FEATURE-CD-creator Philips blasts labels over protected discs

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dean M, Jan 17, 2002.

  1. Dean M

    Dean M Agent

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    By Adam Pasick
    NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - As major record labels roll out a new breed of compact disc designed to prevent Napster-style piracy, Dutch consumer electronics maker Philips , the co-creator of the CD, is refusing to play along.
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    The new discs now making their way into record stores in the United States and Europe contain countermeasures that prevent playback on computers and, in some unintended cases, normal CD players as well.
    ``What we've seen so far is troublesome and cumbersome,'' said Gerry Wirtz, general manager of the Philips copyright office that governs the compact disc trademark. ``We worry (the labels) don't know what they're doing.''
    The five major record labels -- Bertelsmann AG's BMG, Vivendi Universal , Sony , EMI Group (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: EMI.L) and AOL Time Warner's (NYSE:AOL - news) Warner Music -- hope that by preventing the use of audio CDs in computers, users will be unable to ``rip'' or copy the music into the easily traded MP3 music format.
    In the wake of Napster, the popular music-trading service that allowed consumers to rip and trade MP3s with a minimum of effort, the music industry was forced to investigate ways to limit rampant CD copying.
    The controversial new anti-copying technology introduces minute errors to the CDs, or changes the location of data on the discs to prevent them from being played back on computers. In theory, most consumer CD players can correct the errors and decipher the structure, unlike the more finicky computer CD drives.
    None of the companies have publicly committed to a full-scale introduction of the discs, yet ``it sounds like the record labels are still very much behind the idea and are in the process of rolling out an unannounced number'' of discs, said Jupiter analyst Aram Sinnreich.
    WHEN A CD IS NOT A CD
    Philips, because of conformity issues, has warned the record labels that the discs are actually not compact discs at all, and must bear warning labels to inform consumers.
    ``We've made sure they would put a very clear warning that you're not buying a compact disc, but something different,'' Wirtz told Reuters. ``We've been warning some labels to begin with, and they've adjusted their behavior.''
    That means labels would also be barred from using the familiar ``compact disc'' logo that has been stamped on every CD since Philips and Sony jointly developed the technology in 1978.
    The five major labels declined to comment.
    POST-NAPSTER CDs
    The attempts to graft protective measures onto the 20-year-old CD technology have had mixed results. Because there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of different CD players on the market, it's likely that some will be unable to read the new discs.
    ``It's extremely difficult to retrofit the system with copy protection without losing the ability for all CDs to play on all players,'' Wirtz said.
    In one of the first protected CD releases from BMG, Natalie Imbruglia's ``White Lillies'' prompted numerous returns in the United Kingdom. Universal's ``More Fast and the Furious'' disc release in the United States featured a label warning that the CD would not play on a small number of CD players.
    Even when the protection technology works as intended, Wirtz said that normal wear and tear could eventually overwhelm the error correction for the altered discs, causing them to become unreadable within a few years.
    ``We fear some of these so-called copy-protected CDs will play at first, but will eventually show problems and break down,'' he said.
    DMCA DANGER?
    Aside from its ownership of the compact disc trademark, Philips is a major manufacturer of CD burners, and Wirtz said future Philips machines will likely be able to both read and burn the protected CDs -- a proposition that may land the company in the crosshairs of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or
    Dmca.
    The far-reaching DMCA, enacted in 1998, bans any attempt to circumvent copyright protections. Critics complain that the law puts too much power in the hands of media publishers, denying consumers the right to use products bought for personal consumption in whatever ways they see fit.
    Philips contends that the protected discs do not fall under the DMCA, since they restrict the playback of music, not copying itself.
    ``It is not a copy-protection system, it is not doing anything to recorders or copy devices,'' Wirtz said. ``It would not qualify as copy-protection under the DMCA, or the new European laws.''
    However, the broadly worded DMCA bars the circumvention of any method used to protect the property of a copyright holder, and experts on the law said Philips may be treading on dangerous legal ground.
    ``The record companies would contend that the protection is encryption within the meaning of the DMCA, because it is designed to protect copyrighted material, and originates with the owner of the copyright,'' intellectual property attorney Leonard Rubin of Gordon & Glickson said.
    Attempts to circumvent encryption are explicitly barred by the
    Dmca.
    ``The way that statute has been interpreted, it's illegal to bypass those types of digital access controls,'' said Robin Gross of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a public advocacy group which opposes the law. ``All you have to do is attempt to put some kind of technological protection system that controls access to the work -- it doesn't matter how effective it is.''
    BRAVO Philips!
     
  2. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    I agree: BRAVO PHILLIPS!!

    I am certain that many consumers and consumer groups will join with Phillips in taking that stand.

    Excellent.
     
  3. LarryH

    LarryH Supporting Actor

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    Good for you, Philips!! If these people want to corrupt the CD system, they must be forced to advertise the fact.
     
  4. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    So, these new "potected" discs are not Compact Discs. I propose they be called MCD's (mutant compact discs). I have zero sympathy for the record labels. They created the need for Napster and other copying with their obscene prices. Let's just say they made their own bed. I'm willing to suppourt a boycott, if it comes to that.
     
  5. Brian Bunn

    Brian Bunn Second Unit

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    The music industry is getting very interesting these days. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

    What the record companies are doing is preposterous. Their product should play on EVERY available CD/DVD player AND computer CD/DVD-rom drive...without fail and regardless of the consequences. The fact that they are deliberately placing errors on their CD product to make sure that the product does not play on every CD/DVD player and computer CD/DVD-rom drive is unbelievable.

    The way I see it they only have one solution to the predicament that they find themselves in: finally lowering the price of their product to entice consumers back into buying again.

    But noooooo!! They wanna deliberately tamper with their product to try and stop all the MP3 sharing and CD Burning going on out there.

    Will it work? I don't think so. They are playing a very dangerous game here.
     
  6. Joe6pack99

    Joe6pack99 Second Unit

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    I agree the music industry is a crock of shit. They would not have this problem if they charged reasonable prices but nooo they bloat the damn discs so normal people can't afford them then blame people when a "cheaper" method comes. I say keep on making "backups"
     
  7. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

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    Way to go Phillips. You are doing a good job.

    I want to see a LARGE logo on the front of each of these discs stating:

    "THIS IS NOT A COMPACT DISC".

    That would do the trick.
     
  8. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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    How about this?

    [rant]This disc has been specially engineered to deprive you of your Fair Use rights. In addition, it has been loaded with intentional errors that may corrupt sound quality on some players, prevent playback on others, and make it so that the least little scratch pushes the disc over the edge from error-filled to a coaster. Special bonus - so-called shrink-wrap "agreement" found inside is so one-sided that it would make the Devil red with envy. [/rant]
     
  9. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Screenwriter

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  10. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    Thomas Newton:

    [rant]Well Written! Bravo!!![/rant]
     
  11. Rob Robinson

    Rob Robinson Second Unit

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    Where's Jeff Ulmer?

    I'm glad Philips did this- as it's what I suggested they do once Universal kicked this debacle into motion. woohoo.
     
  12. AaronMK

    AaronMK Supporting Actor

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    It is about time a hardware manufacturer took a stand against the record industry.
     
  13. DougWright

    DougWright Stunt Coordinator

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    What these record companies have done is given the consumer a way to go to a store, buy one of these "bastardized" CDs take it home and copy or MP3ize it (there are ways to do this digitally already) and then return it to the store saying it will not play in their player. From what I have seen the stores have been taking them back in this case.

    I am not endorsing this behaviour, but it is now possible.

    One reason I never stopped buying some CDs was the quality off the net was not up to par, or it was more work than it was worth to me, or I wanted the booklet (insert reason here). They have just removed that roadblock. A user can now get mp3s ripped at 256 kbps that sound almost indistiguishable from the source.

    My $0.02
     
  14. Kevin P

    Kevin P Screenwriter

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    Way to go Philips!

    I actually purchased the "copy protected" More Fast & Furious soundtrack in order to perform compatibility tests with it. This particular disc doesn't have the Compact Disc logo on it, but there is a tiny logo on the back of the jewel case insert, but there is also a warning sticker indicating that the disc is protected, and can be returned for a refund if it doesn't play.

    I don't know if all copies of MF&F use the same scheme, but I found on my copy that they didn't use a sound degrading CIRC error scheme, instead they did something with the TOC to prevent computers from reading the first track (the remaining tracks could be played and extracted successfully). Also, the disc played perfectly on almost every consumer device I've tried, including CD players, CD changers, car CD changers, DVD players, and laserdisc players. The only devices that I tried that had a problem (and then, only with the first track), was a Playstation 2 and an Xbox.

    Also, I was able to rip the tracks on my PC using a popular freeware audio extractor. These protection schemes will never work--if a CD player can play the disc, software can extract the bits off of it.

    The record companies are shooting themselves in the foot.

    KJP
     
  15. Jodee

    Jodee Screenwriter

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  16. Neil_Duffy

    Neil_Duffy Second Unit

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    I picked up the 'I am Sam ' soundtrack today and found a sticker on it informing me that 'This cd does not play in a PC.' I have also heard rumopurs that these new discs will not play on PS2's and DVD players.

    I assume 'I am Sam' is one of the cds with the dreaded new copy protection on it...

    I personally love buying cds and get a kick out of owning a specific album, but I also like to make personal compilations for my mini-disc - something I believe everybody likes to do in whatever format, be it tape or

    cd-r. However, I do not exploit or capitalise buy selling this product on, which is clearly something the record companies are scared of.

    You know, surely some computer whizz will develop a hack that will enable copying of these discs, then either upload the patch to the net or put the tracks on the net to download and burn... either way, the record companies will lose, because then no one will buy these counter measured cds... Also, in the long term, who will go out and buy CD walkmans, mini-disc players and CD-burners?

    One of the problems with net is that the likes of Napster springs up, enabling everyone to get songs for free. Again, because I am the possesive type, I prefer to have the cd, the artwork - the whole deal. That's why these people are wher they are in society, right? I guess the more this effects royalties, the less chance we have of seeing new product.

    I do feel this copy protection move will ultimately hurt record companies more than be beneficial.
     
  17. JasenP

    JasenP Screenwriter

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    This is a public relations Pandora's box for the music industry. I can already see the lid lifting.

    I think they will raise the price of music compact discs (Again) and attempt to justify it by attributing the costs to having to include the anti-copy garbage on every CD.

    There will ALWAYS be ways around any anti-copy protection scheme. By pursuing this way of business they are really accusing all their customers of stealing.

    There are indeed legitimate uses for "ripped" CD tracks, not everyone is a pirate.
     
  18. John Knowles

    John Knowles Stunt Coordinator

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    Add my voice to those who hope that this scheme will fall flat on its face. I have a PC in my house that has mp3s of all the pop CDs I own and I really like having it all there for background music and such. It's all from CDs I've bought and not from Napster. I still buy CDs but I will forgo buying new CDs if this crap continues. Hmm, this makes me want to go buy more vinyl! [​IMG]
     
  19. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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  20. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    I'd like to remind everyone that HTF does not support discussions of bootleggin in any form, and that the topic here is not whether or not music ought to be ripped to MP3's or not, or why anyone should condone an illegal activity for any reason, including price points.
    That's not the topic at all.
    The topic is whether or not items should be sold that seem to be CD's, but have their formats subtley changed in ANY manner, for ANY reason (including a noble-seeming idea of upholding a law), and *still* get to be called CD's when they clearly don't meet the standard that defines what a CD is.
    The change in the format clearly creates problems with playability of the disc and creates hassles for innocent consumers. It also is demonstrated to result in loss of quality on players that ARE compatible with the new format. And it's not right to go behind the license-issuer's back and make such a change without consulting them and still use their trademarked names of "Compact Disc" and "CD".
    Again, I say BRAVO to Philips for taking the stand that will protect consumer interests. If I choose to buy a new CD, I want to know it will be compatible with any player I choose to put it in, whether it's a stereo componant, a videogame system, a Discman, a PC drive, or a DVD console. I want to know that the fidelity is where it should be.
    For another take on this whole thing, check out a great article at The Register UK. I alerted the author of this story to the Reuters article after reading it here, and - even though he didn't acknowledge me (nor am I worried about it) - he presents an interesting twist on some of the ideas we've been kicking around here.
     

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