Copy Protected CD's

I was reading a post over at new blogger Bob Obringer’s site and it reminded me of something I wanted to talk about, Copy Protected CD’s.

You see, the record industry is slowly releasing different versions of CD’s that have copy protection built-in. These CD’s make it so you cannot copy the CD to make a backup, or rip tracks to formats like MP3 or AAC. It’s meant to prevent piracy, but all it’s really doing is trampling on our fair-use rights. Up until now, if you wanted to make a backup copy of your audio CD to play in the car, you could do so. If you wanted to rip songs to MP3 to play on your computer, you could do so as well. The record companies are trying to prevent that.

Fortunately this is very hard for companies to do in a manner that works 100% of the time. For example, the release of the album by Velvet Revolver a couple of weeks ago. This CD had a warning label that stated that it had copy protection. Nice of them to let me know. When I saw that, I SERIOUSLY considered just NOT buying the album. I put it down and picked it up several times before I thought “What the hell, I’ll see if I can crack the protection.”

I had read awhile back that most of these copy protection schemes have to install something from the CD to prevent the copying process. Generally when you insert a CD in Windows, the autorun functions will run whatever program the disc has on it. Well, in Windows, if you hold down the SHIFT key while inserting the CD, it ignores the autorun process and does nothing. So, I held down SHIFT, inserted the CD and fired up iTunes. At that point I ripped all the tracks to MP3 without a hitch. Some protection scheme.

There are many things about this that bug me. The first is intrusion of code into my windows system. Any code that runs on my machine to prevent me from properly utilizing my software is malware to me. Secondly, why shouldn’t I be able to exercise my fair use rights? For example, I rip all my songs to MP3 so I can stream them over my TiVo to any TV in the house. WHY should that ability be limited? There is NO good reason. I’m not a pirate, in fact I’ve bought more CD’s than most people I know (I have over 2000 titles.) All this is going to do in the future is prevent me from buying any music that is copy protected. I’m sure that’s not the consequences that the music companies intended.