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DVD Drives Defeat Cactus Data Shield 381

Posted by michael
from the trees-obscure-view-of-forest dept.
jsepeta sends in a story about Cactus Data Shield, one of the schemes to be used for copy-protecting compact discs. A reporter for TechTV notes that DVD drives see right through the disc corruption that Cactus uses to supposedly prevent those CDs from being ripped.
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DVD Drives Defeat Cactus Data Shield

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  • any machine that allows you to rip MP3s. They will probably put a time limit on the grandfather clause, say a year. And then everyone has to buy a "copyright compliant" macine. I can't wait to be considered an evil hacker for having old equipment. Does that mean that rotary phones will become hacker equipment too?
    • That's a frightening idea. I "fully copyright-compliant computer." I guess I can just imagine big copyright-holding groups paying major computer vendors to build something like that for consumers. And in a way that seems like a good idea. If most people's computers can't rip a CD, they probably won't bother trying to fix it. But then what if they make something like that a law? You build your own computer, and it's illegal. You *have* to buy your computer from a copyright-compliant vendor or else risk fines.
      Oh well, this is getting offtopic so I'll shut up now.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2001 @06:19AM (#2764345)
        But of course.

        There is an excellent review of CPRM, SSSCA and the coming "Secure PC" on The Register [theregister.co.uk]. Here's a short excerpt from this article [theregister.co.uk]:

        But the CPRM gambit was an early indication that the entertainment industry was deadly serious about removing the free movement of digital media on what has been, for fifteen years, on open platform. ... In August a draft bill called the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act (SSSCA) was proposed by Senator Hollings (D). It proposed mandatory inclusion of copy-protection schemes for domestic and imported PCs, anything in fact, capable of recording digital media.
        • by zcat_NZ (267672)
          Here's an interesting thought;

          • RIAA and friends (via their pocket-reps) are trying to push through laws to force everyone to run a "Digital Media Rights" operating system.
          • Microsoft have already filed patents on a Digital Media Rights OS.
          • If this law was passed, wouldn't that give Microsoft control of 100% of the operating system market in any country where this law and their patent were both in effect.
          An interesting turn of events..

          • AFAIK, patents cover an implementation of an idea, not the idea itself. So, while MS might have a patent on a specific way to do DRM-OS, there are probably a few other ways to do it, and there would be a financial incentive to find the other solutions. (so it'll be an oligopoly instead, unless some OSS people create an alternate implentation and publicly document before someone else can start patenting the idea)
    • by aka-ed (459608)

      I've read that the major HD manufacturers have been toying with implementing Digital Rights Management on the hard drive, but I doubt any OEM would touch that...geeks would then make a small fortune building gray boxes for all their neighbors, who might finally realize that trusting the techie guy next door is a better idea than giving Dell/Gateway their $$$.

      Unless, of course, the absence of rights management on a PC is outlawed. Way, way unlikely, that. Would you sit still for it? I wouldn't.

      • Unless, of course, the absence of rights management on a PC is outlawed. Way, way unlikely, that. Would you sit still for it? I wouldn't.

        Since my income is dependant of developing for Linux and building Linux based systems, my options would be to dig ditches or leave the country. I HATE digging ditches!

      • I've read that the major HD manufacturers have been toying with implementing Digital Rights Management on the hard drive, but I doubt any OEM would touch that...geeks would then make a small fortune building gray boxes for all their neighbors, who might finally realize that trusting the techie guy next door is a better idea than giving Dell/Gateway their $$$

        One of the discussion on that is here [slashdot.org]. Basically, what it comes down to is that the hard drive manufacturers (*not* the OEMs) know better. In fact, it is in their best interests not to implement this because less DRM means more things stored on the hard drive which means more hard drive sales for them.
  • The article stated that the NEC dvd drive (which Dell uses in much of its computer line) read the TOC (table of contents of the CD) normally.

    What it didn't say, however, is if other DVD drives, such as the famous slot-loading Pioneer (which I am blessed to have), also exhibit this behavior.

    In any case, this whole copy-protection of audio CD's is a sham. If I use my computer as a CD player (which many people at work do), I should be able to play the CD normally, and do what I want with it.
    • this whole copy-protection of audio CD's is a sham. If I use my computer as a CD player (which many people at work do), I should be able to play the CD normally, and do what I want with it.

      "should" is the key word here. We should be able to do whatever the hell we want in life as long as we aren't hurting other people. But look how gays were harrassed under sodomy laws years ago. "Should" isn't going to prevent our rights from being taken away. Especially by greedy corporations and corrupt government.
    • More importantly, most work computers don't have DVDs as standard, and admins don't allow installation of unauthorised software. (it's really important, I need it so I can play my audio CD?)

      So they're cutting out the portion of their customers who have jobs then?
  • by Trepalium (109107) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:43AM (#2764291)
    Will this end up like the VHS market where VHS recorders started intentionally mis-recording Macrovision protected content, despite the fact they had fixed the original flaw that allowed macrovision copy protection to work? Or will the DVD drive manufacturers stand up to the recording industry?
    • by Fat Casper (260409) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @07:06AM (#2764394) Homepage
      Why should the DVD drive manufacturers stand up against anyone except their own customers? These are the wonderful folks who went along with CSS in the first place. Give it a couple months and we'll be seeing drives touted as having the "feature" of being able to "play" (not rip) "copy-protected audio CDs."

      People will be lining up to buy them. When they notice that they can't rip, it'll be too late- and the only response they will get is "what, you want to pirate music? You are a bad person, I ought to report you." Makes me glad that I've already got a drive.

    • VHS manufacturers didn't really "cave in" -- a few were ordered to cease manufacturing anti-Macrovision players, and the rest decided it wasn't worth the hassle.

      I think a distinction to be made here is that in the Macrovision case, the copy-protection scheme predated the hardware to beat it, so that it could legitimately be argued that the hardware was designed specifically to defeat Macrovision copy protection.

      Whereas in the use of the computer to copy digital media, the computer's ability to do so predates any copy protection scheme to prevent it from doing so -- it's simply what computers do. As a result, the case that computers are designed specifically to thwart digital rights managment schemes is absurd, which is why the record companies are going to Capitol Hill to buy legislation. As the law presently stands, their case against the computer industry is unwinnable in court.

    • Will this end up like the VHS market where VHS recorders started intentionally mis-recording Macrovision protected content,
      Any video recording device is required by law to either be affected by the sync signal corruption or to detect it and intentionally degrade the recording quality. Unfortunately, Macrovision has all of the patents on this technique, which means that you must license it from them if you want to comply with the law.

      Yet another problem with the DMCA... Perhaps we will soon see legislation that requires cameras to superimpose clothing on the emperor so that citizens may not document his lack of clothes.

    • I don't claim to have the answer to that, not being a self proclaimed visionary (like Steve J. and Bill G., or even Larry E.)

      But... it seems pretty much simple to me that :
      CONTENT == POWER.

      So far, Sony and AOL (yuk)-TM have been pretty good at verifying this equation.

      So... the result is that no DVD can be sold if the big fishes don't use the content. And Companies like Sony are even big enough to manufacture them if they are not pleased by the others.

      It's a big corporate world out there, and if you are a standard customer looking to spend money, I am afraid that you don't weight too much in the equation above. Kinda like the simplified equation of relativity if you will.

      PPA, the girl next door.
  • So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sk3lt (464645) <peteNO@SPAMadoomedmarine.com> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:47AM (#2764298)
    That just means that another copy protection scheme to fail. They should pretty much just give up on all this copy protection stuff because no matter how advanced it is there is always somebody who can crack it or find away around it.

    Time for a new media or new way around it perhaps?
  • by hughk (248126) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:50AM (#2764304) Journal
    Look, I know that there is supposed to be a big difference between the error correction on Audio-CD players and the normal CD-R drive, let alone a DVD drive, but in the end, it is a digital bit stream. Bits can be copied, end of story.

    Another point is that many drives have maingenance modes which allow the host computer to see exactly what is on the disk without correction. This is normally used for testing, but again would be very useful for breaking the DMCA. Just read track w/o correction and aply the correction at software level ignoring the bad bits.

    I guess that a DVD-rom drive is more sensitive to errors on conventional CD's as they have much finer bit resolutions for DVDs so they alreasy have the modified error recovery built in.

    Protection of CDs is pointless and it interferes with customers' own rights and annoys the customer. The original article mentions a class action against Universal about Unplayable CDs.

  • by the_mind_ (157933) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:55AM (#2764313)
    I went to the store today and asked for a DVD player. The guy behind the counter started to scream and yell and threatening to call the police and have me arrested for buying a 'device that could be used to circumvent a anti-copy protection'.
  • by HongPong (226840) <hongpong@hon g p ong.com> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:56AM (#2764314) Homepage
    I strongly suspect something other than the usual theory of CD-ripping protection is going on here (inserting checksum-foiling bits or some such). These guys switched from Wintels (a lot of Dell-wintels to be even more generic) with CD players to DVD players, controlled by different automatic Windows procedures. No mention is really made of the difference in how DVD players *under windows* play regular CDs differently anyhow.

    It seems to me this is just one of those CDAutoStart things that Windows responds to in particular.

    I got tipped off to this by when they mention "Track 1" never plays. I BET they didn't notice the total track count go up by one, as the Windows software talking to the DVD player parses its error-handling differently (correctly), and the result is like putting a PC hybrid CD in a Mac. In fact i strongly expect this Cactus lockout thing would not work on a Mac by default, and very very likely Linux/*nix as well. The tracks would appear as normal, though possibly not that first track, because its header DOES get lost in the scrambling, maybe.

    Perhaps this is hogwash, but I've heard about Macs seeing through similar schemes before. I think that these TechTV guys sort of percolated through the truth of older reports to home users that are kinda savvy but don't like leaving their Gates Paradigm Computing, thus only the windows DVD stuff, no mention of other platforms at all.

    On the other hand, if this is not unique to Windows (I wonder about Mac DVD players) then maybe that program has low-level drivers which affect how the CD drive does checksums, but DVD players do differently anyway.

    Yeah, another victory for the Fair Use groups, as the people designing this have their asses backwards because they're counting on all computer users (mass 37331 pirates) to be Windows computers. OOPS...

    Universal, i will scout for your discs, and as a Mac user of self-proclaimed badassary, "hack" via insertion your CD, rip, burn and mail to your well-tanned California ass.... Mwahaaha... All right enough fevered fantasies of geek revenge... back to work...

    • by b1t r0t (216468)
      Universal, i will scout for your discs, and as a Mac user of self-proclaimed badassary, "hack" via insertion your CD, rip, burn and mail to your well-tanned California ass.... Mwahaaha... All right enough fevered fantasies of geek revenge... back to work...

      Better yet, first be sure it's got the "copy protected" label. Then insert, rip to AIFF (just a copy command under OS X, which presents audio CDs as implicitly ripped AIFF files!), burn CD-ROM with AIFF files. Then go back to Circus Shitty (they deserve this kind of hassle because of their old Divx "rental" format), whine that "it won't play in my DVD player!" and demand a refund.

      As far as I'm concerned, RIAA record companies have got the best kind of copy protection of all: they don't make anything new that I would want to pirate, much less buy. And the old stuff I can usually find much cheaper used, if I care enough to want to hear it.

      Just about all the music I listen to these days, aside from talk radio bumper music, is from JASRAC, not ASCAP or BMI. In other words, anime music and J-pop. And I prefer the original CDs when I can find them, because they almost always include the lyrics, and printed lyrics are helpful in one of the most homophone-laden languages on the planet.

  • by arbitrary nickname (325162) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:57AM (#2764316)
    As described in a comment on FatChucks [fatchucks.com]

    (Tested it on 'Natalie Imbruglia - White Lillies Island' with a Yamaha 6x4x16x SCSI CDRW drive)

    1) Get IsoBuster [isobuster.com] (A Win32 app)

    2) Rip the entire disc as raw data. May struggle/take a while. Tell it to ignore any read errors

    3) Open the raw file in CoolEdit (or any decent audio editor) as a 44.1Kz 16-bit stereo sample (with Intel byte ordering)

    4) There you have it! The entire CD as one big sample!

    5) In CoolEdit, you can use 'Edit->AutoCue->Find Phrases and Mark' to split the tracks up automatically

    6) Save 'em out, and convert to MP3/Ogg if neccesssary
    • by dimator (71399) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @06:58AM (#2764387) Homepage Journal
      That's an interesting method. Here's another that I prefer:

      1) Take 'Natalie Imbruglia - White Lillies Island' CD.

      2) Fasten the disc to your car's bumper with a chain.

      3) Drive around until there's nothing left but the chain.
      • As an added bonus, this procedure greatly enhances the sound, and makes the CD actually tolerable.
      • That's an interesting method. Here's another that I prefer:
        1) Take 'Natalie Imbruglia - White Lillies Island' CD.
        2) Fasten the disc to your car's bumper with a chain.
        3) Drive around until there's nothing left but the chain.

        Then take the chain, wrap it around a rafter in a high ceiling, and hang yourself from it. Do your family a favor and don't mention the CD in your suicide note.

  • by Barbarian (9467) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:57AM (#2764317)
    Too bad this Cactus system didn't become the standard before this was discovered, then RIAA would be a laughingstock.
  • Dell. (Score:4, Troll)

    by Night0wl (251522) <iandow@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @05:58AM (#2764319) Homepage Journal
    That's cute.. Dell uses DVD drives which by-pass the copy protection...

    If they enforce the DMCA on this, they can change there commercials..

    "Dude, You're getting arrested!"
  • First Track (Score:2, Insightful)

    by quantaman (517394)
    From my understanding on a system that can see through the encryption you are unable to see the first track. Would this not in fact be illegal as they are not allowing you to use a product (i.e. the first track) that you purchased, even if it is unintentional.
    • The first track is likely the data track, and the people who wrote this report didn't realize that the total number of tracks increased by one (eg: look on the back of the CD case, note the total number of tracks (let's pretend we know this ourselves and say it's 13).. now look in Explorer or the CD Player app (or Windows Media Player or whatever the hell you're using to play CD audio or browse the CD's files). You should notice *14* tracks. The full 13 audio tracks are all there, but instead of ignoring the data track, it's showing it as the *first* track on the disc (something you probably wouldn't want to play anyways-- binary data doesn't sound good when piped through a speaker).

      That's my theory anyways, if anyone can confirm this, I'd be pleased.
  • by amitv (165482) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @06:05AM (#2764334)
    They keep saying that they couldn't play the first track. Of course they can't play the first track, that's what contains the filesystem with the CDS player.

    Correct me if I'm wrong (nobody's perfect), but this seems pretty simple to me.
  • by markj02 (544487) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @06:20AM (#2764346)
    I don't understand why the record labels are expending so much effort and political capital on this. I mean, you can rip any CD by just connecting to the analog audio output. Sure, it's 1x, but you can do it while you listen to the CD or automate it with an audio jukebox. Given that MP3 is a bit worse than CD anyway, any theoretical loss in quality doesn't matter (and a bit of analog degradation might do the CD recording some good anyway). And once it's in MP3 format, you can send it to the whole world.

    Not even watermarking is going to see them out of this. Watermarks can be removed anyway, and even if they succeed in a lunatic scheme to require that every computer audio board have some kind of watermark detection circuit, A/D and D/A converters that are fast enough and good enough are cheap, widely available, and easily hooked up to a PC.

    Are the record labels just clueless or is there some other diabolical plan in the wings?

    • Are the record labels just clueless or is there some other diabolical plan in the wings?


      Sure there's a plan: digital speakers (usb?) that include tamper-proof decoding hardware. Of course they can't prevent you from mic'ing the speakers, but then microphones are just tools of pirates and kiddie-pr0n drug-snorting criminals anyway.
    • Are the record labels just clueless or is there some other diabolical plan in the wings?

      There may be. The copying/piracy argument is only a front. It is the CREATION of content that the studios and labels are worried about.

      There economic mode is to control the access of artists to audience and make money by charging as much as possible to the audience and paying as little as possible to the artists.

      So if they can get most people to use a player that only they can create content for then they can squeeze the artists. As long as it is possible/legal to may copies you can make originals.

      This is why we as information smiths need to get artists on our side. Once content begins to travel from artist to audience (and the rewards back the other way) without the studios and the labels then things will begin to change.

      Charles Puffer
    • I don't understand why the record labels are expending so much effort and political capital on this. I mean, you can rip any CD by just connecting to the analog audio output.
      The problem is that most consumer sound cards have very poor A->D conversion, intended for voice rather than music, so the D->A->D loopback ends up being lossy enough that the resulting sound is very noticeably degraded. You can buy high-end sound cards that have good A->D performance, but it's expensive.

      Try it with your current equipment (if you're not using a high-end media machine) and you'll hear what I mean.

  • by wackybrit (321117) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @06:24AM (#2764350) Homepage Journal
    Yep, just like the good old days of copy protecting software. They will lose time and time again.

    The only way they'll win is if they make CDs connect to the Internet and verify with the record company everytime you play it, ala Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Or have some crappy activation featuers, ala Windows XP. Then again someone will work around that too ;-)

    Read the classic Copy Protection: A History and Outlook [textfiles.com]
  • by Tsar (536185) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @06:39AM (#2764365) Homepage Journal
    I have a CD with the only truly unbreakable copy protection I've yet tested. The publisher accomplished it by omitting the CD's the metal layer and, apparently, the dye layer as well. The result is a disc which is almost completely transparent. Sadly, the disc is unplayable on any of my equipment, DVD-ROM drive included. Perhaps the publisher anticipated that problem, and that's why he published it without a label, and distributed it for free with spindles of CD-R's.

    All kidding aside— here is a formula that might be useful to publishers of digital data:
    Rc = ( Cm + Ce + ( Ca * Pa ) - Cp ) * Vd
    where
    Rc = Risk of the data being illegally copied
    Cm = Cost of recordable media
    Ce = Cost of effort needed for duplication
    Ca = Cost of being apprehended
    Pa = Probability of apprehension
    Cp = Cost of purchasing data
    Vd = Value of the data
    If L > 0, the data will be copied.

    A publisher can control the level of his data's protection only to the degree that he can control these variables.
    • Cm cannot be kept artificially high, due to market forces to the contrary;
    • Ce continues to drop, as coding ingenuity continues to outstrip copy prevention standards almost as quickly as they are developed;
    • Ca is relatively low for the end user, since it usually only involves paying for software you had anyway; and
    • Pa is low because the crime is widespread and social costs are low, so enforcement at the end user level is minimal.
    This leaves a publisher of digital data with two variables he can control: the data's cost and its value. This provides two options for perfect copy protection:
    • make the product free, or
    • make the product worthless.
    Since neither option would be attractive to most publishers, it would appear that widespread copyright violations (and violators) will be with us for a long, long time.
    • [elitism:ON]

      Conveniently, most of the music put out by the major labels these days IS worthless. Maybe that's the plan. Personally speaking, you couldn't pay me enough to waste my time duplicating more than 99% of the music released in any given year.

      [elitism:OFF]
    • by reynaert (264437) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @09:03AM (#2764495)

      If L > 0, the data will be copied.

      Perhaps you could define L? ;)

    • Formula is wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tempmpi (233132) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @10:07AM (#2764563)
      Rc = ( Cm + Ce + ( Ca * Pa ) - Cp ) * Vd
      Has no one ever tried to understand the formala you posted ?
      The risk that data will be copied rises when the cost of recordable media rises ? Your formula should have been:

      Rc = ((Ca * Pa) -Cp) * Vd / ( Cm + Ce )
    • Is this not Adam Smith's (or Robert Nozick's) Invisible Hand explanation quantified?

      Wherein social forces invisible to the market act.
    • While I can't really understand your formula, I propose an alternate reason for this apparant gap: The music publishing industry wants the public to move to a new media, DVD. The move to CD's 10 years ago was the best thing to happen to publisher as it forced people to repurchase thier collections. That format is proving inconciently easy to copy and difficult to protect. 650MB is just not big enough for copy protection scheemes. The only way to prevent copies is to create a new watefully large and fragile format that can be changed at whim. This will also "obsolete" people's current music collections and force them to buy again. They are not concerned about people like you and me, who will overcome barriers, exept that we can be used as trend setters. This temporary lapse in copy protection is likely to get a few of us recalcitrents to finally get a DVD player in our computers, buy the new format, and speak well of it.

      A glimpse of the future comes from the article:

      With the copy protection working, a Windows PC shows the files and automatically runs the CactusPJ audio player that comes with the CD. (The CactusPJ player features difficult-to-see buttons and needs a second window to show track info. It also shows up as possible spyware on Ad-aware 5.6.)

      DVD is large enough to contain software for playing the music. A programable "dumb" box can be made that depends on that software to play at all. In theory, each DVD can have a totally different encoding scheme and file format. Nasty, nasty. Oh yeah, the spyware is real nice too. Expect your smart media to get really dumb.

      This have grave implications for all publishing, not just music. Free players of the future will be banned by the DCMA, and they will have to decode the player software itself to then decode the freaking DVD. It will not be too controversial to outlaw entertainment content encryption circumventers like that. Once such things are common and people are conditioned to the chains imposed, book publishers can adopt the same tricks and all but "official readers" will be outlawed. "Sure I'm litterate, but there is nothing left to read." may be heard when all the acid paper libraires crumple to dust 100 years from now. They the only way for you to read a book will be through some kind of pay per play censor ware. Do not contribute to this. Boycot such trash now and teach the greedheads what they failed to learn from DIVX.

    • Please excuse any rambling here. Your post started this stream of thought, so it's a reply to your posting.

      Since neither option would be attractive to most publishers, it would appear that widespread copyright violations (and violators) will be with us for a long, long time.

      Really, the RIAA is facing nothing that retailers haven't faced since the beginning of commerce. While copying (or theft to use their term) is a bit higher than for retail, but their loss per copy is also lower.

      At the same time, retailers have faced a serious threat to their profits for many years that the RIAA never sees in any realistic way....Competition in a free market.

      Imagine starting a new department store in an environment where some sort of DSIA (Department Stores of America) controled every single advertising medium you might use to advertise your existance except for word of mouth.

      One symptom of this state of affairs is that prices are much higher than they would be otherwise. In any sane pricing in a free market, the seller has to strike a balance between profit per unit and consumer willingness (and ability) to pay the price that results. Since the barriers to entry for the music market are artificially high, the RIAA has been able to consistantly keep profit/unit high. At the same time, they have created an unusually large population that really wants music, but can't/won't afford the price they charge. By consistantly making large profits while the artists make very little, they have also made themselves easy to despise.

      That is a combination that makes widespread copying (or theft as they prefer) inevitable.

      Returning to your equasion, I believe it will better reflect the real world as:

      Rc = (Cp - (Ce + Cm + (Ca*Pa))) * Vd

      I agree more or less with your analysis of the controlability of the variables (Though RIAA HAS tried hard to manipulate Cm and Ca through legislation and Ce through stupid copy protection scheme). Note that this version of the equasion subtly changes the meaning of Rc to utility (to the consumer) of copying.

      For the sake of convieniance, I will define Cc, cost of copying, as Cc = (Ce + Cm + (Ca*Pa)).

      Note that in any case where Cc < Cp there will be negative utility in copying. In those cases, the RIAA is a commodity manufacturer and gains it's profits from the efficiencies of mass production vs. individual copying.

      I believe that the RIAA CAN compete with Gnutella! There is value in not having to hassle with crappy quality tracks, nodes that are too busy, or never seem to actually provide the tracks they claim to offer, misnamed tracks, etc... In addition, video tracks in free and open formats can also up the Cc without 'cheating'. If Cp is low enough, the only people who will copy are people whose time is worth nothing (who couldn't pay anyway since they are unemployed and unemployable).

      The RIAA can also boost their profits through business innovations. At a low Cp, they might be best off by terminating their expensive ad campaigns and instead producing a subscription based review service. They could also capture value by charging a nominal fee to broadband providers to colo a music server (yes, charge a fee to allow a provider to colo!). The provider could then use that as an incentive to sign up and reduce their costs for upstream bandwidth.

      Other sources of revenue could include providing a content rating system for parents and paid advertising in their review media (website, magazine, television show, streaming broadcasts etc).

      In short, they could switch from their current strategy of poisoning every well in town but their own to the strategy that made them big in the first place: providing something of value at a reasonable cost.

      Where is the profit for the artist? The same place it is now, concerts, merchandising, paid television appearances, a small cut from the RIAA's income, etc.

    • It tries to look credibly scientific, yet it does not use any units, it tries to quantify non-constant values, it's simplistic, it's presented without any justification, and it has several glaring errors.

      Have you considered a career as an economist?
  • But with a little effort. See, Talkback: Is Ripping a Crime? [techtv.com] on the same site.
  • by jmd! (111669) <jmdNO@SPAMpobox.com> on Sunday December 30, 2001 @06:57AM (#2764385) Homepage
    By making it slightly harder to turn your CD into mp3/ogg's, by the techniques described above (Macs, binary imaging, then spliting with Cool Edit, etc), groups will end up doing the releasing, like in the warez scene. This will ensure a more organized (complete cd's, as soon as the CD is release), high quality (decent hardware used to extract the audio) music album releases.

    The only thing hurting the warez scene is games being so friggin big nowadays... multiple CDs, etc. You can't run bladeenc, or oggenc on a game.

    Maybe DVD-Audio will help combat music piracy, but that's a bit off.
    • DVD-Audio? Which format is that going to be in? Jesus we could get some great sound out of those!

      The problem is, the amount of audio that would be needed to fill a DVD is outrageous. Most artists can't even fill a 74min CD [with good songs]!

      Then again, we could get N*Stync all at once, and if they don't sell lots of albums they would be gone in a week. It could also show what an artist really has. When they say that they've been working on this CD their whole lives they would be telling the truth.

      But this isn't going to change a thing. If we do get DVD audio discs [hrmm... what does DVD stand for?] not only will we rip the songs, but we will be ripping the videos that come with them.

      People always find a way! I mean wake up... mp3's are being released by warez style groups. Haven't you gotten a song off of a P2P and noticed a three letter acronym at the end. Groups always have a three letter acronym.....
      • In a world where you buy South Park episodes at 2 to a tape, or disk, what makes you think publishers want to fill the disk?

        Part of it seems to be that it's cheaper to make two single-layer disks than one double-layer disk (at a guess), leading to boxed sets where one disk would do it, but I don't think copyright-owners want to blow their wad in one go.

        (DVD-Audio and SuperCD (or whatever Sony call theirs) both have support for 24bit/96khz and for multichannel (surround) audio - that's why they use larger format disks.
        • In a world where you buy South Park episodes at 2 to a tape, or disk, what makes you think publishers want to fill the disk?

          I don't know about your world, but in my world, I buy them 4 to a disc. When they bother to put them out. Let's see, first year three discs, 12 episodes. Second year, three discs, 12 episodes. Third year two discs, 8 episodes. This year, two discs, 8 episodes, and it looks like they may have stopped bothering to put episodes in the correct order, in favor of "collections" discs. Since I don't get pay TV any more, it looks like I'll get to see the current South Park episodes by 2010.

      • There's a web site out there (sorry, can't find the link) that describes why DVD Audio will be no improvement over CD Audio.

        Basically, DVD Audio provides 88.2kHz, 24-bit audio with up to 6 channels (well, 5.1), same as you can get with regular DVD Video, along with CSS encryption. In theory, this could provide dramatically better quality than the 2-channel, 44.1kHz, 16-bit audio on a regular CD-ROM.

        However, most/all current CDs do not utilize the dynamic range of current CDs, and the extra channels would probably only be useful for reproducing the performance environment (e.g. an amphitheatre, stage, etc.) and not for providing you with 1 channel per instrument, or anything like that.

        There is also the cost involved - producing DVDs costs more money than CDs (not just the media costs, but licensing, etc.), and consumers aren't likely to shell out an extra $10 for a DVD that sounds marginally better than a CD and can't be played by their current equipment.
    • I totally agree. I look forward to the release of "canonical" mp3s on newsgroups, encoded correctly with LAME at a reasonable bitrate (like -V1, ~ 180kbps). Actually, with some good lossless compression, you can squeeze and normal CD release to under 200MB, which is practical for posting. That way people can reconstitute the "perfect" cd from their download, minus the stupid copy protection, of course. Then, the re-encoding with some lossy format is left up to them.

      Note that I don't recommend this practice for all CDs; only copy-protected ones.... I figure they're asking for it. If this sort of trade is common and well-publicized, it would really give the RIAA some inscentive to quit copy-protecting their CDs alltogether.

      • Actually, with some good lossless compression, you can squeeze and normal CD release to under 200MB, which is practical for posting.
        You cannot losslessly compress a 74 or 80 minute CD to 200MB, unless it's a digitally synthesized recording of John Cage's 4'33".
    • groups will end up doing the releasing, like in the warez scene

      .. they already do. check EGO, APC and so on. This will however -probably- boost the popularity of such groups, since your average John Doe will have to download the mp3s instead of converting them himself.
  • It's enough that a few people figure out how to copy the data and convert into mp3s, then the wonderful invention of the internet will take care of the rest. This is only stopping normal people from enjoying the music (my advice is to just simply stop buying CDs all together). I simply don't like their tactics, and I don't like the attitude.
    • And this is of course precisely the attitude they are encouraging. I own upwards of 300 audio CD's, bought in Europe at the ridiculously high prices here.I'm the last customer the record industries want to piss off.

      I listen to MP3's to determine what to buy, since most record stores are not that friendly to people wanting to listen to more than one or two cd's before buying. I also rip my CD's to MP3 for convenience. (e.g. to play at work without having to carry a pile of CD's with me every day).

      With this sillyness going on, I'm considering just not buying any more CD's. Why contribute to an industry that is trying to alienate me and screw me over?

      So record/movie companies, if you are listening:

      -> I am buying CD's/DVD's (lots of them)
      -> I want to continue to do so
      -> You are shafting your customers
      -> Shafted customers eventually become ex-customers!
  • undermine the DCMA. Bear with me here, but as long as standard products are able to 'circumvent' the copyright protection via encryption etc (and i used that word encryption very lightly ...) because of how shockingly bad the implementations are the RIAA is going to be unhappy (yes the MPAA etc as well) and thus will eventually get greedy and try to prosecute some/many people.

    And heres where the crappy DCMA really starts to leak water, because now these products (ie. DVD-ROM drives, etc) that are being manufactured by large corporations some of which don't give a f*** about the MPAA and the DVD Forum because they allow all of that to be handled by software, are circumvention devices, and thus illegal. All it takes is a lawsuit and there is no way that anyone can tell me that this crappy law can stand up in court when multibillion dollar industries go head to head with each other. Now IANAL but in my opinion the DCMA has the quality of construction roughly equal to that of M$'s software, and that under this much scrutiny it will (and forgive the really corny wording of this but i'm tired) BSOD.

    Well at least thats what I hope happens.
  • by bluelarva (185170) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @07:30AM (#2764421)
    It seems that everyone believe that "fair use" is a right. In fact, it is not a right but it's really a exclusion from prosecution. What this means is that if you use legally licenced copyrighted material (music, book, software, etc..) in a "fair use" manner, you cannot be prosecuted for violation of copyright. This does not mean that if you purchase a CD, you have the inalienable right to make a backup copy. There is a subtle but distinct difference.

    Having said all this, record industry does have the right to implement copy protection. I'm not saying that it's good, I'm just saying that they have legal right to do so. Under current law, record company is not obligated to grant you the ability to use the material in "fair use" manner. At the same time, you are not obligated to buy copy protected CDs.
    • by gilroy (155262) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:04AM (#2764624) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      Having said all this, record industry does have the right to implement copy protection.

      I've thought about the following for a while. There ought to be a two-track system of copyright. Whenever anything is released for public consumption, the publisher would make a choice:
      • Forego any technical copy protection -- the data is presented in the clear. However, stringent and heavy penalties accrue for copyright infringement, and the publisher can utilize the court system to recover these penalties.
      • Encrypt the data or otherwise protect it by technical means. In this case, however, no penalties would follow from circumvention of the encyption ... the works would, in essence, be public domain, with only the encryption providing protection (= revenue stream) to the publisher.


      In other words, the content publisher doesn't get to eat his/her cake and have it, too. By restricting Fair Use access, by cordonning off the material from the public domain (essentially forever), the publisher loses the protection of the courts. If you don't want to play ball with the justice system, you don't get to use it, either.



      This approach is entirely justifiable, as copyright is a privilege granted by the state, not a right inherent in the content. As Litman and others point out, historically, copyright has been viewed as a bargain between the publishers and the public. If publishers try to unilaterally change the terms of the game -- by, for instance, encrypting data streams -- then the public has every right and justification to revoke the copyright.

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @08:07AM (#2764452) Homepage
    The RIAA and MPAA are selling data to us-- and trying to protect themselves by making this data unavailable to us once we've bought it. If we can't get at the data, there's no point and we won't buy it, so the data will always be accessible somehow.

    However, since the customer is allowed to hear the music or see the film, the data has been "released" into the wild and can easily be recaptured in other formats. In other words, they cannot use purely digital, "black-box" means to protect this data because we have nice analog visual and auditory systems that require this data to pass through the air in order for us to perceive and enjoy it.

    Once the data is in the air, any microphone, nice camera, etc. etc. will be able to grab it out of the air again.

    The only way I can see copy protection working is if in 50 years all "out-loud" music is strictly forbidden and illegal and instead, we have a DBC (digital-to-brain converter) implanted in our skull that accepts an input from the line-out jack on our "secure" digital music device.

    There will have to be secret police everywhere to make sure nobody actually hums along, because if anyone does, someone with a hidden microphone (banned decades ago, but available on the black market, nevertheless) might capture it and distribute it, not to mention the 20 other people in the room who will hear this humming and thus "steal" the music without paying the original artist/composer for it...
    • There will have to be secret police everywhere to make sure nobody actually hums along, because if anyone does, someone with a hidden microphone (banned decades ago, but available on the black market, nevertheless) might capture it and distribute it, not to mention the 20 other people in the room who will hear this humming and thus "steal" the music without paying the original artist/composer for it...

      That would make having a tune that you "just can't get out of your head" become a real problem!

      Hey Cartman, listen to this! "I'm sailing awaaaaayyyy..." >_<

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2001 @08:59AM (#2764492)
    This Slashdot story ought to be a nail in Midbar's coffin. But, alas, it's just a passing curiosity of no real importance.

    In the Bad Old Days of diskette copy protection, the good guys eventually won. You had the usual arms race, the usual idiocy, companies wasted time devising slightly corrupted disk formats that could be loaded but not copied, schemes that would allow you to install on a hard drive but forced you to deinstall before the diskette would allow a reinstall, and so forth and so on.

    You also had legally-purchased diskettes that wouldn't install because of SQA issues with the protection scheme, or hardware incompatibilities with certain drives.

    But you had vigorous free enterprise producing products like Locksmith and Copy II PC, constantly improving them and developing new "parms."

    This meant that the companies using copy protection had to spend serious development resources devising new and better copy protection schemes, AND were constantly pissing off legitimate customers.

    Eventually the Lotuses of the world got tired of it all and decided not to bother with copy protection. Lotus has declined, but as far as I know, not one person has suggested that the decline was caused by software piracy...

    Right now, CD protection is in the same stage that diskette copy protection was... and we'll have these amusing stories for a while... and occasionally decent law-abiding customers will find that their new CD's don't play.

    What we WON'T have is a vigorous free-market solution. In a free market, of course, the DVD-drive companies would realize that the ability to read "copy-protected" CD's gives them a valuable competitive advantage. But, instead, thanks to the DMCA, they will probably be FORCED to become Midbar-compliant whether they like it or not.

    And it will only get worse.

    Unless consumers wake up... and that, alas, doesn't seem likely...
    • Back in those bad old days I worked for Xanaro, a competitor of Lotus and after a fairly serious analysis of the cost/benefit ratio, we elected to ship without copy protection.

      The issue we were seeing was customer resistance to disks that were "defective". End users weren't terribly technical, and tended to call a colleague company's help line whenever their disks didn't read.

      Of course, stealing copies of our program was as illegal as breaking copy protection is now, and that was sufficient for the majority of our customer base. When a customer called our help line with what turned out to be a stolen copy, we first helped them, then arrange for them to get a copy of the update release (with some bug fixes they needed!) for the regular update price.

      I recollect actually going out to both a local college and high school and helping them set up whole labs of our product after they agreed to put us on next year's budget at the reduced academic rate (;-)).

      Just like they were non-technical, you see, they were also well-meaning and faily law-abiding. We played to these, gained friendly customers, and got our profit margin back by selling upgrades, which were much chaper to produce than the whole package with manuals, etc. This approach allowed us to entirely avoid the known, quantified (and large) cost of copy protection. And this in turn allowed us to survive far longer than our management deserved!

      My conclusion? Companies selling ordinary CDs without copy protection will have a business advantage over the ones trying to shoulder both the costs of DVDs for normal-fidelity audio and the support costs of "copy protection". Scofflaws will further reduce the profitability of copy-protected DVDs if they target them preferentially...

  • There is one route all information must go through in order to be processed by the brain, which is the nervous system and specifically the optical and auditory nerve. Taking this to its logical conclusion, the corporations will buy the human genome and engineer "security devices" into the required nerves. Attempting to circumvent this and experience something which the corporations do not wish you to sense is of course going to be highly illegal and dangerous, so reproductive sex will be completely outlawed for a start.

    You thought 1984 was bad?
  • DMCA = Communism? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NanoGator (522640) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @09:35AM (#2764527) Homepage Journal
    Hmm... just had a thought inspired by some posts in here: Doesn't the DMCA's demanding that people use the products as they are defined start to sound like communism? Every time I read an article like this I keep picturing Adolf Hitler as CEO of whatever company is being written about.

    You'd think the industry would learn that a new market has opened up and learn how to profit in it instead of trying to close it. The most damning thing for them is as long as Linux is around, there will always be ways to prevent copy protection from ruining our lives.

    How many more subtle changes to the law will it take before it becomes illegal to not purchase a product because you saw the ad on TV?
    • Um... Hitler was a fascist, not a communist. They're practically at opposite ends of the political spectrum.

      And this does sound kinda like fascism. It would have been nice if you had bothered to finish the analogy, though. "DMCA is bad! It's like Hitler!" doesn't exactly contribute anything useful to the discussion.
    • Doesn't the DMCA's demanding that people use the products as they are defined start to sound like communism? Every time I read an article like this I keep picturing Adolf Hitler as CEO of whatever company is being written about.

      Make that "Joseph Stalin" instead of Hitler and you may have a point...

      Like 'real-world' communist governments, everything in the US is gravitating towards central control at a federal level, which makes the federal capitol a 'one-stop-shopping' node for nationwide influence. As long as central authority increases, this problem will only get worse, no matter what you do...

      Like former Soviet Union government agencies, the MPAA and RIAA (and Disney and Adobe and...you get the idea) can use their influence to apply government pressure to increase their own power. Copyright 'dissenters' can be punished unreasonably (having to go to jail, make bail, have your movements restricted, and racking up legal fees defending your basic rights IS an unreasonable punishment!). Economic problems that hurt the country can't possibly their fault, it must be the fault of dissenters and other wrong-thinkers who must be punished, so that profit by a few corporations can somehow stimulate the economy. The State(tm) being a corporation itself, I don't see much difference between State owned 'production facilities' and having most 'productions facilities' run and controlled by a small number of 'non-State' corporations.

      While I don't foresee it becoming illegal not to purchase products seen in advertisements, I find it frighteningly easy to believe that purchasing a type of product at below-average might be considered suspicious, and legislation might someday be introduced to track and investigate such things. ("He's not buying the requisite average of 2.3 new DVD's per month! He OBVIOUSLY must be PIRATING 2.3 DVD's per month! Call the FBI! This person is hurting the economy and our taxpaying corporations!")

      (Don't forget that something like 97%, as I recall, of federal tax income comes from corporations and people who make more than $100,000US/year. If us normal people have our income cut in half by bad policy making, government feels a tiny pinch. If Corporations or wealthy people have their income cut in half, Government will go bankrupt at its current spending rates. This is a problem of inefficient central control, I think. It makes Government dependent on the profit of the wealthy, and since central control will tend to make 'The People' dependent on Government...well, follow the chain.)

      Like totalitarian Communist governments, agencies give lip-service to 'the people' (RIAA/MPAA - 'The Artist' and 'The Consumer') but use their positions of influence and power to gain power at the expense of 'the people'. (The declining condition of 'The People' can be used to set up 'dissidents' as scapegoats who allegedly cause the problem. ["We wouldn't have to charge so much for CD's if it weren't for all the rampant piracy!"]

      I wonder what the MPAA and RIAA have in store for us with their Glorious 5-year Plan(tm)...

      • Don't forget that something like 97%, as I recall, of federal tax income comes from corporations and people who make more than $100,000US/year.

        Interesting side note: Microsoft does not pay ANY corporate income tax.
  • by A_Non_Moose (413034) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @09:50AM (#2764547) Homepage Journal
    Cactus protection?

    Don't touch the data or you will be subjected to thousands of lawy^H^H^H^H little pricks!

    Talk about hidden meaning.

    .
  • Heh, sweet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chris Johnson (580) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @11:17AM (#2764643) Homepage Journal
    On top of the copy-control stuff, we also have this small parenthetical note (that was news to me): "The CactusPJ player features difficult-to-see buttons and needs a second window to show track info. It also shows up as possible spyware on Ad-aware 5.6."

    Why am I somehow not surprised at this? Anyone got information on what it sends and where, if it does turn out to be spyware? If I was the kind of fool to write software like this I'd probably have it look for mp3s on the assumption that all mp3s are by definition contraband. If I was more of a fool I'd have the program delete them or something. Has anyone studied the behavior of this apparently annoying and awkward program?

  • by pointym5 (128908) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @12:18PM (#2764811)
    For a fun little diversion, go to the midbartech website and try to get information about one of the Cactus products. You'll get to a page that has a one-field form asking for a password. Get your browser to show you the source for the page, and groove on the unbelievably sophomoric obfuscated password verifier. Ha!
  • I have several apps (like Wavelab) that are capable of burning red-book spec CDs (unlike Nero, Roxio, Adaptec)- ie. able to adjust PQ codes, etc... These same apps can also extract audio. I am very curious how this software (vs. a freebie ripper) would handle a "protected CD"- (unfortunately there isn't any protected music worth buying).

    I realize Universal has implied that this is a hardware issue, but I have a hard time with that "line"- my guess is that anyone could write software "error detection" that emulates that of an audio CD player capable of playing a "protected CD". My understanding, and I may be wrong here, is that a PC's CD drive uses a more exacting form of error detection (since they spin faster, and let's face it- one bit of error sneaking by in your walkman's CD playing in real time can be interpolated with less impact than on a data CD for a PC).

    I also find it difficult to believe that all of the glass mastering facilities have been retooled to accept masters with "errors." Obviously there is a great difference between "pressing a CD" and burning one- and the error tolerances are very different.

    The actual digital data of a CDDA file is identical to that of a .wav file at 44.1 sample rate, 16 bits... no format conversion occurs. The only issue is the layout on the CD- but the raw data is identical. I seriously cannot believe that this cannot be extracted intact through software.

    Labels need to realize that a compressed format such as mp3 poses a legitimate compromise to fidelity. It is not unlike making a mix tape on(cassette). Granted many people also are copying entire CDs with the wave audio intact, but if the labels wanted to show a gesture of good faith, they would INCLUDE mp3s at a decent audio quality (above 128!). This would at least make purchasing the CD "valuable" (since it is higher quality than mp3).

    But keep in mind that we will soon see high resolution audio on DVD, and the labels will try to resell you your entire collection with audio at least at 24 bits, and likely twice the sample rates... likely with surround sound mixes, etc. This of course if overkill considering most people's listening environments. Again, this could be viewed as a value added service worth paying a premium (and I consider the cost of a new CD at that price point, considering what little you get for your money). An mp3 will look like a very inferior medium to those with discerning ears.

    To address another point someone raised, it will be VERY EASY to fill a DVD audio CD- the audio files themselves could easily double if not triple, and they will likely add alternate mixes of the same songs, and dump a bunch of other multi-media crap on them... and probably add "commercials" promoting other artists or products .

    They CANNOT mandate copy protection for PCs. Hardware has historically been ahead of media (think VCR if you must... or cassette tapes). Look what a flop the "pay-per-view" DVD players were... consumers voted with their wallets.

    The DIRECT DIGITAL copy argument does not apply here if we consider that a blank DVD could cost more than a high-res audio DVD (which it could- for the time being). In the meantime, people need to use the technology to unseat the stranglehold that the centralized form of distribution places on content (FOUR major labels controlling everying, including the LAW?!- certainly promotes a grassroots "open source" movement for artists to distribute their wares directly- most consumers would arguably rather pay the artist than the label anyway, and arguably actual production costs are at an all-time low and are headed lower... as long as you don't need that top shelf producer).

    Universal and others truly are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
  • by tcc (140386) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:06PM (#2764962) Homepage Journal
    By doing Copy protection CD they'll piss off customers, customers will burn even more CD-Rs, and after that they'll shove Digital right management crap down our troats, people will be even more pissed, buying even less... and they'll blame it on piracy instead of blaming themselves.

    LOWER THE PRICE OF THE GOD DAMN CDS IF YOU WANT MORE VOLUME SELLS, I can see some mozart crap sold at C$6 at my local music shop, why would I have to pay C$20 for a metallica CD? Don't tell me because of the expenses and all, the expenses are the packaging, the design, the loans, etc etc.. YES... well, the mozart CD went thru the about the same process, Metallica sells a LOT more hense more VOLUME hense more PROFIT in the end to repay that possible loan (well now they are rich anyways), so why 20$? maybe they'd sell a LOT more if CDs would be cheaper and become the "trading cards" of the kids instead of being overpriced unreachable-to-most-teenagers-that-aren't-working.

    3 times cheaper would mean greater volume, greater splitting among artists, greater audience, greater penetration of the market, and I'D BUY SOME, which I don't do since maybe 5 years after being raped having to pay c$50 for imports that I really wanted and they would classify imports when they had actually a TON of them and anyways, even metallica is "imported" to canada so who cares about the "import" label. I was ripped off, I've searched for alternatives, and I got one.

    You can screw people off big time and keep it up for YEARS, but history shows that in ANY circumstances, people will find alternatives or revolt when they are mistreated or abused.

    I did my part, I have 100's of Original CDs, but I had it with that system, and seeing them investing massively in crap like DMCA or DRM instead of doing the obvious: CUTTING THE PRICES, simply disgust me. Again, I'd buy a shitload of CDs if the price would be right, it isn't.

    For people with the lame "expenses" arguments, tell me, why are tapes 1/2 the price of the cd? it's the SAME process, heck a cassette costs more to produce than a CD, in both time and material, so why is it cheaper? there are many reasons, but I don't care, WHY wouldn't the CDs be cheaper? why would I shell C$30 for a DVD or C$20 for a CD if they could be sold for a fraction of that price?

    I am not saying I copy my stuff, I don't even own a dvd player because I just skipped that technology, I'm still happy with my SVHS tapedeck. But I am really not surprised (like most of the people here) of what's happening. Someone is really high at RIAA... Towelie must be running things :)
    • Unfortunately the Mozart recording is likely to be cheaper for legit reasons: The copyright on the author's work is expired, and the performance itself is likely to either be old (perhaps dating back as far as the late fifties), or co-funded, either by concert tickets or by a classical radio station. On top of which, it's still a cheap price, usual classical prices for decent recordings are in the $10-15 range for 1 or 2 CD sets. Unless the Metalica CD you're refering to is a recording of a live concert performance, it's unlikely to have the same economies.

      Not that it's probably not still over priced at $20, but the fact that it's simply more expensive than the $6 is explanable.

    • The problem is... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonMagic (170846)
      The problem is, simply, that big record companies are using hot-selling bands or discs to help fund new startups or possibly dying bands or discs. Go check out major stores and look for the "notched" discs. Or find "clearance" or "big sale" items, and you'll notice most all of them are worthless titles or bands no one would ever bother with. Well, they went through the same processes as Metallica, including marketing, and yet sold barely anything.

      Instead of taking the loss and deciding, "Hey, we should stop producing crap or mimicking bands," they decide they can turn out ten bands under the profits of one major one. If one of those other bands happens to make it, then they have another band to help sell more bands.

      Sadly, though, this practice is done regularly, even with some of the independent labels. I just wish there were a distributor out there who would handle completely independent artists. You want to spend your money and time doing your own CDs for your band, send it to the distributor who puts out a catalog of discs. These discs can be ordered by any major chain or music store. Then it's just up to the bands themselves to promote themselves and let people know they have a disc out.

      This would really make the costs dive down if people could just get into the stores without major labels and without the RIAA.
  • Error Correction (Reed-Solomon Encoding, in this case) is a system for increasing system robustness. Even with scratches, dents, and so on, the system should still work.

    Security in general and Cactus's scheme in particular is a system for decreasing system robustness. Except with a precise combination of software player, disc, and equipment, the system should not still work.

    So, from a theoretical point of view, they've repurposed something that added value into something that subtracted value. In practical terms, scratching your CD is now much more likely to cause serious damage, worthy of replacement.

    This can, and will be proven experimentally.

    The irony, of course, is that the more copy protection is added, the more legitimate the need will be to make copies. Beautiful.

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @01:57PM (#2765120) Homepage
    This thing apparently works by formatting the CD as both a CD-ROM and an audio CD, then putting something on the CD-ROM part that autostarts. This is presumably a Windows x86 executable?

    First, does this mean it's Windows-only? Probably. What happens on a non-Windows system? Is the disk labelled accordingly?

    Second, unless the install process ("install process to play an audio CD?") makes you sign a EULA, that spyware thing could be considered hostile code, and might be illegal under anti-hacking laws. This is definitely worth litigation.

    • It might just be an "improperly" designed redbook audio cd -- that is, the first track is a 'normal' ISO9660 data track for computers to read but in a format that only 'normal' CD players understand properly and one that probably isn't standardised.
  • by nbvb (32836) on Sunday December 30, 2001 @04:18PM (#2765526) Journal
    Jobs' recent quote when the iPod shipped was right on the money:

    "Piracy is a social problem, not a technological one."

    That really sums it up. And you can see in Apple's products that they really believe this.

    Ripping MP3's (or AIFF's) in iTunes is ridiculously simple. Like it should be. (Single click rips an entire CD)

    Copying those MP3's to a portable music device is also incredibly simple. Even automated if you use an iPod (though iTunes works great with other MP3 players too!)

    The only copy protection on my iPod is the fact that it's a one-way sync. And for what it's worth, it's a LOT LOT LOT harder to do a 2-way sync than a one-way sync. So I really don't believe the conspiracy theorists, and I think it's all about keeping things simple!

    Steve's on the right track here. He understands.

    There's no real technological reason that other companies can't do what Apple's doing. But for some reason, they "get it" and folks like MS, etc. don't.
  • Didn't the 18th amendment (Prohibition) teach us that making something people are gonna do anyway illegal just forces them to organize? Look at the facts:

    1) Ripping CD is ALWAYS going to be possible
    2) People like getting something for nothing (I rip my Cd for personal use only and don't share them, you may too but what all this noise about ... Stopping music trading/sharing)
    3) It is prohibitively expensive to prosecute individuals for trading/sharing music only - both finically and in terms of bad publicity

    RIAA, face it - you are just giving more power to your "enemies" (read customers) by making this such a big issue. If you want to stop music trading/sharing online -- make it cheep and easy to download songs! That's the only way your gonna stop this. ANY other action you take will just force the "Bad people" committing this crime against your pocketbook to organize to become more effective.

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