Known Johnson

April 28, 2005

RIPOFF ALERT: Ben Folds – Songs For Silverman DualDisc is copy-protected

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 6:40 pm

A word of warning: the DualDisc version of Ben Folds’ Songs For Silverman is copy-protected and WILL NOT play in your computer. Not to show off, but I am pretty computer-savvy and have a brand new, extremely high quality CD/DVD rewritable drive that has been reviewed as one of the better drives for ripping copy-protected discs and it won’t even read the stereo-audio side of the DualDisc. I am more than pissed – I’m so mad that not only will this disc be returned immediately, I may not choose to replace it with the more expensive, separate CD and DVD “deluxe” edition. I know that it’s not fair to blame the artist for a label-directed decision, but the impact must be made somewhere. Unfortunately, my only visible, viable target is the artist, who will lose my money and, hopefully, the money of any other faithful buyers who decide that ENOUGH IS GODDAMN ENOUGH.

The literature included with the disc, on a small bright-red flyer, extols the many wonderful virtues of this new technology. Oooh, you can have video on one side for your DVD player and stereo audio on the other for your CD player. Except, down in the corner is a warning that states ” The audio side of this disc does not conform to CD specifications and therefore not all DVD and CD players will play the audio side of the disc.” When I first read that, moments after opening the package, I assumed that they meant older units would choke on the disc, which, while not fair, could reasonably be expected. And it did work in my car’s in-dash Pioneer CD player – a location that has, generally, proven to be the first point at which I find fails any of the very few copy-protected discs I’ve managed to get suckered into buying. It worked – and I was temporarily happy. When I arrived back at work, I popped the disc into my computer’s CDROM drive and listened to it grind away with uncomfortable sounds. After a few minutes of grinding, my computer acted as if nothing had changed – nothing viable was in the drive. I was obviously miffed, but figured it was a crappy drive and it would work fine at home. And then it didn’t.

I get the point of copy-protection. I really do. What I don’t get is why it is only the people who paid for the disc that get punished. Because I did pay for this disc, and according to US laws, I have a RIGHT to use this disc as I please for my own personal enjoyment. That means I can rip it and copy it to a CDR if I want to, as long as only I use it. I’m fine with that. I’m also allowed to transfer it to another medium, such as mp3, which is my goal here so that I can listen to it on my Ipod, and, again, it’s only my right to use the resulting files. I’m fine with that. What I am most definitely NOT fine with is a record label telling me that I don’t have this right, or that I do, but they’re just choosing not to support my decision to invoke it. All I did when I bought this CD was buy a license for the music on the disc. My right is being stepped on here because I cannot listen to this music the way I wish to.

This was my first experience with DualDisc technology. It will also be my last. And, hopefully, I’ll steer some others away from it, but, please, do me a favor first: go buy this album, or any other DualDisc release, then immediately take it back and complain that it will not play. Get all your friends to do this too. If enough people do this the labels will be stuck with a massive amount of returned discs that they can’t do anything with. This is the only way I have figured out that will send some sort of a message to the labels. They won’t listen to complaints – not when tons of these discs are flying off shelves (and I guarantee they are – Bruce Springsteen’s new album is only available as a DualDisc.) When they are faced with a pile of unsellable discs, they’ll at least know the technology’s not going over very well. All I’m asking is that you take a stance – don’t buy these DualDiscs, or buy them and return them.

UPDATE: Because I do enjoy the Ben Folds, I relented and returned the defective DualDisc to exchange for the upgrade to the “special edition” packaging, which is a handsomely executed book with expanded liner notes and artwork, and contains separate CD and DVDs that actually conform to the very specific standards and also bear the official marks of their conforming to those standards (the well-known Compact Disc Audio and DVD Video logos found only on discs that do conform to those standards.) The CD plays and rips perfectly fine. Buy away.



  1. hey there…wanted to get in touch with you re a posting from last year on your blog, regarding Mitch Hedberg (your site is linked to the Wikipedia entry on hedberg)

    I am a journalist writing a story on Spin magazine on him, his death, his life, etc…would like to chat with you regarding the Phoenix show.

    you can email me at

    I hope you get in touch…


    Comment by Peter — April 29, 2005 @ 11:08 am | Reply

  2. Good for you! I can’t stand DRM. We have the Dave Matthews “Busted Stuff” album, which was a prize the wife won for something – so I can’t take it back. I tried ripping it with an older drive and it didn’t go well, so I haven’t even bothered to listen to it. Well, I’m not a big DM fan anyway, so I really have no incentive at all to listen to it. 😉

    Comment by Spencer — April 30, 2005 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  3. Busted Stuff was an okay album, but by then my interest-bubble in DMB had pretty much burst (thanks mostly due to the execrable Everyday) and, as a result, I don’t even own it anymore, so luckily I won’t have to find out the hard way.

    Comment by Tom — April 30, 2005 @ 9:32 pm | Reply

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