Sunday, November 06, 2005

"Drop That Mix Disc and Come Out With Your Hands Up!"

From's Molly Wood:

On Monday, October 31, alert users discovered that Sony BMG is using copy-protected CDs to surreptitiously install its digital rights management technology onto PCs. You don't have to be ripping the CD, either--just playing it from your CD-ROM drive triggers the installation.

So what does this installation do?

"This product limits your ability to make multiple digital copies of its content, and you will not be able to play this disc or make copies onto devices not listed as compatible. Content/copy protected CDs should allow limited burning, as well as ripping into secure Windows Media Audio formats for playback with most compatible media players and portable devices. In rare cases, these CDs may not be compatible with computer CD-ROM players, DVD players, game consoles, or car CD stereos, and often are not transferable to other formats like MP3."

So not only does it install itself onto my computer without my knowledge or permission, but I also can't rip the disc to play on my iPod. But why would Sony do such a thing?

some have suggested that the reasoning behind it is part of Sony's ongoing war over digital music supremacy with the decidedly more supreme Apple. Here's how Engadget summarizes a recent article from Variety: "The new copy protection scheme--which makes it difficult to rip CDs and listen to them with an iPod--is designed to put pressure on Apple to open the iPod to other music services, rather than making it dependent on the iTunes Music Store for downloads." I wonder if I'm safe because I have a Mac?

And I wonder how many CD's I'm interested in buying or have bought in the recent past are from Sony?

At any rate, iTunes tracks are only 128 kpbs and lack presence when played with tracks I've ripped from my CD's at a higher bit rate. So being able to use a music store that rips stuff at a higher bit rate would be desirable. But this is not the way to go about it, if this was indeed Sony's purpose.

You know who's not even going to notice? The mass-production piracy operations, that's who. You know it, and I know it. So why are you engaged in this nickel-and-dime, small-time thrust-and-parry with me and my friends? Trust me, you're not going to make back the money by dropping viruses onto my PC, because my almighty dollar and I are going elsewhere--and you're probably not going to like where I end up.

And according to Wired, what Sony did may be illegal:

Sony may even have committed a crime under the U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which can carry fines and prison terms for anyone who "knowingly causes the transmission of a program ... and as a result of such conduct, intentionally causes damage, without authorization, to a protected computer." Corrupting Windows so it misreports the contents of a hard drive sounds a lot like "damage," and the click-wrap license agreement on the Sony disk amounts to pretty thin "authorization" -- disclosing only that "this CD will automatically install a small proprietary software program ... intended to protect the audio files embodied on the CD."

Ha ha. I'm not a criminal; they are!

Just the same, I'd better hurry up and rip all my CD's into MP3's and then back them up on a DVD, before Sony or some other company corrupts my computer, or I overdose on initials.

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