More on CD copy protection

Posted: 10.07.03

As we reported, the legal battles over copy protection are just getting started and so far they seem to be going well for those who would like to see copy protected CDs clearly labeled (if the things have to be sold at all). As it turns out, copy protected disks are being Released in relatively large numbers but they’re not labeled as such. Hilary Rosen, President of the Recording Association of America, and a cheerleader for the most unyielding elements of the music industry was quoted in a New York Times story. “If technology can be used to pirate copyrighted content, shouldn’t technology likewise be used to protect copyrighted content?”

It can and it does Hilary, but people need to know what they’re getting when they’re buying CDs and so far, very few copy-protected CDs are labeled as such.

Interestingly, we think, is that some of the companies who have made the biggest pitch for copy protected CDs are those same companies who announced plans to build some kind of online service—Vivendi, Bertelsmann, etc. We had hopes these companies would get it and offer downloadable music via a subscription service or reasonable download fees. (Admittedly, though, we hadn’t seen anything promising from these companies.)

Weirder still, we read in a that same New York Times story that Sony Music Music has Released something like 70 titles with anti-piracy technology in Europe while Sony Electronics has come out against copy-protected CDs taking a stand much like Philips that states it’s a digression from the spec and can’t be guaranteed to play on all CD players.

The holders of content seen to have driven themselves mad worrying about users stealing their stuff and they’re blaming piracy on declines in record sales. We think it’s possible that sales of CDs have declined because they’re offering us crummy music. But we also concede that digital music will have an effect on sales of CDs if it hasn’t already.

Apparently, when Disney Chief Michael Eisner testified before Congress he singled out Apple computer for blame in fostering music piracy. How’s that? You ask. Yes, Eisner says that Apple’s Rip, Mix, Burn campaign fosters piracy (Macworld story). We don’t get it, as far as we know, it’s still perfectly legal to rip music from your CDs, mix titles on the computer and burn them to a CD or even an MP3 player.

What’s important about all this, we believe, is that the music industry is making it clear that they’ve never really gotten over losing the war over home recording of cassettes and they’d like to fire up a time machine through the magic of technology (because the mojo of the courts hasn’t helped them very much) and go back to those halcyon days before easy home recording. And, not only does this hold true for music, it goes triple for movies.

Several sites are tracking these issues including Fat Chuck’s and EuroRights.

In addition to Sony and Philips, Sonicblue has weighed in heavily on this issue since they recognize a threat to their livelihood when they see one. And, as we note a little further down this page, the Electronic Freedom Foundation, EFF, is making this a cause celebre. To weigh in, sign their petition.