Fishy Tales

12 June 2005

Corruption Kills Music

I had been about to follow up my rediscovered music post with one about (shock! horror!) brand new music that I'm getting into, to wit the Finn Brothers' latest album Everyone is Here and Coldplay's latest album X&Y (predictable tastes or what?).

Anyway, instead I've discovered a brand new bugbear, to wit (not to woo) Copy Protected Discs.
Look for the Sign of the Beast:
Copy Protection logo

Both the above albums were issuedby EMI who are pushing through Copy Protection on customers without any real warning and certainly no courtesy. This is despite the technology's obvious flaws, the main one being that these are not CDs, will not play on all kinds of CD player (car players especially, but not limited to them) and do not even qualify for the Compact Disc logo. Copy Protection effectively corrupts the Discs. What's more, some forms of Copy Protection will install a virus when first played on your PC - see this article in the Register, which also details how to disable/remove the malware.

Check out the Campaign for Digital Rights CD page for further details. Also check out the EMI Music Anti-Copy Control Information page for loads of useful tips and links on EMI's particular brand of Copy Control and how to fight it.

Basically, though, if you end up with one of these discs, you should return it to the supplier and either ask for it to be exchanged for a proper CD without copy protection or, failing that, get a full refund and try to obtain a non-Copy Protected version of the CD elsewhere. Note that online suppliers are under great pressure from the record companies not to advertise if discs are Copy Protected, so it's recommended that you email them first and ask. CD-WOW have been as helpful as they can be on this front, and have even suggested to me that I may be able to obtain non-Copy Protected versions of the CDs from retailers who source from within the UK as opposed to from the EU. I'll let you know if I have any joy on this front - but am not currently too optimistic.

I'm reminded of the Home Taping is Killing Music campaign of many years back; this campaign (in which EMI played a big part, I'm sure) proved to be Crying Wolf big time, and as noted in Forget the Spin, taping is not killing music :

The recording industry and its brethren have been crying wolf for years. At various times we have been told that the pianola was going to kill sales of sheet music, that radio was going to kill sales of records, that photocopying would kill sales of books, that the VCR would stop people going to movies, and that cheaper imported records would stop people buying Australian music.

Along the way we have been told that the use of the latest technology was immoral - everything from the photocopier to the cassette recorder to the VCR.

However, there is a very real danger that the attitude of people like EMI will push honest customers like yours truly in the direction of file sharers, copy protection breakers etc just so we can obtain what is rightfully ours - a CD that will play properly in all CD players, that we can rip to MP3 format so we can play it wherever we choose. And once we find how easy that is, it's only loyalty to the artists that keeps us buying the official products.

Some may even think the artists have sold out and no longer deserve our loyalty. It's obvious where that leads.

15th June: Well, no joy tracking down versions of the CDs without Copy Control. I reckon they're simply not to be found. However, I have managed to rip X&Y to my PC with very little trouble: simply needed to turn off Autorun to prevent the EMI (?) Player being installed, then opened up the CD in Windows Media Player, then ripped away. Don't have any track info, but can always add that retrospectively if required.

All this is covered and well described on The Register.

Pretty ineffective Copy Control, really, which suits me fine (and probably means I won't be returning my discs to CD-WOW - after all, it would be easy enough for me to generate my own proper CD now as and when I find situations where the "corrupted" disc won't play) (and, of course, it looks like no Copy Control, no music at all).

However, I'm still very irritated that EMI (et al) are unilaterally imposing new standards to the detriment of the medium and thereby restricting its accessibility. Not to mention lying to their customers in that, without Autorun off, a message come up when installing the disc saying that the Player has to be installed to listen to the music on a PC (not true!). And then installing crap and unnecessary software that in no way benefits the customer. Nor does it really prevent piracy at that.

But, if you check out the Register article above, we are suffering for the sins of our neighbours, such as the Italians. I'm almost inclined to translate this post into Italian. But then, I don't need to, do I?
All concerned will find out soon enough. And then EMI will need to issue a new version of Copy Control which will piss off a new bunch of customers. And so it goes.


  • Just had the same issue with X&Y. The kids gave it to me as a fathers day gift. Very annoying.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20/6/05 11:13  

  • Follow the guidelines in the Register article referenced, mate - and please let me know if it doesn't work at a later stage (e.g. when played on MP3 player or whatever).

    Incidentally, it plays OK on my current car stereo, which is quite new.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20/6/05 21:19  

  • Just a note that I picked the Finn Brothers album (CD WOW have it with a bonus DVD for 7.99 pounds). On Linux, I just put the audio CD in and ran "grip" on it - ripping was slower than usual because of the corrupted tracks, but at the end of the day, out popped another album's worth of pristine MP3's. Copy Control is a bit of a joke really - it actually *encourages* you to make copies so that if the more fragile original (which is going to be less tolerant of scratches because of the errors) goes kaput, you'll have a backup to hand.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21/6/05 19:02  

  • Agreed that Copy Control is a bit of a joke and encourages exactly what it's meant to discourage. Mind you, I suspect it's casual ripping the record companies are trying hardest to suppress, i.e. by non-technical people on a standard packaged XP build.

    And no, it ain't fair.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 21/6/05 19:33  

  • I have tried holding down shift, but still won't recognise disc in Win Med Player 9

    By Blogger tomp54321, at 6/7/05 14:27  

  • tomp54321, I'm running v10 of windows media player. may be worth upgrading. On the other hand, you may have inadvertently installed the EMI player by failing to prevent autorun. XP Help will tell you how to do so without SHIFT key (i.e. update registry).
    If you already have the EMI player installed, you may need to uninstall it. Found instructions somewhere a while back, but lost 'em now, sorry. Worth a Google.

    Incidentally, copy protection is changing all the time. A new version incorporates license-type control, which makes sense.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/7/05 23:38  

  • Does anyone know how to turn off the thing once it's installed itself? Can't find info on google (am technologically challenged). Thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 22/8/05 03:59  

  • nice artical about piracy.well,I just put the audio CD in and ran "grip" on it - ripping was slower than usual because of the corrupted tracks, but at the end of the day, out popped another album's worth of pristine MP3's. Copy Control is a bit of a joke really - it actually *encourages* you to make copies so that if the more fragile original (which is going to be less tolerant of scratches because of the errors) goes kaput, you'll have a backup to hand.i dont think we can now stop ever piracy.

    By Anonymous john, at 4/4/11 17:31  

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