December 16, 2004 4:00 AM PST

New CD copy-lock technology nears market

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A new kind of copy-protected music CD will likely hit U.S. shelves early next year, as record label Sony BMG Music Entertainment experiments with a technology created by British developer First 4 Internet, according to sources familiar with the companies.

Several major music labels have already used a version of the British company's technology on prerelease compact discs distributed for review and other early-listening purposes, including on recent albums from Eminem and U2.

The releases for the retail market, expected early in 2005, will be the first time the Sony music label issues copy-protected CDs in the U.S. market, although the company's other divisions have done so in other regions. BMG, Sony's new corporate sibling, has been more aggressive, with a handful of protected CDs released last year.

"We have always focused on a high level of protection, but we've waited until there aren't any playability issues."
--Mathew Gilliat-Smith,
CEO, First 4 Internet

A Sony BMG representative declined to comment on the plans. First 4 Internet Chief Executive Officer Mathew Gilliat-Smith confirmed that his company plans to release a consumer version of its technology with one major label in the United States, but he declined to identify the label.

Gilliat-Smith said his company has been waiting to improve its technology. Better-known companies Macrovision and Sunncomm have seen sporadic--and sometimes controversial--use of their products on CDs released around the world.

"We're not keen to rush," Gilliat-Smith said. "We have always focused on a high level of protection, but we've waited until there aren't any playability issues."

The new Sony BMG experiments are a further sign that copy protection on music CDs may be moving closer to the mainstream U.S. market. The practice is much more common in European and Asian markets.

For several years, the major record labels have sought a way to protect CDs against unrestricted copying and "ripping," or transforming songs into files such as MP3s that can be swapped widely online. Early experiments proved unpopular, prompting reports that the discs could not play in certain kind of stereos, or might even damage computers.

The past year has seen resurgent signs of interest from the major labels, however. A watershed moment in the United States came when the BMG-released Velvet Revolver album reached the top of the industry's sales charts, despite being clearly marked as copy-protected. Industry insiders said that helped assuage some boardroom concerns about potential consumer backlash.

Questions remain about the appropriate technology to use, however. The copy protection from Sunncomm, used by BMG in the United States, could be fairly easily disabled simply by pressing a computer's Shift key while the CD was loading, for example. That issue has been fixed in the company's most recent

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that's great...
that's great, really... I think they should develop a copy-protection system that really works...
but they MUST also lower the prices! I think that is the step that should be taken first!!
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Poor reporting.
The fact is, this article is NOT referring to CDs. "CD" and "Compact Disc" are trademarks and refer only to optical discs meeting certain specifications. In the case of audio CDs, that means compliance with the "Red Book" standards.

These copy protected pieces of plastic are NOT CDs.
Posted by (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I give it two weeks tops...
and that's being generous considering Sony's last attempt at copy-protection, which was easily defeated with a Sharpie marker.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Hacker Who Could
Ok... lets face it. This DRM on steroids totally stinks.

But... Help is on the way! No technology is beyond hacking. Out there somewhere is a hacker who will figure out a way around the CD lock every time.

I just hope they spread their findings around the web for others to benefit. Ah... I'm sure they will.

Like DRM, But for CDs... <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

Posted by (59 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not that I have studied the details here, but aren't there cd players with digital out, soundcards with digital in, and recording software? If so, then I see a solution here...
Posted by 1e74ur (5 comments )
Link Flag
Not this crap again....
You would think they would give up by now. I am sick of hearing about copy-protected CD's. They do about as much good as the "FBI Warning" label on the back cover. There is always going to be a way to hack them and there will be playback difficulties with some players as usual.

If record companies made their performers record better music, and stop filling each CD with about 3 good songs and 12 bad ones, they would probably sell alot more. I had rather buy a CD with the 3 good songs for less than pay more for a bunch of crap, and I think most other people feel the same way.
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
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About rights, not compatibility
Aside from the fact that my computer is my primary CD player, I don't quite understand why this story consistently framed the concerns of consumers as simply 'about compatibility.' I want to copy my music to MP3 format and take it wherever I want, and fair use rights allows backup copies and anyone who's read the betamax decision should understand that, though unprecedented, this particular type of format shifting is guaranteed as well. CDs that don't allow me to do this are more than broken CDs--they're an insult to me and my rights. And reporting that doesn't take this into consideration is failing to accurately display the real reason for these backlashes against DRM.
Posted by Not Bugged (195 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It is not your right.
Your information may be outdated. If the data is copy protected, you do not reserve the right to make copies. Sorry. Laws keep changing, sometimes its tough to keep up.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
And, Maybe if---
Maybe if... The record companies stopped demanding as much pure-profit as ILLEGAL DRUG-DEALERS...

And maybe if, the record-labels weren't known to have, repeatedly, engaged in illegal price-fixing and price-gouging...

And maybe if any of this DRM crap, in any way, actually benefited "society", the "artists", or "consumers",

...then maybe consumers would accept the CORPORATE-LINE on the "...ethics of media-use".

But as long as the "media companies" keep telling consumers that they have no basic OWNERSHIP-RIGHTS (like the WELL-ESTABLISHED LEGAL PRINCIPALS of "FAIR USE" and "FIRST-SALE DOCTRINE")... And, as long as these companies keep paying the well-heeled politician-puppets (that they clearly own) to keep rewriting "...the laws", ...solely to benefit rich, (but EVER GREEDY) bloated, media-giants...

...then consumers will (and should) have NO RESPECT for these CONNIVING-THIEVES and their endless attempts to forcibly extract even more money from consumers.

But, as to the most common reaction to this type of news...

Unfortunately, NO... (however much we might want to believe it) beyond a certain point, there won't "...always be a way around DRM". If, so-called "Intellectual-Property Owners" get their way, ...EVERY form of "media" (television, music, movies, software) will soon be completely-controlled by "strong technological-locks" built into every single device capable of utilizing such media (...BY LAW). And, yes, this IS currently being rolled-out, as we speak.

Furthermore, the eventual goal of these companies HAS flatly been stated to be the virtual "...elimination of any form of transfer of real-property ownership-rights to consumers".

In other words...

YOU WON'T OWN IT... Though you paid for it.

YOU CAN'T SELL IT... Though you posses it.


And eventually, the company that originally produced such "properties", will be able to "...DEACTIVATE THEM" at any time, ...Or, didn't you read the "small-print" on the back of the package?
Posted by Raife (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well, it looks like once again the stupid brainless consumer has shafted themselves. Buy flocking like lemmings to a cliff to buy the Velvet Revolver CD they have just given permission to the recording industry to use copy protection without having to worry about lost sales.

So, now when CDs become harder and harder to do anything with the only people that can be blamed on all the stupid consumers. Again they did it to themselves.

As for finding ways around the protection, sure anything can be broken. The question is how many people out there actually have the brains to do it. Apparently not many or they wouldn't have bought a copy protected disc to start with thereby giving permission to the music industry to start protecting all of them.

Also, what makes any of your think that the copy protection won't get to the point that it is more trouble than it is worth to break. What makes you think the recording industry in the greed wouldn't mandate that a new CD format and hardware between developed that offers the protections they want. When it comes to the kind of greed the recording industry has anything is possible and as long as consumers as stupid as they are they will continue to get away with it.

Posted by (336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
just a bit off
Consumers are to blame, but not for buying the Velvet Revolver CD. Consumers are to blame, because they ripped millions of CDs into MP3s and shared them illegally over the Internet.

And copy protection is not about technologically superior CD's that you won't be able to hack. Its about putting any reasonable copy protection in place, so that the copyright owners can have people arrested for violating the DMCA when they do hack it.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Breaking the protection
I broke copy protection a while ago. Do you know what I used to do it? A perfectly normal CD drive and a legal ripper program. I didn't have to do anything to the disc, I didn't even have to change any settings in the ripper.

The problem with copy protection is that sometimes it works too well (when you can't even play your music in your CD player) or when it doesn't work at all (in my computer CD drives the discs will read without any problem).

And just for the record, I do own the album that I ripped.
Posted by trevaaar (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Keep your receipt!
And if I get one of these babies, it's going back to the store.
Posted by (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
so how do you rip off your own store bought CD for your mp3 player, or what?
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Still Possible
Assuming your use is only personal, nobody is going to know if you illegally rip a CD, but the good news is that many CD's, Velvet Revolver included, are shipping with digital music files you can copy to your PC to play in your portable devices. No "ripping" needed.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
All I have to say is...
All I have to say is...

If I walk into merchants store and they ask for my money for a material goods product.(CD, DVD, Xbox, Computer and the list goes on and on) I 'personal belief' have every right to do what ever I want with it. Now I'm not saying I condone selling a modified product and giving it away for free is on the fence. But they sold it to me and why can't I do what I want with it? It's mine, isin't it? I purchased it, not rented it. My comment is brief and will have grey areas, but it is what I will stand for.
Posted by (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why hasn't the industry moved on yet???
The compact disc technology is nearing over 20 years old.

Instead of spending stupenous amounts of money locking an inferior product.
Why not upgrade? DVD audio has been a standard for many years and has native and more potent copy protection potentional.

The sound quality will probably be the samebut why isn't there 5.1 dolby sound for their music ???

i can buy a block buster movie DVD with 5.1 surround sound for $15
A chart music CD is stereo and cost mes $25

whats the deal here???
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
dumb idea and not well put
firstly: when have you ever paid $25 for an audio cd? where the hell are you shopping?

secondly: dvd audio is superior to cd audio, not equal (5.1 or stereo).

and lastly: just because a format is newer and better doesn't mean the entirety of the world will fork over money for it. (just look at SACD. it doesn't get any easier: with layering you can have SACD tracks and CD audio tracks on the same side of the same disk with total CD compatibility - and SACD blows CD and DVD audio out of the water. Nobody cares: that's why most people don't have HDtv or 5.1+ or even seperate stereo speakers for their setup... idiots often don't care to pay the price and even then, can't tell the difference.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
Link Flag
wont be long before...
its only a matter of time before we can do anything to these cd's too. why do they try. they only hurt themselves. maybe we should all just quit buying their products !!!
Posted by (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iTunes didn't care
When I purchased the Velvet Revolver CD iTunes for mac ripped it without a problem. Even the PC version ripped it. I wouldn't be to worried about CD protection to much.
Posted by metric152 (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
are you purchasing a license?
when you purchased a cd you're not purchasing the media, so much as a license to the data contained on the cd. if you were purchasing it outright, you'd own the data on it as well. as we all know that isn't the case, perhaps the companies selling you the "license" should have the right to say whether "conversion" (i.e. mp3, etc.) should be allowed. "conversion" and "backup" are totally different things. then again, is it legal to create an ISO of you Windows XP install disk for archival purposes. I think the language and meaning used to define what is and what isn't legal, needs to be clarified. the line isn't thin, it's blurry as hell.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
Reply Link Flag
CD so called copy lock bs
My question is my releatives car was broken into and they stole a stereo and 104 cd's and caused alot of damage, now why would i want too go and rebuy all 104 cd's at $12 each ? now do you see why I buy the original and burn a copy for my use in my car. If they continue this bs then why shouldnt they lower the price of all cd's whether it be cd or dvd ? Like others have commented I bought the cd its my right too do with it what I want and too hell with what others are going too tell me what i can and cant do with it!
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Sony/BMG copy protection
The copy protection introduced by Sony and BMG is awful. I spent nearly an hour trying to get music which is incompatiable with my ipod to copy over.

As a consumer who is use to being able to store music on hard drive then transfer it to his ipod this is a real inconvience.

It is also infuriating that Sony would impose this technology and imply that the consumer wants it. I don't want it, I find it frustrating that a company can tell me how and when I can use the music I purchase.

To make it worst there copy protection is not hendered by their own portable devices and they want us, the consumer to contact Apple to have them support their flawed product. I don't think so.

I think congress should intervene and put a stop to this and anyone who feels the same way has my support.
Posted by royalcitizen (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Maybe not my right to copy, but my right to use!
I am a professional driver. I have a SONY Mp3/xm radio deck in
my truck. I use itunes to make Mp3 discs so that I don't have to
carry all my originals with me (20 or so instead of 200). I feel
that such uses are not a violation of copyright, especially since
the originals are unused on a shelf, and nobody has access to
the library file on the hard drive but me. Interesting that on one
hand SONY can sell me a product, but on the other limit my
lawful use of that product. In Canada, we pay a tax on blank
media that is designed to compensate the recording artists for
the losses they incur from music piracy. Not sure how the
money is doled out to them, but if I'm buying blank discs, and
buying legal original cd's then I'm doing my part. Note to SONY:
F*** YOU!! I don't agree with wide-open file-sharing either (Let
your fifty welfare-case web buddies buy their own music, that
way we hopefully won't be subjected to the sort of hacker-
inspired BS that SONY and others are perpetrating!), but I should
have open access to music that I have bought, and the option of
using it with legitimate mainstream technology that I have also
Posted by cjwall67 (68 comments )
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