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BMG's New Copy-Protected Audio CDs 296

PCB writes "I found the following on BMG-Entertainment started selling audio-CDs using the Cactus Data Shield, a copy-protection system developed by Midbar and Sonopress which makes it impossible to grab the music from the CD and to listen to it using "an old CD-Player" or a CD-ROM-drive. It is used on the albums "Razorblade Romance" by Him and "My Private War" by Philip Boa & The Voodoo Club. What's worse: the copy-protection is not even mentioned on the outside of the CD-case, and as these CDs are not really RedBook-compliant, they actually don't contain CD Digital Audio. " You'll need use the Fish of Many Languages to translate into your appropriate native tongue.
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BMG's New Copy-Protected Audio CDs

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  • Of course, when you buy a CD with a credit card, you do present your ID to the store, don't you?

    What an interesting idea. You're right, paying with a credit card opens one up to that sort of abuse, doesn't it? Cash purchases, though, are (for now) anonymous.

    But it would still cost the record biz a mint - every CD package would have to bear a sticker with the CD's serial number in bar-code, or some similar scheme, so the checkout computer could match up the purchaser and the purchased material's serial numbers. Manufacturing the CDs and packaging could get a lot more expensive. Either the CDs and the packaging would have to be carefully tracked to ensure they matched up, or the packager would have to have a quick way to scan every single disc for the watermark when putting the disks in the cases. Then of course the retailers would have to cooperate by setting up their systems to read the extra bar codes and reporting everything to Big Brother.

    It's certainly possible, but I doubt the record biz is likely to foot the bill, so I'm not worried about it just yet. Heck, my favorite CD shops allow trade-ins, which sidestep the money thing all together.
  • Hi-fi equipment now is cheap. More than that , the trend is towards cheap (ok not expensive or in other words affordable) digital based players, whereby you can capture all de-crypted (for DVD) stuff going right to your super=duper speakers, which would give you exactly the same quality, all you need is to compress it back.

    Now, there is no doubt that big time pirates had very expensive equipment to copy ANYTHING for ages, and they are the real trouble for software/music industry, because people who are BUYING pirated music/software indeed could have bought the authentic ones, and thus really do hurt sales, unlike little guys who make a copy or two of a music CD to listen not only at home but also on their way to work/school.

    Thus, all these copy protection measures are just a hassle and extra problems for end users. Almost anyone can make a very high quality copy of an audio=cd and this will only be more common in the future.
  • I think java in general is top heavy.
  • Agreed. Many's the time when I'm doing some serious coding in text mode and I don't wanna futz around with netscape et al... I'll just fire up w3m and point it at slashdot. Works beautifully, and I never have to wait for those slowass banners to pop up.

    (In my experience, most of the slashdot slowdowns I've seen are because of the ad banners taking forever to load).

    Java has it's place, but it unfortunately hasn't lived up to its hype in time for it to be the ubiquitously accepted language touted to be. The fact that you have to stop just short of sacrificing your first child to the java gods in order to get IO to implement cleanly doesn't help much either. Yes yes, I know you can get newer versions of Java which "fix all the old problems". Unless you're using it as a language for embedded apps or intranet glue (or other situations where you have direct control over the running environment), you're producing products for the general populace and most people's java availability begins and ends on their webbrowser.

    -- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • ok, care to wager how long it takes before there is open source software to defeat this copy protection? I give it a month. The media companys just don't understand. All copy protection methods can and will be defeated. It's not "if" it's "when".

    If all people want to do is make a copy of the audio then the workarround is utterly trivial...
  • It just might take a little longer. If you can pop it in a CD player with RCA outputs, you can run it into your computer and copy it that way. I have done this with my tapes and records to put them on CD.

    It is more time consuming, but comes out sounding just fine.

    There is really no way to get around people recording sounds (ie copying cd's). If it makes a sound, it can be recorded -- it just might be a little more difficult in some cases than in others.


  • HTH? That's a new one for me
  • But I guess that people outside the audio and music industry usually don't have access to an S/PDIF interface card.

    Actually, I have a Sony Discman with optical out, and I have seen soundcards for around US$100 that have optical in.
  • Yes, but I would tend to believe that this "fit for purpose" clause isn't really a viable excuse.

    The store or record company would simply say "We intended for it to be played on standard home audio CD players. And we purposely engineered it so that you couldn't rip the data onto your computer. That is the new format's purpose and there is nothing you can do about it, ha ha."

    I think the very most you might get BMG to do is put a label on the outside of the disc that says something along the lines of "This CD is not compatible with CD-ROM drives."
  • thats right. And i'll prove it, if they can't play it in the cd player in the store, i think they'd have to give me my money back. It was not labeled as requiring anything different or a new cd player, so if it doesn't work in ANYONE's cd player, i'd say the store sold it to me under false pretenses. AKA false advertising.
  • Well, if they think this will stop cd pirating, you know someone will record to mp3/wav from an analog stream instead, and then record to a blank cd, or distribute the mp3s... (Then again, some people (like me) would be too lazy to wait that long =)
  • Before anyone starts yelling about audible effects, I'd like to point out that white 1-bit noise is already added; a paradoxial effect of sampling and quantiziation is that a small amount of white noise will actually enhance weak signals.

    Mind you that is _adding_ noise, wereas the watermark would imply _replacing_ the lowest bit with noise. But still. Just goes to show how inaudible that sort of thing is.
  • I believe this implies that you must buy a new CD player. But that can't be right, can it?

    Make Seven
  • This method of copy protection seems useless. Although it may stop poeple from dumping mp3's the old fashioned way (until someone out there does a little hacking) what is to stop anyone from taking the audio out off of a cd player and throwing it into the audio input of the computer and ripping that way? I don't see how they could stop this? Is there anything? If there isn't then this is a very wasteful attempt at creating copy protection. It seems like if it is possible to play the CD then it is possible to rip it with no exceptions. It's not like a VHS tape where they could play with the AFG and screw it up. I don't see what they could do with an audio line to keep it from being recorded and still allow it to be playable. Anyone know?
  • I'd love to agree with you, but I doubt it would work. I don't think you'll get the critical mass to achieve anything:
    • 95% of all users won't even notice.
    • 3% of all users play CDs on their computers, but don't copy them. They will be annoyed, but won't notice that copy protection is the issue. They'll play the CD on regular CD players only.
    • 1.5% of all users have an old CD player that chokes. They'll be pissed, and hopefully some will return the CD.
    • The reminding 0.5% are slashdot readers who definitely will return the CD.
    Okay, so there is a potential 2% of users who'd return the CD, but currently there are only 2 CDs out there. How many of those 2% do currently own the CD? Almost nobody! How many people are willing to go out, buy the CD just to return it? Well, make your guess, but I doubt it'll be enough.

    Certainly BMG will closely monitor consumer reaction. And I am sure they will pull all strings to prevent this information to be reported in news. And probably they will be successful, as big corporations are pretty good at controlling the media. I mean, isn't it weird that nobody mentioned any US news source about this?

  • Within six months, this system will be cracked. The atmosphere surounding the geek-media company relationship is far more negative than it has ever been, thus someone will have to punish them- PUNISH THEM FOR THEIR INSOLANCE!!! Muhuwawawa
  • No, the WinNT 4.0 Telnet is the same one.

    W2k comes with a fully functional one IMO.
  • Not only that, but this is a relatively safe trial balloon. If it flops on no-name bands, they haven't lost much money. But if they put out the latest Jewel (or whatever's popular now, I don't keep up) CD with the new format, and it flops, they've lost millions.
  • The correct term is "homosexual" cable.

    Make Seven
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @02:39PM (#1338162) Homepage Journal
    It is also a step in the direction of stopping honest musicians from making CDs!

    I'm sorry, I don't give a rat's ass about whether or not some consumer hacker type can still copy it or not. I have a problem with the idea of a gradual shift over to formats I CANNOT PRODUCE! I've been going through absolute hell simply getting the ADAT I bought into working order (fortunately all the repairs are being covered by the seller, who didn't check the machine out enough before selling it), and I am not thrilled with the idea of a new generation of CD players made to no longer understand Red Book Audio. What the hell is happening to the world?

    If I seem frantic, it's because I am already profoundly committed to pushing MP3s as hard as I can- and hoped to be able to earn small amounts of bread money by selling _master_ _CDs_ of the music that's being MP3ed. I know I can put out quality that's worth getting an 'audiophile' copy, and people who want to 'support the artist' can be encouraged to get that, I don't have to build timebombs into the mp3s or go for pay-by-play or anything psychotically disgusting like that.

    Now the other shoe drops, and I find that the industry is quietly shifting the CD format out from under me to some other sort of format that won't play on normal CD players.

    Bets that the industry won't phase out Red Book? Anyone?

    Bets that the new format will be available to me and my little borrowed CD-Rom burner? Anyone?

    What the hell do I have to do, try to make _cassette_ _tapes_ for God's sake, to get a medium with a future? Press vinyl? Actually I could do that very well- but NOT in tiny small runs. And there's the rub.

    DAMN it! Anyone who can't see where this is headed is an idiot... and anyone who still claims MP3s are against the interests of artists in the face of this steady 'power shift' is crazy. I don't see MP3 copiers cutting off my access to the public- I see them enhancing it, in a strictly non-profit sort of way. I see the INDUSTRY steadily, subtly cutting off my access to the public, 'deprecating' the media I used to have increasingly easy access to- and I'm freaking out! What the HELL?

    This morning when I got up I would not, in my wildest flights of suspicion and paranoia, have dreamed to suggest that the music industry was taking steps to DEPRECATE RED BOOK AUDIO.

    What the _hell_? :(

  • by TheMCP ( 121589 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:28AM (#1338164) Homepage
    This seems a simple enough thing to shoot down. The CD isn't redbook compliant? Return it and tell the store it's defective. That seems truthful enough to me.

    My CD player happens to be my Macintosh. I choose to listen to my music as MP3's because that's a convenient method of playback for my lifestyle. If they've gone about making sure I can't play back my CD's in what is, to me, a normal method based on the standard format that has been in use for many years, then I simply have to consider their product to be unplayable and defective and demand my money back.

  • Hey, wait up: I want to know more details about this home entertainment system you say you built, particularly what components you've used.

    What sound card do you have?
    How have you addressed the video side?
    What size and type of TV or monitor display?
    What is the best solution for fast 3D graphics and high quality TV out?
    Are you using DVD with a hardware MPEG decoder? Do you have an hardware MPEG encoder to compress video on the fly?
    Does your solution allow you to override DVD region coding?
    What kind of hard drive setup do you have for recording video?

    Apologies for the brusque interrogation but I just can't seem to find someone who's actually done this sort of PC-based media system and achieved quality approaching "domestic" consumer equipment.

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction
  • While they're at it why don't they release movies on Betamax.

    Thankfully money talks; the millions of people with 'old cdroms' will gracefully return their 'faulty cd' and buy a cd that works on their 'old cd player.' Does Joe RedNeck know that there is a 'new cd player' for playing such cd's? Didn't think so.

    If Divx failed, what makes them think something like this will not?

    Thankfully smaller and independent labels have some sense of dignity, and try to promote the music, not promote sales.
  • Within 20 minutes of my first encounter with this scheme a perfect digital rip was made. But I guess that people outside the audio and music industry usually don't have access to an S/PDIF interface card.

    There is an interesting conundrum here where the industry hyped new media like CDs which provide "better audio quality", requiring the music listener to ditch their reasonably adequate vinyl records. Most music listeners are actually quite happy with analogue sound - that's how it hits your ears!

    But as part of pushing CDs, the industry created a demand for "digital sound" which is extending as far as digital USB speakers for your computer. But by making everything digital, they increase the number of places in the sound chain where the sound can be ripped!

    This highlights the idiocy of the industry's attempts at copy protection. If they were going to be able to do it properly, they'll have to sew up not just the media, but all the places where D/A conversion occurs. S/PDIF may not be common now, but you can bet that pro level interfaces are *always* going to find their way to consumer level. You'd think they'd remember that DAT copy protection didn't work?


  • The article text piped through Babblefish []

    BMG Entertainment, the music department of the Bertelsmann company, has since short audio DS in the trade, which is provided with the copy protection Cactus DATA Shield. This mechanism was developed in co-operation with the Israeli software enterprise Midbar and Sonopress from Germany. So far the albums " Razorblade Romance " of the group of Him and " My private ones are were concerned " the former Independent Heroen Philip Boa & The Voodoo club. The copy protection prevents not only the selection (Grabben) and a copying of the audio TRACKS with the PC, but also a playing on all D-CRcOcM-cDrives as well as on older audio CD players

    Never knock on Death's door:

  • by Lagged2Death ( 31596 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @11:38AM (#1338171)
    Everything I've ever read about watermarking indicated that not only was the watermark intended to survive a simple D/A/D pathway but even conversion to and from a (very!) lossy format - like MP3. In fact, surviving MP3 (and its ilk) is pretty much the reason for using such an animal. They can be much more sophisticated than merely twiddling a few least-significant bits. With powerful, modern DSP at one's disposal, I'm sure they could base watermarks on things like subtule (to the ear) frequency-response variations, minor (again, to the ear) inter-channel phase anamolies, and other far more complicated things that I'd never understand. I'm sorry that I don't have a link to more info on this topic. Anyone else?

    So if one were to create an MP3 that was made of a cassette recording of a CD, it would still be possible to find the serial number of the source CD in the watermark.

    What I've never understood about the watermark system is what good it would do. Sure, you know this MP3 was ripped from CD#1237853, but unless you know who bought that particular CD, you haven't got a lead.

    As far as I can tell, the best they could hope for with this scheme would be to do some sort of region coding in the serial number, allowing the authorities to figure that this pirated MP3 was originally ripped from a CD that was sold in, say, Ohio.

    To get better info than that, they would have to demand your ID when buying a CD, and keep a database of what CD serial numbers each person buys. And I don't think that would be cost effective, not to mention that it wouldn't go over too well with the general public.

    Good thing, too.
  • I use my PC to play audio cd's AND mp3s through my stereo. The playlist and programing on the PC is much more advanced, convinent, and easier to use then my stereo is. I listen to music when I'm on the computer all the time... wouldn't it make much more sense to just use the computer instead of walking across the room to put a cd in or scrounge up my roomate... And damn, I don't even remember the last time I found my stereo remote. :-) I wouldn't buy one of these cds... Ugh.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @03:11PM (#1338174) Homepage Journal
    This isn't even about stopping consumer pirating.

    As another poster mentioned, so the old players can't play these discs? Why get a new player when you can get a DVD player made to handle the new, non-Red-Book format?

    You'd be surprised how quickly it'd become possible to deprecate Red Book so thoroughly that the newest DVD players WON'T PLAY RED BOOK any longer. Only the copy protected version! But that's okay, because you can buy the music all over again... I mean, because you had it all MP3ed anyway! So who does this hurt?

    Musicians. The artists. We are seeing the end of an era where, for the first time in history, you can master the preferred audio format (I'm not counting cassettes here) ON YOUR DESKTOP. You don't have to be signed to anywhere to produce the media. You can burn Red Book Audio CDs! The media becomes accessible to anyone with a CD burner!

    We are seeing the first attempts to take that power back- and fussing about how expected new non-Red-Book-playing DVD players 'harm the consumer' is accurate but a horrible trivialisation of the real damage here. (And who wants to bet that the industry will preserve the rippable, uncontrolled, unwatermarked, publically-accessible Red Book Audio format? Who really thinks the industry wouldn't turn their huge collections into useless coasters?)

    This story freaks me out worse than any DVD-oriented story I've read- because I had subconsciously trusted that Red Book would always be there for me, that the plain old audio CD with all its obvious faults and clear limitations would at least be a public media format I could count on. I mock the audio CD- I think it is no sort of audiophile wonder- but I trusted it to stick around, to remain hugely popular and common.

    I can't say that anymore, in fact I can identify several plausible means by which the industry can deprecate it and shift popular audio onto something strictly industry-controlled- and I'm scared shitless, as Red Book was the media I hoped to use to sell to people who wanted a little more than mp3, which I intend to make lots of and give out freely.

    I see the industry saying, "So you like MP3s, do you? Let's see you sell them!" and taking away the audio CD (which I hadn't thought possible), returning me to the days in which you couldn't produce popular media without going through the industry channels. This time, mp3s are likely to remain widely popular through sheer user saturation- but who the hell is going to sell them? I don't even WANT to try and sell mp3s! I think of them as radio, you should be able to listen to all the mp3s you want and only pay if you want to buy your own nice copy of something! And the day may come when indy musicians (again) can no longer produce any of the DVD-hosted, corporate-encrypted public media, without getting signed and spending huge amounts of money and time for the privilege of releasing public media.

    This will happen through the deprecation of anything people know how to produce, such as cassettes and Red Book CDs. MP3s may well remain a huge ghetto of underground music- but it's technologically possible to relegate such musicians to only the (freely exchanged) MP3s and deny them access to any new popular media that people are used to paying money before. And that's how it will be done... and ten years from now, today's 'nice' Red Book-savvy CD player is going to look awfully old, most will have broken by then, and it'll be taking up space needed for the new DVD player which also plays the revised CD format, just not the old Red Book format...

    I wish I was sleeping, so that this could be a nightmare :( I can't believe this is already starting to happen. And for anyone who doesn't think the industry can make you throw away all your old media and buy the music all over again- remember the CD?

  • Hi, just my thoughts on returning such CD's (based on german laws)
    1. You buy a CD, it's marked as a Audio-CD (Red-Book compatible), if not noted, it's implicit, that this CD will work in your Player
    You try it and notive a label on the CD itself, that it is copy-protected, you couldn't see this, before you bought this CD. This CD doesn't work with your Player => this CD isn't Red-Book compliant, so it isn't an Audio-CD. You had no chance noticing this before, though you can return this CD regardless what the Policy of your CD-Shop is.
    2. You buy this copy-protected CD and you can play it, but you cannot copy it with your cd-recorder (the audio-type pioneer makes for example). Then you can return it. Because under german law, you can make copies of tapes, cd's, video etc if it's for personal use und you pay the fee to the gema (a kind of a record company association, that want's to be sure to get it's money). But because you pay your gema-fee with every audio-tape, with every video-tape and every cdr-audio you buy, you have the legal right to copy an cd you own or to make a sampler of your cd's for your car for example. I think in the US the same concept is called fair-use.
    So in my opinion, two rights (which you have according to german laws) are not taken into recognition:
    First: when you buy a product and it doesn't work for you (even if you see it at a first glance but even more, if it's kind of a shrinked license agreement which states, that this is a copy-protected disc, after you open the cover), you have the right to return it to the distributor (eg the CD-Store). If the owner of the store tells you, you cannot return it, he's wrong, because he has the obligation to get a product back, that doesn't work. And a term like 'Sie können dieses Produkt nur ungeöffnet zurückgeben' is not valid, because it puts obligations to the buyer which aren't valid and so worth nothing. You have allways the right to return something that doesn't work for you and you couldn't know that or weren't told, that it might not working with your equipment.
    Second: under german law, you have the right to make copies of videos, cd's etc for personal use. If there's a cd that you cannot copy, this is a violation of german law. For your CD in your car you have the right to make a 'Best-Of' Compilation, regardless what CD's you want to use. You paid the company for their music and now you have the right to listen to this music (a little bit like the DVD Case: you baught the DVD and now aren't able to use it on your computer....Why didn't anybody sue the Companies who provide programs to copy Audio-CD's ? That's even worse, than providing the facility to PLAY DVD's on a Linux-Box....(I'm not suggesting people to sue Firms like hawkeye etc, I only want to make it clear, that there's a difference between playing and copying...).
    So, that's all for now...
    Hope to see you later,
  • by JamesSharman ( 91225 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:35AM (#1338176)

    Ok no cheating this time, get yourself a copy of the cd, load your fave debugger and get cracking. A nice clean reverse enginearing is what is needed here, none of this debuging xing to get the details wus boy cheating (joke!).

    Last one to crack+wideband buys the beer!
  • So why do they put this on crap like "Razorblade Romance" by Him and "My Private War" by Philip Boa & The Voodoo Club, that no one in their right mind would want to copy in the first place?
  • Some special CDDA+Data formats seem to prevent in some way digital audio extraction. In order to listen to them in my car (so a legal copy), I've tried to make copy of two of David Bowie's back catalogue remastered CDs published by EMI in the late 1999. On these two CDs, I got a SCSI error while extracting the last track (tried with three CD readers and different DAE utilities)

    I've noticed that problem with Weird Al's latest (not trying to copy, but just using DAE to play it since I have no audio cable), however the point at which it screws up is past where the final track *should* have ended (and indeed does end on a conventional CD player). Do yours fail during the music itself?

    Isn't that some kind of copy-protection too ?

    It could be, but there's always the possibility that there was a bug in whatever produced the CDs. Remember, "Never attribute to malice what can be sufficiently explained by stupidity".


  • Hang on, if it isn't Red Book compliant, what is it going to play in?
  • > Italics means BabelFish blew it so thoroughly I couldn't make sense of it.

    Well huh. I looked said stuff up in a German dictionary (just Ask Jeeves [] where you can find a German dictionary) and here's what I got:

    • Digitalausgang = Digital, so it's SPDIF Digital. I guess that means that if you have SPDIF outputs, this technology defeats them. Problem might be that the CD player uses SPDIF internally. My sound card (SB Live!) has SPDIF in and out. Thing is though: SPDIF streams can be flagged "copyrighted". I guess this is to make absolutely sure that you can't somehow defeat that flag.
    • "c't": c't [] is's "Magazine of Computer Technology" (a rough translation of the magazine's subtitle by someone who doesn't know German, but it sounds right). It's not a German word!
    • The part of the sentence in question with "concomitantly" is:
      • und - and
      • damit - with it
      • auch - likewise
      • the
    • Digitalsignal - guess...

    What a difference a human makes!


    Disclaimer: This is an educated choice from the possible translations of a German dictionary (Foreign Language Master []). I know no German besides that which sounds a lot like English (according to one of my friends who is taking German, this is about 50%).

  • If you record in wave format, there will be very little loss in quality. Or you could record digitally if your stereo and soundcard support it with no loss in quality.
  • Little boxes exist which remove the Copyright flag from SPDIF data in transit. Some MiniDisc and DAT owners use them.


  • That's simply downright sneaky. FYI: CD Players generally look for the TOC of the first session. (Multi-session) CD-ROMs look for the last session. That's currently how PC-only information is hidden from a CD Player. It's a quirk of history. Wade.
  • In Canada, and the US, I believe.. stores have every right not to take *any* returns, so long as the product was sold legally, and not under false pretenses.
    If I you go to WalMart and buy a bicycle, try it out, and decide you would rather have purchased a TV Set.... They are under *NO* obligation to take it back. The sale was a legally binding act, and was final. (of course, wal-mart explicitly *states* that you may return it, under certain conditions.)

    Now.. if the bike said 'aluminum frame, gold plated rims.. etc..' and you unpacked it and it was plastic.... then you could return it, and they would *have* to give you a full refund as the sale was fraudulent.

    So.. if you go buy a CD, and it's marked as CDDA or whatever.. and it's *NOT*.. it is a fraudulent sale, they have *NOT* sold you what they led you to believe you were buying... so they *MUST* take it back, and refund your money.
  • That's simply downright sneaky.

    FYI: CD Players generally look for the TOC of the first session. (Multi-session) CD-ROMs look for the last session. That's currently how PC-only information is hidden from a CD Player. It's a quirk of history.


  • Yes, when you mark something as Offtopic, that's a negative point. You can fix the bug of the posts going to -1 by logging in before you post, so they only go down from 1 to 0.

    Sheesh, some people.
    #define X(x,y) x##y
  • By the way heise produces the only two computer related magazines in Germany that are
    worth a read.

    Why be so modest? I think c't is probably the best personal computing magazine... Best one I ever read anyway (and I've seen alot...)

    iX is nice too.

  • I still buy CD's, but I only ever put them into a drive one time. After that, they sit on a rack, never to be opened again. To me, the CD is just a transport medium.. a way to get the data (songs) from the store and into my 'system'. You see, I have every song dumped onto a 25GB drive in my server machine. The house is wired with Fast Ethernet, and there's a pizza-box sized PC underneath the stereo in the family room that has one purpose: entertainment. Using homegrown software, a decent touchscreen monitor, and a wireless keyboard/mouse I have the best CD jukebox I could own. I can search by anything... title, artist, genre, etc.. or even just browse artwork from the jewel case covers. It even surfs the 'net. :-)

    This is the audio system that the music/entertainment industry won't create.. so I had to take matters into my own hands. Does this make me a theif, or a breaker of the law? No. What it does mean is that the entertainment system that I poured time, money, and effort into can't potentially be used to play newer titles, without even more legwork and bulls*it. Figures.

    This whole thing reminds me of when I was big into my Commodore 64... Electronic Arts went though a lot of trouble to make an unbeatable copy-protection system for their floppy disks.. even so far as to deliberately thowing the drive into a destructive head-smashing fit. It didn't take too long for "Fast Hack 'Em" to have, among other things, an 'Electronic Arts' copy function.. that made backups possible for my disk-eating-prone 1541. (I later found that this was due to misalignment, caused by EA's disks!)

    It's over a decade later, and the game hasn't changed at all. Seems that the guys at the proverbial top of the corporate ladder have their heads in the clouds... still.

    The problem with things like DeCSS isn't the fact that the code is out there, but in the fact that it wasn't underground. In the olden days of the Internet, the mainstream didn't really notice, or care, what happened. If DeCSS or something to 'fix' these noncompliant coasters wants to survive, it needs to do so on the underground, at least in the beginning.. long enough that many, many people have it and have perfected applying it to some useful product that the average Joe can point-and-click to use it without even knowing that he's using DeCSS or 'unfuck' or whatever the current industry-hot-potato is. Once it's reached that saturation point, let it surface. By that time, the source should be obscured well enough that the CCC(tm) (Corrupt/Confused/Contorted Ones - lawyers, corporate machines, FUD campaigns, et. al.) can't find the source and don't have the care to do so (too much time/money to locate it.)

    "Locks are for honest people." It's true. A lock only serves to keep honest people honest. No matter how tight you wrap something up, it can be copied/stolen/etc. Obviously, locking stuff up isn't the ticket... it's time to rethink the issue. What the industry needs to do is look at the root cause of the problem. (Really, very basic troubleshooting procedures.) You can spend all damn day/year/decade/century dealing with side effects (pirating CD's, DVD's, VHS tapes, games, even Microsoft mice) and still not have done a damn thing to fix the problem that is causing the undesirable actions. In this case, the #1 root cause is price. CD's are way overpriced, every poll I have seen over the years that even goes near this issue reflects that fact. (I'm sure the record companies know it too, but they're so fat that they have to eat that much, or they'll starve to death. Funny.. dinosaurs were that big too, look what happened to them..)

    Well, I think I've said enough. Sorry for the formatting, but /. is running like molasses. (It's only 7 hops from my dialup to /., but it feels like 30. How can /. be overloaded? Is slashdot feeling it's own slashdot effect?)

    don't mind my dumb .sig... that's what no sleep gets you:
  • I don't, but if I could pay $10/month and only get Fox (for The Simpsons and Futurama), Discovery, History, Bravo, AMC, Comedy and the Learning Channel, I'd be a happy bastard.

    A bit off-topic. But I couldn't find an email address for you. Dish Networks [] sells their non-premimum stations unbundled for $1.50 each, minimum order of 10 unless you allready buy some other package. So for $15 a month you can have what you wanted for $10 plus 2 or so extras. I suggest A and E (for the Biography show).

    Back on-topic, I want the same thing. Why should I have a whole wall of ER tapes when I could pay roughtly the same to get random access to any past show? That would kick.

    But I'm not sure i would be as intrested if I couldn't FF over the comercials, nor would NBC be as happy cutting the deal if they figure 80% of hte comercials will be FFed over. Plus this is a lot of bandwidth to carry. Not just over the last mile, but from whatever regonal server. Far worse then 100 cable channels. And if the movies live on a disk we are screwed, the bandwidth may be tere to feed 100 diffrent video streams off of one RAID, but the seaks will kill it. And you don't need 100s, but 100,000s or more.

    I don't think the problem is just political. The technology isn't there yet. and may not be for a decade or more.

  • by mindstrm ( 20013 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @03:21PM (#1338195)
    You have the right to make archival copies, and not be prosecuted. It's legal.
    This in no way implies that anyone has to provide you with a method for making said copies, it just means that if you DO make copies, you are within your rights.

    IANAL, but this is fairly obvious.

  • If I can see it, I can record it.

    I don't think that's entirely true.. I understand that recording a movie from a DVD was very difficult before DeCSS. If that were entirely true, the whole DeCSS problem wouldn't exist.
    It's easier with sound tho..

    So, is anyone working on a "DeCDS"? :-)


  • Making personal archival copies is considered *fair use* and is completely legal.

    This is a completely separate issue from whether the produce of a media has to give you the technological means to archive it or not. It is not *their* problem. They simply cannot use copyright law against you if you *DO* figure out how to do it... as the 'copies' are legitimate.

    To put it differently, them 'allowing' you to, meant 'allowing' you to legally, not technically. They cannot prosecute.

  • I'm EXTREMELY curious to see how this stuff really works and would love to grab one just for educational purposes... but I can't find the doggon CD's on BMG's site by searching for it. Weird; perhaps they pulled them already though.

    Does anybody know where I could get a CD "encoded" with this stuff? Online prefably.. I am a geek after all.

    Justin Buist
  • The reason for that is probably security - as it is set up now, at least someone can not censor you by pretending to be you, they may only send in new material that does not fit in your average opinions, thus clearly noticable by other /.:ers.
    Perheaps that would be a good idea if /. posts where submitted over SSL or pgp signed, but as it is set up now, all posts are, from a security viewpoint, AC's.
    --The knowledge that you are an idiot, is what distinguishes you from one.
  • Like you said, modern DSP's can do
    watermarking in real time.
    Since these (supposedly) can only
    be played on a new type of CD player,
    let the watermark be encrypted into the CDDA
    stream _by_ the drive, with it's serial number,
    everytime you play an audio track through it.
    (This could even work with older CD in the new
    drive). Then, when they find a pirated
    mp3, get the watermark, track sales records,
    find the drive that played it, and find the
    pirate (or at least the original owner of the
    drive). Sorta like the PIII serial numbers.

    If any of this has a grain of truth, I'm
    NEVER letting go of my old CDROM drive.
    Curse their copy-protected foulness!

  • It must just pain these movie/music execs that they cannot force humans to upgrade their eyes and ears so they can view and listen to encrypted content which is not descrambled until the BMI/MPAA/Borg approved implant embedded inside your nervous system decrypts the data and makes it understandable.
    If I can hear it, I can record it.
    If I can see it, I can record it.

    You're right, you can record it, but the fight isn't over making recording, it's about making copies (as in the same quality of the original). You can always hold your old boombox up the speakers and record what comes out, and no one is going to complain (I remember holding my boombox up to the radio to make tapes way back when). The difference being that the quality is so bad that you can't distribute it to anyone (well, you can sure try, but I doubt anyone will take you up on it). No one cares if you make a copy, they care if you make a copy suitable for redistribution.

  • by bridgette ( 35800 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @04:14PM (#1338224)
    The article stated that there was a 2 year old Phillips CD player that wouldn't play the protected CD's. More than 1.5% of all CD users must have CD players that are more than a few years old. Especially since (non-portable) CD players don't wear out and there really havn't been any major advances in technology since the CD changers. If you bought a 5-100 disk changer CD player with remote control 5-10 years ago, malfunction would be the only reason to replace it. The number of non-compliant CD players must be at least 10%.

    If new but really cheap CD players won't play them either, then maybe Wal-Mart will refuse to sell the protected CD's, "Hey, they piss off our el cheapo CD vendors", and then BMG will be really really sorry.
  • It's a shame that I wasn't one of those people. Some coder *I* am. ;D

    It's a shame Slashdot doesn't allow the original author to edit their post (for just such an emergency. ;P)

  • This is the message I sent to several e-mail addresses that appeared like they might be relevant (and to the customer service at BMG Music Service, which I'm a member of:)

    I realize that this message may be misplaced in its delivery to one or more of the people who have received it, but I am sending it to any and all addresses for BMG employees that appear to be potentially applicable (or who may know where it should be forwarded).

    It has come to light that recently BMG has begun releasing copy-protected music CDs to the general public. Due to the fact that these CD's are not Red Book compliant, they do not play on many conventional CD players, nor do they play on computer CD drives. They do not bear a label or message anywhere on them that states this. Now, I don't know if you're aware or not, but many retail outlets do not accept returns of opened CD's (after all, someone might have copied it). This means that I, as a consumer of music, stand an indefinite chance of purchasing a useless plastic coaster anytime I purchase a CD from BMG Entertainment or its subsidiary companies. I also am a significant user of the MP3 music format. I have a household network with computers in many rooms of my home, including one hooked up to my stereo system. I have an MP3 player in my car, and also a portable player. By removing (or, as I'll illustrate in a momeny, simply complicating) my ability to convert a CD that I legally purchase into a *legal* copy for listening, you have removed a great portion of the reason for me to purchase that CD. In fact, you have not even removed my ability to perform that conversion; there are several ways that such copy-protection could be circumvented - and one of them is certain to work.

    I am a long-time member of the BMG Music Service in the United States. As things stand, I have no guarantee that when I purchase a CD from you that it will in fact be a CD Audio (Red Book) compliant disc, nor that it will work in my high-end (but old) CD player. If this matter is not resolved acceptibly, this leaves me no choice other than to cancel my membership with BMG Music Service.

    Here's a link to an article (in German) if you hadn't already heard about this: /data/cm-25.01.00-000/ []

    For those that can't read German, here it is (poorly) translated through Babelfish: late?doit=done&urltext= ker/data/cm-25.01.00-000/&lp=de_en []

  • If you want to make mp3s of the music, why don't you just connect your stereo to the line in on your sound card and record? Then you can burn it to a normal cd too if you want.
  • This is what my SB Live card is for. Anything that is played through the wave output can be recorded. So, if I had a player that could decode these new CD's I could then be able to record them. Granted it would be more annoying that just ripping a copy from the CD, but nothing is perfect I suppose. Now, the problem occurs if the CD player itself does the decoding and doesn't have a digital output on it to interface with the digital input on my Live card. That would truely suck and I suspect that might be the case if any company decided they actually want to make a CD-ROM drive that supports decoding these sorry CD's.

  • The distributors and stores don't have the truely monsterous profit margins.
    a 2-3% return rate would significantly eat into profits, (extra work returning and taking care of them would help)
    they would notice.
  • by Nemesys ( 6004 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:38AM (#1338248)
    I wonder if these people are liable under faulty product legislation for representing as CDs things which aren't Red Book compliant.

    I've often dreamt of suing Microsoft for their so-called TELNET programme which actually doesn't. (It violates the protocol, or at least the Win95 version did).

  • I wonder exactly what type of crack they had to be smoking at BMG's Executive office when they came up with this flop of an idea. No one is going to rush out and buy a new cd player just so they can lose part of their right as a consumer to make copies for their own personal use. And even a few years from now if all the cd players bought and sold support this new format, you can bet that cd sales will start hurting. People will just switch over to a new format that does not restrict how they use what they purchase. And I certainly hope (for their sake) that BMG does not try to release these cds on this format before the "newer" cd players become standard because I just can just immagine millions of cds returned because "It didn't work."
  • > BMG Entertainment, the music division of the Bertelsmann company, has started selling CDs with copy protection using the Cactus DATA Shield. This system was developed in co-operation with the Israeli software enterprise Midbar and Sonopress from Germany. So far the albums "Razorblade Romance" by Him and "My Private War" by former Independent Heroen Philip Boa & The Voodoo club(?). The copy protection prevents not only playing and copying of the audio tracks with the PC, but also playing on all D-CRcOcM-cDrives(?) as well as on older audio CD players.

    The italics are an uncertain fix. I (or preferrably someone else) should look them up in a German dictionary to verify the exact meaning.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:48AM (#1338267)
    AP- South Florida Hacker arrested for breaking music copy protection and publishing it on the web.

    "Really, I dont understand it.. I was just telling people how I use the digital output on my new CD deck to input the audio into my computer so that I can run it through nwfiir to make it sound better.. and all of a sudden the cops were kicking in my door."

    This is stupid. If you can play it, you can copy it.
  • Spoke with a tristate sales manager who also told me about technology they want to use to prevent copying. Using some sort of digital watermarking, it could prevent/reveal who copying of cd's. Pointed out to him a simple wiring of stereo-out to mic-in for the simplest way of copying. Didn't seem to understand copying was always possible even though this method is easily divertable..

  • HTH, HAND - Hope That Helps, Have A Nice Day
    IANAxxx - I Am Not A (whatever, usually Lawyer)
    IIRC - If I Recall Correctly
    AFAIK - As Far As I Know
    IMO/IMHO - In My Opinion/In My Humble Opinion (also IMnsHO: not so humble)

    More can be identified at this handy little Acronym Page [].

    HTH. HAND.

    -- (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • by ucblockhead ( 63650 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:50AM (#1338276) Homepage Journal
    95% of my CD listening is at a PC. If I can't use the CD in a CD-ROM, it is just a useless hunk of plastic, little better than an AOL disk.

    I'd say this calls for a boycott, but why bother? They're products are useless. Obviously, no one is going to buy a useless product.

    And looking around the office, and seeing the number of headphones hooked into computers, I'd say that they've grossly underestimated the impact of this. And we're not talking about just techies, either.

    Anyone got an e-mail for BMG so that I can inform them that they are starting to produce products that are useless to me?
  • by gburgyan ( 28359 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:50AM (#1338278) Homepage
    It's made by Cactus Data Shield, which can be found over here [].

    They sell a device which goes between the data source and the mastering equiptment, so it can't be fiddling with the format too much. I would guess that they screw with the formatting information that gets written (such as the block headers and whatnot)

    From their web site:

    Simple to install and operate, the CACTUS DATA SHIELD is a one-station, stand-alone automatic device that is installed in-line between the data processing station and the LBR mastering system.

    Transparent to the content provider, there is no need to modify content or its delivery systems. In addition, CACTUS DATA SHIELD does not affect the pre-mastering process or require production machinery modification.

    The CACTUS DATA SHIELD can also be seamlessly integrated with commercial mastering and production equipment.

    I can't imagine it would take too long to crack it. :-)
  • by Ian Pointer ( 11337 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:51AM (#1338280) Homepage
    We've spent the last few months going on how about if you can read / play music / video, you'll always be able to make a copy. The response from BMG?

    A music format no-one can read!

  • BMG are evil. More so than the other three big record companies. This is exactly the sort of shit one would expect them to pull.

    The thing to know about BMG is that they are control freaks. They play hardball. They aggressively prosecute the copying of long-deleted albums once released on their label, to an extent that the others don't. They're not called the Big Mean German for nothing.

    Fortunately they don't seem to release much worth getting (other than David Bowie's single releases). Unless they own lots of "independent" labels and keep quiet about it.
  • by Cebert ( 69916 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:52AM (#1338282) Homepage
    1) People copy off copyable media.
    2) Companies get angry, include simple copy protection.
    3) Crackers defeat copy protection.
    4) Companies get even more angry and start including protection at the cost of pissing off honest consumers.
    5) Crackers defeat copy protection.
    6) New read only media comes out with no writable drive.
    7) Companies migrate to new media, and relax protection measures.
    8) New writable drive comes out.
    7) GOTO 1...over and over and over...

    People NEVER LEARN.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @07:58AM (#1338296)
    I say exchange it as many times as possible to make a point, until returning it.

    The situation would be like when I bought a crappy VHS tape years ago from Best Buy. Not only did the movie suck, but they recorded at low speed on low quality tapes. I tried to return it, They said "it's open, we can't let you". So I explained that the tape was defective. They said "ok, exchange it". I said I would be fine with that, but the next one is most likely defective also. I explained that I would probably exchange and return every copy in the store. Ok they let me return it.

    If an audio CD I wanted to buy was written in the encrapted format, I wouldn't be so easy on them.

    Buy the CD,
    Hey it's broke, it doesn't play on my CD player(made in 1989).
    Exchange it.
    Hey, this one's broke too.
    Exchange it. Wow, must have had a bad batch.
    Third ones broke too.
    Best Buy "Exchange limit, sorry, something wrong with your player?"
    My cd player plays my other 100 cd's fine.
    Ok, refund.

    After a few thosand people return these things, they would have to at least sell them as a separate format. So then only Circuit city would sell them in the CIVX section.
  • Douglas Adams has commented, sort of.

    Yep, that was the reference I was after.

    The usless people incluced hair dressers, telephone sanitizers, etc.

    Which was rather unfair, of course. Hairdressers do a necessary job, after all, and we all know what happened without the telephone sanitisers.

    I'd define the useless third as that breed of hangers-on whose only work is self-promotion. They join groups ending in 'AA' whose only goals are to promote their own existence at the expense of everyone else. They have their companies fight each other. They sue. They are the lawyers. They are the politicians who are in it for the power, not because they believe in any particular vision of the future.

    Stick 'em on Ark Fleet Ship B and back to Golgafrincham with them!

    This comment was brought to you by And Clover.
  • If this is the only problem, then I'll bet you that we see a few computer cd players and mp3 rippers that accept external track info, so that you can get the directory info you can't just read. Then you can trade the file on IRC, or with Napster. There's nothing illegal about a file that just lists offsets into a CD...

    But, if it's a real CD and just uses an odd format, it won't be long before programs are written that manually decode it.
  • Well you install it on records virtually no one is going to play and hear so they don't complain.

    Then you release it on someone more popular's records.

    Then when people complain you say that as you have released records before on this standard. then your ncrypted records are in fact the standard format and the CD players that everyone has are in fact the non compliant devices even though it is your CD's that are non compliant.

    then not only do you have encrypted music, but you own the encryption system and no Independant artists can distribute music without going through the record companies.
  • Probably the same type stuff you would wind on playstation discs and some PC game CDs... Most often, they'll do something like multiple FAT entries (say, 1000 copies of track TEN or something) that'll work on a regular(stupid) CD player but will make any player that tries to make sense of the table barf.....
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    Alien technology extracted from Project Blue Book. :)
  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @08:02AM (#1338312) Homepage
    They cannot be played on a CD-ROM drive since it cannot read the table of contents. You can still rip the actual data but you need to know the block offsets and modify your ripper to ignore the error when reading table of contents.

    My guess is that CD players and CD-ROM drives use the CD subcode channel differently. These disks probably trash the parts used by CD-ROM drives.

    A simple modification to the CD-ROM firmware can probably fix it but I don't believe CDROM manufacturers would be inclined to do that.

    My suggestion to the owner of the disk was to use the S/PDIF output of a DVD player and hook it to his S/PDIF interface card. Within 20 minutes of my first encounter with this scheme a perfect digital rip was made. But I guess that people outside the audio and music industry usually don't have access to an S/PDIF interface card.

  • This may be the stores policies, but I believe it's also law. The stores are not really getting raped- it's the record companies (and game companies in some cases).
  • According to this page [] at Midbar, it is said to be "fully transparent to the consumer." It claims to work on "existing commercial players and drives". It's not really clear to me whether it can be played on older devices or not.

    I'm the author and maintainer of a Windows (don't flame me) dll for ripping CD audio, and so this interests me a great deal. But the bottom line is this -- if it can be read by a standard CD player, then there's no way that they can rip-proof it. Since it's quitting time here in Europe, I may head down to the local record store and see if I can't find either of these two CDs and get back with some hard, technical details, rather than the marketing hype from the article and Midbar's web site.
  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @08:05AM (#1338322)
    A lot of stores have strict return policies - if you open the CD then you can't return it. At most, you can exchange it with an identical album.

    The rationale is simple, and compelling in college towns (such as where I live) - the store is trying to prevent students from buying a disk, ripping it to tape (or MP3 nowadays), then returning the album for a full refund.

    Of course, that policy will *not* work if a label starts defrauding the public by using an incompatible format without clearly labeling it as such. The obvious solution which other people have suggested - filing criminal fraud charges against the record store and label - are unlikely to go anywhere because no DA will prosecute a case where the loss is the cost of a CD. Individuals will probably win in small claims court, but that's a hassle and BMG will continue to rake in money from the public -- and harm the reputation of its artists.

    The only way to stop BMG sppears to be a class action civil lawsuit (hmm, is fraud = breach of contract and subject to treble damages?), a successful boycott, or sending the Norwegian police to arrest the president of BMG for "economic crimes."
  • by Zeni ( 52928 )

    Wouldn't something like unfuck.exe make the CD's copyable? (Besides the obvious analog copying)
  • by AugstWest ( 79042 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @08:07AM (#1338327)
    We have a legal right to make archive copies of the media we purchase. It would seem that this technology is infringing on that right. Say that I purchase a CD, and it gets stolen with the hundreds of others that are stored in my car. Say that I purchase a CD, then it fals off the coffee table and the cat takes off playing with it, scratching it to hell and back. Wouldn't it be great if I had already made a perfectly legal copy of my own media?

    I know that a number of lawyers read /. regularly, am I off base on this one?
  • But when I encode my MP5, if I want to make money off it, I register it with a public database with my public key...

    Digital signature. The artist would have a keypair, and sign the work with her private key. The artist's public key would verify the signature, ensuring the consumer that this really is the artist's work, and that the royalties will go to the person who deserves them.

    First we gotta educate the masses about public key cryptography. Which reminds me, I need to contact someone....

    The software I use to playback the MP5 stream sends a private key to this database, unlocks the stream and hits a counter for it.

    Private keys are never sent across the wire. In the ideal scheme the consumer doesn't need a keypair at all. The request itself is sufficient to trigger the counters so that the accountants know where to send the royalties.

    Of course, we won't get the ideal scheme, because the human race resists that. We may end up with some sort of compromise in which consumers send digitally signed requests (the electronic equivalent of "Dear Atlantic Records, I want to listen to Tori Amos's From the Choirgirl Hotel right now. Signed, Greg."). That way, the people who run this can track us more closely. They get off on that.

    Personally, I could live with that compromise, but it's probably going to be a dilemma for people who like to watch "adult" videos. They will quickly realize that there's a database somewhere that contains their entire viewing history... and that this information is available to some humans somewhere, and could conceivably be revealed to other humans who might have a motive and sufficient bribe money to obtain that information. And unless my guess is wrong, aspiring politicians are right up near the top of the adult video demographic. (Successful politicians no longer need the videos; they can get the real thing. See Clinton, Bill; Kennedy, John; etc., ad nauseum.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @08:07AM (#1338330)
    If its not Red book compliant, why would any CD player be able to play it? What about it prevents only "old" CD players and PC CD players from playing it?
  • Ok, let's see: me my dad still has a Technics SL-D1 turntable. And has also an old Technics CD player bought 10 years ago ar a price of $500.
    I think that my dad if after discovering that the CD will not work in theit CD player, changed it, still not work, when all other cds are readable, will ask for a 33 rpm disk. Then will make a cassette copy of the disc because he will also like to listen his lp on his car.

    On my side, an SL-1210 costs $600 I think, and a
    good cartrige costs $200...

  • Well, this is just brilliant. Whatever music that gets released in this format will be pirated rampantly. But if a non-pirate goes into a store and mistakenly buys one of these CDs, they can't actually listen to it. So the customer get frustrated and takes it back, with a mental note not to buy any more BMG CDs.

    Total sales revenue: $0.00 It looks like BMG has essentially taken a pro-piracy stance. If I were a musician signed with BMG, I would sue 'em.

  • by Bob Ince ( 79199 ) <> on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @08:22AM (#1338347) Homepage

    It is interesting that "newer" CD players can deal with these mangled discs at all. Have manufacturers been trying to sneak protection into a new CD non-standard standard or is it just luck that they work at all?

    Technical details very lacking at Sonopress - /15-99/protect.htm [] is about all there is.

    Of course as a copy-protection method this is utterly hopeless -

    c't Labs are currently testing whether the copy protection also prevents playing CDs through the SP/DIF digital output. It is possible that the product could fail to qualify for the "Compact Disc Digital Audio" label due to non-conformace to the Red Book standard. When consulted by c't, BMG admitted to being aware of difficulties with the scheme. Until these are cleared up, no further protected CDs will be released

    - even if somehow the digital interconnects are disabled - which would seem to implicate player manufacturers in the protection scheme - it will still always be possible to save any sound a device can play back at us.

    The music industry wants us to keep paying for the same music again and again, on new formats, or as old media wear out (yeah - I've got CDs that won't play properly any more already, but that's no problem once they're MP3d), or simply through making us rent all music. But since CDs the cat is already way out of the bag, and clumsy attempts like this - and DVD-Audio - to stuff it back in just won't work any more.

    Oh quick, more news coming in...

    Useless Third sues Rest of World

    California, 25 January - A group of lawyers today issued writs against society in an attempt to preserve the livelihoods of their clients.

    Moschops Ankleduster, attorney for the useless third of the population commented, "My clients feel that it is unfair to deny the vital importance of the Useless sector - those jobs that are neither productive nor creative."

    "Industry bodies and bureaucracies must be permitted to make great sums of money from the work of the artists who create the products and the workers who physically create them", he continued, "and we will fight for the rights of all those upstanding citizens - ourselves included - who contribute absolutely nothing to the world".

    Asked whether existing modes of distribution were still viable in a rapidly-changing information-based society, Ankleduster commented, "Fuck off".

    Douglas Adams was unavailable for comment.

    This comment was brought to you by And Clover.
  • by Merk ( 25521 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @08:29AM (#1338351) Homepage

    The fish sez: So far the albums " Razorblade Romance " of the group of Him and " My private ones are were concerned " the former Independent Heroen Philip Boa & The Voodoo club.. Man them krauts are kinky. They have a group called "My private ones were concerned"? Kinda makes "Limp Biskit" look silly doesn't it?

    According to the fish, "The copy protection prevents [...] a playing on all D-CRcOcM-cDrives"! How will I listen to it?? I play all my music through my 26x D-CRcOcM-cDrive!

    The fish also tells me that "Possibly also the seal Compact Disc digital audio is not entitled to the product". Ok, well that may be fine for "Compact Disc digital audio" but what about my pet seal Lenny? Is Lenny entitled to the product? (Man those germans have wierd names for their seals).

    Ah, fun with babelfish [], it never gets tiring. For those of you who haven't tried it, try a modern day version of "telephone". Write a simple paragraph into the box, translate it to german, translate it back to english, translate it to french, translate it back to english, and so on until you've done all the languages... then compare your original paragraph with the translation.

  • by QuasEye ( 98125 ) <prussbw@ya h o o .com> on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @08:44AM (#1338357) Homepage
    There's been a lot of talk bandied around here about "if you can play it, you can copy it." This is true, but not in all cases.

    This new CD format, I'm guessing (and I really am guessing - I can't get decent info about it), uses some kind of audio watermarking process. This would mean that they have applied extra information to the signal in a way that is masked by the music or whatever. This would create some distortion, but if they do it right, only audiophiles will notice. This may also screw up some older CD players if the process assumes some kind of reconstruction scheme that they are too old to have is used for the D/A conversion. Doing a bitwise copy of the music (using CDParanoia or cdda2wav, for example) and writing it to a CDR will result in a copy that is playable on any CD player on which the original is playable.

    The "protection" comes into play when the track is converted to MP3. MP3 encoders remove a lot of information from a track in order to get the high compression rate they have. The trick, though, is that they only remove information that you're not likely to hear. If the watermark is somehow cleverly designed to stand out when this extra information is removed, then any MP3s made from the protected disc will be of poor quality. The solution would be to to remove the watermark in the encoder, but this would extremely difficult. No one would know how the watermark is generated, and that even if one did figure it out, the record companies could just switch watermarking methods every second or so.

    It can be done.


  • by GooseKirk ( 60689 ) <`goosekirk' `at' `'> on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @09:23AM (#1338358) Homepage
    Here's what I think about all this...

    The corporations are going to realize, either through enlightenment or exasperation, that a certain amount of pirating is going to happen no matter what, and all their lawsuits and dumbass anti-theft schemes just annoy and alienate a sizeable segment of their customers. And then they're going to realize that it's not really a bad deal for them... people are still going to buy real product, and bootleg MP3s can be great exposure. They'll have to grow up and take the bad with the good. Makes me want to waggle a finger at them and remind them that life isn't fair, then give them a little pat on the head and tell them to run along... the little tyrannical ballbusting corporate stinkers. They're so cute at this age, aren't they?

    Now, of course, when 2.2 terabyte credit-card-size storage cards become widely available, and your common Swatch holds 400 gigs, then all bets are off. But there's enough time between now and then to implement the only system that can save the corporations' sorry asses, as far as I can figure...

    You already pay $40/month for, let's face it, lousy fucking cable TV service that's unreliable and offers you no choice whatsoever. What a joke. But most of us keep paying it. Personally, I don't, but if I could pay $10/month and only get Fox (for The Simpsons and Futurama), Discovery, History, Bravo, AMC, Comedy and the Learning Channel, I'd be a happy bastard. But I'm not going to pay another $30/month for a whole pile of pathetic sports, news, almost impossibly stupid MTV shows and something called the WB Network which I'm under doctor's orders not to ever even look at. Oh... but sorry, got off on a tangent there - that's GooseKirk Rant #47. Back to...

    Check this out: If I could pay, for example, $60/month for full-on media services... if I could watch any TV show anytime I want, any movie anytime I want, and listen to any music anytime I want, I would never download another illicit MP3 as long as I live. Make this media service available via DSL, cable and broadband roaming wireless, and bam, you've just effectively - not completely, but effectively - wiped out piracy.

    YOU TAKE AWAY THE INCENTIVE. Why would I bother owning any physical media whatsoever? Why would I waste my time copying multiple gigs of MP3s and DVDs from my friends? I'm going to want this service no matter what -- it's cable TV, the video store and the music store all at the touch of a button, with all the new stuff available to me the second it's released and all the old stuff available any time I want. Every episode of Futurama, every song by Charles Mingus, every John Cusack movie all professionally encoded and cataloged and awaiting my command. No more schlepping around crates of CDs, no more messed up tapes and discs from the video store, no more late fees, no more unavailable titles, no more accidentally trashing or burning or theft of entire collections, no more missing a favorite show... I've seen the future, brothers and sisters, and it is cool. And add a Transmeta receiver with broadband wandering wireless service, and I'm good for home, the office, the car, jogging, whatever. And, oh yeah, make it a service that runs on top of my current internet provider, please.

    The business side of a project like this... I dunno. I'm sure it could be worked out. Out of a $60/month fee, say $10 goes to overhead for whoever runs the service, and $50 gets divided up among all the artists who created content on some sort of a per-watch/listen scale. I realize this raises more questions than it answers, but I'm sure the particulars could be hammered out. Hey, I'm the visionary, I leave the accounting to the eggheads, alright?

    OK, there's some privacy issues here, too, I know, I know. The Corporation is going to know everything I watch and listen to. Well, I'm of the camp that the US Gov't needs to pull its head out of its ass and enact some EU-style laws, and pronto. Sorry to my libertarian pals, but I think it's abundantly clear by now that the private sector is not going to play nice on its own, and a little governmental smacking around is occasionally in order. Microsoft. But that's neither here nor there. Personally, I got no beef with marketers knowing that I like good things and hate bad stupid things, and to please stop trying to sell me the bad stupid things and I don't care if Oliver Stone did make the football movie, I'm still not going to watch it, and I'm not going to watch his "WWF Smackdown" movie in 2012, either, so if I have to watch that idiotic commercial one more time...

    Well, anyway, am I talking the crazy talk here or what, folks?

  • hail yeah-- i hope this thing gets ging for the simple fact that I can mock everyone who jeered at the minidisc. I pop a CD into my 20th anniversary Mac, run a 1/8" cable from the line out to my sharp702 and let it run for an hour- no one will ever stop the audio from coming out. ..."it's not solid state memory" they say...."It has too many moving parts" they say....."youre minidisc player is obsolete" they say...well, obsolete this!
  • My guess is that they have put a layer in the CD that gives read errors. The error correction in the CD player will make sure you can't hear (too much, just some dist) of these errors but since the ripping is done before the correction process you will get clicks in you rip. I have an old SimpleMinds CD that is unrippable (due to constant clicks) but work in CD player. The name of the protection scheme even suggest this kind of protection. This system would be uncrackable (The CD is borderline quality, how do you crack that?). You need the error correction information to be able the correct the errors and when you rip you dont get that, SPDIF should work but thats slower then hell. PS. Kinda sucks if you have a $1000 CD transport and the CD are Fed when you get them...
  • by jms ( 11418 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @09:39AM (#1338369)
    Going this route is an unbelievably stupid move on the part of the labels.

    They can't stop people from using the MP3 format, but they are in their last and best position to influence the basic ethics of CD ripping and MP3 use. Products like the RIO and other standalone MP3 players are not going to go away. If anything, they are going to gain wider and wider acceptance.

    Take for example a law-abiding, honest person. Let's make this person the "music listener of the future." He buys CDs, but he has a large collection, and he can't really lug it around, because he's on the go too much, and wants his music in walkman format. When he wants new music, he goes to the store, purchases a CD at retail price, rips it on his computer, and downloads it to his walkman-sized MP3 player, so he can carry it around with him.

    Life is good.

    He would never think of going to the web to "steal" MP3s from pirate sites. His conscience is clean. He has broken no laws, and hasn't even skirted any laws. He's paid for his music, and is engaging in perfectly legal use of the software.

    Now, the music industry begins distributing CDs with copy protection that can't be ripped. This person, following his usual routine, goes to the store, and unknowingly purchases a copy protected CD. Now, he takes it home, tries to rip it as usual, but can't. Now he's mad, because he just paid $15.00 for a CD that appears to be defective. He goes online to find out what is going on. He discovers that he can't rip the CD because it's copy protected.

    Someone suggests that he look for an MP3 of the disc online.

    After all, this scheme doesn't prevent EVERYONE from making MP3 copies. It just raises the bar -- now in order to make MP3s you need special equipment.

    At first, this person hesitates ... he's heard a lot about "MP3 pirating" and how it's so wrong to deprive the artists of their money ... but then he realizes, what's the difference between ripping the CD himself, and downloading an MP3 of the CD? He's already paid for the music. If he had the proper equipment to rip the CD, he would wind up with a bit-for-bit duplicate of the online MP3 file anyway.

    So he downloads the MP3. In the process, he notices that the same site has lots of other interesting stuff that he doesn't have. Maybe he doesn't download them, but eventually, as more and more new releases are copy protected, and he finds himself going to the web again and again to obtain MP3s of his own CDs, he realizes that there is no point in buying the CDs anymore, because he is just going to have to go to the web to download the MP3 so he can listen to it.

    Now this person either keeps buying the unusable CDs, and starts to feel like a sucker -- used and abused by the record labels, or simply stops buying the useless CDs, downloads the MP3s instead, and suddenly has a lot more free cash to spend on other things.

    The RIAA says that copy protection "keeps honest people honest." Instead, it's primary effect is, has always been, and will always be, to turn honest people into criminals.

  • by Tau Zero ( 75868 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @08:50AM (#1338372) Journal
    I'd say the thing to do is order these protected discs TODAY
    No. Absolutely not. If you buy them at all, you are telling BMG (and everyone else) that they can make money by producing an incompatible format which obsoletes your present hardware, stamps out many of your current methods for playback and deprives you of fair use.

    The way to kill this thing is to make it cost money. Make sure BMG eats all their production and promotional costs, without getting a return on them. If you buy one of these discs by mistake, return it for refund. This also costs the store, and they may stop carrying such discs. Without retail channels, BMG will have to drop the format and go back to regular CD. Kill it the same way we killed DIVX: stay away in droves. It's the only way.

  • In the UK the Consumer Protection Act clearly states that a product must be "fit for purpose". All retailers MUST adhere to this law therefore if the CD you bought in "good faith" fails to play on your CD player is not "fit for purpose". Your retailer is obliged by law to either refund you or supply you with a similar product.

    Going out on a limb here I would suggest that the CD's in question are not of "marketable quality" and should be removed from circulation.
  • So exchange it for an identical item. When that one doesn't work, bring it back to the store along with a portable CD player and show them that it doesn't work. Make this problematic for the stores and they will discontinue selling the CDs.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @09:05AM (#1338379)
    It must just pain these movie/music execs that they cannot force humans to upgrade their eyes and ears so they can view and listen to encrypted content which is not descrambled until the BMI/MPAA/Borg approved implant embedded inside your nervous system decrypts the data and makes it understandable.

    If I can hear it, I can record it.

    If I can see it, I can record it.


    Get it, now?

  • You actually start out suggesting something very different than you end up with. There are two kinds of boycotts - passive and advertised.

    A passive boycott is really simple. Don't buy a company's products. Send email to your friends recommending same. When the world goes to hells, say "at least I didn't contribute." I practice this kind of passive boycott on a lot of different products/classes and depending on what you want to boycott its harder than it sounds to stick with it. It also rarely changes anything.

    Then theres the advertised boycott, which is more of a media driven protest than an actual boycott. Thats where we make a web page all about the issue, get all the geeks to add a "boycott nasty new CDs! Click here for details" button to their web pages, hype it to a net presence that will sound impressive to non-techies, then write a press release about the "first international e-protest" and blast fax the major media (as well as semi-major media in the hometown areas of 5-10 major players with a press release emphasising how they got involved.)

    Thats a lot harder, and requires a fair amount of cooperation. It's also a lot more likely to work, since the threat of a sales drop, even if you couldn't really get everyone who signs on to do it, will work a lot better than the tiny drop that comes from a few people sticking consitently to their guns. It also helps if you can get some public institutions involved ie "the massachusetts public library consortium has stated that they will not include XXX's CDs in their publicly avalible music collection because the company's policy conflicts with the library's mission of providing freely usable media."

    Anyway, lunch break is over, gotta work.

  • You have the right to make backups of things you purchase, but the publisher is under no obligation to make it possible to make those copies with a particular piece of hardware (in this case a CDRW drive). CDs are somewhat unique in that it is easy to produce an exact duplicate of the disc. There is no way to duplicate for instance a book, and books are certainly not illegal (you can photocopy a book, but that would be analogous to using a tape to copy a CD, which still works in this case)
  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Tuesday January 25, 2000 @09:17AM (#1338398)
    IANAL, but from the other material posted it sounds like you can still make archival copies by reading the block device.

    In a true irony which I hope the BMG executives consider when deciding whether to keep the bozo who conned them into this scheme, the only way most of us will be able to listen to this music is to read the corrupted data from the block device, run a repair program on it, then burn it to CD-R. Unlike DVD, the original disk is worthless and millions of consumers have CD-R burners. And those of us who use ours for data archive, not CDA mastering, will make an exception in this case - a CD-R is *far* cheaper than a new CD player.
  • See, here's the thing, nobody is going to go out and buy new CD players, but they will go out and buy DVD players! I'm sure that all of the DVD players deal with the new copy protection scheme just fine when they play CD's. So now they move you to drives where they are controlling who can play what when and how often. Oh and of course you can't play DVD's on Linux but that's okay because most people run Windows. Why would you want to use Linux anyhow? I mean it is so complex and hard to use, why would you want to play DVD's there? The only reason you could possibly want to do that is so that you could make illegal copies! We can't have any of that now, can we? You want to make a copy for your own personal use? Oh, well yes, that's legal, but who really does that? Nobody in their right mind would need to back up their music! Just go out and buy another copy like a good consumer!


  • OK, but you use different headers. Veering back on track, how about something like this:

    for each post {
    print "HTTP/1.0 200\n"
    print "Content-type: multipart/x-mixed-replace;boundary=BOUNDARY\n\n"
    print "--BOUNDARY\nContent-type: text/html\n\n"
    print "<HTML><BODY>"
    print comment
    print "</body></html>"

    Of course, if you used xml, some smarter (mozilla) browsers may well be able to reflow it and organise it as you see fit. HTML *must* still be supported tho

  • by Anonymous Coward
    how long it will take? Kind sir I believe it already has been beaten. (heh its just for your own personal backups! really!) has a program called BLINDREAD 3.0 which can read most any CD no matter how screwy it is (for all of those who know anything about the bleem! cd key, blindread was able to make a working copy of it).. I wouldn't doubt blindread being able to read what is on these CDs either..

A successful [software] tool is one that was used to do something undreamed of by its author. -- S. C. Johnson