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Slashback: IPO, Protest, Ripping 156

More information below to update recent stories about MandrakeSoft's IPO, CDs designed to thwart the evil and insidious practices of convenient listening and fair use, and He-Man's favorite GNU/Linux distribution.

This has nothing to do with "slacking." Xpilot writes "The Slack people have decided to discontinue support for the SPARC architecture (boo hoo), read about it here."

In other words, they're putting their efforts elsewhere -- which is not to say that someone else can't build on the GPL'd SPARC codebase already assembled up to now. I've never heard a Slackware user complaining, so Patrick and company clearly know what they're about.

Even for you U.S. persons! From the announcement I posted on Mandrake's upcoming IPO on a French stock exchange (and from the announcement it pointed to), many people got the impression that Americans were legally excluded from buying shares in the offering. Actually, it's MandrakeSoft which is not allowed to advertise the offering outside of France.

As one correspondent points out, "Everybody can use an online broker that accepts orders for European markets from U.S. people ( for instance) or use their broker if they can take orders for 'Euronext Marche Libre.'" Your regular broker may be able to handle this.

This isn't investment advice, though. Buy (or do not) at your own risk and pleasure, and pay attention to the various complications and liabilities ;) Either way, you may be interested in an informative article at Freezer-Burn about the process.

Additionally, a semi-anonymous reader wrote with a few figures about the offering: "After the IPO there will be a total of 3 395 269 shares. Which will do a valuation (market capitalization) after IPO of 21 millions Euros (18,3 millions USD). Redhat is currently at 577 Millions USD - so it's 1/30th Redhat size, about 3% of Redhat."

Too bad Adobe isn't a music publisher. You read recently about the quiet introduction of rip-resistant CDs into U.S. stores; now fadden writes: "I've posted an update to the CD-Recordable FAQ that explains my understanding of how (and, more importantly, why) the Macrovision technology works, why it won't prevent you from playing CDs in your car or on your computer, why it will be effective at making it difficult to "rip" or copy CDs, and where hopes lie for defeating it."

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Slashback: IPO, Protest, Ripping

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Lbh nofbyhgr shpxvat cvrpr bs fuvg zbeba. Jul gur uryy qbrf n cerpvf bs gur yvax grkg trg zbqqrq hc va guvf shpxrq hc sbehz? Qbrfa'g nalbar urer unir gur fyvtugrfg pyhr?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Although not a digital-to-digital copy, directly re-digitizing the audio output from the cd-player may be perfectly acceptable, especially if the end target is an mp3.

    Why? Simply because the distortion introduced by re-digitizing with a high-quality ADC is miniscule compared to the changes in generating the final mp3. There is a much greater distortion introduced in generating the mp3 than in the re-digitization process. One should not be able to tell the difference between the mp3 generated from the re-digitized source or the original.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just read how the CD protection works, and I'm very unhappy.

    My sole soundcard is a Korg Oasys ( which I use for making music, as well as for all my Windows listening.

    Being a very high-end device, it doesn't have a CD audio cable. But I get to listen to my audio CDs by using Winamp with a direct-digital plugin.

    If these CDs start coming, it means I won't be able to listen to them. I'll have to put a lower quality soundcard in my box, simply so I can hear all the noise that a cheap analog cable's going to give me.

    I know I'm an exception to the masses, but I do wonder how many others are in a similar situation. Disappointing, at any rate.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    That's great if you only want low fidelity copies of the crap they play on the radio. Doesn't help the rest of us.

    Besides which, this new copy protection obviously doesn't prevent you from ripping from the analog signal, only ripping from the raw digital bits. So you'd still get better quality by ripping from the CD via the audio out than from the radio.

    In other words, I'm not sure why you got modded up. If you hadn't been, I would've left it alone.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    (digital never degrades).


    • CDs can rot (especially early ones)
    • Find me a 10-15 year old floppy disk that hasn't developed bad blocks or data integrity problems
    • Find me a 10-15 year old hard drive that still spins up and doesn't have bad blocks or data integrity problems

  • by Anonymous Coward
    That's wonderful and clever guys, woohoo </sarcasam>. But what is your scheme going to do to audio DVDs (the supposed next big thing in high-end audio)? Your current crop of DVD ROM (come to think of it, most CDROM drives also have) a set of SPDI/F digital outputs on the device itself, usually located next to the analog out. So if I pop one of your 'protected' discs into my home theater PC, I'm going to get pops and noise and other digital artifacts that have the potential of damaging my loudpeakers?

    I'm not a golden ear, and my main speakers cost me only ~$700, but I'd still be out looking for blood (of the drag-them-into-court-and-watch-them-squirm kind) if they knowingly placed a datastream on the disc that damaged my equipment. If I'm not allowed to booby-trap my property to prevent potential criminals from making off with my stuff (without opening myself up to arrest and prosecution for setting said trap, clearly posted or not), why should a corporation (defined as a 'person' and due some level of legal protection as such) be able to booby-trap their property to prevent potential criminals from making off with their stuff?
  • CD audio tracks have a "copyright bit" which is set to 1 if the works are copyrighted.

    Be careful, the name and meaning of this bit is extremely important. If it's really just a flag that indicates that the content is under copyright, then there's no reason to believe the bit isn't being respected. Just because something has a copyright, doesn't mean you're not allowed to make a copy of it. So the CD track is copyrighted, and the MP3 that your ripped and encoded is copyrighted too. Nothing has been violated yet, not even DMCA.

    the DMCA doesn't require copyright protection to be CLEVER... it just has to exist, and be violated

    There is no such thing as "copyright protection" except for the copyright laws themselves. You're probably thinking of "copy protection" which is what the DMCA is about. And the CD bit in question was definately never intended as copy protection.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Why should I buy CDs anymore?

    It's not like I use the CDROMs themselves very much any more. Once they're ripped into mp3s for my jukebox or Rio gadget...

    So now they have technology that prevents me from using their CDs. And laws to outlaw getting around the technology.

    Okay. Clue me in. Why, exactly, should I fork over my hard earned cash for these things?

  • Every CD unit in computers has a pair of pins going unused...on the back...these drive the optical (output) link. Take a look for yourself. Should be labeled 'digital out'. See for many ways to DIY your own SPDIF connetion from here.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:22PM (#66381)
    I recommend you read the Mt Fuji specs. It is quite possible for an application to obtain the ENTIRE datastream from the CD, in a totally raw format, CRCs and all, provided the drive obeys the Mt Fuji specs.

    You need a copy of the Red Book spec to make sense of all that data, but it is possible to defeat this Macrovision rubbish like that.

  • And there's the other reason: Solaris runs like crap on older systems. I know people who love Solaris but use OpenBSD on their older SPARC systems, because Solaris 7/8 would run like a dog.

    Solaris is engineered for the high end. It makes compromises that hurt the low end.

  • I'm looking at a Seagate ST-157A 42 meg hard drive, born on 3rd day of the 21st week of 1989 in Singapore, if the date code is to be believed. The drive still spins up and checks out with zero bad sectors. It fits in a 5.25 inch bay. It even has a copy of MSDOS 5 with Peter Norton's Utilities on it (I must have upgraded DOS - don't remember which version I had at the time - 3.0?). I use one of the Norton programs to check the disk surface. This was the first IDE drive I ever owned. My, it brings back memories (which is why I still have it sitting here). It has my first PC programs on it.
  • Bah. These wrong samples are EXTREME samples: if they were not, they would not be causing ripped versions to sound terrible. It's revoltingly easy to tell where those are. They are the samples that go like:


    Sorry- you overestimate these people. Software to fix this has existed for _years_ and well before anyone at Macrovision got the desperately bright idea to try this.

  • People keep talking about using the defeated error correction to insert 'subtle degradation', and actually in some cases they reminded me about how it's not really about the sample being off but the error correction being dickered with- but the deal is, if they do 'subtle degradation', guess what? IT WOULD BE SUBTLE. As in 'not annoying'. Even a random number isn't terribly likely to produce the 'bad pirate! no music!' result, so my money is on the proposition that this is max-amplitude isolated samples, preferably reverse phase from the waveform. This is not that much harder to do, and there's really no justification for not doing it. Admittedly it's easier to correct- but subtle stuff won't BOTHER anybody. Subtle stuff _certainly_ will not survive mp3 encoding. It'll get stripped by the first layer of filtering unless it's as severe as you can get it.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:54PM (#66386) Homepage Journal
    Bah. Are you kidding? []

    ...except that cdparanoia was completely defeating it first, and even before then, in the early days of digital audio, CEDAR Audio was developing declickers for audio restoration that would completely defeat it.

    _ANY_ declicker worth a damn will defeat it. It is a pathologically easy case for a declicker, and declickers can correct thousands of errors per channel per _second_. And you know what? If you get coy with it and try to NOT make pathologically obvious clicks- the interpolation on CD players won't kick in! It is a complete loser technology in every way.

    'Fadden' horribly overestimates the effectiveness of this technology...

  • 3) Why is it so bad or hard just to do after the fact interpolation, using good sound filters?

    It's not. Not at all. You don't even use filters. What you do is run a separate filtered version of the signal, which ought to get pretty close but without any highs to it. Then, anytime a sample's way out of whack compared to the adjacent samples, you use the filtered sample instead.

    It's barely even a filtering issue, because 99% (or 99.99%) of the music is _untouched_. You're just throwing in a backup sample when you hit an obvious click.

    I've tested out my software on a recording where I introduced full volume clicking every 1000 samples, or 44 times a second. I think it would still work pretty well even if the interference was every _ten_ samples, or 4410 times a second. You'd get music out the other side, is what I'm driving at- and mostly 'unfiltered', this doesn't make the rest of the samples sound dull.

  • I'd like to see someone hold a contest to see who can be the first to completely defeat this technology. First prise should be the complete Charlie Pride collection. On second thought maybe this should wait until the recording industry has invested a shit load of money into it.
  • What's the point of copy protecting a "Charlie Pride" CD?? Who the hell is Charlie Pride and why would anyone want to rip the CD? Copy protect a Metallica CD for christ sakes. They seem to like to fuck their fans for a buck.
  • But that's a LOT more work than it currently is. Rip, mix, burn. I can drop a CD in the drive, start ripping it, and walk away until it's done in a few minutes then swap discs and repeat until I've ripped my entire CD collection. If I have to sit there for 60-75 minutes per CD babysitting it and then seperating that out into individual mp3 tracks it will be a pain in the ass and not worth it.

  • The DMCA's anti-circumvention clause only applied to cryptographic methods, I thought?

    The Macrovision thing sounds like anything but.

  • Are you going to pay their publicity costs, so they can make radio appearances, get magazine space, host a fan site?

    Hmmm. I've never heard any of my favorite musicians make radio appearances, nor have I ever seen them in a magazine, and never found any of their websites to be useful. So, no I'm not going to pay for any of that crap. If other people want that stuff, they can pay for it with radio ads, magazine subscriptions, or whatever other method allows the people who actual want that crap to pay for it and those of us who don't want it don't have to pay for it.

    Are you going to pay tour costs, so they can come to your city?

    Why on Earth would I want them to come to my city? Live performances suck -- there's a reason why they make recording studios with expensive processing equipment etc.

    Are you going to chip in some extra tax money for all those who support the recording industry who end up on welfare? (Not the execs, who won't be starving any time soon. I mean the secretaries, the food vendors, the gofers.)

    If they can't get jobs at other companies, sure. Are the secretaries at record companies so incompentent that they can't get hired by any other industry? Companies in many fields go out of business all the time. This is never a good argument for bolstering them up if they can't make it otherwise. Under capitalism, this is supposed to happen -- guarenteeing people a job went out of style when the Soviet Union collapsed...

    Even forgetting all that, your argument makes no sense. Let me rephrase it to make it more obvious why: you're saying we should spend money on these people (by supporting them through the record companies) so we don't have to spend money on these people (through government taxes). "We should do A to avoid doing A." is not a valid argument, regardless of what A is...

    You want to tear down the whole industry, eliminate everybody in the music supply chain but you and the artist? Just pay her/him/them? Is that what you want, bunky?


    And your reason was what, again?

    The exact same reason I always make an effort to cut out middlemen -- it's more efficient that way. This is why "warehouse" grocery stores have largely replaced corner grocery stores, huge department stores have replaced mom-and-pop stores, etc: it's more efficient that way. Maybe you like to waste money, but both in my business and personal life, I try to cut out unnecessary costs when I can.

    One of the points of capitalism is that it's supposed to favor efficiency. It breaks down in the presence of monopolies, however. It also can be circumvented with laws. The RIAA and MPAA are currently working hard to ensure laws are enacted to prevent capitalism from running its natural course, because they know their way of doing things is inefficient.

    I, for one, don't care. If family farmers can't make money when corporate farmers do it more efficiently, it's time for them to find a new job. When mechanical/spring watchmakers can't continue to do their jobs because quartz watchs are all people buy now, it's time to find a new job. I'm sorry, but under capitalism, when the old way to doing things doesn't work any more, or a new way comes along that is better, things are supposed to change! What's a wonder about modern society is not how much it has changed over the last decade but rather how little it has, compared to how much it ought to consider all the things that are different and how much no longer makes sense considering the new technologies and methods we have at our fingertips.

    There will always be luddites to fight change, particularly those in control of those who benefit from the old ways. So what? Screw 'um and move on...


  • Of course. Slackware users like to hack away at things. If the distribution was perfect out of the box, they'd probably be disappointed... :)


  • No. CD-Audio can be played two ways -- the CD-ROM can feed the analog data signal directly to your soundcard, in which case your fake "sound" device won't see anything, so it doesn't work at all in the first case. The other way to play the CD is to digitally read the data from the CD and deliver that data to the sound card, in which case your fake sound device will record the signal it received just fine. But Macrovision will have already hosed up the signal. In fact, forget copying -- with Macrovision, you can't even listen to your CD's using the second method...


  • Copy protection isn't evil, it's just stupid. Normal users suffer while pirates continue to make copies with ease.

    What's evil is criminalizing legitimate activities. I have a court-tested and legally proven right to make personal copies of any media I own. However, the RIAA wants to make it illegal for me to do so, and send anyone who aids me in doing so to prison, even if all the aid they're giving me is providing me with some information.

    You're right, neither making money nor trying to make money is evil. And you're so profounding missing the point that one wonders if you're actually read anything on the topic.


  • What I dont understand is: If you make an exact bit-by-bit copy of a CD, then wouldn't it stand to reason that the CD Copy would play exactly like to original?

    It would. You do realize that your CD-ROM can't do this, right? If you've read the article in question, you should know that the CD-ROM discards the ECC information, and when you burn a CD, new ECC information is written out to match the data being written. Thus, a bit-for-bit copy would work fine, and is utterly impossible to make using a standard PC CD-ROM reader and a correctly functioning CD-Burner.


  • I have a SPARCstation IPC: both Solaris and Linux are tortoises compared to NetBSD (Linux sucks due to improper handling of the MMU on sun4c machines -- I imagine it works fine on newer hardware).


  • CDDA extraction predates DMCA laws, but if I recall... CD audio tracks have a "copyright bit" which is set to 1 if the works are copyrighted.

    Granted, this is more of a FLAG than "protection", but I read somewhere that CDDA was supposed to "respect" this bit. Therefore, one could stretch this as any ripper who doesn't play dead at sight of the bit, is a violation of DMCA.

    There's too much water under the bridge for this now, but the DMCA doesn't require copyright protection to be CLEVER... it just has to exist, and be violated.

    Just a thought..

    PS - Wow, my first post in AGES. I usually don't bother because my post gets lost... seems it's only "worth it" posting to a story, if the story is a few hours old. No self-respecting professional moderator uses his points on a 20-hour story. The moderation system seriously favors repeat posters and abusers, and is why as user #45xx something, I deselected moderation. Sorry for the rant (no one will read this anyways :)
  • As I posted previously, this is clearly deceptive business practice and possibly fraud. Take a few minutes to visit the Federal Trade Commission website []. They have an online complaint form which you can fill out against Macrovision and the "John Doe" record companies. Only if lots of people fight this will the FTC take action.

    The information for Macrovision that they request is:

    Macrovision Corporation
    1341 Orleans Drive
    Sunnyvale, CA 94089

    The text of my complaint reads:

    Macrovision Corp. along with various John Doe corporations (unnamed record
    companies) have introduced copy-protected music/audio CDs into
    U.S. distribution channels. No notice is given consumers who purchase these
    CDs, yet these new CDs take away a right which consumers have come to
    expect, and which is protected by the Supreme Court's "Betamax" decision
    and the Audio Home Recording Act, namely the ability to copy said CDs onto
    a personal computer for personal use.

    I believe this constitutes fraud and deceptive business practices due to
    the failure to disclose this information to consumers. I urge the
    Commission to help stop this activity.

    Please see the following article for additional information: l
  • Remember, since you're going to be compressing the result to OGG or MP3 anyway, the small loss in sound quality that you have by going through the CD player's D/A and the outboard A/D converter is essentially irrelevant.

    Well, you're pretty much right. Although, the effects of the D-A/A-D process would be *heightened* by the compression. Of course, most people probably wouldn't notice because they don't seem to notice all the aliasing and screwed up reverb effects in their current collection of MP3s.

  • Charlie Pride is an *extremely* famous black country singer who has been around forever. He has some nice songs.
  • What MP3 (and probably others) depend on losing tends to be what will be lost in analog anyway.

    Not really. It's mostly dynamic masking (during and after a loud spike, data is removed) and some stereo reduction stuff. What this means, is that complex music with lots of reverb effects (and especially stereo reverbs) or large dynamic variations (Western art music, Jazz) will sound like crap. I can verify this first hand. Of course, your average compressed-all-to-hell pop music doesn't sound all that different--it's already flat as a pancake anyway.

  • Well, it isn't that modern really-really-bad-mass-produced-pop-music-but-with -a-twang kind of country music. It's the old kind. In other words, folk songs heavily influenced by Scottish and Irish musical traditions. But with American aspects as well.
  • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:39PM (#66404)
    I thought you couldn't patent something for the sake of keeping anyone from using the invention. If they don't commercially exploit their invention, others are still free to license their technology...
  • How can you get a "clean" copy of a protected disc? There are three basic approaches, in order of least to most desirable:

    (1) Record directly from the analog outputs of the drive, feeding the sound into a sound card or outboard A/D converter. Some fidelity will be lost when converting from digital to analog and back again, which is what the industry is counting on.

    Seems to me that recording MP3's at less than 128 loses some fidelity anyway. I've heard people claim they can hear how much worse an MP3 is. If fidelity were the issue, nobody'd be ripping MP3's....

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:17PM (#66406) Homepage
    CDparanoia (the latest version) rips these cd's very well. It just takes more time.

    Copy protection? Does this mean I did my own copy protection when I scratched the hell out of my older CD's?

    Although, Macrovision is not known for making any type of copy protection that is secure (or worth a damn... Look at video tape copy protection... Macrovision is the biggest joke in the video world.)

    Oh well, I am just happy that the CD manufacturers chose Macrovision... Keep up the good work Music industry!
  • by mcc ( 14761 ) <> on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:44PM (#66407) Homepage
    I will not buy any compact discs that i know to have the macrovision technology, and if i buy any discs that i later discover to have the macrovision technology i will demand a refund. I am currently writing a letter to the FTC to protest that the discs with this technology are (by all media accounts i have heard thus far; let me know if i have been incorrectly informed) not clearly labelled.

    I do not care if this is "defeatable" or not. I do not care if i can rip it. I do not own a cd burner. The extent to which this does or does not affect the digital reading of audio cds i have bought is not relevant to me*. I simply refuse to patronise the services of a record company which would intentionally degrade the quality of their products.

    I find it unacceptable that any music company would dare to sell me a cd in which the error recognition information is incomplete or damaged. I do not care about their motives, and i refuse to accept "copy protection" as a valid motive. As far as i am concerned-- and, in my belief, as far as the FTC is concerned-- the messing up of the error correction bits has been done so that the products they are selling will degrade faster, with the added bonus that customers are hindered from easily creating backup copies of the music. Oh, i do honestly believe that they are doing this for the purpose of reducing piracy, but the amount of piracy that will be stopped by this is so minimal that "piracy" is not a valid excuse to me as a customer and so i am disregarding it..

    I move my cd collection around a lot. i will frequently grab some of my numerous purchased cds to take with me in someone's car. i can not always treat my cds with the utmost care. I need that error correction, and as a heavy customer of the RIAA, i believe i have the right to demand that they sell me the highest quality merchandise they feasibly can. I believe i have the absolute right to demand that if they are going to intentionally degrade the quality of their merchandise, to any extent, then they must alert the customers which discs they have done this on-- and if they fail to alert us, the customers, then they are committing some form of deceptive business practices by passing off damaged merchandise as a new cd that correctly follows the red book standard.

    I hope deeply that the FTC agrees with me.

    If not, i will personally attempt to create some form of community watch system attempting to identify which cds have been tainted with this latest affront in the false and rediculous war being fought in the name of 'copy protection', so that customers like me can be fully informed and vote with their dollars. Customers should not be reduced to having to handle this kind of information themselves.

    * (although i do frequently partake in the practice of opening audio cd tracks as AIFFs in apple movieplayer, then playing the track backward by pressing command-leftarrow. i enjoy this a great deal, and will be saddened if i lose the ability to do this-- and it seems that if the macrovision technology works, it will defeat apple movieplayer's attempts to open tracks as AIFFs quite nicely.)
  • CDparanoia (the latest version) rips these cd's very well. It just takes more time.

    This isn't really known, since the CDs that use this method have not yet been identified. I bought a title that was rumored to use Macrovision [] and cdparanoia handled it effortlessly, but testing rumors reveals nothing.

    This new Macrovision is causing both FUD but also false confidence, due to the secrecy of the titles. So all the speculation about whether it really works or not, is unverified.

    We need hard facts: that CD X is Macrovision-protected.

  • Why, exactly, should I fork over my hard earned cash for these things?

    The main reason is that there currently isn't any other method for paying the musicians.

    Once one appears, then CDs may become obsolete. But until then, forking over your hard-earned cash is the only way for the musicians to have hard-earned cash.

    It is basically up to the musicians themselves to make alternatives happen. Techies can't do a thing about it.

    A secondary reason for buying CDs, is that there aren't any well-established ways of distributing raw WAV/AIFF recordings of the music, so that the listeners can store it accordance with their personal quality/algorithm/bandwidth/diskspace preferences. If 128kbps MP3s happen to match your preferences, then you're lucky. But that would be quite a coincidence.

    Another reason that comes to mind, is that CDs make excellent backups. My hard disk capacity far exceeds my backup capacity. But by having "master" data on high-quality "stamped" CDs (or however it is that they are made) my music collection is still pretty safe even when my disks or computers croak.

  • that cd rippers that can get around the copy protection through error correction while ripping are now illegal to distribute or talk about at conventions under the DMCA?

    That depends. The big question is whether or not any of the existing rippers, that predate the deployment of this Macrovision method, (cdparanoia might be one, but I don't know yet) are able to defeat this method. If any ripper was already able to read these CDs, then it can be very strongly argued that Macrovision's method does not qualify as "a technological measure that effective limits access" to the CD, since there were already ways around it, used by default by users all over the world, it before it even arrived on the market. And if Macrovision's methods fails that criterion, then DMCA will not apply to this situation at all.

    The fact that existing audio CD players are supposedly already capable of playing these CDs, may also cause Macrovision's method to fail the necessary crition for the application of DMCA.

  • So, we'll just use real cd players and connect them to the SPDIF inputs on our computers. Big deal.
    It's the same with all the other "protected" audio fomats. It can be defeated with an SPDIF cable, and a good soundcard.
  • So what if there's a little bit of quality loss from ripping the analog path. We already have imperfection due to lossy compression. Once the loss is incurred, it will be finite and no more will be lost in the digital path thereafter. The concern will be the two accumulated loses of both analog ripping and compression. What MP3 (and probably others) depend on losing tends to be what will be lost in analog anyway. So the compression will probably see easier to compress audio anyway. The biggest concern remaining will be quantization errors from resampling at an unsyncronized rate.

  • I have a 5/70 and a 5/85. Slackware is on the 5/70 and Solaris is on the 5/85. Rabbit and tortoise. If it weren't for the fact that I use Solaris to test portability of my code, I wouldn't have it running on here. Actually I need to get me some more of these so I can get Debian, NetBSD, and OpenBSD going on Sparc, too.

  • 1) because solaris runs like a dog on old hardware
    2) because the stuff in /bin on a solaris machine is absolute garbage (e.g. /bin/cp always dereferences soft links, /bin/tar doesn't understand -z or -j, /bin/sh is almost unusable as an interactive shell, /bin/cc .. well I think I can just stop there)

    2a) /bin with even moderately up to date /opt/gnu/bin alternatives is such an utter pain.

    3) no apt-get (see 2a) ;)

    The only down side to sparclinux that i can see is NIS+ client support is a bit of a pain to get running.
  • Does this protection technique affect regular cd walkman/car players that have electronic skip protection, e.g. the ones that "pre buffer" the CD into large memories...
  • by Azog ( 20907 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:59PM (#66419) Homepage
    One obvious way to do it: Get a really, really good CD player which has top-notch D/A converters, a good transport mechanism, and very high quality analog circuitry. (From what other posters have written here, you _have_ to use the D/A converters in the CD player, as that's the only way to get all the information from the ECC bits.)

    Then hook the analog output of that CD player to a decent outboard A/D converter using good cables. The outboard A/D converter feeds the digital result to your computer through an SPDIF cable, and there you go... The only headache is that you don't get the automatic CDDB lookup and track numbering.

    Remember, since you're going to be compressing the result to OGG or MP3 anyway, the small loss in sound quality that you have by going through the CD player's D/A and the outboard A/D converter is essentially irrelevant. Especially if you're going to play it through computer speakers, which are all pretty lousy anyway.

    In fact, with a good CD player and A/D equipment, the resulting compressed audio would sound better than your average 128 bit Napster crap.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • Check out

    They mention a player called, I think, EAC, but they have a lot more details.

    They also have information on how to do really high-quality rips and which programs to use.

    At about 180kbps VBR, with Lame, or another good program, you can get MUCH better quality than Audio Catalyst, or other common ripper, will do at 320kbps, let alone 128kbps. Almost CD quality.
  • If artists don't see a dime, we'll have to start flipping dimes into the hats of starving artists all over the world much more often.

    Yep. A Dime. That's about what most artists see out of the $18 or so bucks you just spent on that new CD. Actually, it's closer to a buck or so, but still, it's a pittance compared to what the record company gets. MP3 & digital distribution has the potential to fix this by cutting the record company out of the loop. I'd happily pay $3 to $5 for a digital copy of a CD if that money went directly to the artist. I just HATE making Hilary Rosen (& all the rest of the leaches who have never played a note in their lives) richer.
  • Your analogies are well broken.

    It's far from impossible to make money by having something worth selling, rather than setting up an artificial and discriminatory price/availability gradient across the world so that the US gets everything first.

    All their methods do is *try* to force the issue; they seem unwilling to understand that it only takes one person to crack an "encryption" method and the secret's out, while it takes a whole world-full of folks to adhere to it "because we're nice and wouldn't want to deprive you of the money". Far better to abandon the whole idea in the first place and make the product worth *buying*. Then you'll find people will be willing to pay for it - and surprisingly enough, the population would probably buy more if they were cheaper, too.
    .|` Clouds cross the black moonlight,
  • by marxmarv ( 30295 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @09:12PM (#66427) Homepage
    Your speculation is wrong. The erroneous ECC is applied to the master just like any other data bits.


  • Reading your post just made me realize something.

    This 'protection' will increase casual sharing.

    Think about it. I have an MP3 player, but I don't have all this high-end equipment you describe. I buy a new 'Backstreet Brittany' CD, but can't rip it. So I take it to my buddy, A, who rips it for me. A, who has been found pleasuring himself while listening to Backstreet Brittany, hasn't had a chance to get to the store to pick up the CD, but why should he now that he has a copy of yours on his HD. Later on, buddy B, who's also enamored of Backstreet Brittany, comes by and gets A to make him a copy of the MP3 (he promises of course that he was on his way to buy the CD).

    I guess that it boils down to RIAA making the use of their product more inconvient. People will find a way around the incovience, and that way will not include a stop off to tithe RIAA.

  • by tbo ( 35008 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:54PM (#66429) Journal
    If the Macrovision copy protection works as described, people using Mac OS 9 and later will probably be screwed. Mac OS 9 uses the "digital path" (previous versions used the analog path). Disclaimer: I think the switch to digital path happened with OS 9. It could have been 8.6, though.

    On the other hand, Apple might be using CD-ROMs capable of interpolating over uncorrectable audio errors even when using the digital path. If so, Macs will be the computers of choice for ripping (G4s do rip quickly....)

    I gleefully await the descent of the hordes of Mac Faithful upon the RIAA and Macrovision...
  • Ab, gurl qba'g, naq V'yy unir gb ercbeg lbh gb gur SOV sbe hfvat Nqbor'f cebcevrgnel EBG13 rapelcgvba flfgrz.

    Vs lbh ner ernqvat guvf, lbh ner n pevzvany haqre gur QZPN. Shpx lbh irel zhpu.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • It is a ploy to sell thousands of CDs to hackers who want the chalange.

    ...and they figure that if anybody succeeds, they can fire off a bunch of lawsuits to try to keep the circumvention methods a secret (a la Prof. Felten and the SDMI challenge).

  • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) <> on Monday July 23, 2001 @07:21PM (#66433) Homepage Journal
    I was about to say this but I'm glad someone else brought this up: what's the problem with recording the things to tape? I mean really... you're losing some quality, but people have been doing it for years. Clearly, if people want digital, unprotected copies, nine times out of ten they want to send them around the internet.

    One possible solution mentioned recently in alt.comp.periphs.cdr [periphs.cdr] has been to hook the digital output from a CD player to a digital-in jack on a soundcard (or possibly do the same with a CD-ROM drive with a digital audio output). The player will deal with the intentional brokenness (which is what this really is, from what I've read) and provide a relatively clean signal which can then be captured, stored, folded, spindled, mutilated, etc. Since the signal never leaves the digital domain, it ought to be as good as ripping the CD by the usual means. The only advantage ripping would have is that it's faster, but recording a CD this way wouldn't be too much different than ripping tapes or vinyl.

  • But I "compulsory licensing" should still NOT be able to patent something in the first place which one does not intend to use commercially. Unless you are implying that "compulsory licensing" is the commercial endeavor to begin with...but that's somewhat circuitous. In the end, Macrovision should NOT be able to patent something they do NOT intend to market, just to keep others from doing it. Of course I realize that what "should" and what "is" are very different things.
  • by jovlinger ( 55075 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:15PM (#66436) Homepage
    The reason you can't do error correction in software is that in general, the software does not have access to the ECC bits, so it doesn't know what is error and what is data.

    You get something like this (In reality, i suspect they don't use 32/8 bit words, but you get the idea):

    (erm. There was going to be ascii art here, but apparently it was lame)

    Anyways, from the disk, you get xx raw bits of data, and yy bits of ECC information. From these, you try to create xx bits of good data. I'll call the xx+yy a packet, for lack of a better term.

    The copy prevention works by writing bogus packets where the ECC codes don't correspond to the read data.

    The thing is that this all happens in the CRROM's hardware. The ripper never gets to see the ECC bits, so it doesn't know which bits come from real packets, and which are bogus. So it doesn't know which to interpolate and which to trust. Of course the CD-ROM's dac knows which to interpolate. To make things worse, if the CD is of high quality, the scrambled words will repeatedly be read the same, so rereadign the sector/track won't indicate where the error is.

    A suggested circumvention

    Conceivably, a slightly degraded disc might rip better, because this would excersize the ECC circuitry. My thinking is that a if you insert intentional and random read errors in the raw read of a packet (by breathing on it or wiping it with a greasy rag), a good packet will tend to be ECCed to the same ideal data for various rereads (perhaps after a re-wipe to randomise the errors), while the bogus packet, by virtue of having BAD ECC data, will tend to be ECCed to different values.

    The main difficulty will be getting the degradation to be bad enough to cause REAL read errors so that most packets will require ECC but not so many errors as to overwhelm the error correcting codes.

    I think. I've never actually ripped a cd myself.

  • by jovlinger ( 55075 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:42PM (#66437) Homepage
    Ok, I just had a thought. However, it depends on the ECC bits being used internally even for digital audio extraction. My understanding is that the whole point of macrovision for CDs was to write occasional bogus ECC codes, forcing the low-level read circuitry to always misread certain packets. The internal DAC knows which these are, and thus interpolates, but there is no way of signalling this on the digital output channel. My sheme relies on the digital output still getting the ECC treatment. Can you confirm whether this is the case?

    If it is, then this might work:

    ECC codes work (in the most abstact terms) by taking a (I'll pick some representative numbers) 40 bit raw word, and mapping it to a 32 bit data word. Using Grey codes you can (I'm making these numbers up) correct up to 8 incorrectly read bits per raw word, while detecting up to 18 raw bit errors.

    Thus, the ECC can often reconstruct the data from the redundant bits. But these packets that the macrovision people write have bad ECC. So hopefully (more speculation) they would not ECC to the same value. Ie a bogus packet will consistently be misread, but will not be consistently ECCed to the same data for different read errors. However, the good packets will consistently be ECCed to the same value (that's what ECC is for, after all).

    So my scheme is to induce a slightly higher raw error rate in reads (wiping with a dirty rag?), and to re-rip the disk seveal times (with a randomizing wipe between each rip). This will hopefully be low enough to allow good packets to be consistently reconstructed by ECC, while allowing bogus packets to be identified as such as they will ECC to different values for each read.

    Comments solicited
  • From the article:

    Some people have suggested that software could be used to perform the
    interpolation on extracted music, stripping out the bits that the record
    companies added in. The trouble with this approach is that, once the data has
    been extracted, the CIRC encoding is no longer visible. It may not be easy to
    tell where the glitches are. For example, it should be possible to create a
    low-level but rhythmic distortion that will be noticeable, annoying, and
    difficult to identify automatically.

    Here's my guess as to why it's harder than just "fixing it in software.":

    It sounds like the glitches are being put into the error correction layer protecting the data on the CD. When you read data off of a CD-ROM, the error-correction bits are used to check the integrity of the data, and if a problem is found, it's fixed. All you get is the "corrected data".

    While reading audio off of a CD, the decoder uses the bits only as error-detection, and whenever it detects a glitch, it just throws it away - something you wouldn't want to do with data.

    In any case, it sounds like by the time you get the data from a CD-ROM drive, those error correction bits are long gone, and detecting that data has been intentionally corrupted is far from trivial.

    Now, I may be wrong on all of this - if it is possible to read the "CIRC encoding" from the CD, then it should be fixable in software... But from the sounds of it, this may have to be fixed in hardware.
  • If there is only one thing to learn from the past 20 years of the software industry, it's that copy protection technology does not work. There has not been a single piece of copy protection technology that has had any effect. At worst, it has rendered some systems unusable -- most drives reduce read speed with they start encountering errors. (I had to remove the copy protection from Populous to even be able to play it. I was very god damned pissed off about that.)

    Face facts. It's a sequence of ones and zeros. It's always the same sequence of ones and zeros. It is impossible to physically prevent the duplication of a series of ones and zeros. The sequence that equals 42 always equals 42 and it's always the same sequence.

    Nothing they do can physically stop duplication. And it's not the average home user that costs the industry "billions of dollars a year" (which they like to throw out frequently with zero backing.) It's the factories de-compositing the discs -- making an almost molecular copy -- that are the serious problem and no amount of tricks can stop that.

    Their stance has become "fuck it, make it illegal to even think about it." It's already illegal -- Copyright law is, surprisingly, a law.

    And btw, the default in windows now is to use digital audio playback. I had a hell of a time getting 98 and even NT to play CDs on my laptop (Compaq LTE5400.)
  • I think I can predict some tactics that Macrovision [] may use to prevent people from bypassing this scheme.

    Of course, they can go the DMCA [] route, that would be a natural. But there's another route.

    It turns out Macrovision has been patenting not only the techniques that they use, but techniques for defeating them! By patenting ways around their copy protection before its even released, they can legally prevent circumvention devices through civil patent infringement lawsuits.

    Here are some of their patents on circumvention of their earlier video stuff:

  • And you know what? If you get coy with it and try to NOT make pathologically obvious clicks- the interpolation on CD players won't kick in!

    I'm not sure that's true. It's the invalid ECC bits that cause the interpolation to kick in, not the invalid audio bits. So the audio bits could be close to the correct signal - they could, for example, be used to add an annoying 200Hz buzz that would only be audible if you digitally extracted the audio.


  • I have a mac with this setup. Let me know of a macrovision protected title, and I'll try it myself and let you know.
  • OK, so Here's the situation:
    The music companies are introducing errors into their music intentionally, to be jackasses.
    The point, is to prevent people from listening to the music they buy.
    If anyone makes software which averts this, they will be summarily raped under the DMCA.
    SO, does this mean that the error correction on cd-audio players is now a "circumvention device"?
    Any music player which avoids the intentionally introduced errors(through error-correction) is liable under the DMCA?

    Of course, you can bet that The Monopoly will selectively apply the law only where they feel like it. I'd say at least 50% of US laws would die a screaming death if they were actually enforced consistently.
  • by burris ( 122191 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @04:54PM (#66452)
    SBLive cannot make a perfect digital copy because it always resamples the digital input.

  • Do you have any clue how low quality casette tapes are?

    They're the quality of taking a cd, running it through the digital->analog channel in the soundcard and then back to digital (the incredibly easy way to break the copy protection), then burning it back onto a cd to repeat, many, many times. The magnetic media on a casette tape is a very low samplerate/low bitrate encoding. Even worse, it degrades over time, with a quality half-life of 10-15 years (digital never degrades).

    Record on casette if you like. But you can do far better with even the "cheap, lossy" technique.

    -= rei =-
  • You know what?
    I bet their code simply sticks a random number either at regular intervals, or at random intervals, perhaps with a regular increment :) You're probably right, its probably that simple. If they simply do that, the ECCs will be correspondingly messed up where the numbers were inserted.

    -= rei =-
  • The problem with an extremely hig random number i the data is that audio compression works based on assuming there won't be sharp jumps in data. A single anomaly as such, when decomposed into sinous components, will spread the energy out throughout the spectrum, instead of the usual "a few frequencies have the energy so we can throw them away". It'll unbelievably ruin your compression quality to reproduce that outlier.

    So, yes, it will survive mp3 encoding - it'll ruin the mp3, unless its filtered out. And, filtering them out is the point of this article.

    -= rei =-
  • You can copy digital loslessly. You can use ECCs. Digital lasts forever if maintained, and lasts quite a long time even when not maintained. Analog doesn't.

    You remember that time capsule project france is sending up? What, for 40,000 years or something like that? The data is just on encased CDs. And that isn't using ECCs, backups, or distribution to keep it alive.

    Digital is immortal as long as interest remains.

    -= rei =-
  • sample rate = ability to store distinct frequencies
    bitrate = ability to distinguish independant amplitudes from others.

    These correspond very close to frequency response and S/N. That's why you can get amazingly close to the sound of a cassette recording by taking your high quality sample and bringing it to about 10k samples/second with 8 bit samples, or worse.

    As to the high quality tape, yes, there are some incredibly high quality analog tapes out there used in studios. But, you don't want to keep that as even your copy. It can't be copied indefinitely without loss, not as readily backed up, doesn't survive forever, etc. The main issues I brought up in the parent.

    -= rei =-
  • Even with the highest quality magnetic media, even "properly maintained", the quality will steadily be lost over time, as you can't do a perfect analog copy, and all magnetic analog media degrade. The "near infinite" is rather deceptive - there's a range in which reads and writes to an analog medium, an unpredictability factor, which can be small or can be quite large - and this is what sets how high your quality is.

    If you want a good, long-term analog recording, use vinyl - it degrades much more slowly, and has higher quality than the best casettes can hold (the recorder is irrelevant in this situation, I'm talking about the physical properties of the media in question).

    But digital is still the best way to go - an immutable, perfectly duplicable recording.

    -= rei =-
  • Yes, but they're not used in the cases I mention. Like I said, newer Macs and PCs with USB speakers use Digital Audio Extraction to play CDs, which is exactly what this copy prevention system is supposed to stop. I'm not sure about the Macs, but a PC with USB speakers doesn't have anywhere to plug the other end of that CD-Digital cable to because there's no sound card.
  • by DeeKayWon ( 155842 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @04:42PM (#66464)
    2) using a SP/DIF digital (error-corrected) output...which I assume is only available in high-end players

    What about simply the CD-digital outputs on dang near every PC CD/DVD drive from the past few years?

    Both my Creative DVD-ROM (rebadged Matsushita) and HP CD-RW (rebadged Lite-on, I believe) have this output and yes, it works on both. If this works as an error-corrected digital out, then anyone with the right input on their sound card (all SBLives except newer Value versions have it, as does the TB Santa Cruz) effectively has the means to create as perfect of a digital copy as possible already. If only we knew which damned CDs have this copy prevention, I would give it a try myself...

    (Yes, I hijacked the title because I despise the term "copy protection". It makes it sound as if all copying is a bad thing which, of course, is not true.)

  • by DeeKayWon ( 155842 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @04:44PM (#66465)
    5) Did they even consider that anyone with a recent Mac or with USB speakers doesn't have an analog link from their CD-ROM and must use DAE to play CDs?
  • ..I just wait for the copy protected CD's [] to be played on the radio, then I tape em on 120 minute cassettes.. Wow- I'm time-shifting.. can you dig it? This radical technique even gives me the ability to fast forward past commercials and irritating DJ's talking loudly about 'less talk, more rock' ..Woo hoo.. I'm livin' in the future now..

  • ..Ok, so it wasn't as funny as I originally thought.. Now what I really want to know is, in their dream-world when this scheme does away with 'Piracy' will I no longer have to pay this stupid Canadian tax on blank digital media?

  • by yzf750 ( 178710 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:22PM (#66468)
    Use the Digital Out from your drive to the Digital In on the sound card. Now use a normal cdplayer app like GTCD or Windows Media Player, then capture that audio with some kinda wave recorder like Soundrec or something. Take the resulting wave file and convert it to .mp3 .ogg .wma or whatever. Granted you have to rip at 1x but still, you beat them at their own game, and you are not "circumventing" a copy protection control, you are using a built in function of the CD-Rom drive you legally bought.
  • This isn't a copy protection issue, this is a consumer protection issue. The record industry is selling defective CDs.

    They are intentionally violating industry standards (Red Book). Not to mention the fact that the interpolation was always optional and the quality varies considerably from player to player.

    Somebody should write test program that detects defective CDs: It should print out the E32 and BLER error rates so consumers and reviewers can test their CDs and return them for a replacement if they are defective. If the replacement is defective, they should return the replacement, too.... ;-)

    There is professional test equipment that does this, but we need something that can run in a computer with a stock drive.
  • I hereby am claiming all rights to rot26. In fact, I demand that everyone cease and desist all use of rot26 encoded web sites and software immediately.
    Lets look up places to start enforcing this in the phone book...
    right at the first letter...
    Oh, look! Adobe!

  • If artists don't see a dime, we'll have to start flipping dimes into the hats of starving artists all over the world much more often.

    Seriously, though, there isn't much incentive for people to pursue music if there is no return. On the other hand that might just leave the people that are really into the music and worth listening to. Anyway, stop listening to so much tripe and stick to the stuff you really like. If you really love that music, you'd pay for it, otherwise you're just faking.

  • Take fifteen dollars (your donation to the cause).
    Buy a protected CD at your local large retail outlet.
    Return it claiming poor scratchy sound.
    If the manager gives you to much, crap write to the head office.
    Lather and repeat(go to a different store each time).

    Generate enough complaints and the retailers (and their deep pockets) will solve the problem for us.
  • Just one... a verified "using this method" CD. In the last Slashdot article [] about this, no one came up with a single title except for the Charlie Pride thing that seems to be something different.

    They claimed [] to have released "thousands" of such CDs.

    OK... anyone... name one. Just one. What record companies are using this?

    And yes, part of the reason I'm asking this is because I want to see what I can do with one....


  • You are SO WRONG.

    There is a doctrine in some parts of the world called compulsory licensing. Basically, the idea is that multinationals (who control the majority of patents) should, in some circumstances, be forced to license their patents to other people who want to make items that would otherwise infringe on the patents. The licensees pay a fixed royalty fee, usually based on product sales, to the multinationals for the priviledge.

    The U.S. has consistently opposed compulsory licensing at the WTO and at every other trade meeting it's been involved in. One of the provisions of NAFTA knocked out much of Canada's compulsory licensing regime for generic drug manufacturers. (We have some pretty big companies that do nothing but get compulsory licenses from the drug megacorps and sell people cheap drugs. They're still going, but NAFTA didn't help.)

    In rare cases, some lawsuits have had as a remedy the compulsory licensing of patented items. I think Edison got hit by it in the early days of motion pictures (his company had a patent on film projectors; it leveraged this patent into a monopoly on film - i.e. in order for a theatre to get a patent license to use the projector, it had to buy all its film from Edison - it wasn't actually an antitrust case but it borrowed heavily from the theory of antitrust, IIRC).

  • "Remember, since you're going to be compressing the result to OGG or MP3 anyway, the small loss in sound quality that you have by going through the CD player's D/A and the outboard A/D converter is essentially irrelevant. Especially if you're going to play it through computer speakers, which are all pretty lousy anyway."

    "In fact, with a good CD player and A/D equipment, the resulting compressed audio would sound better than your average 128 bit Napster crap."

    An interesting possible side-effect of this could be that rips from these "uncopyable" CD's would be so much higher in quality (having been done by technically savvy folks who care about the music quality), that people would no longer feel the need to go buy the legitimate CD's to get the top-notch quality they crave for their favorite songs.

    This would be a colossal irony, eh? :)

  • However, when the CD player is extracting the audio data digitally, it ignores the error-correction bits (it doesn't even send them on, it just discards them) due to some brain-deadness on the part of CD-player designers.

    Yes, and no. The player can't send the exact data, but it does notify the software that it's a bad bit. EAC works by reading the CD multiple times and comparing each read with the other. When certaing bits don't match, it continues reading that portion of the CD numerous times, until it can best replay the intended sound. I'm sure the code would have to be slightly modified for these cds, but not by much. All they have to do is interpolate when they notice a bad bit.

    CloneCD also works in a simlar manner. When it receives a bad bit, it writes a 0. It -knows- that bit was bad, but in the case of data, there's not much interpolation you can do.

    Audio flows fairly well, and given the music at each side of a certain point, you can generally determine the intended sound. Sure, it won't be perfect, but it -will- be good enough that most people won't notice. Use CoolEdit or SoundForge and you may even be able to remove any noticeable effect that's left.
  • by unformed ( 225214 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @04:15PM (#66489)
    very interesting read....but again, it can be defeated. The article mentioned 1) using an analog output 2) using a SP/DIF digital (error-corrected) output...which I assum is only available in high-end players However, all this means is that software will be able to emulate the DA (Digital -> Analog) converter. Take EAC (Exact Audio Copy - by far the best ripper) and add another error-correct samples itself. Anything in hardware can be emulated in software; I give it one month at most, before somebody "fixes" the problem.
  • When will people be able to short Mandrakesoft ? What are the rules on Euronext ? I like Mandrake and I use it at home and work, but I think these companies are lousy investments. I predict a brief jog up in price followed by a continuous slide downwards.
  • that cd rippers that can get around the copy protection through error correction while ripping are now illegal to distribute or talk about at conventions under the DMCA?

    Not so sure. The error correction does not allow you to access the material through your CD player. It allows you to enjoy it. These are two separate issues, and, iirc, the DMCA only is concerned with access, not enjoyment...

    Sig: Tell all your friends NOT to download the Advanced Ebook Processor:

  • I am hereby breaking the law with my sig... Your post is clearly copyrighted under the terms of the Berne convention and my sig is a circumvention device... Please go ahead and tell the FBI.

    Sig: Tell all your friends NOT to download the Advanced Ebook Processor:
  • Note that the DMCA only prevents access to information... This does not actually allow access-- it just increases its usefullness.

    I think that anti-error-correcting suits would not stand up in court.

    Sig: Tell all your friends NOT to download the Advanced Ebook Processor:

  • by stu42j ( 304634 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @04:48PM (#66503) Homepage
    It looks like someone has already taken over maintaining an unofficial slack-like distribution for SPARC. []
  • I know that a lot of people including myself have bought portable MP3 players; where does this leave us for 'fair use' listening to our own music that we may actually have *bought* and tried to rip? I'd say to everyone, go out and buy these CDs en masse, then return them to the store the next day and cite the above as your reason for demanding a refund!
  • I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. Please someone correct the error in my logic:

    There's a new music CD copy protection scheme that introduces errors in the data, errors that CD players interpret as scratches and "fix" with their built-in error correction circuits. If you try to copy one of these CDs with a computer, the errors are reproduced, thus thwarting your illegal pirate operation.

    Uh, but doesn't that then give you an exact copy of the "protected" CD, with an exact copy of the errors which will be corrected by the CD player's built-in error correction circuits?

    What's the problem? What am I missing? Sure, you may not be able to play these copies on your computer, but you can't play the original either, so what's the big deal? Make a copy (that plays like the original on CD players) then take the original back and claim it's defective and demand a refund!

  • Uh, but doesn't that then give you an exact copy of the "protected" CD, with an exact copy of the errors which will be corrected by the CD player's built-in error correction circuits?

    No. You have to understand that this macrovision protection does two things. First, it inserts bursts of noise into the signal, then it records incorrect error correction information in the same places where the noise is inserted. This ECC info warns CD players that those samples might be bad, and in response the player will interpolate around those "bad" samples. When you rip such a CD you get all that noise, but you don't have access to the ECC codes (this is a hardware, not a software issue.) So when you burn your copy, you will be reproducing the noise, but the writer will create new ECC codes that match the data it is writing. Thus when you play the copy, your player won't detect any bad ECC codes and won't do any interpolation.

    So, to summarize the above, your copy is not an exact copy of the original. The data is the same, but the ECC codes are not.

    I can think of no way to defeat this in software.

  • One fact here though - congress was very clear that writing the SCMS into law bound the recording industry to *NOT* add further countermeasures to prevent fair use - this was a deal struck between congress and the record companies - time to lobby your congressman for an enquiry into why they're going ahead with it anyway.
  • by Spy Hunter ( 317220 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @05:03PM (#66510) Journal
    all this means is that software will be able to emulate the DA (Digital -> Analog) converter. Take EAC (Exact Audio Copy - by far the best ripper) and add another error-correct samples itself. Anything in hardware can be emulated in software

    Unfortunately, it isn't possible for the 'ripper' software to error-correct the audio samples itself - not because the hardware does something that its impossible for software to emulate, but because the hardware gets more information than the software.

    The hardware of CD players reads special error-correction bits off of the CD to determine if the other data it is reading is valid or not. These bits are intentionally scrambled in parts of a Macrovision protected recording, while static is inserted into the music. When extracting analog audio, the CD player skips over the static because the error-correction bits are invalid, which normally indicates a scratched disk or something. The player interpolates the missing samples and everything sounds all right (mostly). However, when the CD player is extracting the audio data digitally, it ignores the error-correction bits (it doesn't even send them on, it just discards them) due to some brain-deadness on the part of CD-player designers. Since the error-correcting bits aren't passed on to the software, the software can't know where the Macrovision static is.

    Those guys at Macrovision sure are clever.

  • They may prevent a commercial enterprise from building circumvention devices but individuals can build their own, using the information in the patents as a guide.

    Sounds like a good deal to me :)

  • I was about to say this but I'm glad someone else brought this up: what's the problem with recording the things to tape? I mean really... you're losing some quality, but people have been doing it for years. Clearly, if people want digital, unprotected copies, nine times out of ten they want to send them around the internet.

    When it comes to digital copies, I use Windows Media Player (whose default is to copy-protect the songs). Do I notice a difference in my music playing? Not at all. I have no need to send commercial music around the web, and I think if most people thought logically about it, they wouldn't either.

  • by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) on Monday July 23, 2001 @04:57PM (#66519)
    Now, I'm not quite positive about this, but...

    The Digital Out on the back of PC CD-ROMs does not feed the pure 1s and 0s from the CD-ROM. The physical decoding and translation of the Redbook standard is handled inside the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive. The information output to the Soundcard is interpreted sound information, not the actual bits from the CD. It is this reason that you are able to hook up headphones to the front of most CD-ROM drives and completely bypass the soundcard.

    My conclusion on this issue has always been to use coax digital out on a CD deck, and either
    a) hook it up to a home theater CD Burner, which should be able to handle it, then rip the burned CD. or...
    b) hook it into the 5.1 input on the higher end soundcards.

    Either way, it's still a pain compared to plain old ripping, but it should work.
  • OK, as I understand this article - the technical problem is that the error correction codes which allow the d2a converter to interpolate for audio extraction are written to the digital output, so there's no way to know what's an error. A couple questions:

    1) Is there way to read these error correction codes?

    2) What about the "digital out" on some older standalone CD players (like mine). Does this suffer the same problem?

    3) Why is it so bad or hard just to do after the fact interpolation, using good sound filters?

    4) Are the same bits hosed on each disc? If they were different, you could just overlay and fix, no?

  • ... is why everyone gets so pissed off at record companies, computer gaming companies, etc etc etc whenever they come up with new (whether or not their effective) ways to protect their products. Everyone seems to get mad at companies for actually wanting to make money off their product. Now, don't get me wrong. I was highly annoyed at Macrovision on my DVDs back when I had no choice but to route my DVD connection through my VCR because my TV didn't have AV plugs. As a result, my DVDs all looked funky when I played them. I was annoyed. But I didn't think the DVD manufacturers were evil. They're just trying their best to make sure no one is cheating them out of money. Maybe their methods aren't the smartest, but the motives for it are so that they get paid for what they're doing. I don't really see why it's so evil. If it is, I urge YOU to go to work today and tell your boss not to pay you for your day's work. Or maybe it's that people think the record companies are making too much money and that they shouldn't throw this protection on there, because they're already making enough money. How many of you are reading Slashdot right now while at work and you're getting paid for it? How many of you would voluntarily give up the time you're being paid for while reading this?

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel