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Anatomy of Cactus Data Shield 182

Posted by michael
from the prickly-on-the-outside-squishy-on-the-inside dept.
meehawl writes: "This is a good analysis by CDRInfo on the current version of Midbar's Cactus Data Shield. This is the format Universal will use to protect its new audio CDs. It's been reported here already that some DVDs effectively bypass this protection, but this article addresses the specific concerns of how best to backup these protected CDs, and how to extract the music data at high quality for download to a personal MP3 listening device."
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Anatomy of Cactus Data Shield

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...isn't this ILLEGAL ???
  • Whats the Point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sargon666777 (555498) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @07:16AM (#2941381) Homepage
    This is really getting old it seems to be a constant battle. They come up with some new means of protection, and we devise a way around it (we as a collective of consumers). They discontinue it, and release a new one, and we work around it again. Besides no matter what they do you can always play it and pipe the sound back in and record it *shrug*. They should just give up and allow people to buy and play the music normally. In the end although there will be some theft they will increase profits becuase I can't imagine anyone will buy these once the word gets out to the general public a bit more. After all who wants a CD you have to fight to play or use in a manner which you have been accustomed when you can jsut buy a good old normal CD. When will they ever learn :-)
    • Re:Whats the Point? (Score:1, Informative)

      by October_30th (531777)
      After all who wants a CD you have to fight to play

      You're forgetting that most people will never have any problems with playing these CDs.

      They use dedicated CD players not CD-ROMs.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Right now, yes, I agree with you that most people use dedicated CD players. But with the continuing introduction of "convgergence" devices like Sony's PS2, Microsoft's X-Box (and followon products), combined with the ever-increasing number of consumer devices that allow MP3 playback (Aiwa, Phillips, Sony, Pioneer, Yamana, Denon, not to mention scores of lesser-known brands), more and more people are going to have problems enjoying music THAT THEY ARE TRYING TO LISTEN TO IN A LEGITIMATE FASHION!

        Independent analysis of the recording industry have failed to indicate even a single instance of them not turning a profit in any fiscal or calendar year. The RIAA (and some independent analysts) claim lower profits for last year. Hey, guess what, the economy is in the dumper right now! 99% of the companies out there are showing reduced revenue, and many of those have gone from having a profit to showing a loss.

        The RIAA claims piracy is a major problem right now, yet they have never provided a single independent analysis to back up their point. I can understand them wanting to be proactive in protecting their market, but these manipulations do absolutely nothing to prevent the kind of large-scale piracy that impacts their business. The real 'pirates' have equipment that does a bit-level extraction and is used to create new pressing masters that contain all of this wonderful content-control technology. The people inconvenienced by technologies like CDS are the consumers who only want to exercise the same rights, privilidges, and convenience they have had for decades.
      • That's just not true, most students I know have a have a computer, and use it to play CDs. Why buy an additional CD player?
      • Car CD players are also (often) affected by this, because of the skip protection they use.
    • Just remember when you go out and spend 50$ on a single cd for your kids, you can be thankful you are supporting the losers of MidBar technologies....

      :-)
  • Although this doesn't really do justice to the situation.. does anyone think that crippling cds in this matter is similiarly effective to irradiating mail to kill the anthrax? Sure.. I might be safe from the evil of the world afterwards, but I'll end up with something thats charred and melted.

    -Restil
    • by eclectro (227083) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @07:35AM (#2941394)


      You can read the mail after it's been irradiated - but forget listening to these CDs in your computer unless you happen to have the right CD ROM in your computer.

      I suspect that computer CDROM players will become "smart" and eventually this copy protection will be thwarted. Expect to see some DMCA lawsuits against the manufacturers that make them though.

      Meanwhile, all computer users who want to play music on their computer get burned.

      One can only hope that there is enough backlash from consumers that raises awarenes to the issues at stake here. The thing that we have to worry about most is consumer apathy.

      If consuners don't take a stand on this crap before long their going to have deposit quarters into their computer every time they want to listen to a song.

      • You can read the mail after it's been irradiated

        Assuming what you get in the mail is on a paper medium. What if it was a floppy disk, or a flash memory stick?

        I suspect that computer CDROM players will become "smart" and eventually this copy protection will be thwarted.

        I suppose this is (-1, Redundant), but of course the thing the music industry either hasn't noticed yet or keeps ignoring is that not every player has to circumvent the protection; it's enough for one electrical engineer to get something through a S/PDIF cable and an mp3 encoder ... and then game over. People already illegally download music, all the time, so what is to stop people from downloading something they already own on CD (which in my book is absolutely permissible - morally, if not legally)?

      • The default state of most DVD players is to have all of the fuckware features enabled. However, hardware manufacturers have nothing to gain expending energy to protect the fuckware. Within days of a player coming on the market new firmware is available to restore full functionality. The only thing that is often necessary is to burn a firmware cd and stick in the player. In my case, I'm going to have to use a little skill to build a twenty dollar firmware burner but it won't be any big deal.

        The same will happen with CD-ROM drives. The manufacturers will make them the same way they do now but not go to any great trouble to obfuscate the firmware. Why should they spend all that money on expensive engineers when it's going to get hacked anyway. It's the media conglomerates that are obsessed about this. The hardware companies (except for one's like Sony) just want to sell the kit and get out.
      • You can read the mail after it's been irradiated - but forget listening to these CDs in your computer unless you happen to have the right CD ROM in your computer.

        Depends on what the mail was, if it use to be unprocessed negatives you sent to A&I because they do a better job then your local photofinisher, well, let's just say you aren't getting your pictures back. Or if it was Kodachrome you sent to Kodak because you don't live close to the few places that still process it you won't get back nice subtle tones, but blank frames.

        Oh, and if you send Compact Flash not only do you get no data, you may never be able to use those cards again...(this may also hit normal FLASH, so don't let 'em anthrax process your next motherboard!)

  • by stere0 (526823)
    Aren't these guys going to get into trouble?
    • Because I doubt this qualifies as a copyright scheme, neither CD players nor CD-ROM players have any built-in copy prevention. This is more a case of obfuscating and creating a standard-breaking disc. After all, the only thing needed to copy the cd is to emulate an analog CD player.

      Kjella
    • It's sad, but you're probably right. Just in case anyone wants to archive this stuff, I thought I'd dig out links to all the software they reviewed in the article... ;)

      IsoBuster [voodoofiles.com]
      feurio! [feurio.net]
      Exact Audio Copy (EAC) [exactaudiocopy.de]
      Clone CD [elby.org]
  • by seanadams.com (463190) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @07:34AM (#2941393) Homepage
    • Buy more CDs
    • Steal music online
    • Enjoy the albums you already own
    I'm sticking with #3 until the RIAA gets a fucking clue.

    How can they be so stupid as to think that ANY kind of copy protection will ever prevent their music from getting onto the net? Clearly, they think that someone is sitting there repeatedly dubbing a CD again and again every time something is downloaded. Don't they realize that no matter how difficult they make the initial ripping, it only has to be done ONCE to make a billion copies?

    The only people they're inconveniencing with these tactics are guys like me who would otherwise have paid for the material. It doesn't make it any harder to download the file off gnutella.
    • Clearly, they think that someone is sitting there repeatedly dubbing a CD again and again every time something is downloaded.

      And you know what we have to blame for that... Futurama. In the kidnapster episode they showed how the only way for people to download celebrities was to keep the celebrities' heads imprisoned so they can copy from the original each time. Luckily someone came up with this copy protection for CDs so instead of hurting the poor CDs everytime someone downloads off you, the CDs are protected with cactus like spikes which hurt the evil pirates trying to download music. Phew.

    • you're wrong....

      They are making their own customers mad and pissed. If I buy a CD and cant rip it's contents to mp3, I n longer can use it with most of my audio systems.. my car has a empeg, and i have a portable mp3 player, and my audiotrons in he house... at the rate the mp3 player hardware is selling, they are pissing off a large number of customers that are not happily sharing the mp3 files on the internet.

      It just proves that record company executives are and always have been dumb as a box of rocks.
    • I agree... The content companies need to realize that it is now impossible to regulate access to copyrighted works. No matter how hard they try, they will not be able to prevent people from giving unauthorized access to others.

      But here is the key - access is only part of the value the content companies provide - there are also things like convenience (how easy is it to download one particular song or episode of a TV show?), quality (how good is the download bandwidth?), and atmosphere (you can't download the experience of watching a movie in a theatre, or attending a live concert!). Unlike access, these things can't be transmitted across a P2P network...

      Only once companies wake up to the fact that preventing unlicensed access is a lost game, and start focusing on non-replicable sources of value, will they be able to accept and profit from the internet.

    • You've gotta love any place where:

      "I'm sticking with #3 [enjoy the albums I already own] until the RIAA gets a fucking clue."

      gets modded up to 5, insightful. You gotta love it.
  • thinking ahead (Score:5, Insightful)

    by athagon (410963) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @07:38AM (#2941401) Homepage
    One would wonder if the record industries/other persons responsible for greater "security" on CDs/DVDs had thought of this:

    With the current system, the following can be done:

    Person A buys CD1. Person A rips CD1 to disk, and distributes MP3s to Person B. Person B likes said MP3s, and buys CD1 for his/herself.

    With "rip proof" technology (at least, until its cracked), however:

    Person A buys CD1. Person A tries to rip CD1, and fails. Person A tells Person B that CD1 sucks because you can't rip it. OR: Person B can't hear MP3s from CD1, so Person B doesn't know whether or not (s)he should buy it, and possibly decides not to.

    With the current system, yes, the industries stand a greater chance of losing money: but they also stand a greater chance (and, as some statistics have shown, this is the case) of gaining more money; given that the majority of Napster users (apparently, and as I did) used Napster to download a few random MP3s to decide whether (s)he should/should not buy CD1. With rip-proof CDs, however, Person A, B, C... won't be able to listen to MP3s from CD1, and thusly won't know whether or not they want to buy it.

    Synopsis:

    It would not seem wise, at least to me, for the industries to err on the side of greater control, and away from the potential for greater sales. Penny wise and dollar foolish, they say...
    • Re:thinking ahead (Score:5, Insightful)

      by swb (14022) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:38AM (#2941835)
      It would not seem wise, at least to me, for the industries to err on the side of greater control, and away from the potential for greater sales. Penny wise and dollar foolish, they say...

      You're right in suggesting that they want enhanced control. But remember, when you listen to your friend's MP3, decide you like and go out and buy it you're making a purchasing decision about whether or not you like the music based upon your friend's opinion and your personal preferences.

      You're not making it based upon the music industry's marketing campaign. The industry pushes select artists that they have an investment in and want to succeed, and they would rather that you made your decisions on what to buy based upon they're selling, not upon what your friends like or what you find appealing.

      The record companies, as subsidieries of media conglomerates, already have influence over TV, magazines, record stores, and radio stations (through direct ownership or payola). What they don't control is whether your friend tells you about a new disc he got and the music on it.

      I'd agree that it may hurt sales, since a lot of records that have become popular have become popular because of word-of-mouth but I think more and more people are such slaves of the media anyway (radio in shower, in the car, in the office, MTV at home, etc) that many people by and large have lost their ability to generate an opinion of their own anyway.
      • You're not making it based upon the music industry's marketing campaign. The industry pushes select artists that they have an investment in and want to succeed, and they would rather that you made your decisions on what to buy based upon they're selling, not upon what your friends like or what you find appealing.
        I also have a theory that there's a direct conflict there -- labels have a tremendous amount of power over the artist when they are unknown. However, once an artist becomes known the power shifts dramatically -- contracts help keep artists from reaping those benefits, but all contracts run out eventually.

        I've personally noticed that pop music has hitten a real low in the last few years -- and I really think I'm being somewhat objective in this, not just square and living in the past. Pop music is being recycled longer, and bands aren't being cycled in as fast. Even three or four years ago it seemed considerably better than now.

        Many of those long-lived groups are really just corporate machines. No single part of the group has enough talent to go on their own. You can't be successful based on your singing talent and dancing alone -- someone has to write the songs, someone has to play the instruments behind them, and in the case of so much boring music lately, there has to be a lot of marketing to get people to think they like the music at all.

        As a result the Backstreet Boys are never going to assert their independance, or Christina Agilera, and I think a surprising number of the "Alternative" bands are in the same boat -- they are really so boring, their lyrics are so pat, their voices so cliche, that they'd go nowhere on their own. Metal is growing into a pretty boring field as well.

        Given this, there's much more incentive for the labels to make sure that people don't buy according to their informed preference. If it was really just straight free market capitalism, and the labels just wanted to sell as much music as possible, then a well-informed listening audience would be great. But that well-informed listening audience would, I think, be very likely to buy from a lot of independent labels.

        • I've personally noticed that pop music has hitten a real low in the last few years -- and I really think I'm being somewhat objective in this, not just square and living in the past. Pop music is being recycled longer, and bands aren't being cycled in as fast. Even three or four years ago it seemed considerably better than now.

          I'd agree completely, but I wonder if its a function of the music industry per se or a function of the lack of a "new thing" generally in popular music. One of the last great upswings in popular music was "alternative"* and that phenomenon seems to have been completely played out -- there's nothing left there that doesn't feel like its been done before by someone else. There's still good bands, but the overall feeling is that they've been there, done that and they aren't charting new areas anymore.

          It took the record companies *years* to realize that the "classic rock" trend of the late 60s and early 70s was dead and that "new" artists of the alternative vein should be picked up on. How long were radio stations in many places only playing 70s hard rock? Until the late 80s/early 90s?

          I think we're at that same point with alternative -- the record companies don't have an idea what the next big thing is, and I don't think the new zeitgeist has been found yet. The question is, is it because the Media Machine, in coopting alternative scenes so quickly, has squelched them to the point they can incubate anything new? Or are we just in the end days of the alternative scenes and they have to die completely before we can find anything new?

          (* Yes, I realize that anal-retentive music categorization goes far beyond that label, but for my purposes its a broad category.)
          • Well, one "new" trend might be metal. Really it's just another form of recycling -- but perhaps there's something new about it since it incorporates rap.

            I suspect that most truly new music is now hip-hop inspired, which is a bit alien to me -- and probably many of us here :) So there is the chance that things have shifted enough that we just don't see what's really happening -- maybe we're like some guy in the 60's complaining that there's no good jazz anymore, there's barely any big bands left and they just play the same old songs.

            And sure, even I can tell that a lot of mainstream hip-hop is just plain bad. But pop has always been saturated with bad music, which we later forget about. I think I need to go listen to something new before I feel too old... (and I'm not old, dammit!)

        • I also have a theory that there's a direct conflict there -- labels have a tremendous amount of power over the artist when they are unknown. However, once an artist becomes known the power shifts dramatically -- contracts help keep artists from reaping those benefits, but all contracts run out eventually.

          Remember you are talking about a different group of people. Artists who become "known" have some kind of fanbase and possibly some level of talent. There are a great many who sink into obscurity, e.g. the "one hit wonders".

          I've personally noticed that pop music has hitten a real low in the last few years -- and I really think I'm being somewhat objective in this, not just square and living in the past. Pop music is being recycled longer, and bands aren't being cycled in as fast.

          Pop music has always have quite a bit of recycling, just that they used to wait around 20 years.

          Many of those long-lived groups are really just corporate machines. No single part of the group has enough talent to go on their own.

          Even if they do it could be difficult in "corporate environment"

          You can't be successful based on your singing talent and dancing alone -- someone has to write the songs,

          It's hardly unknown for singers to write their own songs...
          • Remember you are talking about a different group of people. Artists who become "known" have some kind of fanbase and possibly some level of talent. There are a great many who sink into obscurity, e.g. the "one hit wonders".
            I was speaking specifically of those who don't have talent, and yet don't sink into obscurity -- e.g., the Backstreet Boys. (Or at least what talent they have isn't well-rounded)
    • What is the source of the music your are listening to right now?
      1. Paid for compact disc
      2. MP3/OGG on your hard drive from your cd's
      3. MP3/OGG on hard drive from a modern p2p client
      4. MP3 from napster (old-school, extra points)
      5. Radio
      6. The CowboyNeal Opera
    • What makes you think this business model you suggest works? If I buy a copy of RedHat 7.2 and show it off to a friend. He likes it, I burn him a couple of cds and he shows it off to his friend. Does this mean our third party will buy another copy of Red Hat? Let me propose another scenerio which I have seen at work with unprotected CDs.

      When the latest Santana cd came out, one co-worker brought it in and played it on his PC. More than one co-worker liked the CD. By the end of the day, 14 cds were burned and no one bought an additional copy of Santana's CD. I've seen this happen for two more CDs.

      This is the type of stuff that gives the music industry a credible arguement about loss of potential sales. Everybody says "Well just because they stole^H^H^H^H^Hcopied it doesn't mean they would have bought it." entirely misses the point. It's more than reasonable to expect someone in that group of 14 would have bought the CD and that constitues a loss of profit for the company and the artist. Taking into consideration that MP3s are often good enough for most people and I'm not sure I buy the argument that allowing unfettered copying promotes sales.

    • With "rip proof" technology (at least, until its cracked), however:
      Person A buys CD1. Person A tries to rip CD1, and fails.


      Or even Person A tries to play it. If it won't play they are far more likely to kick up a fuss with the retailer and tell their mates not to bother buying it than they are to replace their CD playing hardware.
  • Come on, guys... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ekrout (139379) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @07:40AM (#2941403) Journal
    Come on, guys.

    For every technological solution, there's a technological "hack", right?

    Name one anti-piracy tactic employed by any corporation for use in consumer products that has not, is not, and will not continue to be hacked. Still thinking? I thought so.

    Whatever they think of will be hacked in a matter of days (or hours even), no matter how many times or what media/record companies think up a different scheme. If we can get the ones and zeros, then that's it. I'm not sure why more people don't understand this.

    The only question is how long it will take Patti Q. User to get a purdy little Windows app that will rip her new N*Sync CD flawlessly.
    • The only question is how long it will take Patti Q. User to get a purdy little Windows app that will rip her new N*Sync CD flawlessly.
      I doubt that, way too much cat-and-mouse game. I think it's more likely she'll find the latest Napster-clone (they seem a dime a dozen these days), get a quality mp3 and stop buying "defective" cds...

      Kjella
      • I doubt that, way too much cat-and-mouse game.

        Hey - all of us agree, CDS and similar measures suck kidney stones through Fallopian tubes, but if Big Media were to make it clear that they would only use technological measures "against" their customers and never call down the lawyers for piracy/DRM issues, I figure that's almost a fair deal. I just hate it when they call down the lawyers.

        Unfortunately we know they would never agree to tie their legal hands like that....

        • Blockquoth the poster:

          but if Big Media were to make it clear that they would only use technological measures "against" their customers and never call down the lawyers for piracy/DRM issues, I figure that's almost a fair deal.

          I have felt, for a long time, that the role of encryption and copyright needs to be rebalanced along the following lines: EITHER
          • You publish everything "in the clear" without any technological access controls, and retain full access to the court system and civil penalties; OR
          • You wrap everything inside access control mechanisms, but whatever you publish is automatically in the public domain. If someone manages to crack your protection scheme, tough luck ... you don't have the legal right to sue them, because you have voluntarily surrendered copyright by encrypting the material.

          Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way and, with Big Media and the Content Cartel holding all the cards, especially the rectangular green ones, it's unlikely it's ever going to work that way.
          • That makes a lot of sense. Copyrights are supposed to be a balance between the rights of the people and the rights of the creator. If one side gets ahead, we should rebalance the deal to help the other.

            While I don't think any individual is owed a living, I think it behoves us to create a system that rewards the content creators in general, so that they make stuff we like. But also we need to make sure that the people get something back for all the tax money that goes into protecting these copyrights. (And that means unfettered access after a certain point.)

            So yes, I think that copyrighted work should be easily accessed by all. This means that while a special machine (DVD player) may be required, they shouldn't be able to require access controls, or user tracking, etc.

            Or, as you say, they require a bunch of hoops be jumped through, but lose the protection of law and are at the mercy of the first person to crack it.
    • For every technological solution, there's a technological "hack", right?

      hmm... seems a controversial question, the reason I say this is that: if "they" continue to try, then it might only be a matter of time before "they" come up with a technique that, while not unbreakable, will not be worth anyones time to crack. I sometimes think that by breaking this technology we are just beta testing "their" products.

      I'm more inclined to take the view that the development of such tech is illegal because it is something which takes away my rights of fair usage. I should not need to crack something just to use it in a way which is completely within my rights.

      Also, it tends to piss me off that these actions also break the redbook standard and thus they are selling more-or-less broken CD's. However this is a minor concern inrelation to the above

      To best illustrate my view, imagine if the government attempted to fix cars to make them impossible to break the speed limit, I gurantee the response of the average person would not be "It doesn't matter cause my kid can break it with in seconds with a flathead" but that it is a infrignment of liberty. The same kind of thinking should be applied to copy-protected CD's IMHO.

      • hmm... seems a controversial question, the reason I say this is that: if "they" continue to try, then it might only be a matter of time before "they" come up with a technique that, while not unbreakable, will not be worth anyones time to crack.

        Hah! I remember back in tha' day when they had really nasty copy protection on floppy disks. Every time some idiots wasted 6 months of their lives to come up with a new copy protection scheme, it took three weeks maximum for a crack to appear. You can see the same result in more recent times with the advent of SafeDisc2. It took several months to find a way to perfectly copy the damn thing, but you could make an imperfect copy and play it with a crack in about two weeks.

        Never, ever underestimate the coolness points you get with the 1337 h@X0r crowd for circumventing a new copy protection scheme. There's no shortage of 17 year-old crackers desperate to crack the bloody thing.
    • How about the X-box?
  • by Skirwan (244615) <skerwin@ma[ ]om ['c.c' in gap]> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @07:43AM (#2941406) Homepage
    How does the Cactus Data Shield work?
    Translation: How can I circumvent it?
    As Midbar explains "...The Cactus Data Shield proprietary technology was developed in-house by a multidisciplinary team of experts in the fields of information security, physics, mathematics, electronics, cryptography and algorithms.
    Translation:We got a whole room of smart people who worked on it. Sometimes we race them.
    The technology includes proprietary electronic circuits and software algorithms.
    Translation:It uses computers and stuff. It's like the Jetsons.
    The Cactus Data Shield processor is the engine behind the protection and serves as a platform for encoding original content through robust, multi-layer protection schemes.
    Translation: I wanted to just call it Bob, but the head of marketing has a cactus fetish.
    An engineering solution, the protection schemes are adaptive, easily updated and significantly more robust than software solutions.
    Translation: Even though it's basically done in software we can't say that, 'cause it confuses the VPs.
    The Cactus Data Shield copy protection slightly alters the information on the CD in several ways while maintaining perfect audio quality.
    Translation: We only fucked it up a little.

    --
    Damn the Emperor!
    • They hope to sell more of these altered CD's that have copy protection, cause less people will use piracy?

      Wait a sec, this sounds too stupid.
      Try to follow a little train of thought that'd probably help
      some executives somewhere in the recording industry:

      Why does someone buy a CD?
      To listen to the music.

      What does the industry do to get more people to buy the CD?
      Not let people listen to the music, by:
      a. limiting the playability
      b. limiting the portability
      c. limiting the quality

      Why do people download MP3s?
      to listen to the music free.

      Why do people upload MP3s?
      to let people listen to the music free.

      What does the industry do about it?
      force us to download the music, by:
      a. Not letting us listen to the CD we just paid for in any of our PCs
      b. Not letting us listen to the CD we just paid for in some of our DVDs
      c. Not letting us listen to the CD we just paid for in some of our cars
      d. Not letting us listen to the CD we just paid for in any of our MP3 players
      'cause we can't get them there

      If I cannot listen to the music from a CD that I just paid for, and I have to go download it off the internet because I cannot easily rip it to an MP3 to play in my MP3 player I am a very small step from not paying for the CD in the first place and just going and downloading the songs for free.
      I can make a regular cd from the MP3s that will play on anything, and the media costs a whole lot less than $9-$18 and I get to pick the tracks!

      Freakin brilliant RIAA!
      Thanks for making my decision so easy!

      Not letting us listen to the music that is the sole reason we paid for the CD, is the most retarded thing I have heard of in a long time.
      People make choices with some consideration to the ease of using the result.

      CD w/ security = Hassle = less are going to choose
      Free MP3 = Easy = more are going to choose
  • This was mentioned before, by the way.

    Us Slashdotters read about this Cactus crap back on November 18th. And on several other dates, too.

    one of 'em [slashdot.org]
  • by pyramid termite (458232) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @07:46AM (#2941413)
    ... I can only listen to the music as a 128 bps MP3. Why should I pay 12-13 bucks to do that when I can download 128 bps MP3s for nothing? (And yes, a person who knows how to record from one audio source to a computer can make an MP3 that's indistinguishable from one ripped from a CD.)

    This is a shameless rip-off of the consumer. It's fraudulent, in fact. When I buy a CD, I expect CD quality music, not MP3s. They should have to put a sticker on the case explaining that computer users get MP3 only quality.

    And yes, my only CD player IS a CD-ROM. I won't buy one of these "CDs" ever.
    • Another tact would be to blindly buy the cd's you want, and then take the ones back that are 'broken' for your cd player. Unless they are obviously labelled, play 'dumb customer,' and if that doesn't work play 'grumpy customer,' and if you really have to play 'outraged customer.' Eventually the store will accept your return, especially if you are openly making a fuss about not being able to play a cd that "JUST DOESN'T WORK AT ALL!!!"

      In the end, you get your money, they get some hassle, and it gets pushed right back into the music industry. Wal-Mart sells cd's, and they won't sell cd's that are 'broken' and take a lot of returns. I suspect it might be that simple.
  • Well, not all, but seems part of catcus shield is just audio tracks, then data-session that plays under windows.. I have none of these cd's, anyone tried these things under cdparanoia to see if they read? Sounds like if you just ignore extra tracks that might contain false toc info, then you'd be ok.. linked article even says as much, that it's a feature in some (windows?) ripping programs to ignore the garbage designed to "protect" the data.. until everyone buys a new cd/dvd audio player, riaa and friends should just give up on copy protaction, it seems.
    • They tested about 10 drives in the article, and they all encountered some problems while reading, except for the AOpen CRW2440 (up to 91% with CDDAE, up to 100% with EAC).

      They managed to copy the disc with CloneCD [elby.org] and the Aopen drive. They also tried to copy it whith one other drive (TDK CyClone 161040), but that one encountered read errors.

      "The CDS200 cd-r backup does contain the CDS200 protection, however now is FULLY readable from all tested drives"

      Translation: Rip away.

      Also interesting to know is the amount of read errors in the original versus the copy. The diagram can be found here. [cdrinfo.com]

      In short, the "real" cd was one solid block of read errors, the copy had a few spikes, but those were nothing compared to the other, both in frequency and seriousness (note that the scale in the two diagrams is vastly different).
  • by pxpt (40550) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @08:04AM (#2941431) Journal
    ...the tighter you squeeze, the more systems (CD sales) will escape between your fingers... well something like that anyway!

    I had bought the new Natalie Imbruglia CD (here in the UK) when it first came out and discovered myself that it was copy protected. I was very annoyed to say the least and managed to return the CD and get my money back. A while later I ordered the unprotected version from BMG and now I have a CD that I can actually listen to.

    There is NO WAY I will intentionally buy any protected music CDs now, or in the future. Music publishing companies will just force copying and distribution of music from these CDs via the channels that they are trying to stop. Duh! why can they not see this?...

    ...Maybe its due to the age old misconception that number of pirated copies equals the number of lost sales! Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

    The day that all music CDs are protected is the day I will stop buying them.
  • by fleabag (445654)
    If I make 2 assumptions:

    1) That this copy protection will be common place in 2 years time

    2) I still want to listen to "new" music in 2 years time

    Then I will have been forced into criminal activity. MP3 is my format of choice - it is convenient and easy. In the future, if I want to listen to music in the car, then I will have to download it illegally. I will have no choice but to do this. Eventually I will get pissed off with buying useless plastic discs to satisfy my conscience, and they will have lost another revenue stream.

    Message to the industry:

    1) A large proportion of your future customers use MP3. (i.e. anyone under the age of 15 today). By doing this you are forcing them to "go pirate".

    2) A large proportion of your current customers use MP3. You are making enemies of them. This is bad marketing.

    3) It's been said before, and I'll say it again. It takes one copy of a CD to be made digitally, and you've lost. The story showed that this is possible - although it says that the protection is effective, it isn't. They made a copy - and that's all it takes. Even if one person makes a really good analogue transfer, then you've lost.
  • by tjansen (2845) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @08:41AM (#2941452) Homepage
    Here is my first experience with a copy-protected cd:
    it was 'Better Days' by JOE (Jive Records/Zomba). I got it from Amazon.de. The only sign that it was copy-protected was a very small printing on the back side "This CD is not playable on computers (CD-ROM/DVD-ROM)". So I tried it on my computer running Linux, with a Creative Dxr2 5x DVD-ROM and I could hear it on audio mode. To my surprise I was also able to rip it using cdparanoia (otherwise I would have returned it immediately, I have far too many CDs to manage them in any for but Ogg Vorbis or MP3 format). So I tried it on my DVD-Player (Yamakawa AVphile 715), and it worked, too. However I noticed that the player needed an unusual long time to detect it as a CD. Next try was my stereo, an old Sony CD player: worked fine as well. Then I tried a Windows PC with a 40x Pioneer CD-ROM: did not detect the CD. Ok, so at least in one cd drive the copy protection worked.


    I thought about the possibility of returning it to Amazon, but I felt bad about the idea of returning a CD that I had already ripped and that worked in most computers, so I didnt do this. I wrote a letter to Amazon.de though, asking them to include information about copy protected CDs in the description and I told them that I would never buy a copy-protected CD, and if I would ever get another one I would return it immediately. They replied, telling that they cannot put this information in the description, but because of the special circumstances I was allowed to return even opened CDs if they are copy-protected.

  • All music playing devices have an analog output - the speakers. Nothing is easier to rip that sample this output and therefore rip the content. Unless we have some kind of digital speakers, I don't see why the recording industry even brothers with such "copy protection". It only scares away customers. Yes, there is a quality loss when sampling the analog output, but there is also a quality loss with MP3 and noone seems care about this.
    • Unless we have some kind of digital speakers...Yes, there is a quality loss when sampling the analog output

      We do have digital "speakers". It's called S/PDIF [andrewkilpatrick.org].

      Any modern CD player and reciever should have it. (My $200 Sony disc changer does. So does my $250 Technics reciever... this stuff is consumer-grade). If you do any music production, there's a good chance you have inputs and outputs on your computer, too. [midiman.com]

      Start your computer recording and then play just one track on the CD player. Strip leading and trailing silence. You now have a perfect digital copy.
    • My 25 disc CD changer has a optical digital output, as do many other standalone cd players. Currently my soundcard does not have optical digital in, but next go around I'd get something similar to Creative Lab's Audigy Platium. It is the newer version of the Live series. The "live drive" puts some easy access ports on the front of your PC, two being optical digital in and out. By doing this you can only rip in real time. However there should not be any data loss, because it doesn't go analog and back.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Sticking MP3s or other digital music formats on the audio CDs works ok for Pop Star Of The Moment's latest 40 minutes of music, but what about CDs that normally would have 60-80 minutes of music? For example, the Beatles 'One' CD was over 79 minutes long - definitely no room for anything else.

    So will the record companies:

    A) Ship 2 CDs - 1 copy protected audio CD, and 1 data CD, and charge more.
    B) Just not include digital formats on lengthy CDs.
    C) Edit the music so that both the protected audio and data will fit.
    D) Option C, and also release a "Collector's Edition", that contains the additional music cut from the original CD, at a higher price.

    Just the idea of copy protecting audio CDs is repugnant, but when you really think about the side effects, it gets even uglier.
  • ummmmm.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by waddgodd (34934)
    How can Cactus Data Shield "protect" Audio CDs, when the people who wrote teh spec (Phillips) says that TPM'd "CD"s aren't supposed to use the trademark? Cactus Data cannot protect CDs, because once Cactus Data goes on, it's not a CD.
    • Yes and no. IIRC it isn't compliant with Compact Disc-Digital Audio (CDDA) standard which is what Phillips has control over and therefore they can't really use the CDDA logo. But it can still be marketed as a "CD" being that it is one. :)
    • Ooh. But they can abbreviate "Cactus Data" to "CD" and call it one anyway!
  • why are we letting ourselves get into this situation. Business is supposed to work on supply and demand. No-one wants copy-protection, cds and dvds cost nothing to press and the intellectual property is not worth allot, so why are they selling bits of plastic for so much money? When a dvd comes out, the film has already made a profit from the box office so why do they get away with such a high price - way higher than even the ticket you paid for to see it on the big screen? (because people are dumb enough to pay) can the interviews and out-takes that you see on tv anyway be worth so much? i think not. As for cds, why can they not understand this simple idea: "If i can hear it, i can copy it" its very simple, but no, they waste millions developing new technology that usually degrades the product that the customer pays for, and the customers take it without question, why?

    You can't ban file sharing, because you would have to ban the entire idea of the internet and people would just resort to private modem-modem networks (thats if they didn't riot in the streets). So go face the music record companies - your days of extortion are over so go back to your coke sniffing and prostitutes lol
    • Business is supposed to work on supply and demand. No-one wants copy-protection, cds and dvds cost nothing to press and the intellectual property is not worth allot, so why are they selling bits of plastic for so much money?

      However the supply and demand bit dosn't work where you have a monopoly. The laws surrounding "intellectual property" create a monopoly (originally a very restricted one. But extended, through one sided lobbying.)
  • I'm still afraid these CDs will blow up my DVD-ROM drive or something of the sorts - is that possibility still true?
  • by martyb (196687) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:01AM (#2941540)

    "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Back in the late 80's it was all the rage by software manufacturers to copy protect their software. (I still have a copy of Lotus 123 from that era.) Various schemes were used:

    • Bad sector(s) on a floppy disk that needed to be present in the drive for the program to run. The disk could not be copied easily using conventional means, but soon people wrote programs to crack the protection.

      Many customers ran into problems when trying to use a legitimately purchased copy as their system reacted differently than expected to the copy protection. The vendors would add increasingly more complicated schemes that never blocked the motivated copier, but DID interfere with legitimate users being able to use the software on certain systems.

    • Printer port dongle that needed to be present in the parallel port. This allowed unlimited copying of the software, but you couldn't run it unless the dongle was in place.

      There was a time when I had a half dozen of these hanging off the back of my PC (imagine 12 inches of dongles sticking out the back; couldn't push the PC against the wall; major leverage against the connector on the PC, etc.) Besides, each dongle interefered somewhat with the timing of the signal going through it... we had a case where a printer attached to the end of the dongle-chain needed to be powered up for the system to boot.

    • Startup questions that required the user to look up a certain value in the documentation and key it in when prompted by the application.

      The thinking was users could easily copy the software, but photocopying the documentation was a much more difficult task that most "pirates" would not go through the effort of doing. I have a game somewhere that came with a "code sheet" printed on red paper that claimed it could not be photocopied. Truly, it was difficult using the black-and-white copiers available at the time, but I persevered and got a usable, albeit poor contrast, copy. (I feared spilling a coffee on the original and becoming unable to play the game which I had legally purchased.)


    In short, users began to revolt and companies eventually began to recognize they were selling fewer copies of their software as people migrated to using non-copyprotected applications.

    Software vendors learned this lesson the hard way many years ago, yet we now have audio (CD) and video (DVD) treading down the same path. I'm waiting to see how long it takes for them to learn this lesson, too.

    • Look on the bright side:

      When your next CD comes with a dongle, you'll know what's happened!

    • Bad sector(s) on a floppy disk that needed to be present in the drive for the program to run. The disk could not be copied easily using conventional means, but soon people wrote programs to crack the protection. My favorite was the Copy II Plus program for the Apple II. It was a commercial program with a built-in, ever-updated list of copy-protected programs and internal instructions on how to copy them. It made pirating software trivial. (Hey, I was 9, OK? Right and wrong were fuzzy topics.) The best part about it, though, was that it actually had copy protection itself, but contained instructions on how to defeat its own copy protection. I always thought that was totally nuts.
    • I have a game somewhere that came with a "code sheet" printed on red paper that claimed it could not be photocopied.

      They could be manually copied with pen and paper and_that_photocopied and distributed. It just further illustrates that as long as any form of CP exists someone, somewhere will take the initiative to make it easier for other people. As mentioned many times, this is the same as with music: one digital copy (MP3, Ogg, whatver) is all that is needed to revert the CP to nothing and mass pirating can begin.

      Speaking of older methods of ittitating users I remember the most horiffic CP "documentation" method ever: the "dual-wheel" discs. I remember them being common with popular Amiga games (Monkey Island et.al.). I do recall writing letters to the creators telling them that it was unnecessary and was alienating people - I had lost the disc many times and feared breaking it so ended up_recreating_one and archiving the master.

      Nothing ever changes.
    • And don't forget that the Lotus 123 floppy-based scheme used an incredibly supid CPU spin loop to time the floppy shennanigans. This was calibrated for the orignial 4.77MHz PC, so of course faster CPUs didn't work with Lotus.

      Thus, we were cursed with "Turbo" buttons for over a decade to slow the PC down while loading Lotus. I'll bet that the consumers wasted orders of magnitude more money paying for these useless hardware switches on their PCs than Lotus ever recovered with their copy prevention scheme.

  • ..for pre-scratching the CD for me. It would probably take thousands of hours of careless handling for me to produce all those C1 errors in the soundtracs.

    (I was just sarcastic. But seriously: when you buy one of these protected CD-likes, bear in mind that they are much less robust against scratches and dust than the "real" audi CDs.)
  • by Phil Wherry (122138) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @10:50AM (#2941674) Homepage
    I'm just about to finish up ripping all of my CDs to 160 Kbps MP3 format so I can do casual listening without handling physical media. I'm not too terribly bothered by the loss in quality caused by compression, since I've got the original media to work with for those occasions when I need higher fidelity.

    It occurs to me, though, that the inclusion of a compressed audio player on the CD really doesn't solve the problem, even if it's possible to copy the audio files in some protected way to a hard disk.

    Here's why: my earliest CDs were purchased in early 1986. At that time, my PC was running MS-DOS 3.1. Think for a moment about the odds of a copy-protected program from 1986 working unmodified in a modern computer--let alone the computers we'll have twenty years hence. The inclusion of a copy-protected player program in lieu of a standards-compliant CD looks even more pitiful when one stops to consider the fact that the player program will be basically unuseable in a few years' time.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @11:09AM (#2941732) Homepage
    I own a Teac RW-CD22 CD Recorder.

    According to the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, I'm AUTHORIZED to make single-generation digital copies of CD's onto "Music CD-R" media, a portion of whose price includes a payment into two funds administered by the Library of Congress: two-thirds into a Sound Recordings Fund, with small percentages of this fund earmarked for nonfeatured artists and backup musicians, 40% of the remainder for featured artists, and the rest to record companies; one-third into a Musical Works Fund, to be split 50/50 between songwriters and music publishers.

    My Teac appears to be rapidly turning into worthless junk. UMG's "More Fast and Furious" will not copy on it (it gives the error message "CANT COPY, SCMS ERROR").

    So, the copy protection fails to prevent UNauthorized copies... but succeeds in preventing AUTHORIZED copies.

    Midbar and UMG are cheating those of us who BOUGHT and PAID FOR the right to make copies.
  • and its probably just as easy.
    Most CD players you buy nowadays have optical outs, and most DVD players you can buy also can play cd's and have optical outs/coax.
    high end soundcards have optical/coax inputs
    (getting the hint?)
    set up your favorite CD/DVD player with your TOSlinks, or coax... and record those tracks into wav files.
    then compress with your favorite utility.
    what about quality?
    isnt it still digital?
    yep. thats the beauty of it.
    go forth, and rip disks :)

  • Proper terminology (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thumbtack (445103) <thumbtack@ju n o . com> on Saturday February 02, 2002 @12:12PM (#2941964)
    The proper term is CORRUPTED, not copy protected.They do not conform to Red Book Standards.

    Congressman Rick Boucher of VA has written a letter [dotcomscoop.com] to the IFPI and the RIAA suggesting that under the AHRA this may illegal and asking for explanations of the methods used. Under the AHRA [hrrc.org] there is a 2% surcharge on every CD recorder sold in the US at the wholesale level (See section 1004), that goes to the RIAA, just as there is a 2% surcharge on "Music" designated CDR media.

    In addition Philips refers to these corrupted discs as "silver disks with music on them, but which do not resemble CD's" See this article [boycott-riaa.com]

    Boycott-riaa [boycott-riaa.com] and Fat Chucks [fatchucks.com] are maintaining a list of the corrupted CDs. Also, Check out the Home Recording Rights Coalition [hrrc.org]
    • Congressman Rick Boucher of VA has written a letter...

      I know it's totally OT, but how is Boucher's name pronounced? I'm planning on trying to get a face-to-face with my local congresscritter to trye to give him a clue, and was going to tell him to look up Boucher, but I don't want to sound like a total idiot by fscking up the name...

      Thanks!
  • CD Analysis Software (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HunterZ (20035)
    In case anyone is curious about the software used to view the tracks (see the screenshot on page 3 right after "Let's now see the structure of the CDS200 disc. There are 2 sessions inside:"), it's a great program called IsoBuster (www.isobuster.com [isobuster.com]) that I often use myself to verify and extract the contents of CDs and CD image files.
  • In a European country where I used to live and study, drivers in the opposite traffic lane flash there high beams to alert you way ahead of cops sitting on your side with a radar . And this is not illegal.

    Why? Couldn't cops catch more speed offenders if the opposite traffic were prevented to inform you?

    Sure they would, but that's not the point. The point is to reduce traffic speed on your side, so by letting the other drivers inform you, they can slow down the traffic for more than 50 miles at some point.

    The same happens with the Music industry: if they were letting other people rip cds and do the cheap distro, people would discover artists and bands that they haven't heard about before. And owning a CD would be the next thing people would do because let's face it, it's still better quality and more convenient.

    So the fascists at the music companies are simply not aware of good marketing. Shouldn't we educate them?

    PPA, the girl next door.
  • by HuskyDog (143220) on Saturday February 02, 2002 @04:19PM (#2942950) Homepage
    At the end of the day, a CD is just a great big heap of ones and zeros. In some fancy way, your CD player turns this into sound. Presumably, it does this via a combination of software and nifty electronics (which could be emulated in software). So, therefore, if we could extract all the ones and zeros we could write a program which emulates an audio CD player (on which these crippled discs seem to work fine). We just put an OGG encoder where the D/A converter would be and voila! If a 15 year old CD player can convert the binary data into sound, then so can we.

    So, what is the problem with implementing this scheme (apart from the DMCA). Is it that there is no way of persuading a CDROM drive to output the raw data? If so, this just confirms my view that the entire problem lies in CDROM firmware. Could we re-flash this in some drives?

    Somewhere in a CD player the bits we want are wizzing along a PCB track. Does anyone know the practicality of tapping into this?

    Just my random thoughts on the topic.

  • The dumbest thing about this whole scheme is that in the end, it doesn't provide decent copy protection! I purchased a copy of the "Fast and Furious" disk to try and see how hard it was to rip. Let's see, I had to put in in my CD-RW drive, and run 'cdparanoia'. A few minutes later, an almost perfect copy. A few errors showed up, but none that were still audible after the automatic correction in the software. The next day I returned the opened album to the store for a full refund! I didn't actually bother to keep the music because, well, I think it's crappy music.

    If this system actually provided copy protection, or at least made ripping inconvenient, maybe it would be worth it for Universal. But since it doesn't even provide copy protection, what the hell are they thinking? It only takes one person to populate the MP3's onto the P2P network. Given that common drives (an LG 8080B CD-RW in my case) and common software (EAC, cdparanoia, etc.) don't seem to have any problem reading these CD's. And given that Universal at least has a stated policy letting you return the CD for a full refund if you have 'problems', what the hell are they thinking?

    Let's break it down. Folks who don't rip their CD's and have a player which isn't impacted by the protection: no change
    Folks who don't rip their CD's but experience problems during playback: pissed off, and lost sales.
    Folks who do rip their CD's: they still rip their CD's, only now the pirates can return the CD's for a full refund. This is actually worse for the companies than not selling the CD in the first place! Good lord, are they actually this dumb?

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