[free-sklyarov] The next battle: Copy-protected CDs

Richard M. Smith rms at computerbytesman.com
Wed Dec 19 15:04:11 PST 2001


This message is a little off-topic, but I think folks will be interested
never-the-less.  Attached is an email that I just sent off to Jim
Weatherson, a VP at Universal Music Group, explaining why I think that
copy-protected audio CDs are a bad idea.

Does anyone know if it is technically possible to create ripper software
that works-around the defective tracks on a protected CD?  Do we think
such software will run into troubles with the DMCA?  Will Elcomsoft
write such software? ;-)

Richard M. Smith

-----Original Message-----
From: Richard M. Smith [mailto:rms at computerbytesman.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2001 4:15 PM
To: 'jim.weatherson at umusic.com'
Cc: 'ran at midbartech.com'; 'marjie hadad'; 'umg at umusic.com';
'rms at computerbytesman.com'
Subject: Why doesn't Universal want my business anymore?

Hi Jim,

I have been a great customer of the music industry for more than 35
years, but I am now confused why Universal Music Group no longer wants
my business.  Here's my situation.  I store my entire CD collection as
MP3 files on a Nomad Jukebox from Creative Labs.  I use the unit both
with my home stereo system and in my car.  I no longer have an audio CD
player hooked up to my stereo.

The Nomad Jukebox can hold about 450 audio CDs.  I like the convenience
of being able to carry around my entire CD collection in a small 2-pound
portable unit.

It currently is only about half full and I am the process of buying more
CDs to fill it up. 

Today I purchased the CD "More Fast and Furious" from Universal and was
not able to use the ripping software on my PC to copy the CD to my Nomad
Jukebox.  The problem, of course, is that the CD uses the Cactus
"protection" scheme which makes the CD unplayable by computer music
software by intentionally introducing defective tracks on a CD.
According to the sticker on the back-side CD cover, the protection
scheme is to prevent unauthorized copying.  Of course, as the owner of
the CD, the one copy I want to make is completely legit.  

I will be returning the CD to the Tower Records to get my money back.
However, I am concerned that if copy-protection of audio CDs catches on,
I will no longer be able to buy them.  I really think that Universal is
being extremely short-sighted here by embracing copy-protection of audio
CDs.  The move to digital music players is inevitable, and I believe
copy-protection schemes will simply force more people to illegal

The movie industry attempted to shut-down the VCR twenty years ago
because of similar concerns about wholesale copying of movies.  Luckily
they failed in this effort and consumers and the industry now both enjoy
a whole new market for movies on prerecorded tapes.  

My one plea with this email message is for Universal to stop using
copy-protection schemes on CDs.  I don't believe it is good for the
consumer and will not work out either for Universal or the rest of the
music industry over the long haul.

Richard M. Smith

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