“Ballad Hits” copy protection fails to fulfill its mission
Even before "The Ballad Hits" compilation's official release date, there were early reports that the album's controversial copy protection was a failure. While it's true that you can't play it with normal Windows CD player software, you can definitely make high quality MP3s from the songs on the album.
On a PC, all you need is a copy of EasyCD Creator, a software program that is distributed with many CD burners. On a Mac it's even easier: you can use iTunes which comes bundled with the operating system to either play the CD or encode MP3 files from it.
The record label isn't completely surprised. "We are aware the copy protection is still not 100 percent developed," said Li Eriksson of EMI Capitol Records to The Daily Roxette. "We are also aware of other problems… for example some car stereos can't play it, et cetera. However we are in constant contact with the developers of the copy protection system and there will be a new version available at the beginning of next year."
New Media Manager Anders Livag of EMI Capitol told TDR that "Cactus 200", which was used on "Ballad Hits", has been a success, even though the technology is only six months old. "Out of 200,000 units we've only got 50 complaints so far, mainly about car stereos."
"Cactus 300 will be finished next year and we have high hopes for that. The new version will hopefully include DRM, Digital Rights Management, which means that you can make one digital copy for yourself," Livag says. "Cactus 300 will be incorporated to Roxette's "Pop Hits" compilation, and it should be a lot better than 200, both problem wise and protecting wise."
EMI Capitol first wanted to use Sony's copy protection scheme, but they were reluctant to license it and the record company chose Cactus Data Shield by Midbar Tech instead. Midbar Tech was recently aquired by Macrovision, a company which developed the industry standard protecting system to retail VHS cassettes and DVDs.
TDR has also received reports that some high-end CD players have been unable to play the record without audio errors.
Thomas Evensson and Lars-Erik Olson contributed to this article.
Technical errors may occur.