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Music Media

Sony Sells Defective, Damaging CDs in Eastern Europe 335

parvati writes: "Newscientist.com is reporting that a new form of anti-piracy technology for audio CDs could potentially damage audio equipment. The new system, called Cactus, developed by Midbar Tech (Tel Aviv), is similar to Macrovision's but prevents both CD-to-PC copying and CD-to-CD copying (Macrovision doesn't prevent the latter). Cactus adds fake control data that's not decoded by the original player but, when copied, is read as music and produces distortion. However, certain audio wave shapes have the capacity to damage the circuitry of the player and/or speaker equipment. Midbar has already sold unidentified Cactus-embedded CDs in Eastern Europe."
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Sony Sells Defective, Damaging CDs in Eastern Europe

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  • Audio CD's were never meant to have any copyright protection,

    Not true. The Redbook Standard specifies that every CD audio track has a "no copy" bit. Every CD I've ever seen, as well as all CD writer software sets this bit. Yet everyone, all hardware, and all software, ignores it. In the HFS file system on Macs, all files also have a "no copy" attribute bit. And because everyone, including Apple's own Finder, ignore it, it is today known as the "bozo bit".

    History repeats itself.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well you can look at that in two ways:

    1. If it has the little "CD" logo, it must adhere to Red book standard. Therefore these disks, not being adherent to standard are defective


    2. By putting "CD" logo on it while knowingly not, companies are violating their license of aforesaid logo and committing fraud.

    Which do you think that the companies will prefer.

    Not to mention several other obvious factors, such as fair use being legally protected in other countries. Sure America doesn't have any legal protections for fair use, and it only can be invoked as a defense against a claim of copyright violation, but hey, we all know America isn't the world. Right? By using this technology, there is a potential can of corporate whoop-ass being served up.

    At least in other countries. It is entirely within the realm of possibilities that this could be used in America.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Of course, USC 17 gives no rights is because congress no longer legislates new rights. They only legislate new restrictions and punishments nowadays.

    You never look in US code alone for the a listing of your enumerated rights, cause there ain't any.

    Rights are granted these days through the courts, and not by any other governmental body. USC 17 for instance doesn't say that you have a right to own a device that can record TV shows, but the supreme courts has said otherwise.

  • This really does smell of bullshit. I have a lot of trouble figuring how they can make the digital outs on my CD player work when connected to an external DAC, but not when connected to the digital in of a sound card.

    I'll be both impressed and pissed off it they can pull it off.


  • What happened to our right to back up our own cds?

    You still have the legal right to back up these CDs. It just became a bit more technically challenging to do so.


  • If this is true, then Fair Use died with the DMCA. Since the manufacturer can use any sort of protection method they want (even ROT13), and it is illegal to break such protection then you can never make a copy and Fair Use has no meaning. This truely is a sad day.
  • (1) This is war, and it's a useful meme.

    (2) This is also true: just because YOU do not have, say, ribbon tweeters does not mean nobody does.

    (3) Finally, the systems that would BE harmed by high-volume damaging sound are also the more expensive ones- in a way, this only underscores the point.

    It's true. They are being a bit confused in suggesting that the _electronics_ can be harmed by such content- not unless it excites ultrasonic resonances and blows an amp that way, and the term for such an amp is 'broken'. But the effect on speakers is no different from transistor clipping, and it's widely known that in some cases weaker amps will blow speakers easier (esp. tweeters) for just this reason: clipping, and the high frequency components this produces.

    The report is confusing and vague, but there is much truth to it. Just because _your_ tweeters are not delicate enough to be injured by this sort of thing...

  • This reminds me of the old Activision copy protection for floppies that supposedly would damage your equipment if you tried to copy them.

    I heard rumours of games (back in the Amiga days) that only used maybe the first 60-70 tracks of the 80 on the floppy, then, somewhere right near the outer edge of the disk, was a chunk of metal attached. Under normal use, these outer tracks would never be touched, but if you tried to copy the disk - BANG! bye bye drive head.

    Never believed 'em though.. too much chance of a bug in the game causing it to read the wrong track and destroy your drive. :-)

  • If anyone knows for sure of a specific title, I'd like to get a copy just to look at the line output from several different CD players on an oscilloscope and a spectrum analyzer to see whether there indeed is some tweeter poppin' high frequency noise bursts. If they have really done such a thing, it goes way beyond being a mere product defect.
  • Thanks to the DMCA, we are effectively prevented from exercising our fair use rights even if we are able to. If there is anything that could be construed as a protection of the copyrighted work, we are not allowed to circumvent it in order to make fair use of the content. Thanks Congresscritters!

  • If the CDs are designed to produce this sort of distortion, and it can lead to the destruction of pc or stereo components, then a consumer would probably have a pretty good case. Copying is a normal use of a CD. If they designed their product in a way that it would damage your equipment as a consequence of normal use, you should be able to sue them for damages.

  • You just aren't allowed to circumvent it for the purposes of violating copyright. If you circumvent it for fair use, then you haven't broken copyright, so the DMCA doesn't apply.

    I don't think you can say that. The DMCA is worded quite vaguely. There is no way to be certain what you can or cannot do legally under this law. Until the courts decide what it really means, free speech and fair use will be severely curtailed. Programs like DeCSS offer the ONLY method for most people to exercise their fair use rights with regard to DVDs. Without the ability to distribute such programs, we cannot exercise our rights. The same will happen with CD copy protection and protection for other forms of media.

    We've seen 2600 get sued (twice) for distributing a piece of code that could be used to create a program that could decrypt a DVD. This program would allow people to exercise their fair use rights with regard to the DVDs they own. But the MPAA and DVDCCA seem to think that such a program is illegal under the DMCA.

    We've seen Professor Edward Felton threatened with a lawsuit under the DMCA for giving a presentation on SDMI's watermarking techniques. We've seen Dmitry Sklyarov arrested for writing a program, as an employee of a Russian company, to covert Adobe's e-book format into their pdf format. Even though he was not directly responsible for the program's distribution in the US and even though such distribution had ceased, and even though Adobe backed down from their charges against him, he was still arrested and is still being held without even a bail hearing.

    Any of these programs and/or information provide what is usually the only way to exercise your fair use rights with regard to such encrypted copyrighted works. However, under the DMCA, such programs are illegal to distribute. Therefore, only those who know how to program and write their own software to allow them to access such works are able to exercise their fair use rights. This constitutes only a tiny portion of the population of this country. The rest of us have lost our rights thanks to the DMCA.

  • but all the hysteria here about suing Sony for 'defective' CDs seems misplaced

    You miss the point, the encoding on the disk that creates that destructive effect in a copy does not conform to the CDDA specification, thus, it's defective.

  • Actually, I have a game for the Atari 8-bit (It was a cross-country driving game) that had a sticker on it that mentioned this, so if it was an urban legend, it was propagated by Activision itself. I'm not sure if the sticker was on the package itself (I still have the folder the software came on) or on the shrinkwrap. I might have to go looking for it if there is any interest.
  • by Craig Maloney ( 1104 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:47AM (#2176792) Homepage
    This reminds me of the old Activision copy protection for floppies that supposedly would damage your equipment if you tried to copy them. It's nice to see the more the technology changes, the more the companies disregard for their consumers stays the same. :)

    I'm hoping someone takes Sony to task over these CDs (though I don't hope someone gets their equipment destroyed). I'm sorry, but damaging customers equipment in the name of copy protection is just plain wrong.

  • by sphealey ( 2855 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:02AM (#2176794)
    Ironic since in the Supreme Court decision known as the "Betamax" case established the consumer's right to make copies for permitted use (in the USofA) and allowed the VCR market to develop. Sony was the party trying to establish the right to copy in that case. Now that they own the market....

  • Joe Sixpack & Co. might twig onto what they're doing and put a stop to it by the ways we're proposing people do about all this BS.

    "What? You mean I didn't buy this album? I just paid good money for it- I'm taking it back to the store... What? I can't take it back? F that noise- I'm not buying another one."

    They want the change subtle so that people won't notice- like cooking a live frog, turning up the heat slowly, he'll cook, not noticing his peril.
  • Depends on the gear- not all consumer units are good about reading discs as others. You could have a person with an earlier model unit or perhaps they're running it on a PC and using the CDDA data to mix it locally with other sound sources instead of using the analog out of the CD drive (Which IS legit!)- in either of those cases, the equipment COULD be damaged by the original disk.

    In this case, Sony would be liable since they're selling non-compliant discs that can damage equipment.
  • Irrelavent- the frog plain flat won't do a damn thing if you do the analogy. While it's an old analogy, it fits- if you think about it.

    Oh, and by the way, Kansas might be dusty these days- but the central tenet of that song still fits.

    When your time comes, all the money in the world will not another second buy for you. When time weathers away things, they will, at best, guess what you did if you DO manage to make a mark on things.
  • It's pretty much as good or better than most of the stuff on CD players. And this comes from monty of OGG Vorbis fame... I'd say he knows his stuff pretty well when it comes to audio approximation, etc.
  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:14AM (#2176799) Homepage
    The act of copying requires the use of the CDDA specification for CD-Roms and CD players.

    That's raw data access. I can, if I want, mix real-time, the stream from the CD with any other sound source- and by copyright law I can.

    If I can't do that, it's not complying with the CDDA spec and therefore isn't a Compact Disc- it's something that is sort-of one. If it's labeled as such on the package, then the disc is fraudulent or defective- take your pick.
  • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:09AM (#2176800) Homepage
    In order for the system to WORK, the CD player has to ignore the bad data. Older models may not do this. If you've got a fast enough machine, you're going to use the CDDA feature of your CD drive instead of the analog port for peak fidelity.

    In either of those cases, it's going to hit a piece of equipment with an original disc.

    Don't buy off on a fobbed off statement to the public about it won't harm things- think it through.
  • by stripes ( 3681 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @07:16AM (#2176801) Homepage Journal
    Problem: You stole their property.

    Bull. The problem can be any of the following:

    1. Your CD player is a Mac (say on an airplane, or in your dorm room). You put this thing in, iTunes fires up, and automagically makes an MP3 and starts playing it. Pop, there go your speakers.
    2. You only like one or two tracks of the CD, you take it and a few other CDs you only like a few tracks on, pop'em in your computer, select them, pop a blank in the burner and make a mix CD for your car. Go for a drive and Pop, there go your car speakers.
    3. You make a legal backup copy (as far as I know that's protected by fair use), later after you accidentally leave the CD out and put your coffee on it you go to the backup...Pop, no more speakers.
    4. You decide the CD has good jogging music so you move it to the tiny lightweight no skip CD paler, and Pop, no earphones...

    There are lots of fair and legal ways to use MP3's. Interfering with them may not be illegal, but I expect damaging equipment is.

  • The name 'C' is not trademarked (could it ever be?) and hence there are no restrictions on its use. Furthermore, the GCC documentation explicitly states its deviance from the standard. The CDDA logo is trademarked and the licenced under the condition that discs and players bearing the logo conform to the CDDA specifications. So I think it would be illegal to use this logo on a non-standard disc. I haven't seen it used on many discs anyway, though.
  • And wouldn't it be delicious if the audio equipment damaged was some brand new Sony gear? If Sony's not at fault because of the CD, then they're at fault in the question of "defective in materials or workmanship" under the warranty terms on the audio equipment and liable for the cost of repairs. Then as soon as it's fixed, you play that same CD they said wasn't faulty, and let them know they've got another repair bill to pick up. Lather, rinse, repeat. Eventually, you can probably invoke some sort of "lemon law".
  • You're making the mistake of personifying a corporation. It's bad enough when done as a matter of law and/or legal precedent, and worse when we start to think of corporations as people.

    Sony is a very large company, dare I say a 'megacorp'. The 99th hand does not necessarily know what the 101st hand is doing, and may well be in competition with it. Sony actually has a track record of some divisions of the company coming out with products that trump another part of the company. The best example that comes to mind is that of digital video cameras from a few years back. The Consumer video division's bottom of the line "no frills except what pro/semi-pro film and video people want" model *completely* trumped the entire Pro video division's lineup of small digicams, and was cheaper to boot. One division of the company had made another's entire product line moot with but one innovative product.

    So the deal is this: those working in the consumer electronics division probably actively dislike the whole copy protection business, as it threatens their potential market size and ability to design and market new products that might allow copying (ala Tivo, etc.). The ownz-all-da-media-rights side of the company naturally has other ideas, mostly surrounding protection of their back and forthcoming catalogs of titles.

  • will damage your equipmewnt while performing a LEGAL BACKUP you will win in court hands down. I do not know what the laws in Eastern Europe about Fair Use, but here in California selling that CD with a CD label on it makes them guilty of criminal fraud, possibly with intent to destroy property. If your PC and or equipment is worth 1500.00 then it can even be a felony here.

    note IANAL, just a retired COP so don't bank on my advice.
  • Well, if the sandpaper company recommended that you copy its sandpaper with your photocopier, then, yeah, you would sue them and probably win. CD players are meant for playing CD disks. Photocopiers are not meant for copying sandpaper.

    (This post is, obviously, entirely objective. I'm sure that someone will reply and say that in their city/country it is, in fact, commonplace to photocopy sandpaper, that photocopiers come with special provisions for this, and so on.)


  • Companies are persuing an impossible task...I'm glad there's a lot of people actually selling them coloured glass, mirrors and other forms of useless systems and making money from it.

    They can build as many new-amazingly-stupid protection schemmes but we always return to point 0.
    That's all...
    The ultimate copy protection would be stop selling CD's at all
    Develop a new distribution system more suitable for this century...

    Imagine how far they went that now, the first purpose of CD audio it's being forgotten (HI QUALITY) is being lost for a new concept (HI QUALITY + INDUCED DISTORTION).

    I'm sure that companies will charge some extra cents to cover the costs of developing this new-soon to be drop-protection shemme.
  • Hence, if your equipment cannot create the exact duplicate of what they provided, or even if they could, I doubt any court would side with you on this.

    Although IANAL, it is nevertheless obvious that Sony is very liable for damages which occur in at least some scenerios:

    Consider: You buy a Sony CD burner (the consumer kind that sits in your stereo rack, not the PC kind, although I suspect it wouldn't matter if the PC brand also came bundled with software that includes audio CD copying capabilities). You buy a sony pressed, unmarked Cactus CD. Or perhaps its even marked with a small icon, but without any message warning you of the consiquences.

    Two scenerios where Sony would clearly be liable for any and all damages, and quite possibly punitive penalties as well:

    1) you play the original in your high-end PC player, which is connected to your high end speakers via your high-end audio card, in turn via the CDs digital port. Pop, crackle, zap ... there go your speakers, perhaps even your audio card.

    2) you play a copy of a Sony CD in a Sony player, made by a Sony CD burner marketed to you expressly for copying and burning CDs (perhaps even burnt onto a Sony blank for good measure). It blows your speakers, burns out your amp, whatever. Sony sold you at least one piece of equipment fraudulantly. They cannot have it both ways, either the CD Burner/Player were sold under false pretences, or the CD was sold under false pretences. Consumer fraud at the very least, criminal damage to private propterty quite possibly.

    [insert rant here about how CEOs of such criminal cartels should be spending at least as much time in prison as CEOs of other well-known crime cartels]
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:54AM (#2176817) Homepage Journal
    I thought that "I cannot be played on record player X" stuff was just a hypothetical example...
  • by viper21 ( 16860 ) <scott@iqfound r y . com> on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:49AM (#2176819) Homepage
    Well, it figures.

    Don't get me wrong, every piece of electronic equipment that I own that can be made by Sony is made by Sony. (Okay, 4/5 boxen ain't bad).

    It just figures that they would create a technology that would so damage one of their other products that you would have to buy the second product again.

    The funniest part of the whole thing is this (funny as in cynical):

    1. User buys new Yanni CD.
    2. Sticks CD in Sony CD player, Yanni is so powerful that the CD player starts making crazy noise and then stops making any noise at all.
    3. User goes out and purchases a new Sony CD player. (Hopefully not another 52k hi-fi edition)
    4. User tries to play Yanni again. Good thing that he has the Sony warranty, but I'm sure the warranty doesn't cover damage by the encoding of their own cd's. (smart).
    5. User realizes that the cd broke his player, yet Sony still will not acknowledge any fault on their part.
    6. User tries to return the evil Yanni cd, yet Best Buy (and any other store, for that matter), will not accept returns of opened cd media. (who would want to copy Yanni anyways?

    Yes, I love Sony... but they do seem to shoot themselves in the foot sometimes.


    Scott Ruttencutter
  • by tomk ( 20364 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:39AM (#2176824) Homepage
    AUG 2001:

    SonySoftVision today announced that they have introduced a new copy protection mechanism for CDs. The new copy protection mechanism prevents infected.. er, I mean.. "protected" CDs from being copied, both on PCs and on consumer CD players. The new protection, called "KickInDaNutz", has been secretly included on several thousand CDs which are targetted for North American distribution.

    KickInDaNutz works by taking all of the music data and replacing it with random noise; or, in some cases, a computer virus. The result is a CD that, when inserted into a computer, causes the computer to email all of the MP3 files contained on its hard drive to the RIAA.

    KickInDaNutz has the side benefit of making the CD completely unlistenable, even for those who bought it. According to a spokesman for SonySoftVision, "The customer gets fucked, but because of the 'no-return' policy at almost every CD store, they have no recourse to recover their money. In some cases, that customer might even buy another copy! The great thing is that they won't be able to tell beforehand which CDs are corrupted! Besides, if they want to listen to the songs, they should just turn on their radio where we can subject them to advertising."

    The new copy protection does add a bit of overhead into the cost of CD production, according to SonySoftVision. This will force the price of CDs to rise to US$35.00.

    Consumer response to this new form of copy protection is not expected to be negative, according to the experts. "Most consumers are used to paying exhorbitant prices in order to get one or two good songs per album; we're only reducing that number by one or two. Besides, some people might LIKE random noise."

    In other news...
  • The names and holiday addresses (on the French and Italien Riviera) of eastern european mafia bosses are known to all. These guys don't copy CD's, they run the factories that press them in tens of thousands.

    Pirated music and software is a multi billion dollar/year business in the ex-eastern block. Everybody knows it but who is doing something?

    Instead of coming down on guys who have people out on the streets hawking CDs for $2 by the thousands, the industry will have us believe that it is the college student copying a couple of titles given by a friend who will put them out of business.

    What would happen if Sony got Interpol to arrest one of these guys poolside?

    Use your imagination, or think federal building sized explosion with different logo on the wall...

    These are two nasty groups of people: multinational corporations and organized crime. Guess who the little guy in the middle is?
  • I don't have much to add, but I wanted to say you're not alone in thinking that.

    It's getting big in the industry to protect something with another area of law, because it couldn't be protected with the first.

    For example, fair use allows copies. So make any device to make copies illegal, but still allow copies to be made.

    Also, Playstation games... The boot rom checks the first n-bytes of the CD, if it matches the boot rom, the disc is allowed to boot. If it differs in a single bit, it isn't allowed to boot. But this code isn't actually used to boot, it's simply checked to see if it's a "valid disk". If you use this boot code, you're copying Sony's copyrighted boot code. They can't sue you for reverse engineering playstation and making games for it, but now to do so, you have to violate a copyright, so it's illegal.

    Ditto with other companies who, for instance, put their trademarked logo into binaries, and check for that. If you write code without their logo, it fails to work. If you copy their logo, it's trademark violation..

    Similarly, patents can be used. Patent something, then 'open' an API. Catch? To use it, you have to use their software patent. Either license it or get sued.

    IMHO any linking like that should render the trademark/copyright/patent either void, or freely usable in that context, by everyone. I'd vote for void, to punish companies that pulled that crap.
  • Uh, so if i send you a document with virus that only destroys your computer if you e-mail it to someone else, does that mean i didnt do anything wrong?
    (document with a virus. Hah, thanks for that whole fucking concept, Microsoft)
  • by topham ( 32406 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @07:36AM (#2176833) Homepage
    Square waveforms pumped into an electromagnet can destroy equipment. Not just speakers, but the feedback from the speakers could theoretically destroy the amp as well.

    And considering what some people spend on Amps.... If you really want to test your theory, that it isn't possible, create some 'sound files' by encoding some unusual waveforms and try it on your stereo, in your car and on your portable CD player.

    Go ahead.

    I dare you.

  • by CrudPuppy ( 33870 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:29AM (#2176835) Homepage
    I just *love* how anyone who wants to do any of the following is labeled a "pirate" by the music industry now:

    -burn copies of cd's so it's not necessary to keep $1800 (100 disks) worth of original cd's in the car
    -play cd's on high-end car audio head units that are really the more high-quality cd-rom drives and not the dumbed-down cd players that hav no problem with corrupt and missing data
    -rip and encode 300 cd's and place on 30 mp3 cdr's for use with high-end car audio cd-mp3 players
    -countless other activities

    I would personally be very pissed of if I was one of the companies that have taken risks to bring portable mp3 players, cd copying software, car-audio mp3 players, and very high-end cd players to the market just to have them pissed on by the record industry's anti-piracy campaign of the week!!

    what the hell ever happened to trying to please consumers??
  • Sony Music begged them not to release it, but the hardware div didn't give a damn and released it anyways. Sony Music was pretty pissed off of course, but there was nothing they could do about it.

    Seen in a Sony Music Canada complex in Toronto: this famous poster [modernhumorist.com].

    Irony; this poster was about 20 meters from a trio of computers in the staff cafeteria for browsing.

    Greater irony; several people at Sony that day ripped on the record industry for helping to hold back high-end audio formats by demanding "better" encryption (CSS2) and watermarking (for SACD) schemes. Nice job, shitheads.

    ObOnTopicComment: If I ever run across a CD that I can't rip into .mp3s/.oggs for my listening pleasure, I will return it to the place I bought it from and get my money back. Simple as that. And if it destroys equipment I own, without any clear, large-print warning about that possibility, there will be liability suits to repay the cost of said equipment. Can you say "class action?" I knew you could!
  • If everyone that is so aginst this stuff got together and came up with a few hundred thousand ways of doing copy protect as well as ways of defeating that copy protection and then patented it, then the group as a patent owner could keep sony from ever using it.
  • I'm surprised that the slashdot readers here are so quick to believe this story. I think its very unlikely that you can send data to a cd player that will damage it... maybe if you turn the volume on your 500W amp and plug it into your little headphones, or if subliminal messages on the disk causes domestic animals to piss on the circuitry but otherwise you can take it with a pinch of salt.

    All this BS leads me to the conclusion that everyone in the entertainment industry is high on crack and they are so desperate to keep their daily fix going they will pay poor engineers just out of uni ridiculously high prices to comeup with theses dumb ideas - Macrovison, CSS, AudioSafe etc. just so they can get that little bit of extra cash to get some blow. The engineers don't care if it can't be done - they're not dumb, they know that if you can hear it your can copy it, they all read /., but they are not going to argue with a big fat check.. lol.

  • Also interesting, the company's name "Midbar" means "Desert" in Hebrew. "Cactus" fits right in.
  • I am getting so sick and tired of typical /. sensationalistic and baseless posts.

    Aren't there laws in the US about selling intentionally defective goods and not advertising the fact that they have been made defective?

    The original CDs are not defective. Stop making it seem like someone needs to contact the Consumer Protection Center, like its "Johnny Switchblade" or something (might be too old for you to remember).

    having to face questions about their product quality and safety

    What questions about quality and safety?? The CD's don't damage a fucking thing! God I can't believe I'm letting such a troll get under my skin.

    the CD's can damage equipment

    *No*they*can't!* If you COPY the CD's then the COPY can damage your equipment. Has anyone thought that perhaps this technology is being released in countries that do not require the buyer to be able to make a backup copy?? Sheesh.

    Steve Jackson
  • > New Sony CD's will actually explode when the user tries to rip them. The new CD's have a microchip build in to detect rip-like laser movements. When the user tries to rip the CD to make a legal back-up or MP3 copies, the microchip create a small explosion, which will ignite the CD in hopes of destroying the CD burner. Sony representatives say, "Those fucking pirates are getting off easy. If we could track them better, we'd fucking kill those motherfuckers!"

    Hmm, suppose you had a bunch of microscopic springs with weights attached to them, embedded in radial gaps in the polycarbonate around the edge of the disc. On the other side of the gap is an electrical contact. You've also used some thin-film voodoo to create a battery or other store of electricity in the disc.

    If you drop the disc to the ground, only the springs on one side make contact. But if you spin the disc at faster than a certain speed (say, 1000 RPM, above the highest speed any CD will spin when playing back music at 1x, regardless of the position of the head), all of the springs make contact with the switches at once.


  • Unless there's a disclaimer on it, do we have grounds to sue for damages?

    I'll call Foul. FOUL!
  • in theory, they can if the dynamics of the CD are high enough. This can cause problems on low power amps with fairly heavy speakers attached. Basically, you're putting direct current on your speakers if your amp can't handle the strain. This is known as Clipping. This however has nothing to do with copy-protection.

  • actually, a square wave will work, because it's a constant voltage, which is decidedly bad for most types (anything with a cone..) of speakers. I'm not sure about exotic stuff like plasma speakers.. but for your avg. cone-driver, the waveform will matter (as long as it's square..:)

  • Actually, there are many divisions of Sony. It just so happens that the Sony audio hardware division knew there would be a huge market for selling a CD copier. Sony Music begged them not to release it, but the hardware div didn't give a damn and released it anyways. Sony Music was pretty pissed off of course, but there was nothing they could do about it.
  • by SirSlud ( 67381 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:15AM (#2176857) Homepage
    The trouble here is that only your 'illegal' copy could damage your system. Which is your fault, since Sony did not produce the CD, you did. More frightening than the copy-protection technology is the fact that the industry has long since forgone the notion of fair use. This is what we should be livid about ... like people who complain about getting a parking ticket. YOU parked there, knowing you would get one.

    I don't care if the copy protection scheme makes my stereo taste like a 22oz prime rib steak ... I vohemently oppose ANY copy protection scheme. The fact that this one might (/might/) damage your equipment should you exersice 'fair use' of your CDs is secondary to the fact that fair use seems like an old bedtime story that every company out there is desperately trying to forget.

    What really scares me is that we're making all this furor over the fact that it damages your stereo. If Sony were to licence a copy-protection scheme that /didn't/ damage your equipment next week, they'd look like heros, and with respect to this case alone, no one would seemingly have anything else to complain about.

    Oh wait, except the fact that Sony denies the existance of FAIR USE. Bah.
  • I don't think this has been mentioned before, so here is my idea of a good court case:
    1. Buy a Sony CD to CD machine.
    2. Buy a Sony CD thats protected.
    3. Burn copy of said CD.
    4. After copy fails, sue Sony in a class-action for false advertising and false representation of a product: they imply that their machine can burn ALL proper CDs. Since they are selling these screwed CDs under the "CD Digital Audio" label, their disks supposedly are correctly licensed and proper. Their machine does not copy them, thus it is defective.
    Everyone should get their money back. Sony would lose a good chunk of profit and good will and perhaps realize the boneheaded nature of their actions. And yes, I know these different divisions of Sony are under different managemnt, but i'm sure an order from On High could be enforced in each sector if it was desired by the company. Sound good?
  • If you'd read the article all the way through, you'd see that damage may or may not be caused based on the garbage data they throw into the command blocks. They can put whatever garbage they want in there...however if they choose to put a square wave in, that is the waveform that will damage your speakers (not your player...). I highly doubt they would fill the block with the square wave, since i can easily invision someone copying a cd for personal use, then having their equipment damanaged and sueing over it.
  • > Unless there's a disclaimer on it, do we have grounds to sue for damages?

    > I'll call Foul. FOUL!

    I guess, that's why they released in the Czech Republic and Slovakia... Less consumer protection, consumers have less resources to fight this in courts... Same reason why the multinationals prefer to put their chemical factories into India.

  • IANAL. Compact disks are supposed to conform to standards. When you buy a CD you should be able to expect that it conforms to those standards. If not you aren't getting the fidelity, and the functionality that you paid for. There are consumer protection laws in the United States which I think should cover this. If the recording industry shipps CDs in the US which use these copy protection schemes, then they should have to label the CD's apropriately. If not, they should be sued or fined, or whatever the laws call for.
  • by flatrock ( 79357 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:44AM (#2176867)
    Sony has secretly tested Cactus by treating several thousand CDs sold recently in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but the system was not set to cause damage on this occasion.

    The shipping CDs aren't set to produce coppies which will damage equipment. The copy protection system would allow them to create such CDs, but it wasn't done on the ones they shipped.
  • They're not "defective" as in they don't play, they're "defective" as in they don't conform to the standard cd audio format and are not marked as such.

  • Yeah, I assume it's a parody of the warnings they would put on early CDs of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Some record labels would put them on almost all their classical CDs.
  • Midbar has already sold unidentified Cactus-embedded CDs in Eastern Europe.

    Until specific titles of CDs are given, I'm very dubious about all these weekly claims of releases, cracks and damages. It sounds like RIAA-sponsored FUD, not actual discussions of real technologies or real products or real damages of real equipment.

  • BFD. Someone will be passing out a crack on efnet tomorrow.
  • Watch out for the "spikes"!


    - JoeShmoe
  • This sounds very possible.

    Wasn't it just last week that we found out that the BSA is doing a rather similar campaign [slashdot.org]?

    I wonder if more artists will start boycotting their record company when pratices like this become more mainstream (ie: in the US). Hummm, now if we could get all artists to start using the web as a medium (example: emusic [emusic.com]).

  • Bad input should not cause security problems or wreck hardware but it should be gracefully handled. In fact, good hi-fi equipment already has speaker protection.

    It is the high amplitude, high harmonics that destroy the speakers. Filter out the high harmonics, and you now have a brand-new lo-fi system, with no high end frequency response, just so some fool (RIAA) can protect their (unethically obtained) income. Personally, I like my high end freqs, and I rather not put too much in the signal path such as relays, or solid state switches that might distort the signal just that little bit more. TimC.

  • by briancarnell ( 94247 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:49AM (#2176881) Homepage
    If they don't want people copying CDs, why do they sell this CD recorder [sony.com]?
  • by aclute ( 94263 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @07:19AM (#2176884)
    Actually, the Betamax case made it legal to make a copy for personal use. However, it did not make it nessecary for copryright holders to make it easy to do so, or make it required that they not use any sort of protection (Macrovision anyone?).

    Fair use means you are not commiting a crime for making backups for personal use.
    Fair use *IS NOT* a doctrine stating that companies have to facilitate the process.

  • You know what, there are whole lists of people that were killed in the holocaust. I've met people who lived through it and can show me their tatoos.

    All we are asking for is something similar here. I've heard a lot of talk about this stuff, but no real facts about what CDs this is being done on. Till I hear some, I'll remain unsure of how true any of this is.


  • That's not true. You just aren't allowed to circumvent it for the purposes of violating copyright. If you circumvent it for fair use, then you haven't broken copyright, so the DMCA doesn't apply
  • I would expect that this may cause significant trouble for the retailers who sell these disks to the end-users. Certainly, until the retailers know that they are selling Cactus-enabled products, they will end up eating the cost of damage to the end-user's systems.

    While this may or may not be a legal liability for anyone involved in the retailing of these products, it is not difficult to imagine that this is exactly the sort of situation that will lead to an increase in the use of sites like MP3.com and the new-and-improved napster.

    This is a desperate attempt by the record distribution industry to keep themselves from becoming irrelevant. Sadly, this will probably only accelerate the acceptance of alternative distribution channels. And, at least some artists are begining to realize that they don't need the record distribution services of an AOL/Time Warner or a Sony if they have other partners who are willing to take a lower % of the proceeds.

  • Aren't there laws in the US about selling intentionally defective goods and not advertising the fact that they have been made defective?
    Yes, but this isn't in the US, it's in Eastern Europe.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\= \=\=\=\=\
  • by sommere ( 105088 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:02AM (#2176900) Homepage
    they don't want people copying THEIR CDs.... its ok if you copy an indipendent record lablel's cds...


  • I glanced at the patent, and it seems to me that it's mostly the same as Macrovision's scheme.

    The only difference I could find is the flagging of the altered data by using the P channel. Macrovision's scheme doesn't mention this.

    Cactus here seems that it would protect against accidental playback of the corrupted audio samples by this flag. A CD-ROM drive would read the P channel and see that the frame is "data" instead of "audio", and not attempt to play it back. The actual protection technique seems to be the same for both Cactus and Macrovision.

    Both schemes work by finding sequences of sound samples that are in a straight line (such as a triangle wave or a gap of silence). You can then safely remove the middle portion of this line, as it is redundant. The CD player will "connect the dots" and exactly reproduce the straight line! The audio that you hear will be unchanged, even though many of its samples might be missing.

    The removed samples are replaced with random or corrupted data, and the error correction codes of the CD are set to mark this data as bad (so it won't be accidentally played).

    I'm surprised this hasn't been thought of before. What would be funny is if Macrovision and Cactus spent a lot of money fighting over who got the patent first, while the rest of us simply make a small patch to cdparanoia and continue ripping away :-)

    Super eurobeat from Avex and Konami unite in your DANCE!

  • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:41AM (#2176906) Homepage Journal
    Sony has secretly tested Cactus by treating several thousand CDs sold recently in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but the system was not set to cause damage on this occasion.

    I think that this paragraph in the article bothers me. If the system is set to cause damage, someone had to set it to do that, which means somewhere in the algorithm, someone changed
    CauseDamage=0; to CauseDamage=1;

    Mabey its just a typo - cause if it can be set to cause damage, then they're knowingly selling a defective product.

  • by SpookComix ( 113948 ) <spookcomix AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:45AM (#2176908) Homepage Journal
    Europe my ass. A friend of mine bought this album [amazon.com] from Amazon, here in the States. When he put it in my CD player, I experienced headaches, nausea, and anal hemorrhaging, plus it blew my speakers and fried several components. It wasn't even a copied CD!

    Stay away from this stuff, I'm telling you!


  • by alanjstr ( 131045 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:49AM (#2176918) Homepage
    What happened to our right to back up our own cds? This technology assumes that any copying of the cd must be for piracy. And should they implement the 'damaging' factor (not currently used in the European trial) and it destroys audio equipment, I see lawsuits up the wazoo. Once again, the 'golden ears' say that it may cause some drop in fidelity. And of course I'm sure these cds aren't marked as copy protected, either.
  • Forget just using CDDA for PCs being a problem. I and many others I know use the digital out from our players because the amplifier has a superior decoder. This is all fun and games little Britney's NSync single, but the moment you kill an audiophile's B&W speakers because they sensibly use digital connectors lawsuits could get _really_ expensive...
  • It is illegal to do it yourself undef the most strict, Kaplanesque interpretation of the DMCA.

    Circumvention itself is now illegal too. Fair use is illegal unless the content provider decides to not stop you.

    Fair use is kind of pointless if the content provider can make it illegal for you to engage in it, even the DMCA claims to not hurt fair use right in one of its clauses, but the fact stands:

    At least one judge (Kaplan) won't let that inconsistency or the Constitution stop him.

    And as a Federal judge he can get armed marshalls to enforce a judgement, and take almost everything you own. Or, if you "profitted", lock you away 5 years like Dmitry Sklyarov (in this case the US broke SEVERAL international laws in the process - just like our "enemies" are known for doing).

  • IMHO this is meant to be humorous as is most everything by PDQ Bach, although I suppose it is possible that popping balloons can cause damage, I somehow doubt it.
  • devils advocate: but what responsibility do they have to ensure that any copies you make meet any standard at all?

    They can't stop you from making a copy, but what law prevents them from making changes to their product that affect your ability to make perfect copies?

    (I don't know the answer, I'm just asking because all the posts I've read so far claim that the user has a right to copy the CD, but I haven't seen a clear explanation of what Sony's actual legal obligation is to facilitate that copying.)

    Hi! How are you?
    I send you this .sig in order to have your advice

  • by shanek ( 153868 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:09AM (#2176930) Homepage
    There is a precedence. On the CD for P.D.Q. Bach's 1712 Overture, there is a warning that the waveforms caused by the sound of balloons popping near the end of the overture can potentially damage speaker equipment. IANAL, of course, but it seems to me it would be easy to show that anyone who makes a CD that could potentially damage equipment should place a disclaimer on the cover.
  • by doctor_oktagon ( 157579 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:33AM (#2176931)
    If I own a CD-CD copy machine (in the same spirit of dual tape players of old), will this prevent me making up my own compilation CDs for my own personal use?

    Surely the implication is this protection will break the terms of the licence I have for my media (i.e. the right to make a backup, or a copy for personal use)?

  • by fuxoft ( 161836 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @07:32AM (#2176934) Homepage
    The article IS true and such CDs are being sold in Czech Republic for at least 3 months. Here [bontonland.cz] is one of them available in online shop. (It says the release date is 2000 but I think that's a mistake.) Dan Barta is very high profile singer/musician and the album sells very well (it's still at #11 in the charts). Note that it's in fact released by Sony Music. The CD cannot be played in any PC CD-ROM and - in fact - is not recognized as CD at all. The players/rippers act as if there was nothing in the CD drive. It cannot even be read with low level sector-read, the program simply says "there is no CD in drive". Believe me, I tried very hard with various ripping software... What is very interesting is that if you look at the CD, there are visible gaps about 1mm wide between the tracks, as on LP. The CD has a sticker with crossed-out cartoon computer looking sad and smoking, with the words "NELZE PREHRAT V PC" ("CANNOT BE PLAYED IN PC").
  • certain audio wave shapes have the capacity to damage the circuitry of the player and/or speaker equipment.

    Not true. There is lots of electronic music/noise out there. Any decent synthesizer can reproduce virtually any waveform at any audible frequency, and this stuff has been recorded. If Pictures at an Exhibition by ELP doesn't damage your speakers, its unlikely that this would.

    Intelligence: Finding an error in a Knuth text.

  • by popoutman ( 189497 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @09:38AM (#2176945) Journal
    claim that the end user has a "right" to make a backup copy of a music disc. Where is this written and why haven't I been informed? That's a serious question, one that I'd like answered

    Well here in Ireland, it is not illegal to copy and distribute, it is illegal to copy and distribute for profit. If I want to, I can run off a copy for my own personal use (if you want the law references - give me a few days. My grandfather's law books are in storage. He was a TD (see congressman) so they were very up to date) If I cannot copy a disc for my own personal use, I can return the disc to the shop and by law I will get a refund (sale of goods act - not fit for purpose. It is a cd, I should be able to copy for my own use).

    Off-topic: Nice thing about Ireland/Europe, the majority of the disclaimers on product licenses and manuals are illegal/ irrelevant. You cannot have your rights as a consumer under law removed/restricted by the licensing practised by a lot of american megacorps.

  • I am wondering here about my right to make a back-up copy of CDs I purchase. I scratch my CDs regularly because I am not careful with them.

    Dear Federal Mint,

    I am wondering here about my right to make a back-up copy of dollar bills I earn. I damage and/or lose my cash regularly because I am not careful with it.

    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
  • It sounds like this system affects audio transfered in the digital realm (as in between the cdrom of your computer and a set of USB speakers). This is where the actual media is likely to prove 'defective' and damage you sound system.

    Also I wonder how it will work with external Analog-Digital converters used in premium sound systems (of course Sony is likely only encoding N-Sync albums, limiting the potential damage to quality audio equipment).

    Finally, by ripping to WAV and using an audio package (like soundforge) to remove artifacts you should be able to clip the claws off this beast (without much ADDITIONAL damge to the music).

  • So if I make a personal copy of the CD, I will get no errors from CD copying software, yet when I play the copied CD, I can trash my $500 stereo. I hope their licensing fees are high enough for them to pay for the damage.

    I'm not a lawyer, but wouldn't they have to warn users what the end result could be, and cisually mark the CDs with a special logo or something. Especially since people could just be making copies to listen to in their car.
  • Um. They aren't taking anything away. Consumers and politicians are giving it away. Just because you have the right to do something, doesn't mean they are obligated to make it possible for you to do so.
  • by rhadamanthus ( 200665 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:17AM (#2176959)
    I always read fair use like this:

    "You have the right to make backups of this media, but that does not mean the company has to make that process available to you"


  • by Peter Dyck ( 201979 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:24AM (#2176961)
    The article is wrong in claiming that Cactus is a brand new form of copy protection. Click here [cdrinfo.com]and here [heise.de] for more information.

    They (mainly BMG in Germany) tried it in Europe already in 2000. I still have Ministry's CD [excite.com] that won't play on CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs but plays perfectly on an ordinary stereo CD player.

  • by Mynn ( 209621 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @08:48AM (#2176967)
    And what's up with equipment being damaged?

    Some engineer is not doing their job if they can't handle arbitrary data input to their device.

    I am not an electrical engineer, but I wonder, can this data be captured, made avaiable and reproducable in mp3 format, then inserted into say, Britanny Spears or BackStreet Boys MP3's, then 'made available' to teeny boppers everywhere, with the intention of damaging their equipment?

    -Mynn the Museless
  • by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @07:36AM (#2176968) Journal
    Devil's advocate time...

    What happened to our right to back up our own cds?

    Please point out where this right is given to you? There is such a thing as fair-use. It is the legal copying of audio/video. However, nowhere does it state the manufacturers MUST enable you to copy that audio/video. So I have no problem whatsoever (legally-speaking) with the manufacturers releasing CD's under this technology.

    Here's what should be pissing EVERYONE off to the point of massive letter-writing campaigns, protests, demonstrations, etc...

    It is legal for companies to prevent fair-use with their technology, but now Congress has made it illegal for us to take back fair-use with our technology!
  • Activision? I don't think so.

    I do remember Gunship, the first famous program called Apache. :)

    it had a really innovative copy-protection routine. extremely difficult to break. (on the then-king of games, the commodore 64.) there were a few downsides. you had to have a plain-vanilla 1541 floppy drive to run it; IIRC even little things like drive alignment would cause it to not work.

    it took about a year before the underground broke it. (this was at a time when the underground usually released games 2-3 months ahead of their commercial releases.)

    everybody liked the broken version. why? it would run on a lot of different floppy drives, with non-optimal alignment, even on 1571s. also, it didn't wear down the head the way the commercial version did.

    yeah. the commercial version killed your drive. play it for a few hundred hours, and no more drive.

    they never learn.

  • by KarmaBlackballed ( 222917 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @08:00AM (#2176981) Homepage Journal
    1. Buy a Sony CD recorder.
    2. Copy a Sony music CD using the Sony recorder.
    3. Play the copied CD on your Sony stereo using stock Sony speakers.
    4. Sue Sony when their CD blows their system.

    Protest by not buying their music CDs anymore and avoid purchasing their music equipment.

    ~~ the real world is much simpler ~~
  • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @06:21AM (#2176984)
    CDs do not come with a EULA of any kind however. They do not say what my rights are and are not. I would assume I have a "right" to make a copy for backup purposes. I suppose Sony could sell me a CD saying "No, you don't have the right to make a copy of this", as if I buy the CD I agree to the terms.

    You don't have the right just because you assume. Legally you don't have the right to copy a CD unless they explicitly give you permission, as often done on computer CDs.

    Yes, you have the right to make a copy due to fair use; however, fair use does not guarantee any degree of quality, it just says you have the right to make a copy, and you can still make an analog copy to tape.

    This is what came up earlier regarding copying DVDs and CDs.

    ...(since I haven't been told otherwise and as I pointed out is a right I have in similar media)...
    Just because a similar media gives you the right doesn't mean all creations of the same media offer the same right; again never assume.
  • by canning ( 228134 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:39AM (#2176986) Homepage
    there are bursts of distortion as the player tries in vain to decode the garbage.

    That "garbage" is called "New Country" and belive it or not, some people like it.

  • by tmark ( 230091 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:54AM (#2176989)
    If you read the submission carefully, note that it says that copied CDs can cause distortion, and it is this distortion that can damage audio equipment - evidently, the original CD will not do this. I have no idea whether any of this is true, but all the hysteria here about suing Sony for 'defective' CDs seems misplaced : what is going to ruin any equipment are the copied CDs, so if anything is defective it is these copied CDs - not the originals.
  • by Anonu ( 233018 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:50AM (#2176991) Journal
    I've become intrigued by all this CD corruption and decided to get a better look at it myself. So I've been looking for Philip's Red Book standard for CD-DA and the best link i got was this Philips [philips.com] site. To download the documentation you need to be a licensed company. Anyone has ideas for where to look?
  • by nanojath ( 265940 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @07:27AM (#2177010) Homepage Journal
    If you are a musician who self-publishes or publishes through an indie labek: it is officially time to start enclosing a little throwaway card in your self-produced and/or indie produced/distributed music CDs. Look, I've even written some helpful text that is (C) J. Hamlow 2001 but which I hereby license unlimited use in any and every capacity by anyone free of charge -change it, make it better, spread it around and spread the word: "Thank you for buying this audio CD. You should be aware that in an attempt to increase profits, compact discs are now being released by major record labels which have been engineered to limit your ability to use and enjoy your personal music collection. These CDs may interfere with the legal translation of audio files into formats such as MP3s, legal CD-CD copying for back-up purposes, may not play correctly on all of your CD players, and may even damage your audio or computer equipment when played. Because these CDs are not necessarily identified as different from a fully functional CD, you may inadvertently purchase one. If you do so, we urge you to return the defective CD for a full refund of the purchase price. In the meantime, please rest assured that this CD is fully functional for all the modes of playback you expect from your audio CD collection. Thank you again for your purchase."
  • by Crspe ( 307319 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:57AM (#2177018)
    That it is only possible to damage audio equipment with the (non-functional) COPIES!

    At least the original product will not damage your system, so maybe the manufacturor will claim that they didnt sell a defective product!

    As long as the original still sounds perfect and cant damage your audio equipment then is there really any chance of us being able to lodge a reasonable complaint.

    What really worries me about these copy protection systems is the effect it will have on the durability of the disks. If they have already killed the error correction in some parts of the CD so badly that the played has to interpolate then you had better hope you dont get any dust/scratches near-by!

  • by Atreides4 ( 309781 ) <meriadoc424.yahoo@com> on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:43AM (#2177020)
    Microsoft EULA, 2003: "Should you copy this disk, your computer will explode. Microsoft corp will not be responsible for property loss or personal injury or death. By using this software you agree not to pursue legal action against Microsoft Corp. in the event that you expierience massive property loss, injury and/or death. Remember: You're using our software. Microsoft Corp. owns you."

    Microsoft's New Slogan: We're taking you somewhere today dammit, and you can't stop us.

  • by pgpckt ( 312866 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:53AM (#2177021) Homepage Journal
    I am wondering here about my right to make a back-up copy of CDs I purchase. I scratch my CDs regularly because I am not careful with them.

    Microsoft's software comes with a EULA (as does most other software) that says, among other things, that I MAY make a copy for archival purposes.

    CDs do not come with a EULA of any kind however. They do not say what my rights are and are not. I would assume I have a "right" to make a copy for backup purposes. I suppose Sony could sell me a CD saying "No, you don't have the right to make a copy of this", as if I buy the CD I agree to the terms.

    I however find it unfair for Sony not to inform me that they are selling me a CD which if I use the rights I assume I have (since I haven't been told otherwise and as I pointed out is a right I have in similar media) and make a copy, I will damage my equipment. I think this is potentially inviting lawsuits for damaged equipment (IANAL).
  • by BIGJIMSLATE ( 314762 ) on Thursday August 02, 2001 @05:43AM (#2177025)
    ...class-action lawsuit?

    IANAL, but Sony selling cd's that don't exactly conform to the CDDA standards (which is a whole other deal) and will possibly damage sound equipment under normal operation has got to be illegal underom SOMETHING.

    And "unacceptable" to harm a consuer's audio equipment DELIBERATELY? Uh...yeah, that's about as unacceptable as them just breaking into my house and smashing my speakers with a crowbar.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."