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Copy Controlled - useless annoying "protection"



Some music labels, like Labels, try to counter music piracy and unauthorised copying on the albums they produce.

In order to reach this goal, they experiment some protection schemes like the Copy Controlled system. These systems try to prevent users from duplicating or ripping these CDs. "CD" being an unadapted term, by the way ; this system being incompatible with the Compact Disc Digital Audio norm (the Redbook défined by Philips and Sony in 1980), Philips has forbidden the labels to use the CDDA logo on these discs. Additionnaly, consumers lawsuits forced the labels to physically write on the CD covers that the protection system may prevent them from playing their CD on a computer.

The Copy Controlled system is the only one I experienced. Sadly enough it is present on some records I like too much to refrain from buying them (like Asian Dub Foundation's "Enemy of the Enemy").
It works using a broken TOC (Table of contents, a field indexing what the CD contains : track numbers and offsets on the disc mainly), with hybrid content: audio tracks and a data track. The TOC is flawed so it confuses CD-Rom drives, but not the simpler CD audio decks.
The data track of these CDs contain a proprietary player software allowing the CD to be played on Windows computers.

These copy protection schemes are, at most, annoying. They do not prevent me from burning my backup copy if I want to. They do not prevent me to rip the CD to mp3s in order to be able to listen to it on my Iomega mp3 player while not at home. It only requires a bit more patience to do this.
I could plug my CD deck to my soundcard's Line In, record the tracks as WAV files, then burn them or compress them to mp3 files. In fact, I don't even have to do that because my computer considers the CD audio output as a recordable source, and my audio CD program, gtcd, plays the protected CDs as would a normal CD deck do. So all I have to do is 4 clicks per track (Record, Play, Stop record, Stop play) and an automated rip of the resulting wav files. It takes 80 minutes instead of 15, and certainly does not prevent pirates to pirate music. It only prevents normal users like me to decide they'll listen to a particular CD 15 minutes before leaving.

Boycotting these CDs would be easy if only Celine Dion did have protected CDs, but as good artists do too, it isn't a good solution.

Such a script will even avoid you the hassle of clicking buttons to record the cd:
#!/bin/sh

#undef BIGENDIAN if you're on a x86
BIGENDIAN="-x"

if [ "$*" == "" ]; then
	tracks=`seq 20`;
else
	tracks="$*";
fi;
echo ripping $tracks

for track in $tracks; do
	rec -d /dev/dsp -r 44100 -c 2 -s w $BIGENDIAN $track.wav &
	lazy -l $track 
	if [ "$?" != "0" ]; then
		killall rec; killall sox; 
		rm $track.wav
		exit;
	fi;
	killall rec; killall sox
	sleep 1
	echo $track done.
done;
killall rec; killall sox


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