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Microsoft Introduces Its Own CD Copy-Inhibition Scheme 342

M.C. Hampster writes "MSNBC is carrying a Reuters story about Microsoft's new CD protection technology. At the heart of the technology is the laying of songs "onto a copy-controlled CD in multiple layers, one that would permit normal playback on a stereo and a PC.""
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Microsoft Introduces Its Own CD Copy-Inhibition Scheme

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  • by KDan ( 90353 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @02:56PM (#5108560) Homepage
    Can I download a version for linux?

    • by sczimme ( 603413 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:06PM (#5108626)

      Probably not, but email me and I will burn you a copy of the Windows version.

      (Yes, I'm joking.)
      • LOTR Joke (Score:5, Funny)

        by smilingirl ( 608655 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @06:38PM (#5109788) Journal
        Recently one of my friends, a computer wizard, paid me a visit. As we were talking I mentioned that I had recently installed Windows XP on my PC. I told him how happy I was with this operating system and showed him the Windows XP CD.

        To my surprise he threw it into my oven and turned it on. Instantly I got very upset, because the CD had become precious to me, but he said, "Do not worry, it is unharmed."

        After a few minutes he took the CD out, gave it to me and said, "Take a close look at it."

        To my surprise the CD was quite cold to hold and it seemed to be heavier than before. At first I could not see anything, but on the inner edge of the central hole I saw an inscription, an inscription finer than anything I had ever seen before. The inscription shone piercingly bright, and yet remote, as if out of a great depth: "12413AEB2ED4FA5E6F7D78E78BEDE820945092OF923A40EEl OE5IOCC98D444AA08E324"

        "I cannot understand the fiery letters," I said in a timid voice.

        "No, but I can," he said. "The letters are Hex, of an ancient mode, but the language is that of Microsoft, which I shall not utter here. But in common English, this is what it says:

        "One OS to rule them all, One OS to find them, One OS to bring them all and in the darkness bind them." It is only two lines from a verse long known in System lore: "Three OS's from corporate kings in their towers of glass, Seven from valley lords where orchards used to grow, Nine from dotcoms doomed to die, One from the Dark Lord Gates on his dark throne In the Land of Redmond where the Shadows lie. One OS to rule them all, One OS to find them, One OS to bring them all And in the darkness bind them, In the Land of Redmond where the Shadows lie."

        ~Just a cute little joke I found somewhere... Somewhat relavent to the topic... Smilingirl =)

        • Re:LOTR Joke (Score:3, Interesting)

          Reality is stranger than fiction. From the Millennium Project goals page ( ium/mgoals.html):

          "Worldwide scalability. Logically there should be only one system..."

          "New machines, network links, and resources should be automatically assimilated."

          That gives us Microsoft's next generation OS for a new Millennium: a worldwide distributed network OS automatically assimilating machines.

          Now reread the EULA for Windows XP Service Pack 1. You know, the part where Microsoft can install anything it wants to on your machine. Remember what Brilliant pulled with its sneaky distributed network.

          The "One OS to rule them all" isn't Windows XP. But it could be Longhorn.

          Shinoda: "The age of Millennium."
          Io: "What does that mean?"
          Shinoda: "A thousand year kingdom. It wants to create a home for itself. There is one flaw in its plan: Godzilla."
          "Godzilla 2000 Millennium" (Japanese version)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:08PM (#5108644)
      I'm also tired of hearing that PC == Windows running PC.

      Dear MSNBC, the software is called the "Windows Media Data Session Toolkit", so it won't play on a PC, it will play on a Windows running PC.

      And each time news source talk about a new virus, they say things like "infects other computers through e-mail". It's "infects other Windows running computers through Microsoft Outlook", dammit.
      • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @04:53PM (#5109200)
        I believe that this would indicate that "Desktop PC" is synonymous with "Windows". The media reflects the general ignorance level of the general public (I use the term ignorance in a descriptive rather than derogatory sense) with regards to computers, your "digital" rights, etc. I share your frustration, but there is a solution. My company (shameless plug = Premier Networks []) is an integration and system engineering firm. We primarily work with either integrating with or replacing MS based systems (W2K, SQL, IIS, etc.) with OSS (Linux + SaMBa, Apache, MySQL, etc.). Before we can do this, we have to sell the customer on the idea. That "ignorance" I mentioned earlier is really the only impediment to that sale and as such, my/our job is to educate the customer. In all honesty, once the customer "gets it" or understands OSS vs. CSS it's like the proverbial scales fall off of their eyes. The key my friend is to educate those around you. Truth has a way of cutting through even the best marketing (and saving a few thousand bucks helps too).
    • Now that Microsoft is in bed with the entertainment cartels,(weren't they always?) we have yet another reason to use non-microsoft software like Linux. Don't Buy CDs. [] Not with music on them, or Microsoft software.
  • by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <> on Saturday January 18, 2003 @02:58PM (#5108567) Homepage Journal
    With your marketshare of the computing industry and sheer spending power, the whole debate on a standardized DRM Scheme is no longer neccessary.

    Wait a minute, could the evil and fearless RIAA/MPAA take on the mighty Microsoft?

    This reminds me of something [] ...

  • by tuba_dude ( 584287 ) <> on Saturday January 18, 2003 @02:58PM (#5108568) Homepage Journal
    Since the music industry is probably going to try stuff like this anyway, (as a consumer) I'm glad to see they're trying something that's supposed to play on everything. As an individual, I'm still annoyed that they're trying this shit, but I'm glad Microsoft is in on it because of their "amazing" security track record.
    • deja vu. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Erris ( 531066 )
      You sound way too happy:

      I'm glad to see they're trying something that's supposed to play on everything ...I'm glad Microsoft is in on it because of their "amazing" security track record.

      Worse, you make the very rash assumption that this will work. M$ and friends could care less about your anoyances, after all they consider you some kind of criminal for wanting to make backups of the things you own. We've been here before.

      This reminds me of M$'s entry into backup programs for floppy disk storage. They bought out everything that worked, such as Fith Generation Systems's Fast Back program, and shut it down. What they offered instead was M$ backup, which was slow and never worked. Needless to say, CDs came along and largely replaced the need for such things and you can now get free software that will break up work larger than a CD into volumes. No rampant "piracy" ever surfaced and no real pirate was ever discouraged. It's the whole thing all over again with CDs. It did not work for floppies and it won't work here.

      Another $500,000,000 down the drain, nice work M$! Is that what you spent the last 15 years of dividens on?

      • Re:deja vu. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by kisrael ( 134664 )
        Needless to say, CDs came along and largely replaced the need for such things and you can now get free software that will break up work larger than a CD into volumes.

        What is the best CD-R backup freeware that works with Windows? Almost everything I care about on my compuer (i.e. everything I'll want on my next computer that I can't grab off of the web) is in c:\data\ - around 10 gig in all, and it would be cool to have some archives of that...
  • by JKR ( 198165 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @02:59PM (#5108575)
    So is this designed to be used with Palladium products? It sounds like it's a mixed mode CD with some control information in the data tracks that is read by Palladium-enabled applications or OSes to control what the user can do with it.

    If that's all it is, it's not going to stop anyone from ripping it on pre-Palladium systems, nor from CD players with digital I/O (although that'll only work at single speed).

    And what does the article mean by "layered"? Surely not an actual multilayered disk like a DVD? Is that backwards compatible?

    More details anyone?


  • I don't get it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by technix4beos ( 471838 ) <> on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:00PM (#5108578) Homepage Journal
    Where is the protection if the cd can still be played on a stereo, or PC?

    Can someone explain this further? What does multiple layers have to do with protecting the CD if it can be played regardless?

    • Re:I don't get it... (Score:5, Informative)

      by blibbleblobble ( 526872 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @04:56PM (#5109211)
      "Where is the protection if the cd can still be played on a stereo, or PC?"

      I have to say,'s CDs have the best copy-protection scheme I've yet seen. They include the MP3 files on the CD, and all the tracks are available for download on the internet. Treating your customers well is the best copy protection

      If someone likes the music I'm listening to, I can point them to a website where they can get a few of the bands' songs, listen to them on streaming-media radio and buy a $6 CD.

      Oh, and part two of the reccommendations: The second best copy-protection mechanism is selling reasonably-priced CDs
  • Go right ahead (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I could care less. It's good that it will play in normal players and computers. But I'm still going to mp3 it through the analog hole, so they can go fudge themselves.
  • They could have spent that $1/2 billion buying out senators,buying a win in court, or even...dare i say... redesigning Windows!!!
  • They are doing more to encourage Linux use than anyone, in a way that no one else could! Thank you, Microsoft! =P

  • by Doomrat ( 615771 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:01PM (#5108588) Homepage
    >one that would permit normal playback on a stereo and a PC.

    Uh-huh. That's nice dear. Well done. I'm sure we'll all be using it in 3 years time.

  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:02PM (#5108592) Homepage
    And you thought copy protected CDs caused problems for your computer BEFORE...

    Couldn't eject CDs from the drive. Ha. You'll wish for those days...

  • probably not.
    windows xp anti-piracy was cracked.
    so was most of the other anti-piracy software.
    I think these companies need to wake up and realise that the reason noone is buying their products is because they are trash.
    not because of piracy....
    piracy is a scapegoat they use with the shareholders to avoid the 'your products are trash, fix them!' response from shareholders.
    I found it interesting that when M$ said it may pay a dividend, and that it beat the streets expectations, the stock price dropped.
    looks like consumers are watching.
    • No it wasn't (Score:4, Informative)

      by LO0G ( 606364 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:11PM (#5108664)

      XP's anti piracy wasn't cracked. There were a half a dozen volume activation keys that were leaked, those got shut down with XP SP1. And someone reverse engineered the code in setup that validates the CD key - which is NOT the same thing as cracking the anti piracy. All that does is allow someone who already has a stolen CD to come up with a CD key of their own, after about 4 hours of crunching on their computer. Once they activate the computer with that key, the key is worthless to anyone else, since it won't work on another computer.

      The ONLY keys that have any worth to pirates are the volume activation keys (since the work on multiple computers), and (as I said above) those keys haven't been cracked. Until someone cracks the algorithm to generate the volume activation keys, it hasn't been really cracked.

      And M$ has NEVER EVER EVER said that the anti piracy stuff in XP was uncrackable. They've just said that it was harder than was worth the effort for most people.
      • When you can go round the protection scheme, no matter how, its been cracked by definition. Even if you have to dance some voodoo dance and sacrifice a hen, its cracked when youve got past it. Ive cracked plenty of protection schemes in my days just by fooling them, not touching a single bit in their code.
  • stereo and a PC

    If the submitter is right, you can't play it anywhere. Uh... whoops
  • if they could played back on any PC they would have to be capable of being played back on a virtual sound driver designed for the purpose.
    And products like totalrecorder []will take them in.

    Harder to copy ? yes .. impossible - NO
  • by jdhutchins ( 559010 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:06PM (#5108622)
    The idea of a copy-protected CD won't work. The only feasible way would to have your computer control everything you do on it (kinda like Soviet Russia), which is what Pallidiam is trying to do.

    If you can play a CD, you can get the raw sound data off of it. From that raw data, you can make an MP3. If the CD is playable anywhere, you can copy it. What's to say someone won't modify their PC CD-ROM drive so it reads the "normal" data that isn't copy-protected. Someone would figure it out sooner or later, and probably sooner rather than later. And if copy-protection is implemented in Pallidiam, then it probably won't be long before someone finds a way around it, knowing Microsoft's record on security.

    • by Steve Cowan ( 525271 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:10PM (#5108656) Journal
      You know that, I know that, Microsoft knows that... but functional and marketable are two different concepts. If Ballmer can go to the head of, say, EMI and say "we've got a solution for you, we've never let you down before", then the record companies will eat that up. Sure it will be defeated, but it will become another Microsoft technology that they will probably make huge $ from in licencing fees.

      And of course, it just won't work.
    • XBOX (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:30PM (#5108760)
      The only feasible way would to have your computer control everything you do on it (kinda like Soviet Russia)

      No... kinda like X-Box.

    • The only feasible way would to have your computer control everything you do on it
      In Soviet Russia, YOU control YOUR COMPUTER!!
      • In Soviet Russia, YOU control YOUR COMPUTER!!

        Then I'm fucking moving to Russia. If I can't have my computer and control it in-depth I don't want any part of it. The fun will be gone. No more linux, no more irc on networks other than aol or msn, no more email without outlook. Just fucking Microsoft.

        It seriously might be a good idea to start buying up parts to black market later. The net will no longer be what it is today, we will probably have to log in to small private networks to get the latest news on what MS is fucking up and see some uncensored material.

        2010 and our choices will be AOL, MSN or Phr34kY'5 Min-Net....

        BLAH - I think my Karma is smoldering

    • Actually, the copy protection layer is a code wheel
      on the CD that you have to slide into the right
      position according to a sticker on the jewel case.
      MS stole the idea from computer games...
    • Actually, CD copy protection is easy. Just have CDROM manufacturers disallow their drives from digitally accessing CDR data. That would allow people to play CDs (through the analog 4-pin cable going to your sound-card), but all piracy would have to be done by recording from the analog source. Forcing people to go the analog route is the best thing copy-control freaks could hope for... It won't stop anything, but it will slow everyone down significantly, and drop the quality a bit in the process.

      Of course, the proverbial cat is out of the bag with CDs and DVDs, but this could be enacted for the next generation of (incompatible) DVD players, and any other drives that come in the future.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:08PM (#5108642)

    I have a copy inhibition scheme too - Sell Crappy Music.

  • by Brian_Ellenberger ( 308720 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:09PM (#5108645)
    This is a very dumb move by Microsoft. Digital media is one of the biggest reasons people are upgrading their computers and operating systems.
    You can run a Word Processor on a PII with Windows 95 without any problems. Ripping and burning CDs are a different story.

    So why on earth would they cave-in to DRM pressure? They shouldn't give a darn what the music industry thinks. Technology is the lifeblood of our economy, both directly and indirectly. The Music industry is a bunch of annoying, overpayed execs and stars. In a PR battle technology would win hands down, especially if the battle was over taking rights away from the consumers.

    My guess is Microsoft wants to monopolize the music and movie industry. They want the next CD you buy to only be playable in a Microsoft OS. Sure they may release some half-hearted buggy specs (for a price).

    Brian Ellenberger
    • No - they want to produce one before one gets mandated on them by the government. If they can point to actions _they_ are taking to prevent what they (Microsoft/RIAA) consider piracy or theft (never mind arguments over the definitions of these terms) they may persuade the governemnt that no action is necessary.

      This probably explains the statements they were making earlier vis a vis mandated DRM.

  • by a8f11t18 ( 614700 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:09PM (#5108648)
    Yes, copying music is sweet because it is free.. but what's even better than it being free is the convenience.. that you can have everything at one place instantly accecible.. now, limit me to an hours' worth of music from one artist per one shiny silver disc, and that becomes a showstopper. I want big playlists of thousands of songs at my convenience instantly playable, nothing else is good enough. That's where they should start.. I still buy CDs, but that is simply because I like to encode my songs myself, as I please. Now, take away my ability to rip these CDs, and what am I left with? That I can play them whenever I want to on my stereo, or even PC?? What good does that do me when I haven't actually played a cd off a cd player in years. It's a BIG HASSLE.
  • by GreyWolf3000 ( 468618 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:09PM (#5108650) Journal
    Microsoft Corp. announced on Saturday the introduction of new digital rights software aimed at helping music labels control unauthorized copying of CDs, one of the biggest thorns in the ailing industry's side.

    Whoa there! How about the fact that people are sick of proprietary software vendors and their expensive update/release cycles? Or in the case of audio media, prices have doubled in 15 years of being on the market, and being forced to lower prices by the justice department (having been shown guilty of essentially collusion and price-fixing).

    Until these companies start listening to the consumers, they'll continue to write their own stories explaining the industries problems that allow them to justify witch-hunts (remember the RIAA seeking authority to hack computers suspected of carrying illegal media?).

    Last year, some resourceful software enthusiasts cracked Sony Music's proprietary technology simply by scribbling a magic marker pen around the edges of the disc, thus enabling playback on any device.

    Something tells me that history will repeat itself here...

    • by Thenomain ( 537937 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @05:53PM (#5109521) Homepage
      Until these companies start listening to the consumers, they'll continue to write their own stories explaining the industries problems that allow them to justify witch-hunts (remember the RIAA seeking authority to hack computers suspected of carrying illegal media?).

      I can't think of a better reason to explain why companies don't listen to customers. Very recently a corporation (too tired to remember who) tried to defend their false earnings reports as being legal. Who or how doesn't matter, the outcome is the same: Many companies attempt to create hype in order to invent demand and justification for inflating prices to the consumers.

      Restricting consumer options must (to their perception) be working else it wouldn't be worth for them to continue this trend. Those board members CEOs and VPs getting big fat bonuses every year probably don't want to risk the unknown.
  • At the heart of the technology is the laying of songs "onto a copy-controlled CD in multiple layers, one that would permit normal playback on a stereo and a PC.""

    And this is going to keep us from recording and copying the music steam how?
  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:12PM (#5108672) Homepage
    Let me guess.. this layer will have to be read, parsed and then the file run with some controls deactivated in Microsoft Windows Media Player(tm) and nothing else. Any other software will gladly ignore it (unless MS intercepts this at the OS level) and burn it just fine. If Windows stops you, go Linux. And then reburn as a 100% plain CD Audio disk. Would be a rather nice thing to add to the "Things Linux do that you can't do on Windows"-list. It's not a very long one really...

    • Any other software will gladly ignore it...

      I agree with the parent that standard CDs can never be fully protected. They should just forcus all their efforts on SACDs and DVD-A. The installed base is just too big. They won't find any way to make it work with all CD players. Unless they just decide that anything older than a few years (like, all the ones that won't read copy protected CDs) are just too old and tell customers "Too bad loser. Buy something new once in a while."

      (unless MS intercepts this at the OS level)

      This is what Sony did (IIRC) with the PS2's Linux kit. To prevent people from copying audio CDs, movies, games, etc, they put a layer in between the Linux kernel and the hardware. This allows them to make it so you can't read CD-Rs and DVD-Rs. So unless MS tries to do this, it's pointless. Even if they do try to lock things at the OS level, you still have Apple and the rest of the world that will probably let users actually USE their PCs (wow! what a concept). To really make this work on all computers, you'd have to have it at the drive firmware level.

      On a side note, there is nothing preventing a user of the PS2 Linux kit from plugging in a USB or Firewire CD or DVD drive and reading copied disks. Maybe MS will screwup just as blatently.

    • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:42PM (#5108814) Homepage Journal
      this layer will have to be read, parsed and then the file run with some controls deactivated in Microsoft Windows Media Player(tm) and nothing else. Any other software will gladly ignore it (unless MS intercepts this at the OS level) and burn it just fine.
      No, I think the intent is that an audio CD player sees one "layer" of bits, and a CD-ROM drive sees an entirely different "layer" of bits. The latter would be a bunch of files in WMP format, safely readable by anyone ... so long as "anyone" listens to the music on only one machine, and runs what Microsoft considers to be a mainstream operating system. A PC would never see the "real music bits" an audio system sees (and an audio system would never see the WMP bits).

      I don't think it will fly. I hope it won't fly.
      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @04:19PM (#5109029) Homepage
        No, I think the intent is that an audio CD player sees one "layer" of bits, and a CD-ROM drive sees an entirely different "layer" of bits.

        As they both only have one laser, operating at the same wavelength. If you want different layers, it'll have to be something like SACD, which has one SACD layer, and one normal CD layer. But SACD players require another laser for this. So unless you want to ban conventional CD-ROMs in favor of only CD-ROM+"DRM laser" players, that's not possible.

      • That would be my thought as well but that might actually kill the idea.

        A lot of the Audio CD drives nowadays (e.g. in DVD Players) use a Data "grade" pickup, as such they would only see the WMP files and couldn't play it back....

        Unless Microsoft convinces all the car manufacturers and DVD producers to enable WMP playback.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Now, yes.

      For how long is an interesting question. Let's talk hypotheticals for a moment.

      Lets say that stage 1 is to get draconian anti-circumvention laws passed around the world. While making sure that the actual wording of the laws are so nebulous and easily manipulated that you can basically make hand-decoding ROT13ed data a criminal offense.

      Now stage 2 is to introduce a series of brain-dead copy protection schemes that could be broken by someone who had been repeatedly dropped on their head as a baby could crack. Make a lot of noise about how worldwide networks of hardened criminals are destroying the economy by ripping, sharing and burning.

      Stage 3 is to throw people off the scent. You know the industry, as in Microsoft (the Software arm of the US Government) and major hardware companies, is working on the DRM to end all DRM schemes but you don't want the governments to get any ieas about regulating what you can inflict on the public. Make a great play about how you don't need legislation covering DRM as you value the rights of the customer, etc, etc. Make sure one of your cronies is noticably absent from the list of good guys though.

      Stage 4 brings in the next stage - the media that you know will be childs play to crack on any system other than the one that your industry buddies are hammering out. Make sure that Windows users using the new DRM system are restricted but other OSes aren't.

      Stage 5. Wait.

      Stage 6 is the trick - these other operating systems are allowing people to get around the copy protection schemes, reducing the effectiveness of crippling Windows users and burning a big hole in the various cartel's pockets. Guess what happens at this stage? Attempts to pass worldwide legislation to outlaw hardware and software that does not implement the DRM features "Good" machines should implement. Claassify anything else as a tool of criminals and terrorists (basically ressurect the SSSCA on a worldwide basis, probably via WIPO).

      Do not get overconfident. This is a war, even the rediculous could prove to be devestating down the line.
    • Hm . . . The machine will probably come with Windows installed by the manufacturer, and that version of Windows will look for the copy protection and respect it. Does that mean that deleting Windows and installing Linux (with media-playing software) would constitute illegal circumvention under the DMCA (in the U.S., of course)?
    • >
      If Windows stops you, go Linux.

      That is, unless TCPA suceeds to the point of making all computers incapable of running anything but certified software, in this case a version of GNU/Linux carefully tailored to obey DRM.

      Or perhaps free CD reader software will be banned as circumvention devices under DMCA.

      Or they will shift the market towards DVD Audio and prosecute a Scandinavian teenager for breaking the encryption.

      Or all three alternatives are true.

    • Would be a rather nice thing to add to the "Things Linux do that you can't do on Windows"-list. It's not a very long one really...

      That's only because of Cygwin. If it wasn't for Unix applications being made to work on Windows, there would be tons of things that Windows users would love to do, but couldn't.

      MPlayer comes to mind...
  • ailing, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bziman ( 223162 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:19PM (#5108704) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft Corp. announced on Saturday the introduction of new digital rights software aimed at helping music labels control unauthorized copying of CDs, one of the biggest thorns in the ailing industry's side.

    Can someone explain to me how an industry that reports record profits, year and year, can be called ailing?? That's like calling Microsoft an "ailing software company" because they have the minor inconvenience of the Justice Department. It's just not relevent.

    Oh wait, I'm not a pirate, because I've never illegally sold someone elses art, and in fact, I am not bound by any agreement with the recording industry with regard to music that I've downloaded off the Internet, any more than I would be for music I taped off the radio!


    • Demographics yo. 'Record profits' are generally the result of sales hype, inflation, and overly simplistic accounting reports (read: people who look at the 'bottom line' profits and nothing else).

      Now, I'm not in the music industry, but I used to work at the National Opinion Research Center [], and we were doing some statistical analysis which was related to this topic. So, I'll give my 2 cents, and attempt to answer your question.

      Anyhow, as I understand it, fewer and fewer CD/albums are generating positive returns on investment. At the same time, more and more CD/albums are being produced. The fact which seems to be keeping the industry alive is that when a CD/album does generate a return on investment, the return can be extremely large. In fact, the return on investment is increasing for those albums which do generate a positive return. (Mostly due to an increasing world-wide population, an increase in potential consumers, world-wide communication networks, and peer-to-peer network phenomenas. )

      For example, consider Eminem. Selling more CDs than anybody else around. Who has ever heard of a CD selling over 1M copies, in its first week?! But he did it. Now then, I know my estimations are inexact, but figure that 1M x $20 = $20M in one week, from one product. That number (or a similar one) is what the industry reports as a record profit.

      Behind that number (and similar numbers reported, which include record-label and industry-wide sums of sales/product) are tens of thousands of titles which are lucky to sell 1,000 copies per year. Over time, those tens of thousands of titles become part of the hundreds of thousands of titles which are lucky to sell 100 copies per year. Which then become part of the millions of titles which are lucky to sell 10 copies a year.

      Now then, as to your question: The music recording industry actually is ailing (as an industry), because they've lost what economists call a 'moat'. That is, they don't have any protection from other competitors getting into the business. As an industry, they don't have something which protects them from Microsoft, Apple, or Linux competing with them (read: Independent Labels.)

      Now, if the recording industry were not ailing, and were healthy, here would be the situation:

      Every CD produced sold exactly N copies +/- 10% of N. For example, every CD would sell 90,000 to 110,000 copies. No more, no less. There would be approximately M titles produced per year. If a new employee was hired by the company, they would produce 'M + 10' or 'M + x' titles to offset the wages and cost of the new employee. In addition, the industry would use proprietary technology, which nobody had access to, and nobody else could produce compact disks. Those people in the CD industry would be the CD producers, and nobody else got to participate in the game. That is how the industry would be structured if it were healthy.

      But, that's not the way it is, now is it?

      All things considered, Microsoft getting into this business is very bad news for the recording industry. For the record labels, it just means another major player who wants a cut of the pie, which is already spread too thin as it is. It also means that anybody who buys a Microsoft Small Business Server license can start up not just an 'Independent Label' but, rather, a medium sized recording label. Put another way, the small fish have just gotten bigger.
      • I'm not sure I buy into the idea that more and more CDs are being produced - for one thing, once the initial production is paid for, maintaining a catalog is essentially free. So the only real cost is new albums. Second, the major cost of procuding an album is (I assume) promotion - I don't know the actual breakdowns, but I know how much advertising spots cost, and I know how much experienced engineers cost, and the first will be a shitload more for the major promotion that goes into a pop album. Third, the industries obvious response to a situation like this is to stop signing artists they don't think they can sell - in other words, who aren't worth boatloads of promotional money. This has already happened, as you can see by the plethora of pre-produced bands - these aren't musicians who worked the scene and sent out demos and eventually got a major record deal, they're concept bands that are designed and polished from day one for success. Stuff like American Idol and that thing with Puffy.

        I also disagree rather strongly with your definition of a healthy industry - a total lockin like that is enormously UN-healthy. A healthy insdustry is one that consistently makes a profit, that's all. It doesn't have to keep growing, it doesn't have to continually make more money, all it has to do is consistently make money. If it's doing that, it's health, and the recording industry certainly is that.

    • Oh wait, I'm not a pirate, because I've never illegally sold someone elses art ...

      You're redefining the law there. Violations of copyright law are hardly restricted to the sale of someone else's work.

      And I don't know why an agreement with the record companies would be relevant. You don't sign a paper that says, "I promise to follow ___ law."
  • Any flavour of DRM ignores the fact that I can still plug my conventional CD player into my LINE IN jack on my sound card, and get a decent recording.

    The ultimate solution to revive the recording industry is NOT copy-protection. Ultimately, the industry must figure out how to serve the consumer's desires (this is the basis of all business and economics practices, something that the RIAA among others must have forgotten). What other industry can produce a product that is 90% crap and 10% okay, and expect the consumer to willingly pay for all 100% of it? If this were the standard business model, our Dell computers would be running P4-2.5 GHz processors with 64K RAM and 50 MB hard drives, and we would pay $3000 for them! The recording industry must acknowledge that if consumers are not willing to pay for its product, there is something wrong with (a) the product or (b) the distribution strategy (the 90%/10% ratio). I would have no problems shelling out $20 for a CD if it had more than one or two good songs on it.

    By the way, the recording industry in Canada has managed to lobby a 20% levy [] on each blank CD-R that is sold (21 cents on a $1 CD). That eliminated the last moral reservations I had with copying music (now that the artists get my money anyway), and I bet one could mount a substantive legal defense if one were ever charged with copyright infringement based on that fee.

  • "It enables music labels to lay songs onto a copy-controlled CD in multiple layers, one that would permit normal playback on a stereo and a PC"
    s/PC/PC running Windoze/
  • 1. Lock the recording industry into the Redmond One-Ring (TM) licensing system.
    2. ...
    3. Profit!
  • It sounds like what Microsoft has done with its "layering" scheme is to have non-redbook audio which can't be seen by computers, and equivalent WMA data files that are restricted to refuse copying. Thus playback on older CD players and Windows PC's would be preserved, but CDROM based players and car players would still be SOL. (The article never mentions the viability of Car-based playback). Because this would rely upon existing microsoft technology, it would tend to preserve their hegemony without a significant expenditure of cash. Note that it says Microsoft has invested 500 million in DRM technology, which (after taking into account creative marketing accountants) would be reasonable to cover their existing WMA software, servers, playback devices, marketing, Palladium, etc.

    Unfortunately, as I mentioned such a scheme doesn't do anything for newer CD player playback, Car CD playback, or Linux playback, or Mac playback, and (of course) still doesn't allow you to consolidate your music collection onto one computer or bring it with you on a Rio (solid state music being essential for certain activities, such as jogging or mountain biking).

    So, in essence, Microsoft has offered a solution that would increase the reliance upon Microsoft products, and would increase the cost of transitioning away from them. TBNT.

    (Hmmm... now where did that old single-speed CD ROM without error checking go?)

    - C

  • by Anonymous Coward
    While my better instincts counsel me to follow a policy of laissez-faire, there are a couple of Microsoft's statements I feel I cannot let pass. First things first: Microsoft is willing to promote truth and justice when it's convenient. But when it threatens its creature comforts, Microsoft throws principle to the wind. Microsoft can fool some of the people all of the time. It can fool all of the people some of the time. But it can't fool all of the people all of the time. The long and short of it is that corrupt Neanderthals are unable to see that one could argue that unconscionable litterbugs have traditionally tried to piggyback on substantive issues to gain legitimacy for themselves. That's self-evident, and even Microsoft would probably agree with me on that. Even so, I do not have the time, in one sitting, to go into the long answer as to why behind its mask of benevolence stands a complete plan for world government, world power, world conquest, and the promotion of nefarious negativism. But the short answer is that it is doing everything in its power to make me fall into the trap of thinking that all major world powers are controlled by a covert group of "insiders". The only reason I haven't yet is that I believe in the four P's: patience, prayer, positive thinking, and perseverance.

    It is hard to decide what is stronger in Microsoft: its incredible stupidity as far as any real knowledge or ability is concerned, or the gormless insolence of its behavior. Microsoft will defy the rules of logic long before it can convert me into one of its assistants. As I mentioned before, fatuous clericalism is one of the most effective tools of tyranny. But let me add that I cannot promise not to be angry at it. I do promise, however, to try to keep my anger under control, to keep it from leading me -- as it leads Microsoft -- to borrow money and spend it on programs that turn us into easy prey for clumsy Microsoft clones.

    We must expose Microsoft's machinations for what they really are. Only then can a society free of its salacious hatchet jobs blossom forth from the roots of the past. And only then will people come to understand that it uses the word "flocinauinihilipilification" without ever having taken the time to look it up in the dictionary. Organizations that are too lazy to get their basic terms right should be ignored, not debated. At first, Microsoft just wanted to con us into believing that it is the one who will lead us to our great shining future. Then, it tried to corrupt our youth. Who knows what it'll do next? It's an interesting question, and its examination will help us understand how Microsoft's policies work. Let me start by providing evidence that when Microsoft tells us that the most foolish louts I've ever seen are all inherently good, sensitive, creative, and inoffensive, it somehow fails to mention that anger is contagious. It fails to mention that all it wants is to demonstrate an outright hostility to law enforcement. And it fails to mention that it is reluctant to resolve problems. It always just looks the other way and hopes no one will notice that I'm willing to accept that its worshippers are in league with unbridled kooks who portray meretricious wackos as spoilsports. I'm even willing to accept that it contributes nothing to society. But its hypocrisy is transparent. Even the least discerning among us can see right through it.

    It is imperative that all of us in this community provide people the wherewithal to stand up and fight for our heritage, traditions, and values. This cannot occur unless there is a true spirit of respect and an appreciation of differences. Throughout history, there has been a clash between those who wish to announce that we may need to picket, demonstrate, march, or strike to stop Microsoft before it can stretch credulity beyond the breaking point and those who wish to seize control of the power structure. Naturally, Microsoft belongs to the latter category.

    I don't want to overstate this point, but if Microsoft gets its way, I might very well lose my temper. Microsoft is too vulgar to read the writing on the wall. This writing warns that I've heard of unambitious things like diabolism and racism. But I've also heard of things like nonviolence, higher moralities, and treating all beings as ends in and of themselves -- ideas which its ignorant, unthinking, pea-brained brain is too small to understand. In closing, all that I ask is that you join me to stop Microsoft and turn Microsoft's sinister drug-induced ravings to our advantage.
  • by droopus ( 33472 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:40PM (#5108804)
    Ok, we know that a significant percentage of MP3s online did not come from a ripped CD that someone purchased, but rather, from an advance copy, studio DAT, recording studio leak, label leak, manufacturing leak or other non-consumer source. That's no surprise to anyone, and nicely illustrated by unmastered advances (3 months early) of the last Korn and Pearl Jam CDs.

    So, exactly how is this expensive MS technology going to affect that content stream? It won't. All it will do is complicate matters for people who actually are honest and purchase the CD.

    Also, as someone else mentioned, if the playback device has 2 RCA jacks or a pair of cannon connectors, anyone can get a great copy via analog. Hey, there are already "Analog Rip" options in many major media applications, so what's the point here?

    Rule 1: the audio degradation caused by analog copying is LESS than that caused by MP3 compression. So...I don't care what fancy DRM they bring out, if you can hear it, you can copy and distribute it.
  • Great... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does this mean I'll have to renew the license on my music CDs every two years?

    And will there be a logo on my CD that says "Designed for MusicXP"?

  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @03:41PM (#5108813) Homepage

    Someone came up with an ingenious way to circumvent the new copy protection scheme. Rumor has it you can buy a strand of copper, and push one end of it in a special socket labelled "Audio Out", and then take the other end of this same strand of copper and connect it up to the "Audio In" socket on the recording device.

    Apparently, the theory is, the electrons inside the strand of copper get so excited that they begin to affect neighboring atoms in sort of a cascading fashion.. This happens zillions of times per second, as fluctuations in signal level travel through the copper core of the strand. In order to prevent this power from getting out of hand, they've even got stuff in development right now that uses a vinyl plastic or rubberized outer coating.

    Totally fucking awesome. I want one!

    No word yet on how much these strange "copper strands" are going to cost (probably hundreds of thousands of dollars considering how difficult it is to create a long, thin, flexible piece of copper in the lab, but, i'm sure the price will go down with time. Regardless, Microsoft aught to be shaking in their boots by now!
    • by blibbleblobble ( 526872 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @05:03PM (#5109244)
      "Rumor has it you can buy a strand of copper [wire] and push one end of it in a special socket labelled "Audio Out""

      I suggest that a better circumvention mechanism would be to get a much larger piece of copper, and push one end of it in a special socket labelled "Jack Valentini".

  • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <> on Saturday January 18, 2003 @04:01PM (#5108894) Homepage
    Until I have the right to go to a store with a tape, or damaged cd, and can get as many copies on the media of my choice for only the cost of the media itself, I say that any 'copy protection' is utter bullshit.

    Do I own the cd? the content? both? If the RIAA has its way, I don't own anything I buy. Ridiculous.

  • The bbspot released an article about Microsoft's CDS initiative (cant do sh*t)... which i thought was pretty funny.. but seems to be coming true ;)

    MS CDS initiative [] from BBspot
  • Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chris Canfield ( 548473 ) <`slashdot' `at' `'> on Saturday January 18, 2003 @04:17PM (#5109015) Homepage
    It's amazing how, in the face of lowered demand and lowered sales, the Music Industry response has been to make their product LESS valuable to an end consumer. $15 for 1 hour of music that can be used across all of the devices in my home, car, and at work is a lot more compelling than $15 dollars for 1 hour of music that can only be listened to in the living room.
  • Weird protection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Saturday January 18, 2003 @04:19PM (#5109028) Journal
    the laying of songs "onto a copy-controlled CD in multiple layers, one that would permit normal playback on a stereo and a PC."

    I guess we all need more technical information for this not to sound like a real dumbass copy protection. :-) Or is there a difference between "normal playback" and "copy" that I missed?
  • Pardon me if i'm being a complete moron here, but i simply don't see how any copy protection scheme for any audio or video playback devide could ever succeed.

    That was a big sentence, so i think i'm going to repeat it:
    i simply do not see how copy protection on audio and video could ever work
    My argument goes something like this - for playback of an audio file to happen, a digital signal (typical for CDs is 2 16b channels per song) is read by the device, and transformed into an analog signal, which is then piped to speakers. Similarly, an identical digital-to-analog conversion takes place when an image is displayed on your monitor or your tv or whatever.
    there is nothing that prevents the interruption and recording of that analog signal before it hits the speakers - or even removing the speakers and replacing them with a recording device.
    of course, my argument may be flawed, and i'm no electrical engineer... comments, corrections are welcome.
    • You are absolutely right. With todays A/D equipment the quality loss is less than when converting from CD to mp3/ogg when tapping into the speakers. Many soundcards have a digital output that sounds like the original, no loss there.

      Simply put there are no way to technically prevent pirating. Its just a waste of consumers money (altough many companies have forgot who pays their profits).

      The only way to stop pirating is getting the public to like you enough to WANT to pay.
  • They will sell this in conjunction with their "WindowsCE(r) Powered" cars. Sooo this CD of theirs can play, just not on your normal CD player. For now, you can play only on these cars [] and hope the stereo will keep the volume level the same throughout the CD and not suddenly shift your gear or open your trunk.

    But then again, I think they can sell CDs that can modify your engine setting on the fly! This thing could then actually be useful for something. Screw AAA, my car can fix itself.

  • by miffo.swe ( 547642 ) <daniel.hedblom@g m a> on Saturday January 18, 2003 @05:18PM (#5109303) Homepage Journal
    One would think they had got the idea by now but no, lets keep trying to make that perpetual machine! The holy grail of the music industry is a bedtime story never to be fulfilled in real life.

    1. If you can listen and see you can copy.
    2. The quality isnt as important as the content.
    3. Restrictions in use applies mostly to legit buyers since the not so legit users tends to use nonrestricted copies.
    4. Pissing of legit customers tend to make them not pay for the goods.
    5. If there are two versions of the same goods and one of them is unusable what do people choose?

    They can never ever succeed in making a hackproof music or video format. All they can do is push their legit buyers over to pirating. I think that is a very stupid thing to do if you have a music business. Then again, not using the net to distribute music back in 1997 was a pretty stupid move too.
  • *Note i'm recycling this post I made a few weeks back*

    At the bottom of my sig, you'll see the mag I donate my webmastering skills too. We're a local zine for the silicon valley music scene.

    Before ppl ask "SV has a music scene?" remember, bands like green day come out of here. Our music scene is totally different than that of L.A.'s a.k.a. Hollywood. I can't describe it, because I see everything as data, but I can tell you what the musicians are fearing.

    So today, i'm riding around delivering the latest issue of Zero with one of our big bosses. Boss delivering zines you ask? It's hard times, everyone is pulling double effort.

    Anyways, this cat is a musician, and .5 owner of the zine. When we went to the different bay area wherehouse music stores today, we found out some alarming news.

    All Wherehouse music stores around our area are shutting down... We have noticed a trend too, less people in other music stores.

    So who's to blame? Napster? The economy? Pirates?

    Well, my partner started asking questions about the technology. He's what I would call a reforming luddite (yeah strong words but he'd agree with me) "Isn't there some way they could make a CD so it's uncopyable?" he asked. I explained to him as long as there was some sort of digital, to a speaker coil coversion, the RIAA will never be able to stamp out piracy.

    "Well who the fuck would want to download a shitty copy of a song then!" he chirped.

    "The same fucks that would bring a camera into AOTC's, compress it to mpeg and share it over kazaa" I replied.

    Stumped, he went back to his first question. After repeating that there had to be some way of doing it 3 times I answered..

    "Yeah, if they could convince everyone to replace their ears with DRM enabled digital implants, then yeah the RIAA has a chance"

    Well, he got the point after that. So he moved onto "How do you stamp out P2P?"

    I put it into another analogy for him. Napster with it's central peer topology is much like a football team with 1 quarterback. You sack the quarterback.. You sack the network.

    "So the RIAA can just sack kazaa right?"

    "No, Kazaa would be the equivelent of every player on the team being both QB and reciever"

    See, our zine stays alive by record lables having the money to buy adspace from us. If the record lables are losing money from P2P it affects us because they've yet to evolve to the net.

    "What should they do?"

    Personally, I think the record lables should ditch CD production altogether now. They should make songs freely downloadable. Fuck it, cut their losses.

    But rather than look at it like a loss, the record industry should take a Las Vegas approach to it. Just use the music as a "comp" to milk money out of people in other ways.

    For instance, that $50 dollar green day ticket, fuck it, if people won't buy the albums anymore, double it. I think people wouldn't care if they had to pay more for live performances. I'm biased because I do get in for free, and don't have any money to pay for tickets anyways. I'm 30 years old in feburary and am perfectly content to staying at home.

    The market is really for 14-25 year olds. Those are the people with expendable cash. They live at home, don't have a mortgage, and can afford $100 bucks to see a live performance. With the rate of inflation over the last 10 years, $100 doesn't really seem like a lot to me to see a big headliner band if I had no financial obligations.

    I'm the oldest of 6, my youngest siblings are more at home in the computer enviroment than I ever was at their age. The RIAA doesn't realize this yet, but their biggest age group has a huge understanding of internet distribution, and they will never be able to beat it. That's just an unfortunate fact about it.

    So to recap the RIAA should...

    Cut back CD production,
    Raise the price of live performances
    Focus on promotion more than CD distribution.

    Well, it's 3:30, and after a night of bouncing 300lb pac islanders from my karaoke bar, I need some sleep. Slash you in the morning and I hope your friday was as fun as mine.

  • When are they going to finally understand that anything you can play can be copied, and anything you can't play won't make money??? Instead of every industry learning the hard way, they should all learn from Hollywood's example: initially, they fought VHS technology, but when they *finally* figured out that they could make money through rentals, they rolled with it and now make far more than they ever would have without VHS.
  • Question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Viceice ( 462967 ) on Sunday January 19, 2003 @10:34AM (#5112942)
    Lets say this is implimented. Since it's on the OS level, it'll be kinda hard to bypass and since there is nolonger a lower level OS like DOS running below XP, what if things moved to the hardware level?

    Whats to stop peopel from creating a cheap PCI device, much akin to a PS2 mod chip (without the licensing shit), where it will intercept the CD-DA signal from the CD-ROM drive's Digital Audio cable, and create a WAV from it just as if it were captured from the Analog inputs, but without the DAC->ADC loss? Hell, all you really need is to reprogram a cheap soundcard and it'll do the trick.

    Even better if you had a board that intercepts via the IDE cable.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents