs on the album; the songwriter gets 66 cents on the CD you bought, right? No, during contract negotiations, the songwriter probably "voluntarily" negotiated that down to 4 cents on maybe 8 of the album tracks, so $.34.

        The rest of the musicians in the band get $0; they don't get paid until they are out of debt to the record company. Out of the $10 wholesale, they get say 6%, and the hundreds of thousands they owe the record company are made up out of this 6%, not the wholesale price of the CD.

        The record producer gets paid by the company. He probably has a 15% cut of albums shipped. So he gets $1.50 for the CD whether you bought it or not, just because it's at the store. So the company is down $1.50 per cd for the producer, right? Nope. That expense goes to the artist to be recouped from their royalty rate.

        The artist also gets to pay for packaging out of royalties. This is an absurd amount, like $1.50 - $2.00, more than I pay to do it myself in my room, and way more than an independant would pay a pressing factory. There's also a deduction for breakage that's around 1%, I believe. Also, the 6% they get is not actually 6%, since the record companies even in this day and age consider CDs to be 'expirimental media', and they pay about 1/2% less on CD sales. Let's say they bump this figure up to 1% because of this radical new anti-pirate technology.
        • The score so far:
        • Record company: $9.66
        • Songwriter: $.34
        • Producer: (100,000 units shipped, as an example) $150,000
        • Band: 4% (6% per unit - 1% breakage - 1% new technology) = $.40 - packaging, producer's fee, manager's cut (generally 10-15%), marketing/promotion, returns, and initial advance.

        So, along comes you, returning your shitty copy protected CD to Tower.

        Scenario 1: Tower puts it in its cut bin. Record Company gets paid, producer gets paid, distributor gets paid, Tower gets paid, albeit at a lower rate than normal. Songwriter does not get paid, royalties on sale are not credited to band.

        Scenario 2: Let's say Universal refunds the wholesale price to Tower and to the distributor. First, the distributor is probably Universal itself, so the difference between the wholesale and the distributor's price is still in Universal's hands, but written off as a loss to be deducted from the band's royalties. Universal is now in posession of a number of "defective" CD's. They could:
        • deduct the wholesale price from the artists royalties.
        • sell the CD's to a third party to be distributed to cut bins, used CD stores, and/or Europe, resulting in the same payment scheme as if Tower put it in their own cut bin. And deduct the wholesale price from the artists royalties. Or
        • They could "lose" them. (to a third party to be distributed back to Tower, cut bins, used CD stores, and/or Europe). And deduct the wholesale price from the artists royalties.


        This is the kind of creative accounting that goes on in the record industry. I guarantee that the copy protection WILL be used to justify paying artists a lower royalty rate on the front end, and to further reduce payment to them on the back end. That's just how they work...
      • Even better (Score:3, Interesting)

        by athmanb (100367)
        Buy them, rip them on some obscure device that can (like a Macintosh) and return them since they don't work in your DVD player :)
    • Don't by em.

      Better solution: Buy them and return them.

      • Buy them and return them, once at every record store in town. Buy some online and return those too. Smack 'em with refused credit card payments for defective merchandise. Make a minor scene in the record store, and ask them to please warn future purchasers that it might not play in their device. (Then pull the clerk aside and apologize -- it's not their fault, after all)
      • by Myself (57572) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:45PM (#2720794) Journal
        there's a whole bucketload of ignoramii who won't hear about this unless we tell them.

        SPREAD THE WORD. Evangelize at your local record store. Bring it up in conversation. Dangle CDs from your car mirrors and prepare a 10-second explanation that you can deliver at stoplights. Tell your aunt blabbermouth, make sure she's got the facts straight, then let gossipnet take over.
    • One upshot to this: you'll have more money to spend on empty cd's and bandwith because now you'll be downloading and burning all your music.

      --
    • by TheAngryMob (49125) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:35PM (#2720699) Homepage

      Won't this just increase piracy?

      Think about it. If I want to hear Twisted Wet Noodle's lastest single "Geriatric Cheerleader" and I can't play it on over half the devices in my house, guess where I'm gonna turn?

      MP3's are becoming the only way to play on all forms of players (including DVDs).

      Do all companies have this kind of disrespect for their customers? I really hope not.

    • Given the return policy, why not this?
      1. Buy the CD.
      2. Open it at the cash register.
      3. Return it as defective.
      4. Leave the store.

      If everybody does it, they might think it's a revolution.
  • I have a whole pile of CD's in the office, which I listen to on CD-ROM. Perfectly legal. If I can't expect to do this when I buy a new CD, then I'm simply going to stop buying new CDs.
    • Stop buying new UNIVERSAL cds, that is.

      This can't possibly float...too many people in too many offices around the world pop in a cd to listen while sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours.

      Either that, or mp3 will become even more popular....the only way to listen to music on a computer!
  • If it's 1s and 0s (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ender-iii (161623) <adam&nullriver,com> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:19PM (#2720528) Homepage
    It will be ripped.
    • by ichimunki (194887) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:36PM (#2720715)
      The copy restriction scheme (if I understand it correctly) involves putting noise into the data stream that normal error correction in stereo racks, boomboxes and the like correct for. So yes, it should be easy enough to lift the actual data stream from the disc and remove these anomalies in the streams. If they can error correct in hardware, we can certainly error correct in software.

      Even easier math to code up would be to play the audio to an analog channel and feed that back into the sound-in plug on your computer. If you are hyper-concerned about fidelity you can copy it four or five times and blend the copies together using an averaging algorithm (the composite stream is more likely to be accurate to the original than any of the instance streams).

      Of course, none of this will protect you from the low quality of the original content, and frankly I think it's ironic that in order to protect the copying of a high quality digital stream they are basically degrading the quality of the signal. If I wanted a degraded signal I'd go back to tapes and vinyl (and please, no audiofile flames about sound range and that stuff, okay?).

      I suppose I've just violated the DMCA by providing fairly vague instructions on how to circumvent this so-called protection (as in racket) device.
  • by sulli (195030)
    Since I play all my CDs on my Powerbook, no more Universal CDs for me either. Oh fucking well!
  • A load of bull. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rebel Patriot (540101)
    They won't ever make a pubicly available format that can't be cracked. Remember the DVD encryption distaster? Some one found out how to break it and posted the code on the net. It was eventually taken down but the damage was done. There are too many good crackers out there for any standard copy-protection to stand up over time. It will soon be cracked and the cd's ripped and the music will be uploaded to the net. Nothing new here, just another attempt on an old theme. Good scientists know, when you repeat the same exepriment under the same conditions, you (all others being equal) get the same results.
  • well shit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ender Ryan (79406) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:22PM (#2720558) Journal
    I guess I'll have to download all my music now so I can play it on my home mp3 stereo, since I won't be able to rip them.

    I'd like to pay for my music, but I'm not going to buy a product I can't use!

    Oh well, I don't like the music industry anyway... I've been listening to more non-mainstream music...

    • Re:well shit (Score:3, Insightful)

      by acidblood (247709)
      I second that absolutely. I only listen to music in my computer, I don't have a standalone CD player. Taking away demo/bootlegged live songs from my playlist (I wouldn't be able to buy them on a CD anyway), I'm left with no more than 6 hours of MP3s in here. The rest of my music collection, I usually have downloaded the MP3 first, figured the band was good, and bought a CD or DVD. Right now I own 100 records, split 5:1 between CDs and DVDs respectively (mostly purchased in the last 3 or 4 years -- I dumped my previous CDs by that time, although I had at least a hundred of them also.)

      But, apparently, the record companies are forcing me to download MP3s only from now on. I'd rather have the higher sound quality found in a CD, and the nice cover and booklets, but oh well, I'm being forced into this.
  • by Bonker (243350) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:22PM (#2720563)
    Au contrare!

    If anything, any time I see a post on Usenet of Mp3's from a CD that is supposedly copy protected, the poster usually takes great pains to brag discuss the fact that he was able to rip despite copy protection.

    Really, I think that even the record industry didn't expect the various copy protections to really work. What they're doing is building an easily hackable content protection system so that they can prosecute MP3 traders under the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.
  • Some blame the sour economy. Others point to lackluster sales of hotly anticipated new releases from artists like Mariah Carey and Macy Gray, and the glut of look-alike, sound-alike boy bands.

    Why don't they just do what every other failure in the past 3 months has done and blame "the tragic events of 9/11"?
  • by banky (9941) <gregg@ne u r o b ashing.com> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:23PM (#2720569) Homepage Journal
    OK, so when I play it in my Discman, it's OK; (even if i go to Radio Shack and buy a couple bucks worth of cable, 'line in' to my sound card, and record)

    But if I play it on a Sony CDROM drive in my computer, it's bad?

    First, how *exactly* does it know? As my dad used to say, "A laser is just a laser".

    Prepare for massive consumer backlash. Even if people don't want to ever "rip, mix, and burn" (thank you Apple 'Dont Steal Music' Computer) they want to listen to their CDs when and where they want to.
    • Different standards. Error correction on Audio CD players (your Discman) is much more forgiving than on your Sony CD-ROM. The copyright protection schemes generally introduce "noise" into the recording (inaudible to humans, supposedly) which the Audio CD player corrects and smooths over, ignoring the interruption. The more sensitive CD-ROM drive is unable to reconcile the random bits, rendering the CD unplayable.

      The standards are referred to as (I believe) "red book" for audio and "purple book" (or perhaps orange?) for CD-ROMS. Could be vice versa...
    • by _avs_007 (459738)
      Most junk CD players just blindly read the data off the CD-ROM and fead it to the DAC.

      Higher end CD players as well as CD-ROM drives, actually perform some type of Error Correction as it reads the data. A CD-ROM does this, because it must read the data correctly, or its useless as data storage. High end CD players do this, to correct for scractches, dust, etc etc.

      Copy-protected CD's have deliberate errors in the error correction, so that the CD-ROM drive and high end CD-Players will think it just read unrecoverable errors.
    • When you are forced to use the line-in on your sound card the signal had to go through a DAC and ADC. Both introduce error and your resulting MP3 isn't as clean.

      At this point, I'm tempted to get a Sony Mini-Disc player and record with it. Since my stereo CD player uses digital output and the MD recorder using digital input, I won't be losing as much.
    • As my dad used to say, "A laser is just a laser".

      "Used" to say? As in famous last words?

      Dad: "It's perfectly safe, son -- a laser is just a laser and ... [ZOT!] [pffft] [sizzle] [thump]"
      Son: "Dad?"
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:23PM (#2720575)
    Others point to lackluster sales of hotly anticipated new releases from artists like Mariah Carey and Macy Gray, and the glut of look-alike, sound-alike boy bands.

    There you have it, instead of letting true musical diversity create authentic, viable fan bases, the music industry has locked itself into the failing practice of top-down music manufacturing...reminiscent of a Soviet state capitalism that never worked either.

    Maybe one day when a free market for music exists again, people will care.

    • by Spamalamadingdong (323207) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:38PM (#2720727) Homepage Journal
      Someone mod that up as "insightful".

      I liked this terror-scenario from the article:

      Such rules let consumers enjoy music on an array of consumer electronics devices -- from PCs to portable players. But it would discourage 15 high school friends from getting together and pooling their money to buy a single music CD and a spindle of blank discs and making dubs for everyone in the group -- with a few extras to sell at school.
      Speaking for myself, I don't want to keep the kids from copying the bubble-gum stuff and throwing it all around the school. I want the market for that to dry up, because the whole concept of a manufactured youth-culture is destructive to society as a whole and it deserves to be destroyed.
      • I want the market for that to dry up, because the whole concept of a manufactured youth-culture is destructive to society as a whole and it deserves to be destroyed.

        Amen brother.

        It's degraded to the point that our corporate-centric society is practically breeding American youth like cattle, both in the market of culture and the market of ideas.

        Obey.

        Work.

        Consume.

        Breed.

  • If you arrested all the people in the USA who have violated the drug laws (predominantly recreational drugs like pot), you'd end up arresting the number of people that make up arkensaw, texas, and colerado ... I wonder if Universal will find out just how many fans there are for some of their big name contracts, and I wonder if that number will surprise them. I also wonder if some artists will see this as a damaging move on their part, and request that their releases not be copy protected ...
  • by CaptCosmic (323617) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:24PM (#2720586) Homepage
    If a CD won't play in some CD Players, then doesn't it violate the Red Book standard for CD Audio? If so, then how are they allowed to slap the Compact Disc Digital Audio logo on to them?

    Sounds like ground for a class action lawsuit once they start to arrive.
  • ... and install it for me, then i'll consider buying their CDs. I listen to CDs all day at work, so a CD is useless to me

    Hey, here's an idea; list some bands CDs you won't buy if this happens. Note their record label. Compile a list - hell, just start listing them here!

    Only when they see the kind of negative impact this will have on their sales will they abandon these silly strategies for boxing us out of owning music.

  • by xod (37610) <lookslikeiwasright&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:26PM (#2720601)
    If the copy protection scheme really makes the CD impossible to play on certain players, those owners may be forced to turn to "stolen" mp3s, increasing the number of people searching for and using napster alternatives. Doh!
  • by msuzio (3104) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:27PM (#2720606) Homepage
    Let's insure this prediction turns out to be untrue :-). I say we all make sure to buy and return this sucker, preferably in a coordinated effort targeted on a certain day...

    What idiots... we long ago ceased being "customers" to them, now they just expect us to roll over and play dead. Forget that.

    ``They've been testing this in Europe and they're experiencing less than a 1 percent return rate from consumers. It really has turned out to be nothing,'' said Jerry Kamiler, TransWorld Entertainment's division merchandise manger. ``If we get the same results here, as I imagine we would, I don't think it's going to manifest itself into a consumer problem.''
  • They won't give up tilting at this windmill I guess. It's frustrating to watch a company make such a wrongheaded move. Yet it's also a move that will likely garner little bad press and few lost sales. And if they find any hint of success, everyone will do it. But what do you do?

    It'll be interesting to see if this gets covered by mainstream press much.

    Meanwhile, this topic has been absolutely battered here on Slashdot.
  • Indeed, blank CDs now outsell recorded discs in Europe and Canada, according to one label executive.
    Well, since a blank cd has many more uses than a cd with a 74 minute audio recording this shouldn't really come as a surprise. But of course, they want an excuse to tax all blank CDs so that they can get more money by not selling anything.
  • by WaIter Bell (542911) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:28PM (#2720624)
    I purchased one of these copy protected CDs without knowing that it was defective merchandise, and the store [bestbuy.com] I bought it from will not accept the return since the music was opened. Since I paid cash, I have no right of appeal.

    However, I am fed up with this charade and I would like to end it once and for all. I have the paperwork in front of me to take Universal Records to small claims court to recover the purchase price of the CD. Since Universal is not based in my area, it will be very expensive for them to send their high-priced lawyers to my county to deal with the charges. And, worst case, I will lose the cost of the CD (and best case, I will get a refund on the CD and make a political statement at the same time).

    I strongly encourage all of you to do the same thing: buy whatever CDs you want, and sue the record labels if they are copy protected. Even if most of the cases get thrown out, it will be *very* expensive for the labels to take any sort of action against the thousands of individuals who are suing them.

    The RIAA has been able to manipulate the legal system into standing up for their rights. Why shouldn't we do the same thing back to them?

    ~wally

    • by sting3r (519844) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:48PM (#2720833) Homepage
      ...against telemarketers, at least. One of my buddies sues about one telemarketer per month on the average, and only one (1) out of 43 has actually shown up in court. Though the statute says they can only be sued for $500, the judges usually award about $1000 to $1500 to compensate him for his wasted time and effort, and to penalize the telemarketer for flouting the subpoena.

      So, this could be a very effective strategy for dealing with record companies. With hundreds of lawsuits coming from different directions, they won't bother appearing in court and they will lose every case - making copy protection economically infeasible.

      -sting3r

    • by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:58PM (#2720920) Homepage Journal
      You don't have to go to Universal to complain. You sue Best Buy. I can't remember the legalese, but basically, they agree that the merchandise is fit for a given use. It wasn't. They misrepresented the product. You win.

      Now, Best Buy can now sue the distributor, essentially under the same grounds. (and it keeps going up the food chain from there).

      But you have no cause of action directly with Universal. Only with Best Buy. It's kinda like Windows Refund Day: no cause with M$, but with the seller of the product.
    • by kreyg (103130) <`kreyg' `at' `shaw.ca'> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:04PM (#2720966) Homepage
      Well, since there's NO WAY you could have copied it, because it is COPY PROTECTED, there's no reason they shouldn't accept a return.

      :-)
  • This smacks of the 6.02x10^23 different copy protection schemes employed by various games throughout the 80-90s. I remember all sorts of schemes from stupid (requiring a hidden file or special byte sequence at a certain address) to annoying (one of the wizardry series required you to type in a gibberish string from a 20 page booklet of gibberish strings. The annoying part was that the text was dark blue on a dark burgundy background and it was difficult to read in the best of light. But this also made it impossible to photocopy) and one by one they were cracked and scoffed at. The content (the game) still made it out into the open.

    Unless the protection scheme's strength comes from the laws of science/nature (e.g. RSA) I think any scheme will be broken with enough time and CPUs applied to it.
    • by FFFish (7567) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:46PM (#2720808) Homepage
      The difference being, back in the 80s-90s, the publishers weren't on the hunt, prosecuting the crackers and pirates. They didn't have the wonderful DMCA and SSCA backing them up. They didn't spend more money on lawyers than they did on creating good content. And they didn't see the writing on the wall.

      What we're witnessing is a rat backed into a corner. RIAA recognises that its days are numbered, and it's doing every goddamn thing it can to fight its way out of the corner.

      It's beyond mere music piracy. They could live with piracy: they always have.

      It's to the point where they can see that artists are going to go independent. And so they're desperately trying to invent a reason for artists to stay with them. "Music protection" seems to be the salespitch they've chosen.

      But they're doomed anyway.

      Artists don't need the megaexpensive recording studios. These days, most anyone can set up a decent studio for a relatively small investment.

      Artists don't need the megaexpensive advertising. These days, anyone can gain popularity via web media. Fansites, mailing lists, word of mouth: it's worked before, it's working now, and it's hella cheaper than MTV.

      Artists don't need the distribution chain. They can post to the web. As soon as a good payment system comes along, where the artist can be paid directly and receives most of that payment, the distribution chain is toast.

      And artists have recently begun to discover that they can sell out concerts via the net. There's no need to for the megapop media orgy that the old-style companies provided. Word of mouth is doing it.

      The writing is on the wall: as soon as the one hiccup is removed -- paying the artists directly, cheaply -- the RIAA is dead. Their *only* hope is to convince artists that music theft is more harmful than the music mafia.
      • You are all missing the point: The RIAA is not fighting to live, the RIAA is fighting to WIN.


        Artists don't need the megaexpensive recording studios. These days, most anyone can set up a decent studio for a relatively small investment.


        Artists don't need the megaexpensive advertising. These days, anyone can gain popularity via web media. Fansites, mailing lists, word of mouth: it's worked before, it's working now, and it's hella cheaper than MTV.


        Artists don't need the distribution chain. They can post to the web. As soon as a good payment system comes along, where the artist can be paid directly and receives most of that payment, the distribution chain is toast.


        The industry is fighting everything you talk about here because they see a new dawn for them: TOTAL control of media.


        To totally control access to a system, you have to control the whole damn thing, input to output, re their SSSCA, CPRM, DMCA, LMNOP or whatever the initiative will be. That means that you will need a license just to input. If by law, you use THEIR tools, you'll have to PAY to buy a license to publish. After all, the industry will control this. If the industry doesn't want what you're pushing, you get no license.


        If you don't have a license, and it's illegal to go around their system, well, you have no independent artists. It's that simple. RIAA and MPAA win.

  • My solution is to purchase $100 dollars worth of the CDs one day and return the next day as being defective because they don't comply with the Red Book standard. Universal said they would honor the refunds to the retailers. That would cost them more in the end than not buying the CDs in the first place. I think that's the best solution.

  • > Some blame the sour economy. Others point to lackluster sales of hotly anticipated new releases from artists like Mariah Carey and Macy Gray, and the glut of look-alike, sound-alike boy bands.

    Someone please tell me that was intended as sarcasm. The only reason I've even heard of Mariah Carey is because Jay Leno spent two solid weeks ridiculing her overhyped movie.

    And what could be more hotly anticipated than a new release from one of a glut of look-alike, sound-alike boy bands?
  • As long as mp3 trading services are around, it only takes one person to rip a CD and stay up on gnutella or whatever for it to get around.

    So the real question is, right now, what % of CDs are first-generation rips? Since we all know that any CD like this can be ripped (even if with a loss of quality from going the DAC/ADC in the sound card), they will be ripped. And then they'll be traded. So who cares?

    The other interesting question is whether something like cdparanoia (which, from what I've heard, rips these CDs) can be considered a circumvention device even though it existed independently of (and before) the copy-protection being circumvented. I presume this would guarantee that it had "substantial non-infringing use" or whatever the standard is that they measure it by, but I dunno.
  • by count_dooku (448992) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:37PM (#2720721) Homepage

    From the article:

    Universal told retailers that it would honor refunds on all returned discs -- even for CDs that have been opened.

    This is great news. If you believe copy-protected discs are wrong, just buy one, open it, and return. In fact, buy 50 of them, open them all, then return them. If enough people do this, maybe Universal will get the message.

    If you want to be even more eeeeeeeeevil, you could open it, rip it via line out, post the ripped tracks to newsgroups, then return it.

    They asked for it.

    --

  • I almost always buy my CD's and then make legal copies in MP3 format... now if I can't do that I will be forced to download music for free and universal will lose the sale... I guess they want me to save money. Thanks!
  • If I go buy the CD and hack it, then I can make a copy, and take the CD back for a full refund :)

    Sounds good to me.

    But you wait, Wal-mart and others will start advertising that it won't work on all those devices and that once opened, cannot be returned just because it doesn't work on known hardware.
  • by HardCase (14757) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:43PM (#2720778)
    What just kills me about the recording industry's whining about a drop in domestic (US) sales is that the whole thing is blamed on piracy.


    What about the quality of the music that's being released? Did Universal, BMG, Sony, et al ever stop to wonder if part of the problem is that they're churning out bands that are carbon copies of each other? Do we really need more "boy bands" or breathy, heartbroken beauty queens? It's just like TV...as soon as Survivor became a hit, every network had to have a clone...but now that the market is saturated, ratings are terrible.


    Oh, and what about the economy? I'll bet that if you're one of the million or so high tech workers who doesn't have a job anymore, buying the latest Brittany Spears CD is probably way down on your list, below, say groceries!


    Piracy is always an easy card to play, and not just for the music industry. It's a whole lot easier it blame some kid with a ripper, a burner and a fast Internet connection for destroying their market than it is to realize that the industry itself, by churning out disc after disc of bubble gum flavored dreck, is killing itself.


    -h-

    • by The G (7787)
      Did Universal, BMG, Sony, et al ever stop to wonder if part of the problem is that they're churning out bands that are carbon copies of each other? Do we really need more "boy bands" or breathy, heartbroken beauty queens? It's just like TV...as soon as Survivor became a hit, every network had to have a clone...but now that the market is saturated, ratings are terrible.

      Is it jsut me, or is this in fact the networks doing precisely what they are trying to prevent -- they say loudly "your unrestrained copying will destroy quality and drive prices through the floor by saturating the market." Meanwhile, they copy each other and thereby destroy quality, drive prices through the floor, and saturate the market.

      The difference is, I can actually see the deleterious effects of their piracy.
      --G
    • What about the quality of the music that's being released? Did Universal, BMG, Sony, et al ever stop to wonder if part of the problem is that they're churning out bands that are carbon copies of each other?

      Please. Go back and look at the Top 40 charts from 1991, 1981, 1971, and 1961. Half the songs have ALWAYS looked like clones to a segment of the population.

      Britney Spears and N'Sync are popular because a large number of people who buy CDs like them, period.

      Those of us who think they suck are also the most likely to think the entire record industry sucks, and refuse to buy CDs.
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:45PM (#2720804)
    Unfortunately, phenomenon like Napster and the ease of `ripping and burning' are causing artists and record companies real harm...

    Will someone please show this lady an episode of MTV Cribs?
  • by Dr. Awktagon (233360) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:46PM (#2720809) Homepage

    In Germany alone, one survey by market researcher GfK found that blank CD sales jumped 129 percent this year. Purchases of pre-recorded music dropped 2.2 percent in the same period.

    What a bizarre and useless statistic. What's the point? I can't even begin to comprehend. Okay, for one thing, CDRs are much cheaper than CDs. The popularity of CDRs is rising, while pre-recorded music has been around for decades. Another thing, how do they know what people record on them, or if they've recorded on them at all? I've got stacks of blank CDRs to back up files. If I make a music CD it's from music that I bought on a regular CD.

    I think they ought to compare the sale of bread to the sale of pre-recorded CDs. I bet they will find a real "disturbing trend".

    • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:55PM (#2721342) Homepage
      GfK found that blank CD sales jumped 129 percent this year. Purchases of pre-recorded music dropped 2.2 percent in the same period.

      129% of blank CD's = 2.2% of music CD sales. With some basic math we therefore conclude an additional 2560% rise in blank CD sales will reduce music CD sales to ZERO. COOL! If we really want to wipe out the RIAA, all we have to do is all go out and buy a buttload of blank CD's!

      -
  • Sony (Score:3, Informative)

    by jpatters (883) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @12:49PM (#2720846)
    Sony advertises its Playstation 2 as a CD/DVD player, and owns some of the studios that may be releasing the copy protected CDs. In fact, there has already been the whole flap over the Michael Jackson single that they released with the copy protection. (acording to the article)

    IANAL, but wouldn't that open them up to some sort of legal action, since they also sell some of the devices that get broken by this?
  • by AgTiger (458268) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:25PM (#2721134) Homepage
    Okay everyone, I spent some time out at the Universal Music Group section of the Universal Music Studios website, and there's a fairly hefty list of music labels in this group.

    Just saying you won't buy from Universal isn't enough. Here's the list I found:

    A&M Records
    Decca Record Company
    Deutsche Grammophon
    Geffen Records
    Interscope Rercords
    Island Def Jam Music Group
    Jimmy and Doug's Farmclub.com
    MCA Nashville
    MCA Records
    Mercury Records
    Motown Records
    Phillips
    Polydor
    Universal Records
    Verve Music Group

    I also went through their list of artists, and saw a shocking number of artists that I either currenly own CD's from, or want to purchase some or all from their discography.

    My next quest is to find landmail addresses for all the record labels *and* the Universal Music Group, plus the RIAA, as well as the artists of UMG's that I listen to, and start writing a lot of letters stating my disappointment at what they're planning to do, and how it stands to completely wreck my ability to purchase and enjoy their music.

    I don't have a "regular CD player". Not _one_. The CD player in my car is based on CD-Rom drive technology. I listen to my music on my computer, or I pipe the audio out straight to the stereo and listen on the big speakers. I listen to my headphones at work while I do my design documents, and that's to MP3's I ripped from CD's that I purchased.

    Frankly, their decision sucks if they want me to keep purchasing music from their group. Simple as that.
  • by rMortyH (40227) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:33PM (#2721179)
    It seems obvious that the CD medium is a gaping hole in the recording industry's business model.

    By making CD's that don't always play, they will turn people against CDs as a whole. It's looks like a standard FUD tactic.

    Soon they'll introduce a 'better' medium with more capacity, other hype, and a player that is under industry control, like DVD without the security hole.

    It's all a waste, people seem to like MP3's just fine. I don't like the quality myself, but I have no problem with the quality of sampled analog. A standard quality MP3 is no worse when ripped from analog than from a cdda track, and it's just a tiny bit more work.

    They can kill CD's, and they will, but they can't kill the LINE OUT jack!
  • by Ececheira (86172) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:38PM (#2721216)
    Ripping one of these new disc's is more of a nuisance than non-protected disc's, but it's still very easy.

    What you'll need are the following two pieces of hardware: a stand-alone cd player with digital output (either coax or optical), and a sound card, such as the Audigy Plantinum, that supports digital input.

    With those two items, it is very easy to just hit play and record to make a perfect digital copy of the CD. End of story.
  • by mttlg (174815) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:39PM (#2721224) Homepage Journal

    So a label has announced that it will cripple all of its CDs... Did they announce that they will be cutting their prices in half to make up for the decreased functionality? I doubt it. So now all Universal CDs are effectively more expensive because you get less for the same price. Where do these guys learn their economics, from drug dealers? Get people hooked on the "good" stuff, then cut down on the amount of actual product they get for their money...

    The simple solution, as others have pointed out, is not to buy the crap. More than that though, don't buy anyone else's crap either. Don't buy any CDs, DVDs, e-books, etc. Don't go to movies, don't rent movies, don't order pay-per-view, don't subscribe to premium cable channels, or possibly even cable itself. Don't buy anything because of ads on TV, radio, or billboards, in magazines, etc. Cut back on consumer electronics purchases, buy only used books, don't go to sporting events. If you do buy anything, only buy it when it is so cheap that someone must be taking a loss somewhere. The only way to change things is to get the entire entertainment industry to rethink its business model. Otherwise, we will keep getting less value.

    If that is too drastic a step for you, then return the CDs right after you buy them:

    Universal told retailers that it would honor refunds on all returned discs -- even for CDs that have been opened.

    We're in this mess because the entertainment industry is driven by maximization of profits through decreasing value and not by delivering quality products at reasonable prices. Through marketing and legislation, they have fought to preserve this flawed model, which will succeed as long as people remain mindless drones who buy anything someone is trying to sell them. Yes, I realize that there really is no hope...

  • by linuxrunner (225041) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:42PM (#2721249) Homepage
    I first went to Fatchucks [fatchucks.com] to see which cd's are currently being copy protected.....

    I then hopped on Morpheus (musiccity.com) and typed in the name of the album that was copy protected....

    guess what?!
    All the ones that I tried are there. So what does that tell you Mr. RIAA....?

  • by SnapperHead (178050) on Tuesday December 18, 2001 @01:49PM (#2721302) Homepage Journal
    In Germany alone, one survey by market researcher GfK found that blank CD sales jumped 129 percent this year. Purchases of pre-recorded music dropped 2.2 percent in the same period.

    This year in the US, the sale of matchs went up 57% indicating that teenage smoking is up over 200%.

    For those that didn't get my example. How does that percent of blank CD sales mean anything as far as "pre-made CD" sales goes. People use blank CDs for all sorts of things. I have friends who make backups of there applications on CD once a day, 7 days a week. So, a spool of CD-Rs can go pretty quickly.

    Back to the article. This is a difficault thing to stop, even telling retailers you won't be shopping there for the holidays doesn't work as expected. There are still a ton of dumb people out there that will buy an "approved CD player" if need be. Its only a matter of time until someone figures out a way to rip from theses.

    How will computer hardware vendors handle this one. Think of the number of returns over something this simple. Personally, to make a point. I would force them to accept the return and give me my money back.

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