“The Ballad Hits” CD to be copy-protected

UPDATED – Marie Fredriksson’s voice has been praised for its power and range. But can it crash a computer?

  In Sweden, the answer is “kanske.”

  In a record-company effort to thwart the increasingly common practice of making duplicates of CDs, EMI/Capitol Records will implement copy-protection technology on Roxette’s forthcoming release, “The Ballad Hits.” This is part of a program wherein all new releases from the label will contain this protection scheme.

  But fans may find out that not only is it difficult to make copies or download songs onto the Internet, the discs may not even play in their computers.

  In fact, users who disregarded warnings on some of the copy-protected CDs released already – to avoid putting the copy-protected discs in their computers – were faced with costly repairs. Apple has posted a warning on its Web site that some CDs can wreak havoc with its Macs. And some of these new-generation CDs will not play on car systems.

  Dutch consumer electronics giant Philips, co-creator of the CD-format, has balked at this concept and a class-action lawsuit was filed in California against the major record companies over these new-generation CDs.

UPDATE: A spokesperson at EMI, commenting on the technology they are going to use, tells TDR that the CD will definitely play on computers, car CD-players, and DVD players. However, you cannot digitally extract data from it. That is, you cannot make copies of the disc or create MP3 files of it.

Record companies, in general, say they have to use such technological advances as copy-protection because illegal CD duplication is crippling their industry.

  Piracy is exploding, with the volume of illegally copied CDs rising nearly 50% in 2001. Estimates from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a trade group, suggest that 40% of all CDs and cassettes sold worldwide last year were pirated copies – about 950 million units. The problem is especially pervasive outside the United States.

  Sony, one of the other labels involved, is sympathetic to fans – to a point. Read and heed warning stickers, they say. The companies are stickering CDs that are copy-protected.

  Sony Music Europe has taken the lead in aggressively fighting piracy. Since last fall, the label has shipped more than 11 million copy-protected discs in that continent. American pressings of some of those same CDs are not encoded.

  Sony says it’s currently working on a version of copy encoding, called “Second Session,” that will allow listeners to play their CDs on all computers.

  But it’s not only computer users who may be affected. The encoding theoretically can cause problems with car stereos since the non-skip circuitry of car CD players is similar to the CD-read devices in computers. In addition, these copy-protected discs might also be unplayable on DVD players. Some portable devices, like Discmans, are also affected.

   Even if the discs work as promised, some feel the inability to make a copy for personal use – described as “fair use” by the U.S. government years ago when referring to cassettes – is a violation of consumer trust.

  There’s also no clear verdict on whether copy-protecting is even worth the hassle. Major artists such as David Bowie and Eminem, for instance, insisted that their newest releases hit the market without copy-protection.

This article was written for an earlier version of The Daily Roxette.
Technical errors may occur.

  ★ The author:

  ★ Publishing date:

October 21st, 2002

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