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EMI Considers Abandoning DRM on CDs 166

jOmill writes "EMI Netherlands has announced that it is considering no longer using DRM on CDs, because it isn't worth the cost. According to Reuters the company is still reviewing the decision. From the article: 'Critics have argued that the system has not worked as consumers could be driven to illegal sites to download music to the popular iPod instead. A spokeswoman for EMI said it had not manufactured any new disks with DRM, which restricts consumers from making copies of songs and films they have purchased legally, for the last few months.'"
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EMI Considers Abandoning DRM on CDs

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  • by symbolic ( 11752 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @11:43AM (#17522936)
    But did hell freeze over?

    Finally, they're starting to get a clue. I do not advocate pirating music in any way. However, I think it's equally, if not more insidious, that commercial interests are making it very difficult for consumers to *want* to do the right thing. This is a step in the right direction. *AA....are you listening?
  • Re:Great Day (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @11:45AM (#17522968)
    It might be beneficial to all if their sales actually went up. Especially if they were so informed as to why people were buying cds from them again.
  • Re:Duh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @11:46AM (#17522984) Journal

    Managment listens to these stupid sales pitches for products like this, and buys into the promises.

    Salesmen (especially software salesmen) are more dangerous to a company than any competitor.
  • by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:08PM (#17523260) Homepage Journal
    In the article, it says that the DRM'd CDs were sold primarily outside of the U.S.. I suspect this was because of the headaches and lawsuits they knew would likely plague them in the United States. But now with the globalization fueled by the internet, I can imagine that more and more U.S. consumers were importing these DRM'd CDs perhaps after discovering a foreign artist via their music downloaded from the internet. If that's even partially true, then it would be more proof in support of the notion that "sharing" music over the internet is actually growing the market. Making music easier to get legitimately will be a win for the music industry in the long run, if they can get over their CD and DRM fixations.
  • Re:Great Day (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gr8Apes ( 679165 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:11PM (#17523304)
    That would require them to have "good" artists.

    The primary reason that people stop buying new CDs is because there are no good CDs being produced. I'd have lots of trouble naming 1 great CD that came out in the last 6 months (even though I've bought a couple).
  • by norminator ( 784674 ) on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:30PM (#17523532)
    Has anybody actually bought a CD that they could not rip?
    I've never seen one that I couldn't easily rip songs from....

    I had a Foo Fighters CD that I got as a gift which was labeled as an "enhanced" CD. The first time I put it in my PC at home, I forgot to hold down the shift key, and I wasn't able to rip it on that computer (although the software on the CD wanted to "give" me a set of protected files for all of the songs, which I would only be able to listen to with their proprietary player). I ripped the CD under Linux on my laptop, then again on my work PC in Windows. Also with this CD, it was supposed to have some kind of bonus content that would connect to 'somebody' over the Internet to authenticate the CD in order to unlock the bonus content. That never worked on any PC I tried it on, the authentication always failed.

    So there were two disappointments on that disc: 1) If you don't hold down the shift key, you won't be able to rip it (under Windows) and 2) the broken bonus content. I like the music on the CD, though... it's too bad that they have to muck it all up with DRM under the guise of extra features that don't work.
  • I posted about this earlier on []

    Ithink that the last major UK EMI release with DRM was Coldplay's X&Y back in 2005, any other releases I noticed on EMI was on the budget/reissue EMI Gold label, which was usually sold at about £2.99 in the bargain bin's at Sainsburys (a posher version of Walmart for our American chums ;) )

    Why they kept it on the cheap stuff and not the latest releases I don't know, I suspect they were trying to see how many returns as "faulty" they would get on the budget range, maybe it was too high a percentage and they decided the cost of the returns on a big selling CD was too high.

    They used to have a pro-drm site at [] printed on the DRM'd CD's but they seem to have pulled it.

    Funny to see how cocky the record companies were back in 2002 compared to now - ll_be_protected/ []

  • Re:Great Day (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:39PM (#17523672)
    Indeed I have purchased a CD that I could not rip. In fact, it was an EMI published CD, and the last CD I ever purchased.

    Everyone here knows the cat and mouse game that has existed between consumers who want to exercise their fair use rights, and publishers who want to prevent "casual copying." For years, none of this affected me. I purchased CDs on occasion, a couple a year usually. I've even purchased a few "copy protected" CDs with the bullshit data track. These methods were laughable. Despite this "copy protection" I bought these CDs, brought them home, trivially ripped them to MP3s, and loaded them onto my MP3 player.

    Then two years ago I purchased Massive Attack's "Danny the Dog" soundtrack which I believe was published by EMI. It used a different method of copy protection than the bullshit data track that was common at the time. Instead, it contained a corrupted C2-error stream, a violation of the redbook audio standard.

    The purpose of the error stream is to provide the CD player with a means of detecting when it has read erroneous data from the main audio track and allow the CD player to interpolate samples instead of producing an audible skip. The intent of the error stream was to improve the robustness of CD players even when there minor disc damage was present. Great idea, right?

    Well, some folks noticed that CD-ROM drives, by large, acknowledge the C2-error stream as they should. However, most cheaper CD players made in the past few years ignore the error stream entirely, since it's not necessary for playback (although it may improve the playback quality in less than ideal environments) and costs more to support. These folks figured that, if you write an intentionally corrupted C2-error stream, then the CD can't be ripped properly in a CD-ROM drive (it makes clicking noises a few times a second), but would work fine in "most" CD players.

    I wasn't aware of this copy protection until after I bought the disk and tried (unsuccessfully) to rip it. At the time, I thought "that's odd." But, then I tried it in other CD players around the house and discovered it wouldn't work in any CD player I owned. It didn't work in my computer, in my car, in my mid-80s Sony model, anything. Eventually I did find a cheap boombox that it did work in, but what good was that to me?

    I was furious. I already knew copy protection was bullshit, but I didn't care because the techniques practiced at the time were laughable at best. However, to intentionally cripple a product, violating the very standard that it was supposed to adhere to, was a slap in the face to both me as a consumer and as an engineer. I couldn't really have known that it was crippled either, sure it didn't have the Compact Disc logo on the case, but many cases no longer featured the logo on the outside. Furthermore, it didn't say anything on the outside about how "this was a copyprotected disc and may not play right in all CD players" or something to that effect.

    Realizing that I would never again be able to purchase a CD with confidence that it would be useful to me in my terms (allow me to rip it), or even play it, I vowed that day to cease any support of the recording industry. I managed through patience and luck to return the CD to Best Buy (another story in itself), and have not purchased a single CD (or any other form of music) since. EMI's copyprotection backfired on me, all it did was breed resentment, and cost them lost future sales. I doubt my experience was isolated, and I hope that anyone else who was inconvenienced, or rather cheated, to the same degree that I was also decided to stand up to them.

    The irony of this whole story is that I originally downloaded the "Danny the Dog" soundtrack months before it was released. I never saw the movie, which I believe came out a few months after the soundtrack. Instead, my first exposure to the soundtrack was from the pirate scene. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to support the artist and the label by purchasing it upon releas
  • by beezly ( 197427 ) <beezly.beezly@org@uk> on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @12:59PM (#17523946) Homepage
    Maybe they realised it was a waste of time because it doesn't work.

    This may just be my experience, but I haven't come across a single CD (including some which are explicitly marked as having some sort of "Copy Protection" on them) which didn't rip first time in my PC. There's nothing special about my drive (I've used an old Matsushita DVD drive and a Plextor DVD Re-writer). Maybe it's because I am running Linux, but as far as I can tell, CD-Ex on Windows would work equally well as anything I am using under Linux.
  • Good (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 09, 2007 @01:19PM (#17524282)

    consumers could be driven to illegal sites to download music

    My favourite band are signed to EMI, and their last album was DRM-infested. I emailed them to tell them that, although I had bought all their previous albums, I'd be downloading their new one illegally because it works better. They intentionally crippled their own product to the point where unpaid pirates actually delivered a better service than the multi-billion pound international corporation.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.