Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Content Protected

I just figured it out. Yes, I'm a little slow. Sue me.

OK, the backstory: I bought Howl by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. This is the first album across which I've come which has non-trivial content protection. The CD had the above logo and some text alerting the consumer to this... but the back also has loads of other text so I missed it. Last time I went to a local CD shop these logos seemed to be on most every new release on any major label (including their subsidiaries.) Will it spread to indies? I don't know.

When the CD is put in a computer an application starts up which allows you listen to the CD, created up to 3 (total) back-ups (full copies... except for the ability to make more back-ups or digital music files) and rip digital music files. These digital music files, however, are of limited use. Most PC-based music players won't play them... and neither will most any digital music jukebox (read: iPod, Creative.)

I'll note that various folks are working to get it so these files will play in iPods (since they have most of the market) and probably some other digital music jukeboxes... but many will be left out to dry. But this doesn't matter anyway.

Now supposedly you can rip mp3s by first ripping their special digital music files, burning a CD from them and then ripping from that CD... but I'm not sure that this'll work (I haven't tried it but I don't expect those files to let me burn a CD.) This, however, doesn't matter. Even if that doesn't work someone will figure out how to make it work... or some version will be released somewhere without the content protection and mp3s will get out.

This may slow down piracy a little... but it won't stop it. That's not why this was done, though. This was done as a prosecutorial tool.

If I get caught with mp3s of Take Them On, On Their Own on my computer or Creative it doesn't matter; they have to prove that I acquired those mp3s illegally. If I get caught with mp3s of Howl on my computer, Creative or an mp3 CD then I can be prosecuted as there is no way to legally acquire mp3s of these songs.

Disclaimers, in no order whatsoever: I am not a lawyer. I don't work for any major labels so I don't actually know what they were thinking. There are court cases pending on numerous bits covered here. I'd figure they'd still have to have a warrant to search digital music jukeboxes and computers for offending files. I actually don't know what happened to all those high profile cases where RIAA or record companies or whoever sued folks who downloaded music. I realize I might could've been writing about ArthurFest rather than getting into this now... but that'll come later.


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