Thursday, September 07, 2006

Copy controlled discs

Was supposed to compose the third part of the motorcycle diaries today. But had to set it aside to write something about my encounter with this latest scam by big business in the recording industry. Bought four music CDs from various mall sales here in Manila recently. Got each CD for only 200 piso. That means 60 to 70 percent discount for each CD (music CDs by local artists come at around 300 piso, while the cheapest imported CD has a 500 piso price tag). The first CD I bought was this collection of blues tunes by women artists (Lady Sings the Blues Volume 2). The CD played well in my home PC's CD-ROM drive. But when I tried to play it in my regular stereo CD player, there were loud clicking sounds at about 3-5 seconds interval in every song. Thought at first that I simply ran out of luck with my bargain hunting sprees and that I was finally duped into buying a damaged product. But then came my latest purchases: Genius Loves Company (Ray Charles duets with various artists), The Very Best of Cat Stevens (under the A&M label), and the two-CD Acoustic Nights (featuring various artists).

Copied the Ray Charles CD in my office PC, using Windows Media Player. The same night, tried playing the same CD in my home stereo. Guess what came out? Yes, the same clicking sounds every 3-5 seconds or so. Fortunately, this time, my stereo's CD drive got a bit smarter and was able to get over the nasty habit after a while. What caught my attention that night was this "Copy Controlled" label on the CD. Thought I might have finally attracted the ire of the gods of technology with my latest indiscretion of copying the songs to my office PC. Searching the internet, what I discovered was this greedy scheme of record companies who are intentionally producing all these audio materials with corrupted data to fool or confuse computer drives and thus prevent people from copying their products. This is essentially what copy control is all about. Well, apparently, the technology has backfired: audio materials with copy control sometimes don't even play normally in ordinary CD players.

So, in the US and in some countries in Europe, individual consumers have brought up class suits against these companies for selling defective products. Yup, you read it right: copy controlled CDs are essentially defective by nature. In fact, experts in the field don't even consider these things as normal compact discs as these products don't meet the so-called Red Book standards for audio CDs. As pissed off as your friendly martian here, members of some consumer groups in the US, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Canada, Finland, New Zealand, France, Israel and UK have started campaigns to list down copy controlled discs and warn the public about such products. Some have already called for boycotts of record companies who continue to sell these discs. Wonder why they haven't started one here in the Philippines. Perhaps this is the reason why we now find our record stores here stuffed with all these corrupt audio discs that are being sold to the public as quality imported CDs.

Still have to find out if my Cat Stevens and Acoustic Nights discs have the copy controlled marks. Meanwhile, beware of buying the Lady Sings the Blues Volume 2 and the Genius Loves Company discs. If you have already bought your own copies of these discs, search the internet for help in copying them to your PC or to a clean CD. For more information about copy controlled CDs, go to the Kuro5hin site or the Wikipedia article. For help in copying these defective audio discs, you can visit this article by Mads Haahr (I haven't really tried it myself; but I plan to in the coming days). For information on the international campaign for digital rights, go to the Campaign for Digital Rights site. And next time they tell you that piracy kills the music industry, mention copy control.

4 comments:

roy choco said...

Sori pare.

The personal is political nga naman tol. Matagal ko ng nababasa itong tungkkol sa DRM sa music cds pero dahil hindi naman ako bumibili ng cds, hindi talaga ako apektado.

roy choco said...

Pre, Day Against DRM, October 3.

the martian said...

roy:

oo nga 'tol. gusto ko ngang magpasimuno dito sa pinas ng kampanyang ito e. napapansin ko, isini-sale na nila 'yung mga copy-controlled CDs dito. mukhang dito itinatambak 'yung mga rejects galing abroad.

roy choco said...

Basahin mo ito tol, Hindi lang cd's pati dvd's lalagyan na nila ng copy controls