EFF revs up campaign against copy-protected CDs; Philips questions whether a copy protected CD is re

Posted: 10.07.03

EFF revs up campaign against copy-protected CDs; Philips questions whether a copy protected CD is really a CD

CDs with copy protection? The controversy was opened up at CES late last year when a petition was distributed on the floor and in the press room calling for the music studios to stop introducing CDs with copy protection that would prevent them from being ripped to the PC. So far the only two CDs released with copy protection are Charley Pride’s most recent album, “A Tribute to Jim Reeves,” and Universal Music Group’s More Fast and the Furious (maybe the record industry was testing the waters with CDs that nobody would want to copy in the first place).

Philips has weighed into the discussion with the contention that a copy protected CD is a actually an infringement on Philips’ technology because it doesn’t function according to the spec.

The EFF is also getting involved with a petition campaign on their site. They want copy-protected CDs clearly marked as such, segregated in stores, and basically to just go away as a very bad idea. If consumers get the drift of all this we believe they too will line up behind Philips and EFF to nip the idea in the bud. See EFF petition.

On the legal front: a suit was filed in Marin County by consumer Karen DeLise against Fahrenhaeit Entertainment and its label, Music City Records, and Sunncomm, the company which developed the “Cloque” technology. Seems this technology goes beyond pure copy protection. Users can’t play the CD in their computers unless they enter personal information and then they can download a digital version of the CD. According to the suit, Sunncomm’s technology tracks consumers’ listening habits and their downloads, and can disseminate this data as well as identifying information. Furthermore, the downloaded digital files of “A Tribute to Jim Reeves,” aren’t compatible with MP3 players. The legal beef is that people aren’t told about any of these “features” upfront when they buy the CD and they can’t opt out or control the use of their information.

The suit was settled on February 11, 2002 and the defendants, Fahrenheit/Music City and Sunncomm have pledged to add labeling on “Charley Pride—A Tribute to Jim Reeves” to warn users of the CD’s particular limitations when it comes to playing CDs including the news that the downloadable version isn’t compatible with CD-Rippers or MP3 players. In addition the companies are prohibited from using personal information in any way without permission.

So far, it’s still legal to create copies of music for personal use and the EFF and others would like to keep it that way.