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Universal Music Prepares for Copy-Protection Complaints 695

Posted by michael
from the buy-return-repeat dept.
tregoweth writes: "Universal Music Group is preparing for the onslaught of complaints about their copy-protected CDs. They've launched a customer support site, which includes a FAQ ("Can I get a copy of this CD without the copy protection?"), tech support ("Why can't I copy the disc to my hard drive?", which they don't actually answer), a description of the reasons that you can get a refund (including some playback "issues" I hadn't heard about), and the fearsome legalese covering the audio player and compressed audio files included on the CD." Our previous story has more information.
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Universal Music Prepares for Copy-Protection Complaints

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  • Philips (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macdaddy (38372) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:44AM (#2854502) Homepage Journal
    Is Philips still planning on not letting Universal us the standard audio CD logos on their CDs because of the Red Book compliance issues? To me that's a very strong statement.
    • Re:Philips (Score:2, Interesting)

      by atathert (127489)
      It may be a big thing, but think about it this way: When you go out and buy a new CD, and peel off the wrapper, do you bother to look at it to see if the CD logo is on it? I don't. The consumer is not going to care one iota about this, so long as it plays in device X when he/she puts it in there and presses the play button. The real thing to look at is the fact that the music company is addressing this by incorporating a player to handle their encrypted music formats, so that to Joe Consumer, they can put the disk in their computer, and it plays, no questions asked. Maybe not the CD audio track, but Joe isn't going to know that.
      • ...so that to Joe Consumer, they can put the disk in their computer, and it plays, no questions asked. Maybe not the CD audio track, but Joe isn't going to know that.

        ...provided that Joe Consumer uses Windows.

        • Re:Philips (Score:4, Interesting)

          by kilgore_47 (262118) <kilgore_47@NospAm.yahoo.com> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @01:26PM (#2855397) Homepage Journal
          Can I listen to the songs from this CD on my MP3 player?
          As with all computer software there may be incompatibilities with some
          computer systems.
          The CD is designed to play on PCs. The current version of the copy-protection
          technology does not allow you to copy files from the CD into MP3 format.
          UMG is currently making every effort possible to upgrade our available technology
          to add new features and increase playability.


          Thats where they lost me. The above (from the linked site) implies that mp3 compatibility is on their todo list. What the fuck would be the point of copy protection if you could still rip to mp3? I really doubt "increased playability" with this technology will ever be extended to mp3, so I can only assume the above statement is there to mislead people. Does anyone know if there are any sort of consumer protection laws that might apply here?
      • Re:Philips (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sdo1 (213835)
        You don't now, but certainly if this becomes an issue, people WILL look for that "COMPACT DISC - CD AUDIO" logo. Lack of it will begin to mean "Hey... this might not play in my car CD player... or on my DVD player... and I won't be able to rip tracks to put on my RIO".

        I may take time, but word will get around and Joe Consumer will start to look for the logo before buying.

        -S
        • Re:Philips (Score:5, Insightful)

          by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:47PM (#2855036) Homepage Journal
          Anyone want to take bets on how long it'll take before some "news" show does an "investigative report" on "broken CDs" and tells the average consumer to look for the CD-DA logo to ensure that the disc will work in their car, DVD player, and CD-compatible game console?

          This seems to be the type of story that "investigative reporters" love - warning consumers that a product might not work on all of their fancy electronics and describing work-arounds and ways to avoid the problem.

          It may even be worth it to send it in as a "tip" to one of those news stations that allows them to be sent in...

          One of those would get the word out fairly quickly and probably cause Universal to find some way around the potential problems quickly. Especially if the discs don't work in Macintosh computers at the time...

          • Anyone want to take bets on how long it'll take before some "news" show does an "investigative report" on "broken CDs" and tells the average consumer to look for the CD-DA logo to ensure that the disc will work in their car, DVD player, and CD-compatible game console?

            Yes, it happened last week but unfortunately it was BBC fucking Watchdog [bbc.co.uk], the most ineffectual consumer affairs programme in the entire universe because they're more concerned with doing witty set pieces and puns than any research. The presenter, Nicki Campbell is a goon who just spouts the scripts he's given without any kind of insight into what he's actually saying, and his fearsome band of reporters look and talk like they're from a teeny-bopper tribute band. The whole experience is broadcast live, a completely crazy decision because none of the presenters are up to much more than following their autocues. Okay, so I enjoy sitting and getting apoplectic at the television once a week, my girlfriend loves it, but this was symptomatic of the approach of the whole program: they spent a good 3-4 minutes of prime-time television asking consumers in London whether they could tell the difference between copy-protected versions of Natalie Imbruglia, and the 'real McCoy', and concluded their report by saying that, well, the record company will replace copy-protected CDs with 'proper' copies if anyone has any complaints. Hoorah. Did they mention the issues raised by MP3 ripping? Fair use? The dilution of the CD standard? Hardly, it was mainly just a few minutes of moaning how the latest pop won't play on laptop CD players, but as with every issue they cover, they never like to rock the boat too much, or attempt any insight into what these complaints might be a symptom of.

            Seriously, you guys (who weren't in the UK) should have seen the piece they did on Windows XP [bbc.co.uk]. That half-hour weekly slot has so much potential to become a fearsome adversary to corporations, but what they always do when somebody complains about a product to them is to show the product's advert in full, as they did with XP, and then invite some rep from the company to come on to answer some previously-scripted 'hard-hitting' questions about the product. What usually happens is that the smart company rep defuses the question in about the first five seconds, then proceeds to use the prime time television slot to gush about the product's benefits. As happened, expertly, with the Microsoft rep. The presenter occasionally interrupts to repeat the question, which, we suspect, they don't always entirely understand; there follows another five seconds defusing, followed by more minutes of sales patter. Total whitewash; I'm surprised companies are queuing up to have their products 'savaged' by the BBC. In the case of XP, what do you think they were grilling the guy about? A few total mongs who'd queued up outside PC World at midnight to pick up their copies of XP suddenly couldn't connect to the internet after installing it and had to install some extra software to get their computers working like they used to. Well if they liked their computer so much as it was, and relied on them so much for their vital work, why risk the upgrade? Seriously, it's common fucking sense that most of the Watchdog complainants lack, and Microsoft took full advantage of the opportunity these moaners had provided to sell their product; you'd think the Beeb would have brief their presenters on what a Windows XP actually was :-)

            Look, in case you haven't got the gist of this show, bear with me here. They had an item last week as well where a few people were complaining about British Gas putting their prices up for the second time in the year. Now the situation with gas suppliers in the UK is that British Gas used to supply everybody, and now the government split the people that supply the gas and pipe it to people's houses from the people that actually charge for, send you the bills and do all the admin. They compete on that part, right? Everybody gets the same gas, from the same company, no matter who bills them, and the billing companies can compete on special offers with similarly deregulated electricity deals. British Gas used to have everyone in the country as their customers, so they had their prices capped at a minimum during the initial couple of years to compensate for their unfair advantage. This minimum was recently lifted, they presumably still have a fair proportion of people that haven't switched from them, so they raise their prices because they're allowed to. Many many people were interviewed on the programme and said that this was a problem, that they couldn't afford to keep the heating on for more than 10 seconds a day etc. etc. Nicki Campbell, hard hitting as ever, asks the head of the independent gas regulation department whether they're being 'totally ineffectual'. The head of the gas regulation department points out that people can switch gas companies with just a phonecall, and that this has been well advertised. Nicki Campbell hits back with "well what about all those people we interviewed who like things the way they are?" Huzzah, the British consumer psyche in a nutshell. Total waste of time, and proof that a prime piece of television that claims to be helping consumers is just the Brits' favourite pastime (moaning loudly about things without wanting them to change) rearranged into a telly program with some goofy presenters and a catchy beat.

            Sorry. I'm sorry for this rant. But to get back to the point: I think what Watchdog shows about the CD protection thing is that the vast majority of people just don't give a shit about the wider issues involved, and won't do until knackered, or WMF-encoded CDs are the norm and suddenly nobody can remember what the 'old' technology was like. But as you might have gathered it bugs me that such a good opportunity for a consumer affairs programme on UK television has been wasted so badly, and badly shakes my faith in people wanting to change these things (says Matthew, posting his detailed moan on Slashdot, a site much-read by BBC programme producers, before going for another beer and a few games of Crazy Taxi.)
    • Re:Philips (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HiThere (15173)
      I thought so too. For one day. Then Philips revealed that they had their own plans for a user submission policy (more accurate than copy protection plan).

      Philips appears no better, and perhaps worse, then the rest of them. OTOH, it's useful that they are protecting their trademark. At least it should be POSSIBLE to avoid buying junk.
      .
    • Re:Philips (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ToLu the Happy Furby (63586) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:49PM (#2855053)
      Is Philips still planning on not letting Universal us the standard audio CD logos on their CDs because of the Red Book compliance issues? To me that's a very strong statement.

      Do we really need to wait for Philips to decide this issue for us?

      The thing is, the circular platters they are selling are NOT CDs. They are a new format, designed to be partially backwards compatible with certain CD players and not compatible with certain other CD players.

      Just because they store information on a thin 5.25" circular platter does not make them CDs. VideoCDs, SuperAudioCDs and DVDs also store information on 5.25" circular platters, but they are not CDs. Only Philips can sue Universal for trademark infringment on the term "CD", but we can all sue them for misleading labeling.

      Or, more properly, we should pressure the retailers. After all, Universal is doing something by putting a warning label on these platters; it's the retailers who are inviting confusion by (presumably) marketing and displaying these platters in the same way that they do actual CDs.

      We should be pressing the record stores to create new categories if they want to sell these platters, e.g. a "Not-A-CD" section for all Universal disks, just as they have seperate sections for DVDs and, if they sell them, SACDs or VCDs. (Or perhaps "IncompatibleCD"; "ICD" for short.) Hell, they have seperate sections for SACDs, and those *are* completely backwards-compatible with the CD standard!

      If you invent a new and incompatible standard, you don't get to market it by inviting confusion with the dominant standard. That is illegal, even if the trademark holders of the dominant standard don't bother suing you for it.
      • Re:Philips (Score:3, Informative)

        by no_opinion (148098)
        Just to clear up a bit of mis-information, SACDs are not backwards compatible with the CD standard by default. The physical media used for SACDs is high density like a DVD and the audio bitstream is not LPCM, but the specification allows for a hybrid disc with two layers where one of the layers is compliant with the traditional CD spec and made such that it will play in most CD players. Note that this is an optional portion of the specification. There is a short FAQ here [sonymusic.com].
  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:46AM (#2854520) Homepage
    ...or at least your immediate needs. Phillips seems a logical choice to back at this point as a hardware vendor that can profit from the lack of copy protection. They are a company like any other and $$$ are the only language. Phillips could provide actual muscle in the corporate arena that people jumping up and down protesting could never provide. Let companies that back your "ideals" do the legwork for you, BUT, always keeps one eye one the people your fighting and the other on the people fighting for you, because umltimately, they are out for themselves too and wouldn't hesitate to throw you to the wolves too if it made them a buck.
  • How long until this is cracked? It seems inevitable, doesn't it?
    • Re:So... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FatRatBastard (7583) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:52AM (#2854559) Homepage
      Depends on how you define "cracked." I could take the CD, put it in my CD player, connect the optical out from that to my soundblaster card (with Optical In) and rip away. Nice digital copy. Sure, not as fast or as easy, but doable nevertheless.

      As Lessig said, "just a speedbump"
    • How long until this is cracked? It seems inevitable, doesn't it?

      Well, the CD must have a "low quality copy" of the music, where the ECC is all messed up. That's what you'll get when you play it in a low-tech cd player, that doesn't understand ECC.

      When you put it in a CD-ROM drive, it will probably pop and hiss, because the computer is "smart enough" to use the ECC to "fix" the errors in the CD.

      Someplace on the cd, there must be the missing information to turn the crackly output into something good. I'll bet it's encrypted somehow into the .exe player program that's on the CD.

      If we can open that .exe, and find out exactly what it does, then we could make similair program that does the same thing for linux. I would call that "cracked".

      Of course, the main benefit is that those of us who don't have Windows, could finally listen to our CD's in peace. Of course, it could be called a "copy protection circumvention device", so there's now a risk of being thrown in jail for making such harmless crack.

      Gone are the days of fair use.
    • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

      The company's failure to provide a Linux compatible player is going to be the demise of the copyright protection. This is what started DeCSS, some kid who wanted to play a DVD on his Linux computer, because there was no commercial (read:legal) software available to play it.

      Of course, they would never provide an open sourced solution, as it would be against the DMCA. Providing a binary only solution for Linux users may not prevent users from defeating the protection scheme, but it will certainly buy the company some time.

      The problem that they face with Linux users is that Joe Windows doesn't care about the protection scheme, because he has a player that will work for his PC, no questions asked. However, the Linux community, and correct me if I am wrong, is generally more technical than the Windows community, and therefore, we have the ability to defeat this mechanism, even if our intentions are legitimate.

  • In other words... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mintoman (551389) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:48AM (#2854528)
    Don't bother complaining, they've already answered you and you DON'T MATTER to them.

    At the risk of stating the obvious; the only way to make an impact on them is NOT BUY their product. Otherwise, get used to it.

    Sad but true.
    • Re:In other words... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:01PM (#2854640) Journal
      "At the risk of stating the obvious; the only way to make an impact on them is NOT BUY their product."

      Actually, a better way is to buy it, then return it. Since returns are only authorized for "defective" CDs they'll be able to see exactly how many people are screwed by this technology based on the returns.
    • Re:In other words... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Fillup (121335)
      Yeah I sent them a big big email right after this story ran on slashdot. I told them they were (basically) idiots and if they just spent a little more time serving customers and a little less time worrying about how to screw them, they would be a whole lot better off. This was their reply (oh i am SO glad to see they care so much about musicians!!):

      Thank you for your feedback regarding copy protected CDs. We
      appreciate your opinion, as the consumer experience with the music we all
      love has always been a priority at the Universal Music Group.

      Unfortunately, over the last few years, the music industry has been faced
      with a growing problem of unauthorized CD "ripping" leading to illegal
      Internet distribution of music - a practice that is hurting everyone from
      recording artists to songwriters to record stores. This illegal copying is
      taking place on a massive scale, with literally millions of copies being
      made without any compensation to the creators of the music. If a way is
      not found to protect the music from these abuses, recording artists,
      songwriters and many others will be deprived of their livelihoods. The
      changing economics could cause fewer new artists to get a chance to find
      their audience.

      Universal Music Group is committed to protecting the rights of our artists,
      songwriters, and copyright holders, and, like the rest of the entertainment
      industry, is evaluating emerging technologies to assess their viability while
      also attempting to maximize the consumer experience. In addition,
      Universal is exploring new ways to make music available in a variety of
      online formats. We are also working with technology companies on new
      offline formats that appeal to consumers.

      We have licensed copy protection technologies developed by others and
      are experimenting with the integration of those technologies into some of
      our CDs as a first step in measuring their effectiveness in an evolving
      marketplace. While the CDs with copy protection may not be playable in a
      limited number of CD players, UMG is currently working with our
      technology providers to achieve 100% playability. We also hope to
      include Macintosh-based playability on copy-protected discs in the future.
      We have not finalized our plans for 2002 nor have we made a commitment
      to put copy protection on all of our CD releases.

      UMG has also established www.musichelponline.com to provide
      consumers with support and to answer any questions you may have
      concerning copy protected CDs.

      We appreciate your business, and your support for the musicians who
      bring so much to all of our lives.
    • In a way I wish I was in their target market so I could complain.

      .
  • A common ploy. Go ahead and capitalize on how
    lazy people are for the most part by making your
    refund/replacement process the biggest pain in the
    ass possible so people are discouraged from dealing with it. Flood the market with a substandard copyright protected product, then make refunds a pain in the butt. That's not what I call putting the customer first.
  • by jon323456 (194737) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:49AM (#2854542)
    So what happens 5 years from now when you can't find a machine running XP to save your life, and the newest version of Microsoft's OS is incompatible with my cd's player. Universal says they won't be providing updates so I've just got a coaster? Thats dissapointing...
  • Simple response (Score:5, Informative)

    by the_rev_matt (239420) <slashbot@@@revmatt...com> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:49AM (#2854543) Homepage
    Don't buy CDs from Universal. Write to the artists and their agents telling them that you will not buy their music any more because you can't listen to it on your only CD player (which happens to be in a non-Windows computer) so you're very sorry as you really enjoyed their music and supporting them. Advise them that if the artist offered their music for download on their website and accepted payment via something like paypal, you'd be happy to give them your money.


    The artists (and more importantly, their agents) need to understand that the labels are hurting them financially (not that this is news to them, that's how the biz works anyway) in new and interesting ways.


    It's entirely possible to do your own thing in music and make a solid living at it. Sure, you may not be the next Britney Spheres, but why would you want to? Look at Frank Zappa, Ani DiFranco, and Prince. They are (or were in FZs case) doing it for themselves. Zappa was doing it for himself since the early 70's!

    • by joss (1346) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:57AM (#2854605) Homepage
      > Sure, you may not be the next Britney Spheres, but why would you want to?

      So I could grope my own tits
    • by Anonymous Coward
      . . . the next Britney Spheres. . .

      Now there, boys and girls, is an example of a Freudian slip if I ever saw one.

      ~~~

    • NO! Better response (Score:5, Informative)

      by dhamsaic (410174) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:05PM (#2854677)
      That's a good idea, but there's a better one!

      Buy the CDs, open them, and then RETURN THEM! THEN write your letters stating that you can't buy their music because you can't listen to it on your non-Windows computer. What matters to VivendiUniversal is money. Every time this happens, it costs them money. It also costs the retailer time. Time is money. If this happens enough, they will be more inclined to have harsh words with the distributor. Go to every Best Buy you know, buy a copy-protected CD (Fast & Furious Soundtrack is a great start), open them up, print out the return policy linked in the original article, and then go return them! You can make a difference. Help stop this before it becomes commonplace: buy a CD, open it and return it.
      • Don't forget to put the CD's on your credit card. This will give you two advantages:

        1. You'll be able to buy more CD's than you could with cash.

        2. If the situation arises, you can dispute the charges since you were sold defective merchandise.
      • I can see where this might be effective if enought people do it, but PLEASE don't do this to the small mom and pop record stores that are struggling to stay open in the wake of (name your favorite box store).
    • This is off-topic to your central suggestion of boycotting. Sorry.

      I really don't think FZ or Prince should be on that little list, as they are/were both on major labels when they started out (FZ started rereleasing his stuff via Ryko before his death, but he started out making vinyl for Columbia(pretty sure it was columbia) and there's reissues still coming out of Utility Muffin Research Studio/Barking Pumpkin (FZ's studio/label) and Prince just got out of his indentured servitude to Warner Bros. not too long ago and has just recently gone back to releasing on a more regular schedule (ie a new one every few months.)

      Ani is the only one on your list who's made it big totally independent -- her own label, her own publishing, her own tours, her own everything. I like her music though I'm not a huge fan of it, but her business sense (which basically consisted of telling major labels who came to her with a contract to sign "FUCK YOU!" and building a rabid fanbase by touring constantly) is really what makes her a lot better than any made-for-consumption pop star (e.g. Britney, NSync, Backstreet Boys, et al) -- although the fact that she writes her own songs and plays at least *an* instrument is a definite bonus.
    • by CoreDump (1715) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:45PM (#2855011) Homepage Journal
      To: umg@umusic.com
      To: webmaster@friendsoflive.com

      To Whom It May Concern,

      Hoping that you are motivated by more than sheer greed, I'd like to
      voice a complaint regarding the Live - V CD that I received as gift
      at Christmas this year.

      I work as a computer programmer, and as such spend a lot of time at
      work, using a computer. I have a collection of about 300 CD's at my
      desk at work, that I listen using the CD-ROM drive of one of my computers.
      I run several operating systems, including Linux, Solaris,
      FreeBSD on my Intel PC's. I also have several Sun SPARC workstations.

      When trying to play the Live - V CD, I receive an error message upon
      inserting the CD that says 'Cannot run 16-bit application'. I have
      serveral other 'media players' including WinAMP, Musicmatch Jukebox,
      etc. These attempt to play the CD, and do play the first half of the
      CD fairly well. However, the latter tracks on the CD hiss, pop, and
      crackle to point that the music is no longer enjoyable.

      I've been a fan of Live for many years now ( since Mental Jewelry
      came out ), and have purchased all of the other albums, as well as
      gone to several concerts featuring Live.

      As a consumer who pays for his music, I feely completely shafted and
      disenfranchised by Universal's decisions to "Copy Protect" their CD's.

      I do not know for certain whether any copy protection was used on the
      Live - V albumn, as there is nothing on the CD artwork, jewel-case,
      or packaging to indicate such.

      I do know that I will be throwing away the albumn as useless, and
      will no longer purchase any further Live cd's that come out on the
      Universal label.

      So, you win. I can't copy the CD so that I can listen to it in my
      car on the way to and from work. I can't "burn" it to MP3 format
      to listen to on my MP3 player. Nor can I listen to it on my preferred
      CD-Player ( which happens to be a PC ).

      I will be fucked if I'm going to go buy a standalone CD-Player for
      my office, just to listen to music.

      You choose to cripple your CD's. I choose not to buy them.

      Reference the Universal Music website regarding this at:

      http://www.musichelponline.com/TechSupport.asp

      I will still pay money to see Live in concert, but I will no longer
      pay for Live CD's published under the Universal label. ( Or any
      other music I like that comes our on Universal ).

      Sorry guys from the band. It's nothing personal against you, and I
      am not trying to "steal" your work from you without compensation.
      Universal has chosen to make it personal against me.

      I wish you all the best of luck. Keep making great music, and visit
      Chicago on tour often so I can hear your new stuff ( since I cannot
      listen to it on CD ).

      Respectfully,
  • by uigrad_2000 (398500) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:50AM (#2854545) Homepage Journal
    The CD will play in PCs that meet the following minimum system requirements: PC with at least Pentium® 133mHz or compatible processor, 32 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive, soundcard and speakers, Microsoft ®Windows95®, Windows98®, Windows2000®, Windows ME®, Windows XP® or Windows NT 4 ® with Service Pack 4.

    If my "PC" doesn't have Windows, it hasn't met the "minimum system requirements" to play a CD.

    It must be time to "upgrade"!
    • Even worse, this leaves Mac folks in the dust. I can almost understand the "hacker" OS Linux (yes, that's sarcasm, folks) out of the dust - but what did Steve Jobs do to get excluded from the list? (Oh, yes - he supported iTunes, which *likes* MP3s).
  • by !ramirez (106823) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:51AM (#2854549)
    Buy as many CD's as you can afford at the time, open ALL of them, and take them back immediately. Retailers don't like to take back opened merchandise, and will quite often (from what I understand) charge back a small amount the the distributor, which will then pass the cost upwards. While some may consider this approach stupid/ineffective, think about this: enough people buy these "CDs" and return them, and retailers will think twice about buying them or moving them into the retail chain.
    • And now that you've posted this brilliant scheme, Universal has only to reword their return policy:

      "All retailers are encouraged to give refunds for opened products, provided that the following form is filled in completely by the customer for each product being returned, with a description of the problem encountered."

      How much is your time worth?
    • by Slashdolt (166321) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:08PM (#2854700)
      This seemed like a good idea to me, too, until I started to think about the idea that in the end, they just up the price of CD's, and we end up paying for it.

      CD's are extremely costly, in my opinion. And why are they still more expensive than cassettes, when cassettes are apparently more difficult to manufacture?

      I'm thinking that contacting my state's attorney general and complaining MAY get a response, if enough people do it. Hey, the states went after Microsoft, after all! When you see commercials (Philips, I believe) where the guy is mixing his own CD's, at that point it should be considered a general expectation of purchasing a CD. If you purchase a CD, you have a reasonable expectation that you'll be able to mix the songs with other songs of your choosing, and put them onto a newly mixed CD. They are taking that away. Something about harming the consumer comes to my mind, and believe it or not, state attorney generals like to get involved in that sort of a thing.

      -Slashdolt
      • This seemed like a good idea to me, too, until I started to think about the idea that in the end, they just up the price of CD's, and we end up paying for it.

        No, because at the moment this is only Universal Vivendi--only one of the big 5 record labels. Thus all the returns will only hurt Universal. This leaves three possibilities:

        1) Universal does not raise prices to cover the cost of returns; Universal loses lots of money
        2) Universal does raise prices to cover the cost of returns; now they are charging $2 more than the competition for people to buy defective "CDs"! Universal loses even more sales
        3) Universal rasises prices to cover costs and the other labels raise prices to match; the other labels make make larger profits (assuming consumers don't stop buying) while Universal just breaks even; other labels steal away all of Universal's artists.

        We still have a choice in this. Universal has specifically said that they will be looking at the return rates to decide whether they move all their music onto this new format. Yes, the music industry has been too dumb to realize that the reason music sales are down is because they shut off Napster. But they are not too dumb to realize that when people return their new format as defective that it isn't smart to move their entire line over to that format.
    • by TheViffer (128272) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:24PM (#2854823)
      Go in and buy one cd, take it home. Next time you come back complain that the cd is defective and ask for an exchange. Do this often and regularly at store X when different people are working. Again telling them they are defective.

      The point is, "returned" merchandise might just get re-shrink wrapped and thrown back on the shelf, where as you state it is "defective" it will more then likely be returned back to Universial or whereever.
    • by wirefarm (18470)
      How soon before people figure out that they can buy a CD, take it home and simply *tape* it, (Yes, people still do this, believe it or not,) then return it saying that it wouldn't play in their 'computer'?
      Me, I'd probably make a perfectly acceptable analog MP3 or Minidisc copy of it - I don't have a tape deck anymore.
      This is pathetic and it will undoubtedly bite them on the tail...
      Good luck to them...
      Cheers,
      Jim in Tokyo
    • Unfortunately, some retailers will simply respond by changing their return policy in general. In fact, this behavior is interpreted as you taking the CDs home, burning them, and then returning them. (I trust that's not what you're advocating by 'screw the man'?)

      For example, HMV [musicbusinesscanada.com] no longer takes back unopened CDs.

      You can see the change in attitude about the policy in this interview [robmagazine.com] with their president, printed just a couple weeks before they modified the policy. That is, you can tell how they are rationalizing that permitting opened CDs to be returned is no longer effective for their business practice.

      So I disagree with this approach, as it basically only winds up screwing people who legitimately want to return their cds. (by legitimate, I mean within the original intent of the return policy to maximize customer satisfaction)
    • Nah, do this. Buy as many CD's as you can afford to on a Visa/Mastercard. Then, take home, and what a surprise, they don't play. Bring them back, and tell the counterjock that you've never recieved "fit-for-service" goods and that if you don't get a refund, you'll call Visa and tell them to stop payment. Then do so.

      LV
  • by PolyDwarf (156355) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:51AM (#2854552)
    Doesn't the bit about the license for the player being non-transferable violate the doctrine of first sale?
    I can sell my regular CD's to the guy next door, and they can't do a thing about it. Now, if I sell these silvery things to the guy next door, he can't listen to the stuff on his computer???
    Or does doctrine of first sale trump such restrictions?
    • That's why they're not SELLING it to you. They're LICENSING it. If that works or not, however, is open to debate. But that is their reasoning.
  • by Brian_Ellenberger (308720) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:52AM (#2854553)
    At least they use open source code! :)

    From: http://www.musichelponline.com/legal/
    The Content has been encoded using software that incorporates the LAME encoder; more information about the encoder is available at http:// www.mp3dev.org.

    http://www.mp3dev.org/mp3/
    now LAME is the source code for a fully GPL'd MP3 encoder, with speed and quality to rival all commercial competitors.

    Brian Ellenberger
  • by egburr (141740) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:52AM (#2854560) Homepage
    3.Can I listen to the songs from this CD on my MP3 player? As with all computer software there may be incompatibilities with some computer systems. The CD is designed to play on PCs. The current version of the copy-protection technology does not allow you to copy files from the CD into MP3 format. UMG is currently making every effort possible to upgrade our available technology to add new features and increase playability.

    If they're are working to make it possible to rip the songs to MP3 to be copied onto an MP3 player, what's the point of the copy-protection in the first place? First, they add copy-protection, then they plan to add even more features to work around the copy-protection.

    Of course, their answer didn't really say this is what they are working toward, but it sure seems to be trying to imply it.

    • by iGawyn (164113)
      What they plan on doing is distributing a CD-Ripping program where, when you start it, you're given a question:

      Are you ripping this to copy the mp3s onto your MP3 player and only your mp3 player, or are you going to listen to them on your computer and/or pirate them via P2P applications?

      Answer yes, you rip. Answer no, your computer melts.

      Gawyn
  • Three words: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by flumps (240328)
    Boycott these CDs.

    Seriously. Don't buy them. Tell your friends not to buy them, and tell them to tell their friends, and so on. They will have to stop making them if they are not getting their returns - and the power is in your hands to do it, consumer...

  • by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x&snkmail,com> on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:54AM (#2854576) Homepage Journal
    Here is the text of the articles:

    The FAQ: [musichelponline.com]

    Why have you copy-protected the CD?
    UMG is incorporating copy protection into their CDs to assess its viability in protecting the rights of our artists and copyright holders by preventing CD copying and illegal Internet distribution.

    Are you going to copy-protect all CDs from now on?
    UMG is committed to protecting the rights of its artists and copyright holders. UMG will be testing various technologies on specifically identified releases throughout 2002.

    Can I get a copy of this CD without the copy protection?
    No, all copies of this CD are copy-protected.

    Can I play this disc in my PC?
    The CD will play in PCs that meet the following minimum system requirements: PC with at least Pentium® 133mHz or compatible processor, 32 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive, soundcard and speakers, Microsoft ®Windows95®, Windows98®, Windows2000®, Windows ME®, Windows XP® or Windows NT 4 ® with Service Pack 4.

    The CD should automatically start playing in most PCs. If it does not start playing in yours, open the CD-ROM drive's window and click on the music player application. Once in the player you can "Play" or open the "Playlist", choose a track and click on it.

    For information about returns, please see our return policy.

    Where can I send suggestions/comments?
    You may email comments to: umg@umusic.com

    or mail them to:

    Universal Music Group
    Attn: Copy Protection Customer Care
    2220 Colorado Avenue, 2nd Floor
    Santa Monica, CA 90404

    The Tech Support Site: [musichelponline.com]

    The CD is not playing in an audio CD player (DVD player, car stereo, portable CD player, game console).
    This CD may not be playable in a limited number of CD players. UMG is currently working with our technology providers to achieve 100% playability.

    If you experience this problem, you can help us by emailing the model of the player and a description of the problem to umg@umusic.com

    For information about returns, please see our return policy.

    The audio has one or more of the following problems:
    Clicks, pops, noises, skipping, etc.
    Songs did not start and stop when the skip button was pushed.
    The fast forward and rewind functions did not work.
    You were unable to play all of the songs.
    There were long delays between songs or after a button was pressed for a particular function.

    UMG is currently making every effort possible to eliminate any audio interference or technical difficulties created by the implementation of copy protection technologies.

    If you experience this problem, you can help us by emailing the model of the player and a description of the problem to umg@umusic.com.

    Assuming the problem is not repeated with non-protected CDs, you may return the disc. Please see our return policy for more information.

    Can I listen to the songs from this CD on my MP3 player?
    As with all computer software there may be incompatibilities with some computer systems. The CD is designed to play on PCs. The current version of the copy-protection technology does not allow you to copy files from the CD into MP3 format. UMG is currently making every effort possible to upgrade our available technology to add new features and increase playability.

    Why can't I play this disc on my Macintosh-based computer?
    This CD will play in PCs running Microsoft® Windows95®, Windows98®, Windows2000®, Windows ME®, Windows XP® or Windows NT 4 ® with Service Pack 4. We hope to include Macintosh-based playability on copy-protected discs in the future.

    For information about returns, please see our return policy.

    Why can't I copy the disc to my hard drive?
    We recognize that many consumers enjoy storing music on their PCs and we are currently working on new systems to allow for this capability. To listen to the CD on your PC, use the media player included in the CD.

    The Return Policy [musichelponline.com]:

    UMG has authorized all retailers to accept returns. If you have experienced any of the following problems, you may return the CD (even if the package is opened) accompanied by the receipt, to the retailer that the CD was originally purchased from for a full refund:
    The CD is not playing in your CD or DVD player.
    The CD is not playing in your computer.
    The audio has audible problems.
    The songs did not start and stop when the skip button was pushed.
    The fast forward and rewind functions did not work.
    You are not able to play all of the songs on the CD.
    There are long delays between the songs or after you press a button for a particular function (fast forward, rewind, etc.).
    UMG is making every effort to eliminate these problems as soon as possible.

    The Fearsome Legalese [musichelponline.com]:

    TERMS AND CONDITIONS

    PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THE FOLLOWING TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY TO THE MUSIC PLAYER APPLICATION AND AUDIO CONTENT YOU ARE USING. IF YOU DO NOT OR CANNOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS, YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO USE THE PLAYER OR CONTENT. IF YOU DO NOT OR CANNOT AGREE TO THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS, YOU MAY RETURN THE COMPACT DISC ON WHICH YOU RECEIVED THE PLAYER AND CONTENT FOR A REFUND.

    INSTRUCTIONS FOR RECEIVING A REFUND UNDER OUR RETURNS POLICY ARE ENCLOSED IN THE JEWEL CASE ACCOMPANYING THE COMPACT DISC AND ARE AVAILABLE ONLINE AT: Return Policy.

    DESCRIPTION OF PLAYER AND CONTENT
    The compact disc you are using contains copy protection technology. When you use the compact disc in a conventional CD player, it operates like any other CD. When you use the compact disc in a CD ROM drive, the technology launches an audio player (the "Player"), and plays compressed audio files (the "Content").

    USE OF THE PLAYER AND CONTENT
    No Additional Charge. There is no additional charge to you for the Player or Content.

    Privacy. No personal information about you is collected by or through the Player or Content.

    Responsibilities. You are responsible for all use of the Player and the Content on the CD you have purchased. You may only use the Player and Content pursuant to these terms and conditions.

    Player and Content. The Player and Content comprise intellectual property owned by us and our licensors, and they are protected under international law, including patent, copyright and trade secret laws. Your use of the Player and Content is governed by the terms and conditions set forth herein. All title and ownership rights in the Player and Content remains with us and our licensors, as applicable.

    License. We hereby grant to you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, revocable license to use the Player and Content on your personal computer solely for your own personal, non-commercial use. You understand and agree that you may not reproduce, modify, display, distribute or otherwise use the Player or Content except as expressly provided herein, and you may not attempt to separate the Player or Content from the CD on which you received them. You may not authorize, encourage or allow the Player or any Content to be reproduced, modified, displayed, distributed or otherwise used by any other party, and you agree that you will take all reasonable steps to prevent any unauthorized reproduction and/or use of them. Nothing herein is intended to prevent you from transferring the CD you purchased to another person who will be bound by these terms and conditions. Except as expressly provided herein, no other licenses or rights (including rights to maintenance or updates) are granted, expressly, or by implication or estoppel.

    No Reverse Engineering. You may not attempt (or authorize, encourage or support others' attempts) to circumvent, reverse engineer, decrypt, break or otherwise alter or interfere with the Player, the operation of it, or Content.

    MAINTENANCE AND UPDATES
    We do not provide maintenance or updates for the Player or Content.

    INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
    All trademarks, service marks, trade names, slogans, logos, and other indicia of origin that appear on or in connection with the Player and/or Content are our property or that of our affiliates or licensors. You may not copy, display or use any of these marks without prior written permission of the mark owner. The Player and Content (and portions of them) are protected under patent law and are the subject of issued patents and pending patent applications. The Player and Content (and portions of them) are also protected under copyright law and trade secret law. The Player and Content may also contain third party technology. The following describes such third party technology and your rights and licenses therein. The Player uses the Blowfish block cipher, ã 1995 A.M. Kuchling; you may use it solely in connection with your use of the Player and Content as permitted herein, unless you receive further authorization directly from the author of it. The Player includes technology of EverAd Inc., Midbar Tech Ltd., and QDesign Corp.; you may use it solely in connection with your use of the Player and Content as permitted herein, unless you receive further authorization directly from the owners of it. The Content has been encoded using software that incorporates the LAME encoder; more information about the encoder is available at http:// www.mp3dev.org.

    U.S. GOVERNMENT RIGHTS
    The Player is "commercial computer software" or "commercial computer software documentation." The United States government's rights with respect to the Player are limited by the terms of this agreement pursuant to FAR 12.212(a) and/or DFARS 227.7202-1(a), as applicable.

    INTERNATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
    The Content files are encrypted and the Player contains decryption technology. You agree to abide by U.S. and other applicable export control laws and not to transfer any material subject to restrictions under such laws to a national destination or person prohibited under such laws.

    REMEDIES
    You understand and agree that any unauthorized use of the Player or Content would result in irreparable injury to us and/or our affiliates or licensors for which money damages would be inadequate, and in such event we and/or licensors, as applicable, shall have the right, in addition to other remedies available at law and in equity, to immediate injunctive relief against you. Nothing contained in this paragraph or elsewhere in this document shall be construed to limit remedies or relief available pursuant to statutory or other claims that we, our affiliates and/or licensors may have under separate legal authority, including but not limited to, any claim for intellectual property infringement.

    INDEMNITY
    You agree to indemnify and hold harmless us and our agents, employees, representatives, licensors, affiliates, parents and subsidiaries from and against any and all claims, losses, demands, causes of action and judgments (including attorneys' fees and court costs) (collectively "Claims") arising from or concerning your use of the Player or Content and to reimburse them on demand for any losses, costs or expenses they incur as a result of any Claims.

    TERM AND TERMINATION
    The term of this agreement shall be for so long as we and/or our licensors own any intellectual property rights in the Player or Content. You may terminate this agreement at any time by returning to us the CD you purchased.

    DISCLAIMERS
    You understand and agree that your use of the Player and Content is at your own sole risk. THE PLAYER AND CONTENT ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTY BY US OR OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE, AND, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT ALLOWED BY APPLICABLE LAW, WE AND OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE, EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OF NONINFRINGEMENT. THERE IS NO WARRANTY THAT THE PLAYER OR CONTENT WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, OR THAT YOUR ACCESS TO THE SAME WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE. WE, OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE, DO NOT WARRANT, GUARANTEE, OR MAKE ANY REPRESENTATIONS REGARDING THE USE OR THE RESULTS OF THE USE OF THE PLAYER OR CONTENT WITH RESPECT TO PERFORMANCE, ACCURACY, RELIABILITY, SECURITY CAPABILITY, CURRENTNESS OR OTHERWISE. YOU WILL NOT HOLD US OR OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE, RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES THAT RESULT FROM YOU USING THE PLAYER OR CONTENT, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY INFECTIONS OR CONTAMINATIONS OF YOUR COMPUTER OR DAMAGE TO ANY SOFTWARE OR SYSTEMS YOU USE TO ACCESS THE SAME THAT MAY RESULT FROM THAT USE. NO ORAL OR WRITTEN INFORMATION OR ADVICE GIVEN BY ANY PERSON SHALL CREATE A WARRANTY IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER RELATING TO US, OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE.

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL WE OR OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE, BE LIABLE FOR ANY UNAUTHORIZED USE OF THE PLAYER OR CONTENT.

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHALL WE OR OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE, BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR ANY CONSEQUENTIAL, INCIDENTAL OR SPECIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING DAMAGES FOR LOSS OF BUSINESS PROFITS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, LOSS OF BUSINESS INFORMATION, AND THE LIKE) ARISING OUT OF THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE PLAYER OR CONTENT, EVEN IF WE AND/OR OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE, HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. BECAUSE SOME JURISDICTIONS DO NOT ALLOW THE EXCLUSION OR LIMITATION OF LIABILITY FOR CONSEQUENTIAL OR INCIDENTAL DAMAGES, THE ABOVE LIMITATION MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU. TO THE EXTENT THAT IN A PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCE ANY DISCLAIMER OR LIMITATION ON DAMAGES OR LIABILITY SET FORTH HEREIN IS PROHIBITED BY APPLICABLE LAW, THEN, INSTEAD OF THE PROVISIONS HEREOF IN SUCH PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCE, WE AND/OR OUR AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, PARENTS, SUBSIDIARIES, AFFILIATES, LICENSORS, BUSINESS PARTNERS AND/OR SUPPLIERS, AS APPLICABLE, SHALL BE ENTITLED TO THE MAXIMUM DISCLAIMERS AND/OR LIMITATIONS ON DAMAGES AND LIABILITY AVAILABLE AT LAW OR IN EQUITY BY SUCH APPLICABLE LAW IN SUCH PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCE, AND IN NO EVENT SHALL SUCH DAMAGES OR LIABILITY EXCEED US$10.

    LAW AND LEGAL NOTICES
    This agreement and any other terms or documents referred to herein represent your entire agreement with us with respect to your use of the Player and Content. You understand and agree that, except as expressly set forth herein, this agreement is not intended to confer and does not confer any rights or remedies upon any person other than the parties to this agreement. If any part of this agreement is held invalid or unenforceable, that portion shall be construed in a manner consistent with applicable law to reflect, as nearly as possible, the original intentions of the parties, and the remaining portions shall remain in full force and effect. Any actions arising out of or in any manner affecting the interpretation of this agreement as they pertain to the Player or Content, whether under this agreement or otherwise shall be governed solely by, and construed solely in accordance with, the laws of the United States and the State of California, excluding (i) conflict of laws principles; (ii) the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods; (iii) the 1974 Convention on the Limitation Period in the International Sale of Goods; and (iv) the Protocol amending the 1974 Convention, done at Vienna April 11, 1980. To the extent permitted by law, the provisions of this agreement shall supersede any provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code and the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act as adopted or made applicable to the Player in any competent jurisdiction. You expressly agree that the courts in the State of California, Los Angeles County, have exclusive jurisdiction over any claim or dispute with us or relating in any way to the Player or Content. You further agree and expressly consent to personal jurisdiction over you in the federal and state courts of Los Angeles County in connection with any such dispute including any claim involving us or our partners, parents, licensors, affiliates, subsidiaries, employees, contractors, officers, directors or suppliers.
  • First, the copy protection makes only works on Windows. What if you use a Mac and want to listen on your computer? Linux is obviously right out.

    What if you want to a legitimate copy on your hard drive? Sounds like that won't work, either.

    Looks like it might be time to dig out ye olde Indigo in the basement and use the SPDIF inputs to rip CD's so that I can get a clean copy for encoding. What a hassle. Too bad Joe Sixpack doesn't have digital ins on his machine.

  • From their tech support page:
    To listen to the CD on your PC, use the media player included in the CD.

    None of the CDs I currently own have media player software included on the CD. Are the copy- protected CDs shipping with software on them? If so, can I really trust their software? What if I want to use my own media player, such as winamp?

  • by Garion911 (10618) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:57AM (#2854603) Homepage
    It seems that all the disclaimer writers I've seen learned to type on AOL... They start out in normal upper and lower case letters.. Then, for some reason, they switch to all caps, like they never realized it.. They go on for several paragraphs like this.. Then they suddenly realize that they were in caps mode, and turn it off... I swear that they learned to type on AOL....

    --Garion911
  • OMG (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jgerman (106518) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:57AM (#2854613)

    You understand and agree that any unauthorized use of the Player or Content would result in irreparable injury to us and/or our affiliates or licensors for which money damages would be inadequate, and in such event we and/or licensors, as applicable, shall have the right, in addition to other remedies available at law and in equity, to immediate injunctive relief against you. Nothing contained in this paragraph or elsewhere in this document shall be construed to limit remedies or relief available pursuant to statutory or other claims that we, our affiliates and/or licensors may have under separate legal authority, including but not limited to, any claim for intellectual property infringement


    Irreparable?? That's quite a strong term to use in this case. Especially if they don't know you did it it doesn't hurt them at all. That pretty much rules out irreparable in my book. Also I'm not sure how they can be damaged so that monetery reparations would be inadequate. They are a corporation, they are only there to make money, I don't think they can take you to court on the basis of emotional damage for non-compliance. Just what do they expect to do to you for copying this cd?



    You agree to indemnify and hold harmless us and our agents, employees, representatives, licensors, affiliates, parents and subsidiaries from and against any and all claims, losses, demands, causes of action and judgments (including attorneys' fees and court costs) (collectively "Claims") arising from or concerning your use of the Player or Content and to reimburse them on demand for any losses, costs or expenses they incur as a result of any Claims.


    Ok so not only can I not sue you for any reason whatsoever, but you can charge me money if I try anyway. Basically this whole thing says if you buy this cd you are fucked, we can do whatever we want to you and you can't do a thing, but if you have the audacity to listen to this product in a way we don't approve of, we can sue you file injunctions take away your dog, or whatever we feel like.


    Since when did consumers lose all of their rights as a result of buying a product?

    • Re:OMG (Score:4, Informative)

      by ToLu the Happy Furby (63586) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:36PM (#2854924)
      The thing is, if you read the EULA carefully it's clear that it only applies to the software portion of this so-called "CD":

      "When you use the compact disc in a CD ROM drive, the technology launches an audio player (the "Player"), and plays compressed audio files (the "Content")."

      In other words, "the Content" means the encrypted MP3 files on the platter, not the fux0red uncompressed audio with the messed up error correction that plays when you stick it in a normal CD player.

      Of course you are presumably bound from trying to mess with the latter due to the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA. Although, for that to kick in, the access-protection mechanism needs to actually be "effective" in the eyes of the law; a valid case can be made that this mechanism is *not* effective, because according to various reports there are the following workarounds:

      1) Certain if not all DVD-ROM drives (and perhaps consumer DVD players as well) can access tracks 2 and beyond *automatically*, with no extra user effort or loss in quality.

      2) Widespread pre-existing utilities such as exact audio copy [exactaudiocopy.de] are reported to be able to rip the disc (as one single .wav file) just fine, with no extra user effort or loss in quality.

      3) Extracting the audio from a consumer CD player with digital-out into a sound card with digital-in should result in a perfect copy, with no extra user effort or loss in quality.

      Presumably nobody accessing the audio on the disc using the above three methods could be charged with using a "circumvention device", because they were just using commonly available tools and methods which were in place before this supposed access-control mechanism was even invented. Thus in my NAL opinion, the DMCA would not apply here.

      Once the content is accessed, of course you are perfectly within your rights to rip to MP3 or make a backup copy for personal use, or, under the AHRA, to make copies for your friends (as long as they are distributed non-commercially). Whether you are allowed to distribute MP3s online (e.g. through a P2P network) is still an open legal question, but distributing these MP3s is certainly no more or less illegal than distributing any MP3 from a CD you don't have the copyright on.

      Since when did consumers lose all of their rights as a result of buying a product?

      Since the product was software. The EULA attached to their buggy player and the encrypted MP3s is unfortunate, but as we all know, not terribly unusual for the world of software--where it clearly resides. Luckily none of its provisions--especially those regarding indemnity or reverse engineering--are likely to stand up in court.
  • Just wonderful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by proxima (165692) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:58AM (#2854616)
    Now, if we want to buy a Universal music CD, we have to agree to a license agreement comparable to the average MS EULA.

    Many of us probably feared that the customer backlash will be softened by some heavily encrypted files and a proprietary player on each CD. For all too many people, that functionality will be good enough.

    Here's to hoping that the general public will still be pissed about:

    1.) Not being able to use their favorite music software

    2.) Not being able to transfer to mp3 players

    Of course, in a few years, we may be in the horrible situation of having the RIAA agree on a new encryption standard, and all major music players and devices will read it. However, those music devices could be forced to tie in with just one computer, or something stupid like that.

    I don't share my music, but I listen to all high-bitrate mp3s and use my mp3 player often. I have already decided against purchasing a CD I would almost certainly own by now if it weren't for Universal's copy protection. Let's hope Universal's sales suffer dearly for this.

  • Man, I hate Legalese and it's dialects. There are plenty of questions on these pages, but technically only one answer (I think, answers to yes/no-questions should containe one of "yes", "no" and "that depends on ..." (or similar phrases). The only question they really give an answer to (in the gramatical sense) is "Can I get a copy of this CD without the copy protection?". I think at least "* Can I listen to the songs from this CD on my MP3 player?" would be easy to answer: "We don't want you to be able to produce MP3-files of this discs, because you can copy it!". (Wrap it in leagalese and it almost looks nice!).
  • by XPulga (1242) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:58AM (#2854622) Homepage
    FAQ #4 lists the requirements to play these CDs on a PC:

    PC with at least Pentium® 133mHz or compatible processor, 32 MB RAM, CD-ROM drive, soundcard and speakers, Microsoft ®Windows95®, Windows98®, Windows2000®, Windows ME®, Windows XP® or Windows NT 4 ® with Service Pack 4

    the word was carefully chosen to be PC, not computer , which would enrage Mac users at large.

    This is a bad sign that real soon now CDs may come with "Designed for Windows" or "Requires Windows" banners on the covers.

    Needless to say, 3 days after the first CD is out with the scheme, an open source decoder/ripper for it will be out on freshmeat. And it probably wil compile on Mac OS X out of the box. :)

    • And it probably wil compile on Mac OS X out of the box.

      Naw, we're still waiting for a port of cdparanoia. The kernel transport layers all Think Different.

      That would be something to do in my copious free time.... Hmmmm.

    • The word was carefully chosen to be PC, not computer , which would enrage Mac users at large.

      The problem with your statement is that Apple has regarded the Mac as a personal computer (PC) for a long time. Their product is not an "IBM compatible" x86 box but that does not make it any less a PC.. The key phrase is the Pentium® 133mHz or compatible processor, not the PC portion of the statement. Mac users are bright enough to realize that their machines do not use Pentium or compatible processors.

      It should be noted that VPC will probably run this without any problem..

  • by Pentagon13 (166309) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @11:59AM (#2854624)
    Wouldn't it be misleading to present an audio disc in the standard jewel case, even if the CDDA sticker was not present? If trademarks and domain names can be found confusingly similar, then can the shape of a product also be found confusingly similar? UMG should be required to sell these cds in different jewel cases that make them EASILY distinguishable from the standard jewel case. The lack of sticker won't catch the attention of 99% of the buyers. There should be some other reason that the buyers will not associate this product with a real CDDA compliant cd.
  • by Faile (465836) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:04PM (#2854667)
    "UMG has authorized all retailers to accept returns. If you have experienced any of the following problems, you may return the CD (even if the package is opened) accompanied by the receipt, to the retailer that the CD was originally purchased from for a full refund: *anything*"

    In other words I can buy a CD, rip it ('cos we all know it can and is being done all the time, protection or not) and return it fullprice :)
  • UMG is making every effort to eliminate these problems as soon as possible.

    That's a blatant LIE.
    It's VERY easy to eliminate these problems: comply with the Red Book [eaglevisiontv.com].

    "every effort" is pure BS.
  • "We hereby grant to you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, revocable license to use the Player and Content on your personal computer solely for your own personal, non-commercial use."

    "You understand and agree that you may not reproduce, modify, display, distribute or otherwise use the Player or Content except as expressly provided herein, and you may not attempt to separate the Player or Content from the CD on which you received them."

    So it is illegal to make a backup copy of the computer-playable audio files. It is also illegal to try and play them with any other app (or on any OS other than Windows). Plus, since it revocable, you can retroactively take away the right to play them AT ALL on a computer.

    At least they specifically mention that the non-transferable clause does not prevent you from re-selling the CD.

  • Trust the Consumer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BadBlood (134525) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:08PM (#2854702)
    Corporations don't. That's why DivX was launched. We all knew it was a very bad idea, we just didn't know if Joe Consumer would think so too. Thank goodness he did.

    Let's just hope the same Joe Consumer will think Universal's idea is a bad one too. Then we can watch this idea die the same death of DivX. It will take a bit of time perhaps, but when a mass amount of people are inconvenienced, corporations should see the proper monetary repsonse.

    I hope :)
  • UMG has authorized all retailers to accept returns. If you have experienced any of the following problems, you may return the CD (even if the package is opened) accompanied by the receipt, to the retailer that the CD was originally purchased from for a full refund:

    1. The CD-copy is not playing in your friends CD or DVD players.

    2. The CD-copy is not playing in your colleges computers.

    3. You get complaints about the sound quality from multiple FastTrack clients.
  • by imrdkl (302224) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:11PM (#2854730) Homepage Journal
    BMG in Europe launched 2 CDs lately with copy protection but have now switched back to ordinary CDs. NewScientist has a decent article about this here [newscientist.com]. Also covered are the reaction from Congressman Rick Boucher, who has written to the RIAA and others informing them that releasing copy-protected CDs may be a violation of the AHRA [virtualrecordings.com] (Audio Home Recording Act).
    • From the text:

      "(5)(A) A "digital musical recording" is a material object--
      (i) in which are fixed, in a digital recording format, only sounds, and material, statements, or instructions
      incidental to those fixed sounds, if any, and
      (ii) from which the sounds and material can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated,
      either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
      (B) A "digital musical recording" does not include a material object:--
      (i) in which the fixed sounds consist entirely of spoken word recordings, or
      (ii) in which one or more computer programs are fixed, except that a digital musical recording may contain statements or instructions constituting the fixed sounds and incidental material, and statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in order to bring about the perception, reproduction, or
      communication of the fixed sounds and incidental material. "

      Hmm. Don't seem to meet the definition of a digital music recording anymore. Phillips is right in their position.
  • My girlfriend (now ex) intoduced me to Whiskeytown and Ryan Adams. They used to produce their albums with an independent label, but that label has since blown up. The last Whiskeytown album, Pneumonia, was produced through Lost Highway, which is a Universal Company. I was suprised when I went to make a copy on my parents Win98 machine and all sorts of crazy stuff popped up. I had a hard time making a copy with the software on their machine (I was visiting and didn't have access to any Linux machines). I downloaded cdrdao for Win32, and made a clean copy without any troubles. This sucks. I like Ryan Adams, and he tends to be pretty fan friendly. I make backups of my CDs because I truly trash them. I would rather abuse my copies than my originals, since the copies are much cheaper. I generally listen to independent music, and I won't buy any CDs that I can't copy. If this means that I can't listen to my favorite artist, then so be it.
  • At worst I will be reduced to converting my CD's into mp3's the same way I do my LP's and Tapes. Digitial out on the stereo to digital in on the sound card = 1 big WAV file / Broadcast 2000 to split the tracks + some fancy id3 tagger & lame...
  • by egburr (141740) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:17PM (#2854774) Homepage
    From the license terms of the CD:
    You may not authorize, encourage or allow the Player or any Content to be reproduced, modified, displayed, distributed or otherwise used by any other party

    This sounds to be like you are not allowed to let anyone other than yourself use the CD in any way. If you are playing the CD yourself, and someone else walks into the room and hears it, does that count?

  • by GreenCrackBaby (203293) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:29PM (#2854861) Homepage
    License. We hereby grant to you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, revocable license to use the Player and Content on your personal computer solely for your own personal, non-commercial use. You understand and agree that you may not reproduce, modify, display, distribute or otherwise use the Player or Content except as expressly provided herein, and you may not attempt to separate the Player or Content from the CD on which you received them. You may not authorize, encourage or allow the Player or any Content to be reproduced, modified, displayed, distributed or otherwise used by any other party, and you agree that you will take all reasonable steps to prevent any unauthorized reproduction and/or use of them. Nothing herein is intended to prevent you from transferring the CD you purchased to another person who will be bound by these terms and conditions. Except as expressly provided herein, no other licenses or rights (including rights to maintenance or updates) are granted, expressly, or by implication or estoppel.


    In Canada (as in some other countries), we pay a levy on all blank CDs (something horrible like 50 cents per). The levy is sent, courtesy the Canadian gov't, to the members of RIAA. In exchange, we are allowed to copy a music CD legally. I can borrow Joe's copy of Brittany and make myself a copy without legal ramifications.


    However, now they put this "player" on the CD and I cannot help but think that Univseral will claim the levy does not allow for the copying of these CDs because the "player" is not musical content.

  • LAME (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom7 (102298) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:32PM (#2854893) Homepage Journal
    From their legal page, it seems that their encoding software apparently uses LAME. Isn't that kind of sad? A nice free piece of software used for such evil?
  • by night_flyer (453866) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:35PM (#2854916) Homepage
    http://www.umusic.com/static/cgi-bin/artist.cgi?A- D [umusic.com]
    http://www.umusic.com/static/cgi-bin/artist.cgi?E- J [umusic.com]
    http://www.umusic.com/static/cgi-bin/artist.cgi?K- O [umusic.com]
    http://www.umusic.com/static/cgi-bin/artist.cgi?P- S [umusic.com]
    http://www.umusic.com/static/cgi-bin/artist.cgi?T- Z [umusic.com]

    If you like any of these artists, be sure to let them know that you do not like what their "Boss" is doing.
  • by Boatman (127445) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @12:53PM (#2855091)
    Q. Why have you copy-protected the CD?
    A. It's an integral part of our plan to increase our profits without providing extra value. It has the nice side-effect of making everybody into lawbreakers. This is the step after "steal underpants".

    Q. Are you going to copy-protect all CDs from now on?
    A. Shyea!

    Q. Can I get a copy of this CD without the copy protection?
    A. No. Well, yes. Until we finally get rid of gnutella. And freenet. And ftp. Then no, definitely.

    Q. Can I play this disc in my PC?
    A. The CD will play in computers that meet the following minimum requirements:
    * Internet connection
  • by guttentag (313541) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @01:04PM (#2855214) Journal
    <SARCASM>
    I hope the book publishers don't catch on to this:
    This book may not be readable by a limited number of people (such as people who can type on a keyboard, people who know how to use a scanner, and a small number of others). Random House is currently working with schools to reduce the number of typing classes and increase the number of reading classes.

    If you experience a problem, you can help us by emailing the names of the schools you attended and a description of the problem to satan@randomhouse.com.

    For information about returns, please see our return policy.


    RETURN POLICY

    Returns are limited to those customers who have both:

    1. Difficulty reading the book to be returned
    2. A written agreement (Form FU-101) signed by Random House guaranteeing readability.

    </SARCASM>
  • by Snafoo (38566) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @01:24PM (#2855384) Homepage
    ...is provide a powerful enticement for consumers to purchase their music from "real" pirates. Why buy that copy-protected crap at full price when your Uncle Toby knows this guy that can get you a real CD of anything for a fraction of that?

    IMO one of the most important reasons that Napster didn't obliterate the music industry overnight is that CDs are basically Good Enough. CDs provide an entire album in a nice (erm) compact package, with high fidelity to boot. This is *STILL* impressive, folks. Who cares if you can save twenty bucks by spending a couple of hours hunting down the dozen new songs by your favourite artist? Many people are simply too lazy and too rich; they just buy the goddamned CD and get it over with. (Besides, it comes in a pretty box.)

    However, if commercial CDs suddenly become a big pain in the arse, you can bet your booty that alternatives will spring up.

    Although consumers won't find it convenient to pirate stuff all by themselves, I imagine a full-scale bootleg distribution system will spring up fairly quickly. Although compared to Napster this structure has the disadvantage of reducing the number of actual pirates to prosecutable levels, basic economics tell us that so long as the demand is there, the supply WILL try to meet it. As with the 'war' on drugs, once can therefore expect many police hours (and therefore, tax dollars) to be spent finding and squishing a never-ending procession of infinitely-replaceable suppliers. What a pain! What an expense!
  • by epeus (84683) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @02:35PM (#2856082) Homepage Journal
    I have posted [blogspot.com] my correspondence with UMG on the topic - I'm awaiting a further reply.
    I wrote to Universal's new address asking why they were going to stop making CDs I could play on my Mac. Here's the response I got, annotated:

    On Wednesday, January 9, 2002, at 12:51 PM, MusicHelpOnline.com Support wrote:

    Thank you for your feedback regarding copy protected CDs. We
    appreciate your opinion, as the consumer experience with the music we all
    love has always been a priority at the Universal Music Group.

    I don't 'consume' music. I listen to it. It's still there afterwards (though I get the impression that you'd like it if it wasn't).

    Unfortunately, over the last few years, the music industry has been faced
    with a growing problem of unauthorized CD "ripping" leading to illegal
    Internet distribution of music - a practice that is hurting everyone from
    recording artists to songwriters to record stores. This illegal copying is
    taking place on a massive scale, with literally millions of copies being
    made without any compensation to the creators of the music.

    Interesting progression of words here. The ripping is 'unauthorised'. Who needs to authorise it? Some ripped files have been illegally distributed, I'll grant you that, but then you say that 'copying' is illegal.

    Under the Audio Home Recording Act, ripping and copying are not illegal at all; they are expressly permitted. You are confounding the legal acts of copying and ripping with the illegal one of distributing your copyright content without your permission. You are applying technology to attempt to prevent the former, instead of legal prosecution to prevent the latter. This is your mistake.

    Your second mistake is take the word of someone that they can stop CDs from being copied. If someone can play your CD, they can redigitise the output, and rip that, and distribute it online. Its not worth my time and effort to fiddle around to rip the CDs in this way, so I won't buy them, but I'm sure the illegal distributors will work this out.

    Net result: you have a lot of fed up former customers, and your music is still distributed online without your permission. Fewer people pay to listen to it, you get less money, and the illegal distribution goes on unchecked.

    If a way is not found to protect the music from these abuses, recording artists,
    songwriters and many others will be deprived of their livelihoods. The
    changing economics could cause fewer new artists to get a chance to find
    their audience.

    The music is not being abused. It is being listened to. It doesn't need protection.
    Or do you mean 'protection' in the sense of 'protection racket'?

    Courtney Love wrote a very well-reasoned essay [salon.com] on who is abusing whom in the record industry.

    Universal Music Group is committed to protecting the rights of our artists,
    songwriters, and copyright holders, and, like the rest of the entertainment
    industry, is evaluating emerging technologies to assess their viability while
    also attempting to maximize the consumer experience. In addition,
    Universal is exploring new ways to make music available in a variety of
    online formats. We are also working with technology companies on new
    offline formats that appeal to consumers.

    Uh huh. Let me explain again. I have an iPod [apple.com]. (125,000 other people do too, and its only been on sale two months). It lets me carry around about 120 CDs worth of music at a time, in a package about the size of one CD box. I like this. I'm listening to more music than I was before because of it, and I will continue to buy CDs to rip and put into my iPod. If that isn't an offline format that appeals to consumers, I don't know what is.

    However, you are explicitly working to stop me doing this. When I buy CDs at the moment, I look at the artists name, not the record label. Now I'll need to check that its not a Universal CD, in case you have 'protected' me from listening to it. This is one way of building awareness of the Universal brand, but probably not a useful one.

    We have licensed copy protection technologies developed by others and
    are experimenting with the integration of those technologies into some of
    our CDs as a first step in measuring their effectiveness in an evolving
    marketplace. While the CDs with copy protection may not be playable in a
    limited number of CD players, UMG is currently working with our
    technology providers to achieve 100% playability. We also hope to
    include Macintosh-based playability on copy-protected discs in the future.
    We have not finalized our plans for 2002 nor have we made a commitment
    to put copy protection on all of our CD releases.

    You hope. I'm supposed to buy your CDs on the basis of a hope that you can kludge something together? Let me make it clear. I want Red Book Audio CDs, the gold standard for Audio Quality. I don't want CDs that break this spec, with an extra data track that includes some ghastly software player with a clickthrough licence you have bought from some software snake-oil salesman.

    I have some very nice software to play CDs, thanks. It also helps me organise my collection, and move it to my iPod. I don't want to run your software.
    I trust that these corrupt, Red Book violating CDs will be clearly labelled as such, so I can tell not to buy them? Otherwise, I'll just have to avoid all Universal CDs until you commit to shipping Red Book ones again.

    UMG has also established www.musichelponline.com to provide
    consumers with support and to answer any questions you may have
    concerning copy protected CDs.

    We appreciate your business, and your support for the musicians who
    bring so much to all of our lives.


    You evidently don't appreciate my business, as you have gone out of your way to stop me playing your CDs. I'm sure your support for musicians is just as sincere.
  • by seebs (15766) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @06:16PM (#2858126) Homepage
    Reproduced here for grins. I couldn't help but notice that their FAQ provides an email address, so I emailed them.

    ---
    Just a data point: I buy a fair number of CD's (I probably own two or three
    hundred, but I have long since lost count). I have not used a non-computer
    CD player to listen to a CD in probably a year and a half, maybe two years.
    Probably 90% of the time, I listen to music in my car - using my MP3 player.

    There is absolutely no way I will buy any music if I can't convert it into
    a format that my car can play.

    Furthermore, I don't run Windows. Plain old CD's work fine for me; the things
    you sell, which superficially resemble CD's, don't. Given that, all I can do
    for now is be very careful to make sure that, if I'm buying CD's, they don't
    have your logo on them, because I don't want to get stuck with a CD I can't
    use, and which no store in town will take as a return.

    Even beyond that, I don't see how this helps you; MP3's are pretty low
    quality, and if I desperately needed to make an MP3 of a CD, and I had an
    analog CD player, I could just record the output of the CD player and encode
    that - and probably never know the difference. (For that matter, what about
    my nice expensive component CD player with the digital outs?)

    I work as a programmer, and I share your concerns about piracy. What I don't
    share is your belief that it's okay to f*ck millions of consumers up the ass
    with rusty tent spikes to try to get at a few pirates. There are lots of
    legitimate ways to get people to pay for your products; intentionally making
    the products defective is not one of them.
    ---
  • Response (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mike the Mac Geek (182790) on Thursday January 17, 2002 @06:29PM (#2858244) Journal

    [Letter sent to the comment EMail]

    I am a member of a organization of Audiophiles here in Dallas. We purchase on average a total of around $10-11,000 worth of audio CD's and equipment a year.

    My personal stereo system is compased of several Macintosh and Linux-based systems, as well as very high end audio components.

    I see that your new protection scheme is designed to destroy fair use rights as given to the citizens of the United States, under the guise of copyright protection. Becuase of this, I will not be able to play any of your new discs, and refuse to spend my money to take the chance that it may work.

    Reading over your new copyright protection scheme, I will make sure that none of us ever purchase another "CD" released by Universal.

    These discs violate the CD-DA standard, as they are not playable in every device bearing the same emblem. I will push all retailers I do business with to stop carrying your products, or at the very least, inform customers that these discs may not play in ANY device they own.

    This is a very slippery slope you have started down. We deal with other audiophile organizations across the US, and we will see fit that these discs are never purchased by any person with any common sense.

    Respectfully..
    Mike The Mac Geek

"A mind is a terrible thing to have leaking out your ears." -- The League of Sadistic Telepaths

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