Copy Protection Irritant

More Nuisance than Nemesis
CD Copy Protection
by Ray Redmond

The other day I was at my desk working away when I threw in the new Urban Knights CD to review, and that’s when the irritation began. A little window popped up on my computer stating that I couldn’t actually listen to the CD unless I allowed it to load some unidentified program onto the computer. Not being the system administrator, I can’t install anything on the PC at my desk. Even if I could, I’m not sure I would allow some unknown software to load in these days of viruses and terrorism. How Irritating.

I imagine that the average jazz listener has a PC and uses it to listen to CDs at some point. I also imagine that they will all be annoyed to some degree by this useless, irritating action. Not to mention the fact that many people (myself included) make an archival copy whenever they buy a new CD, putting the original away in a cabinet. When the disc becomes scratched and worn, you then crack it and make another, preventing the ‘planned obsolescence’ syndrome.

Upon further inspection, I noticed that the CD has a little stamp on the back side that says Copy Controlled. What the heck is copy controlled supposed to mean?

So anyway, here I am on deadline to do this review and the damned CD wouldn’t autoplay because I can’t install the mysterious needed program. I pulled up my media player and told it to play the disc manually. It recognized but again it didn’t play the CD. So, I had to pull all the songs off of the CD to a group of audio files, then burn them back onto a new audio CD that WOULD play on the computer. All of this took away 25 minutes of my precious deadline time, didn’t really do anything to stop me from copying the CD and was REALLY IRRITATING, which is why I’m telling you about it. I was only trying to play and review the CD and I was FORCED to make a copy in order defeat the copy ‘control’ and be able to listen to it so I could write my review.

As a writer (music and words) I am against piracy 100%, but this ‘copy controlled’ scheme is useless in the fight against piracy. All it seems to do is fight against the good will of those people that still DO go out and drop the dimes to get a ‘real’ copy of the CD. Let’s get with the times, Narada, either find a way to embrace the digital revolution and offer music online for a commensurate fee, or use some of the protection schemes that allow CD’s to play normally but interfere with the bulk-copying of a CD by embedding bad bits or faulty crc’s or some such other clever scheme.

All this scheme did was force me to copy the CD, rather than the opposite, as well as attempting to compromise my right to make and use an archival copy of the CD for my own personal use so it really does last forever. This whole scenario was very counterproductive and user-unfriendly. This affectation winds up striking a blow for those that advocate against the practices of the recording industry ‘giants’. I hope Narada and others considering this form of anti-piracy rethink this particular method before it gets into wider distribution.