The Copy Protection Myth

from the this-again? dept

It’s not hard to see why copy protection on legally purchased CDs backfires badly by treating legit paying customers as criminals while making the music less valuable. In many ways, it encourages people to go look for unencumbered digital files from the various file sharing networks. Now, Broadband Reports is chipping away at another part of the the copy protection/file sharing myths the recording industry loves to talk about. First, they point out that, despite the copy protection on one particular CD, a song from that CD is still the number one traded file on some networks. In other words, the entire reason to copy protect the CD (to keep it from being shared) hasn’t worked. It’s useless. At the same time, however, the CD is selling well. The recording industry is misinterpreting this, of course, to suggest that consumers don’t mind the copy protection (something that seems contrary to the many complaints about the CD). However, what it really shows is that sales can still do well, despite the songs being traded for free on file sharing networks. In fact, some might claim that the popularity of the songs on such networks may have helped the CD’s sales by making it more popular. So, at what point does the RIAA even consider that the basis for their actions is simply wrong?

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Comments on “The Copy Protection Myth”

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Robin (profile) says:

foiled again!

Just a little rant…

The copy protection got me again this weekend! I bought three cd’s (blue note trip), strangely only one of them had the copy control technology implemented. Being one of these silly folks without an actual stereo, because I use my pc to play my music, I was quite annoyed. I can’t even access these cd’s, nor grab mp3’s, because of the wonderful addition they made to “protect” their music from being copied.

So I’ve been protected from even hearing the music they supposedly care so much about? Great job! 🙁 I think next time I’ll just see if I can download the music, instead of sponsoring a company that does not want me to hear their music…

Vlatro says:

Re: Bypass The Security Protection

There is a simple way of going around the cd protection.

Step 1. Get you hands on a cheap ($15) portable cd player. Try walmart or a local drug store. Then a $3.99 Cable from Radio Shack. It’ll look like a headphone jack on both ends.

Step 2. Download the free trial of Musicmatch jukebox. Set it to do an analog recording.

Step 3. Plug one end of the cable into the line-out jack in the cdplayer, the other end to the line-in jack on the computer’s soundcard. Set the CD player’s Mode setting to play a single track.

Step 4. Push record in musicmatch, and play on the CD player. Wait until the track is finished and press stop. Repeat for other tracks.

Now you have a new MP3 from that protected music CD! This is the same technique used to digitize vinal, cassette tape ect. The principal of protection is flawed, anything that can be heard can be recorded. Make sure you SHARE the files you make. Show them any money spent on researching “Protection technologies” is wasted money.

I always buy the CD’s I like, but P2P networks have introduced me to bands I didn’t even know existed. Their sales have gone up. Likewise I may downloa music from a band I have liked in the past, I hear the new songs, delete them, and never waste my money on that album. Why is it ok for consumers to make informed purchases in every other market, except the music industry? Piracy is wrong, but it needs to be handled in a manner that doesn’t hurt the paying consumer as much as it does the theives.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Bypass The Security Protection

“There is a simple way of going around the cd protection…”

The only time I bought a copy-protected CD, I found it was a lot simpler to just download the mp3s off Kazaa than jump through hoops to rip it myself. Which is the point of this article, copy protection doesn’t keep anything off p2p, if anything it drives people ONTO p2p.

David Bryce (user link) says:

I don't get it.

I posted the following point on this subject earlier:
Sony BMG says on the subject of how to get the content onto iPods:
?users can get the music onto iPods by transferring files to a PC, burning them to a CD, ripping the tunes to the hard drive and finally transferring them into Apple?s iTunes software?
Sorry but correct me if I?m wrong. He?s just told people how to unprotect the content of their protected CDs. So what was the point in protecting them???

Mike says:

RIAA goal

I would venture to guess that the RIAA doesn’t intend to completely stop the file sharing; they just want to slow it down to a crawl. I think a lot of their attempts to protect the content are only a bit more than symbolic.

For the technically inclined “techies” out there (like those who read this blog), we will always be aware of getting the content elsewhere or have the knowledge to do it ourselves. In the past, this “know-how” was widespread (i.e. Napster, Kazaa, etc). However, the recent (and well publicized) actions by the RIAA have made it more difficult to share music or to rip it yourself.

While the “techies” still know how to do it, “Joe Public” won’t have this information (or is afraid of the RIAA busting down the door). He will go ahead and buy the music and realize the “free ride” is over.

If the RIAA can make it complex enough (or scare folks enough) they’ll get their money. If they get the number of file-sharing people down to a small percentage, they win.

Robin (profile) says:

Re: RIAA goal

To feed that fire just ever so slightly:

I have no problems with copy protections as such, but am a bit confused about the ways they are protecting “their” property. I read up on the copy control technology that stopped me from listening to my new cd’s, and apparently that protection scheme works through making deliberate errors on the cd’s…These errors are too much for most CD-rom players, so they cannot be ripped without losing quality. (if they can be ripped at all)

This problem doesn’t just come forward for pc users either! Some car cd players, and even some standard cd players won’t be able to cope with the errors…Does this mean the recording industry is now allowed to dictate which hardware I use to listen to the cd’s I buy? I think not.

And besides that, when I buy a cd I am tempted to think I’m buying some quality, but through putting errors on my cd’s deliberately those cd’s will also become unreadable much quicker then a normal cd would! Good thing they’re cheaper than normal cd’s! (oh, wait, they’re not…)

Adam Szymczak (user link) says:

Re: Re: RIAA goal

I do have a problem with copy protection, epecially when it installs a driver on your computer so that you cannot even play that CD. My wife bought me the latest Foo Fighters CD ‘In Your Honor’ and I noticed the barely visble copy protection sticker on the front and the ilegible warning on the back of the CD. Sure enough when I tried playing the CD in my computer, it skipped.

Seems that Sony/BMG installs a driver that watches for specific CDs. One Google search later and I was able to deactivite the hidden driver. Ripped the CD then I uninstalled the driver. Then I remembered why I rarely buy CDs: I don’t like being treated as a criminal.

RWS says:

Re: RIAA goal

Has anyone noticed how many lawsuits the RIAA has opened since they were prohibited from browbeating the ISPs for file and user lists??

A judge in Sacramento, CA ruled that what they were doing was illegal so they had to stop….no new lawsuits since then.

What I’m waiting to see is the people they intimidated by their lawsuits to sue them for their money back and citing the illegal methods they used to target people.

I would also like to see them give a full accounting of the money collected just to see how much the artists are actually getting–probably none. After all, in the vast majority of the cases it wasn’t the artists but the big music companies who were doing the suing through the RIAA.

Historical footnote: The RIAA is merely continuing its many years long campaign to stop ANY recording of music by consumers. It has been doing so since the ’60s when cassette tape first became popular. Maybe they will someday join the rest of the real world and work within the framework as it exists instead of trying to force everyone into theirs…NOT!!!

Greed is long as yours doesn’t interfere with mine!!!


Joe (profile) says:

copy protection myth

I’ve been saying this since my freshman year of college. (5 years ago) The recording industry was in a slump as was the rest of the economy so they needed a scape goat.

Since they have started suing individuals I have boycotted music in general, all I listen to now are CD’s I purchased 4 years ago and whatever is on MTV but I have had almost no desire to go out and buy any CD’s.

Because of how childish the music industry has acted I have lost interest. I must admit I feel mildly out of touch with the industry in general now that I’ve been on a 4 year hiatus.

I think you can find a parallel to hockey, now the biggest consumers of CD’s are those that download the songs illegally. The general fans are upset but don’t care enough to bother.

Sorry for my rant.


dave (user link) says:

Re: copy protection myth

i hear what you’re saying, since I too am fed up with the RIAA. however, what i’ve done have gone completely independant. i check out local music, i read music zines. if i know of an indie label, i listen to other stuff they have. just a suggestion, it worked for me. i havent bought a cd from a major label or any of their subsidiaries

Researcher says:

Re: No Subject Given

As obviously pointed out, this kind of copy protection backfires quickly, because it makes CD’s less valuable by…

… offering below-grade customer experience,
… limiting their use to certain machines,
… limiting music listening contexts,
… decreasing trust to music distribution chain in case,
… and decreasing trust to CD’s as a music distribution medium.

On the other hand, this copy-protection trend could turn out to be very useful to online music distribution systems, such as iTunes, other music stores and music sharing networks, because:

… they are cheap,
… they can be more versatile,
… they (may) offer positive customer experience,
… you can (usually) burn your own cd’s that actually work.

Phew… CD distribution network is going to be so starved to death after ten-twenty years. It’s like shooting your own leg.
Unfortunately this seems to be a common practice in many clueless giant corporations.. =)

Johan Allansson says:

Copy Protection

Personally I’ve never had any real troubles with these Copy Protections CDs. I do own a lot of CDs with protection but I can both play and rip them on my PC with Windows XP… This, I think, really proves how useless the Copy Protection is. I think that instead of keeping control over the CDs they should try to stop the filesharing networks that distributes illeagal copies of commercial albums. Those who actually buys the CDs should not be punished beacause of those who cannot accept the hard work behind a good record and are unwilling to buy the actual CDs…

James says:

Copy protection done in wrong way does exactly the

The Problems with copy protection on some CDs and DVDs is that I can’t port music or movies to the iPod without circumventing the copy protection scheme.

The CSS (and in some cases the ARccOS) on the DVDs were not a big deal back in the pre-21st century, because we didn’t have much space. Back in the pre-21st century years like 1998, 1999, etc, hard disk drives were only a gig or two. Today, hard drives are in the hundreds of gigs, enough to store a dozen movies. The newest hard drives from Hitachi and Seagate are over 750 gigs and 1 terabyte drives are comming out by the holidays, with 5 or 10 terabyte drives out there by the turn of the decade. Though, Making copies of CDs into MP3 files were common 5 years ago, along with MP3 CDs for jogging. That’s not an issue, since CDs weren’t copy protected.

Now that hard drives are big now, we are about to get in the rhelm of copying DVDs onto the hard drive for viewing and copying them to portable devices. The problem: the CSS encryption on the DVDs. On top of that, some CDs are copy protected as well.

What did the CSS do? Pirates got the upperhand on this protection scheme and even made money trying to break newer encryptions, while consumers were out in the cold with the content stuck on the disk and unable to rip to the hard drive and on to their iPod videos.

So, What’s wrong with the copy protection and the DMCA?

It was meant to make life tough for counterfeiters and pirates who circumvent protection for mass copying. Instead, this system pissed off consumers and promoted more piracy, since the legality of circumventing copy protection was a great barrior to consumers who want to backup music and movies, beam the music and movies on the media PC around the house, and copy them to portable devices.

What changes needs to be made to correct the flaws of the DMCA?

1) Make it legal to circumvent copy protection for personal use on purchased disks and rented disks (Copies from rental DVDs must be destroyed within 24 hours or one playback). However, circumvention of copy protection for the purpose of common sense infringement, such as making a copy for a friend or uploading it to the Internet remains illegal. Therefore, obsolete protection that holds the content on the disks may be circumvented by using software, and reshapes the copy protection on HD disks to allow consumers to copy HD movies to the PCs.

2) Toughen laws against the true pirates who are making a kazillion CDs and DVDs for resale. China and South Africa has the most problem of counterfeit media and software.

3) Make it legal to circumvent copy protection in order to convert a format of the file so that I can put it on any player I own. For instance, purchasing music from Itunes and putting it on a Blackberry device, or downloading music from Rapcity and putting it on my iPod. I think that they are far better off with open source media and it will put the consumer electronic companies in a more competitive fasion and will make technology move foward, along with better MP3 players and other electronic devices.

I really do think that after 8 years, the DMCA laws are plainly obsolete and needs a major overhaul. It’s time for us to change from a state of “Pirates get the benefits while consumers are left in the cold” to “Consumers get freedom with the way they use media while the pirates suffer and have a terrable life”. Would it be nice if I can buy Star Wars Episode 1: the Phantom Menance, copy it to a hard drive, manipulate it the way I want to, while the pirates go Arrrrrgh! when trying to mass copy the media? I think so!

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