September 12, 2003 11:12 AM PDT

Copy-protected CDs take step forward

For the first time in the United States, BMG Music will release a music CD that's loaded with anticopying protection, a move that opens a new round of technological experimentation for record labels.

BMG division Arista Records will include "copy management" protections produced by SunnComm Technologies on soul artist Anthony Hamilton's new album, the company said Friday. Although the label has previously released promotional copies of various CDs with copy protection, this will be the first major test of consumers' reaction to the latest generation of the anticopying technology.

"The consumer experience is BMG's top priority," BMG Chief Strategic Officer Thomas Hesse said. "Because of improvements in the?technology, it is now possible to offer consumers the level of flexibility to which they have become accustomed, while beginning to better protect our artists' rights."

Though unlikely to signal an immediate flood of similar releases, BMGs actions do open a new chapter for the United States labels' flirtation with copy-proof CDs.

Most major labels have said they are deeply interested in technologies from companies such as SunnComm and rival Macrovision, but they've been concerned enough about compatibility problems with various computers and consumer electronics, along with consumer backlash issues, to refrain from many releases in the United States.

By contrast, Macrovision says elsewhere in the world--primarily Europe and Japan--more than 150 million discs have been manufactured with its copy-protection technology.

The new generation of anticopying techniques is more sophisticated than early methods. Along with simple locks that prevent CD ripping and copying, the Hamilton disc includes computer-ready files that can be transferred to a PC, a Macintosh computer and many MP3 players.

Unlike the MP3 files traditionally created from unprotected CDs, these "pre-ripped" files will be wrapped in their own digital rights management protections that keep them from being swapped online and restrict some other actions. Buyers will be able to burn three copies of these songs onto their own CDs, however. The disc will also provide a link that can be shared with other people, who can download copies of the album's music and then listen to it for 10 days.

Analysts said the news did signal a more advanced round of experimentation but that it would likely be some time before large numbers of copy-protected albums were released in the United States.

"I would think the industry would not want to do a major rollout now, given what's happening with the (recording industry's) lawsuits," said independent digital media analyst Phil Leigh, citing the Recording Industry Association of America's legal push against file swappers earlier this week. "That would be a second major aggressive action. I would think they would do these things one at a time."

The Anthony Hamilton album, called "Comin' From Where I'm From," will be released Sept. 23.

12 comments

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Thanks but no thanks
This strategy simply highlights the fact that the music industry JUST DOES NOT GET IT! Would a consumer really want the pre-ripped version of the song that's in a low-bitrate WMA format (probably 128kbps). I don't think so. For a start, many people own iPods (even though I don't personally like them) and iPods cannot play the WMA format. MP3 is the only way of guaranteeing cross-player compatibility. Secondly, I know that people will prefer a high bitrate (~ 256kbps) VBR file that's been ripped straight from the original CD track. Thirdly, consumers just don't want to be restricted to what they can do (why a 3 CD burn limit? I may want to make 4 or more compilations). Fourthly, what if I upgrade/reinstall/break/buy a new computer or mp3 player? I'm clearly going to be faced with the inherent problems with DRM.

Whatever protections are put on, someone will always find a way of cracking it. Look at Macrovision on VHS - I can buy an adaptor from my local electronics store to crack it. The CSS system on DVDs - a guy called "DVD Jon" had it cracked soon for everyone to make DVD cracking programs. Now I hear that the main reason for the delay and expense in Blu-Ray and the PS3 is that they're trying to improve the AACS encryption system on the discs. Why bother investing millions in such technologies when a hacker will crack it in a month or so?

I believe that if the music and film industries really want to cut their losses, they should a) stop pouring money into pointless protection and DRM technologies and b) use the money saved from this to invest in better content that CONSUMERS WILL ACTUALLY WANT. It's a simple economics principle - if you supply something that consumers don't demand, the result will be low sales and low profits. All they need to understand is that THIS is what is driving down their profit margins and fuelling piracy.

These are my two cents :)
Posted by r3loaded-204415452899605865728 (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks but no thanks
This strategy simply highlights the fact that the music industry JUST DOES NOT GET IT! Would a consumer really want the pre-ripped version of the song that's in a low-bitrate WMA format (probably 128kbps). I don't think so. For a start, many people own iPods (even though I don't personally like them) and iPods cannot play the WMA format. MP3 is the only way of guaranteeing cross-player compatibility. Secondly, I know that people will prefer a high bitrate (~ 256kbps) VBR file that's been ripped straight from the original CD track. Thirdly, consumers just don't want to be restricted to what they can do (why a 3 CD burn limit? I may want to make 4 or more compilations). Fourthly, what if I upgrade/reinstall/break/buy a new computer or mp3 player? I'm clearly going to be faced with the inherent problems with DRM.

Whatever protections are put on, someone will always find a way of cracking it. Look at Macrovision on VHS - I can buy an adaptor from my local electronics store to crack it. The CSS system on DVDs - a guy called "DVD Jon" had it cracked soon for everyone to make DVD cracking programs. Now I hear that the main reason for the delay and expense in Blu-Ray and the PS3 is that they're trying to improve the AACS encryption system on the discs. Why bother investing millions in such technologies when a hacker will crack it in a month or so?

I believe that if the music and film industries really want to cut their losses, they should a) stop pouring money into pointless protection and DRM technologies and b) use the money saved from this to invest in better content that CONSUMERS WILL ACTUALLY WANT. It's a simple economics principle - if you supply something that consumers don't demand, the result will be low sales and low profits. All they need to understand is that THIS is what is driving down their profit margins and fuelling piracy.

These are my two cents :)
Posted by r3loaded-204415452899605865728 (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Futility
"once it is out-it is out!" once they release there protected CD/DVD's it will only be a matter of days before one of the millions of computer savv 14 year olds yearning for recognition crack it....Every single copy protection has been cracked... not to mention that anyone with a sound card of any quality can just rip the music sraight from the wire as it goes to the speakers...regardless of what protection it uses..So long as you can listen to the CD it is not safe.. not to mention games...all people will do is make images of the dvd's and CD's and install and drop a crack of the .EXE file to make it not need a CD/DVD at all.And even then who says CD's are the only source of music...all it takes is one person to download it from rhapsody and copy it and drop it on a P2P network...

I truely believe the only reason they keep these new securities coming is to try and discourage crackers...And make it look as though they are continualy working against piracy..So thy don't seem like they are giving up..

MPAA & RIAA i truely feel for you..you are fighting a battle you can't win...but at any rate good luck on your execise in futility.
Posted by behemuthzero (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Futility
"once it is out-it is out!" once they release there protected CD/DVD's it will only be a matter of days before one of the millions of computer savv 14 year olds yearning for recognition crack it....Every single copy protection has been cracked... not to mention that anyone with a sound card of any quality can just rip the music sraight from the wire as it goes to the speakers...regardless of what protection it uses..So long as you can listen to the CD it is not safe.. not to mention games...all people will do is make images of the dvd's and CD's and install and drop a crack of the .EXE file to make it not need a CD/DVD at all.And even then who says CD's are the only source of music...all it takes is one person to download it from rhapsody and copy it and drop it on a P2P network...

I truely believe the only reason they keep these new securities coming is to try and discourage crackers...And make it look as though they are continualy working against piracy..So thy don't seem like they are giving up..

MPAA & RIAA i truely feel for you..you are fighting a battle you can't win...but at any rate good luck on your execise in futility.
Posted by behemuthzero (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It never works!
I attend a mid-tier university as a computer science major and I know several programmers that view a new copy-protection scheme as new toy to play with. The RIAA has not realized that there are people in this world that have nothing better to do than to undermine their efforts of trying to control individual freedoms. I even know a few professors that encourage network security students to test their skills of trying to crack these programs in an effort to become better programmers. Always with the disclaimer of not using their knowlegde for malicious purposes.

I recently attended a banquet where I was seated next to a patent attorney. Of course, the subject of file-sharing and copy protection came up for discussion. With his 25+ years of experience in patent law, he said that the RIAA and MPAA have already lost. They will not be able to gain any ground in their ability to protect digital content without requiring the consumer to pay each time they want to listen to a song, but even that is not full-proof. Not even the Supreme Court with the Grokster decision has had an impact on the amount of people who decide to copy or download music or anything they want. Just like it was said in a different post, give us content that is actually to our liking. Check out the success of iPod. If you take the time to make something that will WOW us then we will show you streets paved in gold. If all you are going to do is cultivate the restrictions instead of cultivating the "talent" then I say the attorney is right, you have lost! You failed to innovate when new technologies and media delivery systems evolved. What makes you think that you can punish us for your failure to act. Stop hiding behind the court system and create a product worth buying.

Ever since the first physical lock was invented to prevent people from entering something, there has been people who were willing to spend the time to circumvent that restriction. Putting a virtual lock on a piece of plastic is not going to stop people from breaking the protection.

My advice to the RIAA and others:
Please continue to invent new copy-protection, my fellow computer science students are bored and need a reason to stay up all night, on a caffiene and sugar bender, breaking your code. As long as you think you can restrict the fair use of something people have purchased with hard earned money you will continue to lose.
Posted by spr775 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It never works!
I attend a mid-tier university as a computer science major and I know several programmers that view a new copy-protection scheme as new toy to play with. The RIAA has not realized that there are people in this world that have nothing better to do than to undermine their efforts of trying to control individual freedoms. I even know a few professors that encourage network security students to test their skills of trying to crack these programs in an effort to become better programmers. Always with the disclaimer of not using their knowlegde for malicious purposes.

I recently attended a banquet where I was seated next to a patent attorney. Of course, the subject of file-sharing and copy protection came up for discussion. With his 25+ years of experience in patent law, he said that the RIAA and MPAA have already lost. They will not be able to gain any ground in their ability to protect digital content without requiring the consumer to pay each time they want to listen to a song, but even that is not full-proof. Not even the Supreme Court with the Grokster decision has had an impact on the amount of people who decide to copy or download music or anything they want. Just like it was said in a different post, give us content that is actually to our liking. Check out the success of iPod. If you take the time to make something that will WOW us then we will show you streets paved in gold. If all you are going to do is cultivate the restrictions instead of cultivating the "talent" then I say the attorney is right, you have lost! You failed to innovate when new technologies and media delivery systems evolved. What makes you think that you can punish us for your failure to act. Stop hiding behind the court system and create a product worth buying.

Ever since the first physical lock was invented to prevent people from entering something, there has been people who were willing to spend the time to circumvent that restriction. Putting a virtual lock on a piece of plastic is not going to stop people from breaking the protection.

My advice to the RIAA and others:
Please continue to invent new copy-protection, my fellow computer science students are bored and need a reason to stay up all night, on a caffiene and sugar bender, breaking your code. As long as you think you can restrict the fair use of something people have purchased with hard earned money you will continue to lose.
Posted by spr775 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Futility Indeed
Dissuasion at best, all this will accomplish is giving hackers a goal, to crack this new "protection" software. Nothing, absolutely nothing is unhackable, all it takes is time, Starforce? Unhackable? what? oh wait, thats what they were saying about it before it was successfully patched 2 days later... Though, i can understand the reason behind these actions though, the companies that make these "protections" are fully aware it is impossible to make anything hack proof, they just have to make an effort to show whoever has hired them to put their protection on their product, that they arent just willing to quit. Its a never ending cycle i guess, people pay to design protection software, and 12 yr old hackers laugh in their faces.
Posted by Dm42xl21 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Futility Indeed
Dissuasion at best, all this will accomplish is giving hackers a goal, to crack this new "protection" software. Nothing, absolutely nothing is unhackable, all it takes is time, Starforce? Unhackable? what? oh wait, thats what they were saying about it before it was successfully patched 2 days later... Though, i can understand the reason behind these actions though, the companies that make these "protections" are fully aware it is impossible to make anything hack proof, they just have to make an effort to show whoever has hired them to put their protection on their product, that they arent just willing to quit. Its a never ending cycle i guess, people pay to design protection software, and 12 yr old hackers laugh in their faces.
Posted by Dm42xl21 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Futility Indeed...
Dissuasion at best, all this will accomplish is giving hackers a goal, to crack this new "protection" software. Nothing, absolutely nothing is unhackable, all it takes is time, Starforce? Unhackable? what? oh wait, thats what they were saying about it before it was successfully patched 2 days later... Though, i can understand the reason behind these actions though, the companies that make these "protections" are fully aware it is impossible to make anything hack proof, they just have to make an effort to show whoever has hired them to put their protection on their product, that they arent just willing to quit. Its a never ending cycle i guess, people pay to design protection software, and 12 yr old hackers laugh in their faces.
Posted by Dm42xl21 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
yep
Excuse the double post, c|net was lagging terribly.
Posted by Dm42xl21 (6 comments )
Link Flag
Futility Indeed...
Dissuasion at best, all this will accomplish is giving hackers a goal, to crack this new "protection" software. Nothing, absolutely nothing is unhackable, all it takes is time, Starforce? Unhackable? what? oh wait, thats what they were saying about it before it was successfully patched 2 days later... Though, i can understand the reason behind these actions though, the companies that make these "protections" are fully aware it is impossible to make anything hack proof, they just have to make an effort to show whoever has hired them to put their protection on their product, that they arent just willing to quit. Its a never ending cycle i guess, people pay to design protection software, and 12 yr old hackers laugh in their faces.
Posted by Dm42xl21 (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
yep
Excuse the double post, c|net was lagging terribly.
Posted by Dm42xl21 (6 comments )
Link Flag
 

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