September 17, 2004 11:18 AM PDT

Labels, Microsoft in talks on CD copying

Record labels and Microsoft are in discussions about ways that the next generation of the Windows operating system, code-named Longhorn, can support copy-protected CD technology.

The music labels, in large part led by top executives at EMI Group and coordinated through their U.S. and international trade associations, are creating a "wish list" of CD rights protection features they want to see provided or supported by Longhorn. Microsoft, in turn, has provided its own set of guidelines for the labels, without yet promising anything, sources familiar with the situation said.

The labels are far from unanimous on their thoughts about how to use, or even whether to use, copy protection technology on CDs. But sources said most are eager to avoid being locked into Microsoft technology and want to ensure that Longhorn provides a platform for copy protection that is at least as consumer-friendly as Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store.

"We're asking Microsoft to put in a framework--not to say what the rules are," said EMI Music North America Chairman David Munns, who has helped coordinate discussions among the music labels. "This would solve consumer confusion and help make the whole thing a much more friendly and easier consumer experience."

The discussions over copy protection and Longhorn are in some sense very theoretical, based on expectations of future technology developments and future consumer behavior. The music labels have been experimenting with ways of putting new copy controls on CDs for several years but have released only a few albums with the technology in the United States, with mixed success.

Microsoft's next operating system is also far from release. The company recently pushed back Longhorn's planned launch date until late 2006, and it is still working out details of a "Secure Computing" plan that some have said would help make digital rights management technologies much stronger.

However, EMI, in particular, has previously talked with Microsoft about ways to make copy protection a simpler experience by building support more deeply into the operating system, Munns said.

One idea from the record label side would be to let the operating system recognize a CD, when it is put in the tray, and automatically set in motion whatever usage rules have been specified by the label itself on the CD. This might include limits on the number of copies that can be made or what rules would be associated with a digitally "ripped" file, for example.

Today's copy protection technologies are more rudimentary, often including software on the CDs themselves, and have little interaction with the operating system. As a result, they are often easily bypassed and are very obvious to consumers.

The most recent discussions with Microsoft were initiated by the labels, Munns said. The software company agreed to consider their requests but in turn asked that the music industry come to a consensus on its requests, other sources added.

Led in part by EMI, labels have subsequently been developing their wish list for at least a month, with discussions that have included the major and larger independent labels. Representatives from the RIAA are scheduled to meet with Microsoft on Sept. 20 to discuss the requests, sources said.

Labels are primarily adamant that the operating system allow non-Microsoft copy protection technologies to function as transparently as Windows Media's own digital rights management tools. They also want to ensure that the operating system avoids treating the protected CDs in any way that might prompt consumer backlash, sources said.

"Longhorn done the right way could really advance that cause," one source familiar with the talks said. "Longhorn done the wrong way could significantly frustrate everyone involved."

Microsoft, in turn, has communicated to the labels that it does not want to support technologies that might be viewed by consumers as aggressive or potentially related to spyware, sources said.

No hard decisions have been made on either side, sources said. The meeting next week is likely to be the beginning of a series of discussions between the software company and the music business, as the operating system comes closer to completion. So far, Microsoft has been very open to working with the labels, Munns said.

A Microsoft representative declined to comment on the issue.

Munns said the drive would not be limited to Microsoft's operating system. The music companies have also had early conversations with Apple, and the framework of requests that develops from the industry wish list will be provided to any company that makes operating systems or digital rights management tools.

"Our fate as an industry--what we offer consumers, how we protect content and how the content is played--is inextricably intertwined with the technology companies and the platforms they offer," RIAA President Cary Sherman said. "We have to be in dialogue with them."

24 comments

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I knew this was coming......
This was inevitable.
Posted by Prndll (382 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yep and...
Yep, this was coming and if Microsoft does this then I won't be upgrading. They can all go rot in hell.

Robert
Posted by (336 comments )
Link Flag
I've given up on the whole lot.
I've given up with music, so in that respect I've won the record labels. I now neither buy music media nor do I even attempt to download anything. I just put up with what's broadcast on the radio.
Posted by Myron.S (16 comments )
Link Flag
copyrights
As they are copyrights are a violation of humanity
Posted by ihavegotnewsocks (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You should...
look for the book free culture, it is online under the creative commons license, and gives a good history of the copyright and shows what a joke it is now.
Posted by parcelbrat (6 comments )
Link Flag
MICRO TO THE RESCUE
IN THE LAST YEAR WE HVE BEEN ATTACKED IN EVERY AREA CREATING APANAIC FOR PROTECTIVE DEVICES.SUPERMICRO TO THE RESCUEST SP2 TO SECURE YOUR COMPUTER KEEP OUT THE BAD THIRED PARTY AND FREE SOFTWARE MFG.BUT YOU CAN BUY A KEY FROM MICRO.NEXT PROTECT EMAIL THANK GOD FOR AOL WALKING AWAY. NOW MICRO WANTS TO PROTECT CD'S NEXT DVD.I THOUGH THIS WAS MY COMPUTER.SO MENY PROBLEMS BUT SUPER MICRO TO THE RESCUE.I SOME TIMES WOUNDER WERE THE PROBLEMS START? TO WHOSE ADVANTAGE. WHEN PEOPLE BREAK INTO YOUR HOUSE YOU CALL THE LOCK SMITH FOR NEW "KEYS".ITS ALL ABOUT CONTROL. MICRO WILL DECIDE WHAT GOES IN TO &OUT OF YOUR COMPUTER. TIME FOR NO SP2,OTHER IPS,BROWSERS!!! FREE CONTROL OF MY COMPUTER. ALL THOUSE BRIGHT FREE WARE WRITERS GET TOGETHER AND GIVE US ALTERNATIVES. DO NOT! REPEAT DO NOT !INERFERE WITH MICRO KEEP IT ON THE GOOD SIDE. JUST WANT FREEDOM TO CHOOSE.KEEP AMERICA FREE
Posted by (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SORRY
I AM DISABLED AND MY DRAGON IS OPERATING FUNNY.IT HAPPENED AFTER I LOADED SP2 AND REMOVED IT. I WILL HAVE TO CLEAN UP AGAIN I REALY CAN SPELL
Posted by (7 comments )
Link Flag
MicroSoft In Cahoots With the Record Companies
I am someone who used to work with record companies *AND* I also used to manage bands. Since last December I have been an active promoter of illegally copying music and sticking it to the record companies.

Here's why:

I purchased The Beatles Naked, a CD I had long been looking forward towards. Imagine my surprise when it wouldn't play in my brand new 5-CD changer. When I read the small print on the CD case, it read that because of Copy Protection, it might not play on some equipment.

***???

Even stranger: It *WOULD* play on my computer (after downloading a little program from Microsoft).

However, I don't buy CDs to play through my cheap computer speakers. I buy CDs to play on my expensive home stereo system, the one with good audio reproduction.

So now I say: Rip them all off. They deserve it.

Putting copy protection on CDs and in operating systems is akin to only allowing purchasers of lamps to use only one specific light bulb and none of the others would work.

The problem isn't really illegally copying music. The problem is that record companies were slow to embrace the new technologies and they were run over by them.

I was one of those people who had vinyl. Remember vinyl? I had over 30 feet of vinyl. Then one day all my vinyl becomes obsolete. It took me a while to switch to CDs, but I eventually did. Now I have 42 feet of CDs.

When CDs originally came out the record companies justified the high cost by saying they had to recoup the RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT costs. Those costs have long since been paid back, and yet the costs have not dropped at all.

Now that CD burners are here, people have realized just how cheap those little plastic discs are and they realize they are being ripped off by the record companies. (Of course, they are not taking into consideration the costs of recording and promotion.) That's why people feel justified in ripping CDs and stealing music.

However...this isn't even about illegal downloading. If I buy a CD, I should be able to use it over multi-platforms. I should be able to make an MP3 copy and take it with me on my portable MP3 player, the same way I was able to record a vinyl LP on a cassette and take that with me on my Walkman.

I have legally purchased the music. I should be able to do anything I want with it, provided I do not sell it or otherwise make a secondary profit off it.

Record companies and Microsoft have to realize this and the vast unwashed need to protest these undemocratic actions before it's too late.

Good night.
Posted by Headly (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I wont mind this if...
I do buy all of my music CD's but I rip them all to my computer because I sit at and work all day. I dont mind if they add protection but if it keeps me from being able to use my cd's on my own computer I am going to be pretty pissed off.
Posted by Novaoblivion (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
MS should NOT do this
Having a PC, a Personal Computer it's all about doing whatever we want with it!

To hell record companies if I want to copy a CD or music track, why not if my hardwares allows me to do that. I don't want some sort of software component telling me "You can't!" I mean it's MY PC not theirs.

If MS happens to do this with longhorn, I've expect to see ways to override this all over the internet 5 seconds after Longhorn release.

On the other hand I don't want my PC bloated with more software running all the time just to see if I'm coping a CD.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Why not?
Windows belongs to Microsoft. It is theirs, NOT yours. We are "users", NOT "owners".

I don't agree with this idea either. I do however, understand what is happening. I don't want to have to deal with this kind of bs.

But, I must remind everyone of the idea that newer does not mean better....just newer. Everyone seems to clammer to the newest big thing that comes around; well, the new things that are coming are things that are meant to control...yes, I said control. Just think about this for a minute. There will be some kind of "new feature" advertised about this that will make it sound so appealing and so conveiniant. Few people will actually put two and two together and realize that this is nothing more than a way to keep people under control and prevent the computer end user from doing what they want, how they want, and when they want.

Look, everything is there....just take a look. It is happening right in front of you. It is being portrayed as some kind of usefull tool or some new better way of doing more, but in reality it is actually about them getting you to do what they want. Just take a look at what Windows has become since 98se. They claim to be giving you protection. I'm ask you, protection from what? Hackers are really not as big a threat as they make them out to be. MS is the hacker that we should be worried about. "automatic update", no more ability to run the pc without running windows, and service packs...ha....how many service packs will come after #2? Ya know, the whole thing about the IPOD.....what that is about is a deal with the recording industry to stop the use of P2P MP3 downloading in combination with ITunes.
Posted by Prndll (382 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Control
I read all the comments you've made and I want to say I've never read something so correct. All OS by Microsoft are now CONTROL styled or written. Their (MS) new way of securing your computer is to take CONTROL away from you and giving it to them. No way hosa I'm staying the course of not buying anything new if it promises PROTECTION AND CONTROL for my good. HA
Before you know it we'll have to make a phonecall to Richmond to start our computer. CONTROL - WATCHOUT FOR IT - IT COMES UNDER the LABEL -NEW AND IMPROVED- ALSO KNOWN AS SECURITY. REALLY THINK WE'RE THAT DUMB???
Posted by Richie (21 comments )
Reply Link Flag
why bother?
People still have Linux and I doubt very much if Linux would support any RIAA interests. I am certain however that it would support ripping these features off copy-righted materials.
Posted by Monkeydung (23 comments )
Reply Link Flag
microsoft
Sorry, I just went through all the posts. It made me think of something. Reading theinquirer, I learned Longhorn will not be sold without some sort of hardware included even if that hardware was just a cable. Now put 2 and 2 together. Some software already comes out with a little key that attaches to the parallel port. The software will not run without that key.
Posted by Monkeydung (23 comments )
Link Flag
Give up on copy-protection
Developing companies should just give up on copy-protection. It's quite clear that they are getting no-where with it. Whatever they have come up with previously has never worked and hackers have always conquered over it. It is pointless.
Posted by foxmulder881 (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Linux defections...
I believe Microsoft would be wise to tread very carefully on this. If they lock things down too tightly to appease the RIAA it would very likely only serve to further boost the attractiveness of Linux to users who might never have considered Linux an option before (not that it would necessarily be a bad thing).
Posted by cpresco (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stop whining
***** moaning and groaning won't get you anywhere. There's a simple solution to this problem, DON'T BUY THE PRODUCT! Microsoft and the record industry Are in business for one thing (and here's a hint for you, it's not to give their products out for free).
As long as they see a possibility that copy protection will increase their bottom line, then that will be what they try to add. Most copy protection is not there to stop the knowledegable, it's there to keep the average Joe from ripping them off (and there are a whole lot of average Joes out there). To say copy protection doesn't work must be obviously wrong since they spend a whole lot of money developing it, and these guys don't do anything that's going to cost them money in the long run.

So stop whining, and either just live with it, or do as I do and just not bother with them in the first place.
Posted by Shockjock (1 comment )
Link Flag
Copying CD.s
New to copying I thought that my Nero burner or Media Player would copy music CD's playable on my car sterio and my walkman - not so. If I record using an MP3 file alone on Media my CD will play on my Sony DVD/CD player but still no luck on the walkman or car player! Is this normal? If not what file(s) do I need to use when copying to achieve this?
Posted by (1 comment )
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