Known Johnson

November 2, 2005

Buyer beware: copy protection on the new Trey Anastasio album

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 2:04 pm

If you’ve been a long-time reader, you know how I feel about copy-protection on CDs. If you haven’t, or forgot, let me remind you: I hate it. I don’t support the stealing of music, but I also don’t support anyone telling or, in this case, forcing buyers to use the music they purchased the way the label wishes them to. The big Sony conglomerate is the source of pretty much all copy-protection woes in the US – their umbrella of stupidity covers a lot of sublabels that they’ve bought up in various mergers and buy-outs (RCA, Columbia, etc.) My feeling, and the copyright laws support me, is that when you buy music, movies, etc., you own a license to use that product how you feel as long as it doesn’t constitute broadcasting. But now Sony and their minions have decided that they actually can tell you how to listen to your music – and so have released a bunch of CDs this year with copy protection that prevents the user from ripping the music as mp3 files. It will allow you to rip to WMA files – but guess what? The world’s most popular digital music player won’t support that file format. That’s right – the music you purchased with your hard-earned money won’t play on the 30 MILLION Ipods (something like 90% of the digital music player market) that Apple has sold.

Sony doesn’t sell CDs anymore. What Sony sells are defective discs that resemble Compact Discs – they won’t work in the way they were designed to work, and so they can’t even bear the well-known, official insignia of the CD. I have refused to support this abuse of technology – the more people who do, the easier it is for Sony to say that buyers don’t care, even if they really are angry about it. But today I read something new that makes Sony’s copy protection even more sinister. According to this article, Sony’s software actually installs something called a “rootkit” that actually makes your computer vulnerable to viruses and other unwanted invasions. And Sony’s hidden this little facet of their copy-protection scheme, making no mention of the vulnerability their little app opens up on your machine*. It’s simply disgusting – think of what would happen if someone played one of these discs on their work computer and then got infected with something. Do you think Sony’s going to be willing to pay for the damages?

And so we add another title to the list of discs that are saddled with this crap: Phish singer/guitarist Trey Anasasio’s Shine, released yesterday, bears the mark of the devil in the form of a “compatibility” chart on the back. I went out today with the intention of picking it up, but I put it back instead. Hopefully I won’t be the only one doing that (yes, I could have bought the DualDisc, but that comes with its own slew of compatibility issues.) The best? Tell Sony what you think here.

*Mac owners need not worry – the copy protection Sony uses apparently does nothing to your computers.

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7 Comments »

  1. Tell me about it. I’m dying to buy Brick, the new box set reissue of all the Talking Heads studio albums, but every disc is in the wretched DualDisc format!! AAARRGGGHHH!!

    Comment by Chris — November 3, 2005 @ 11:39 am | Reply

  2. I was in the same predicament and actually went ahead and picked up the Dual Disc verison of Trey’s cd. I could only rip the first couple of songs and can’t extract any of the others. I’m doing this on a Mac and also tried on a PC (which won’t even load up the cd). I tried copying the files directly from the cd onto the hard drive with the same problem.

    What a pain. This type of copy protection only encourages pirating.

    Comment by Mike M — November 3, 2005 @ 1:51 pm | Reply

  3. Chris – I’m in the same situation: I want that box, but the idea of buying DualDiscs is a major turnoff. However, I gave in and bought the DualDisc of Anastasio’s album tonight – I wanted it that bad – since I likely will wind up buying the Talking Heads box or just the discs (coming out separately in January and February 2006.)

    Mike – thanks for sharing your experience. As I said above, I folded and bought the DualDisc. I was able to rip the CD-side with one of my two drives. The other? It froze up and became disabled once I got the disc out! I had to restart my computer to get the drive to become available again!

    Comment by Administrator — November 3, 2005 @ 10:32 pm | Reply

  4. By the way, Mike, the DualDiscs are notorious for causing problems with slot-loading Macs. Be very careful if you have one – some users have had to have their systems serviced to get the discs out!

    Comment by Administrator — November 3, 2005 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

  5. I must not be buying any Sony CDs or something, but I’ve had no problem with iTunes on my Windows system, importing songs as AAC files. Even discs marked as having copy protection (like that recent Ensemble Modern Plays Zappa disc) have a ripped just fine. Was that new Fiona Apple record encoded? It ripped fine for me. Hmm.

    Comment by Shawn Farley — November 4, 2005 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

  6. Wow – a Zappa disc with copy protection? That seems totally against what FZ would stand for. Well, I guess he’s not around to voice his opininion on that, so . . .

    You may have Autoplay disabled on your system, Shawn, like I do, which prevents the copy-protection from even being engaged. That’s always the first thing I do when I have a new install of Windows to prevent mistakes from ever happening with copy-protected discs. Fiona Apple’s disc actually was NOT copy-protected, despite some reports for a while beforehand that suggested it would be.

    Comment by Tom — November 4, 2005 @ 7:11 pm | Reply

  7. Hey, finally I’m showing up as me instead of the mysterious “Administrator”!

    Comment by Tom — November 4, 2005 @ 7:12 pm | Reply


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