>CD Technology Stops Copies, but It Starts a Controversy
>March 1, 2002
>By AMY HARMON
>The recording industry has begun selling music CD's
>designed to make it impossible for people to copy music to
>their computers, trade songs over the Internet or transfer
>them to portable MP3 players.
>Until now, most of the protected discs have been
>distributed in Europe, with little publicity. But the
>strategy has already provoked a reaction there. There are
>also objections from American music lovers who fear that
>they will be unable to use the increasingly popular
>portable MP3 devices or burn their own CD's to copy music
>that they have legally purchased.
>The practice is also drawing the ire of several consumer
>electronics manufacturers, including Sony Electronics,
>which says it cannot guarantee the audio quality of these
>CD's on its players, and Apple Computer (news/quote) and
>Sonicblue (news/quote), whose sales of popular portable
>music players might suffer if copy-protected CD's became
>But the record companies, who largely blame piracy via
>computers and the Internet for the 10 percent decline in
>United States music sales last year, are defending the
>practice and planning to put more protected CD's into the
>"If technology can be used to pirate copyrighted content,
>shouldn't technology likewise be used to protect
>copyrighted content?" wrote Hilary B. Rosen, president of
>the Recording Industry Association of America, in a
>response yesterday to a query from a member of Congress.
>"Surely, no one can expect copyright owners to ignore what
>is happening in the marketplace and fail to protect their
>creative works because some people engage in copying just
>for their personal use."
>The individual labels are being secretive about their
>But Macrovision (news/quote), one company supplying the
>industry with the new technology, said several CD's bearing
>its copy-protection system had been released by major
>labels in the United States and were being sold in record
>stores across the country.
>"It doesn't have a big label on it saying `copy protected,'
>" said Brian McPhail, vice president and general manager of
>Macrovision's consumer software division. "But some of
>these have been pretty high distributions."
>The executives at the Universal Music Group, part of
>Vivendi Universal (news/quote), have been the most
>outspoken proponents of copy-protected CD's. Universal said
>it planned to release its second copy-protected CD in the
>United States later this month: "Enter the Life of Suella,"
>the debut album of Pretty Willie, a St. Louis hip-hop
>"Assuming the technology continues to work, we plan to do
>more," said Larry Kenswil, president of the eLabs division
>of Universal. "The bottom line is that there's a lot of
>copies of our music out there in the world right now where
>no one is getting paid, and it's going to take technology
>to stop that."
>But the technology creates problems of its own. A side
>effect of several of the anticopying technologies is that
>they prevent CD's from being played at all on some computer
>CD-ROM drives and DVD players designed to play standard
>"More Music from the Fast and the Furious," released by
>Universal in December, will sometimes not play correctly on
>Macintosh computers, and people who listen to the CD on a
>computer hear poorer sound than they would on a CD player.
>A small warning on the label says it is copy-protected. It
>says: "Playback problems may be experienced. If you
>experience playback problems, return this disc for a
>In Europe, where Sony Music - despite the objections of
>Sony Electronics - has released about 70 titles with
>antipiracy technology, the CD's are labeled "Will not play
>on PC/Mac." BMG, part of Bertelsmann, was forced to drop
>copy protection on two CD's it released in Europe when
>consumers complained that the music would not play on their
>But even if the technology evolves to work with more
>machines, it will continue to thwart what many consumers
>have come to regard as a fundamental right: the ability to
>copy music they have legally purchased for their personal
>Music fans whose parents once copied LP's to cassette tapes
>now take for granted the idea that they can copy the
>contents of their CD's onto their hard drives. They can
>then make custom mixes of their music or transfer songs to
>portable MP3 players for their personal use. They can also
>burn CD's to sell illegally or log on to Internet services
>that let millions of strangers share unauthorized copies of
>What bothers some consumers is that the technology does not
>discriminate between legal and illegal behavior.
>"Being treated like a criminal makes me want to act like
>one," said Ron Arnold, 39, of Royal Oak, Mich., who has
>1,137 songs on his portable iPod player - all of them paid
>for, he said. Mr. Arnold is one of hundreds of frustrated
>music fans who have registered complaints at the www
>.fatchucks.com Web site, which keeps a list of CD's that
>consumers know or suspect are copy-protected.
>Many consumers who have purchased copy-protected CD's may
>not even know that their discs have the technology. The
>Macrovision technology, for instance, works by inserting
>distortions into the music; the company says the changes
>cannot be detected on an ordinary CD player. But those
>distortions make clicking and popping sounds when the files
>are transferred to a computer.
>Sonicblue, the maker of Rio MP3 players, said it could
>easily produce software to enable consumers to copy songs
>from the protected discs onto their players but did not
>want to risk prosecution under the Digital Millennium
>Copyright Act, which makes it illegal to break
>The company finds the situation particularly frustrating
>because Diamond Multimedia Systems (news/quote), which
>Sonicblue subsequently acquired, won a closely watched 1999
>court battle with the recording industry in which the
>United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled
>that the Rio did not violate copyright law because
>consumers had a right to "space shift" music they owned.
>The record companies say they are working with technology
>companies to create more sophisticated strategies that will
>allow each consumer to transfer one copy of the music on a
>CD to a computer, and perhaps to a portable player as well.
>The next generation of copy-protected CD's may also include
>music videos and liner notes to sugar-coat the new
>restrictions for consumers.
>But for now, the advent of silvery discs that do not quite
>act like CD's have angered Sony Electronics and Philips
>Electronics (news/quote) (part of Royal Philips
>Electronics), which co-developed the compact disc format,
>first introduced in 1983.
>"We do not approve the use of the CD logo on such
>products," said Rick Clancy, a spokesman for Sony
>Electronics of America. "It puts us in a position where we
>can't guarantee the playability or sound quality of discs
>that may be used with our devices."
>The written statement from the recording industry was
>prompted by a complaint about copy protection by
>Representative Rick Boucher, Democrat of Virginia. He said
>he believed that the companies were "seeking to use their
>copyright not just to obtain fair compensation but in
>effect to exercise complete dominance and total control of
>the copyrighted work."
>He added, "I have told the heads of the major labels I
>think this is a major mistake that will engender a major
>That may be why the labels are not divulging much about
>their activities. A spokesman for BMG would say only that
>the company had so far released "a handful" of
>copy-protected titles in Europe, but he did confirm that
>one of them was "World of Our Own" by Westlife, an Irish
>band. Athena Espiritu-Santo, 28, who bought the CD at a
>store in San Francisco as an import, had already figured
>When the CD would not play in the CD-ROM drives of her
>computers, either at work or at home, where she usually
>listens to music, friends told her that it was probably
>copy-protected. Still, she does not want to return it.
>"That would mean I wouldn't have my Westlife CD," said Ms.
>Espiritu- Santo, a legal assistant, "and they're kind of
>hard to find here." So she just listens to the CD in her
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