BMG: copy-protected CDs only

Just read on (story at The Register: that BMG from now on wants to sell only copy-protected CDs, at least in Europe. This is insane.
I was just about to buy the new Foo Fighters album. But now there is no way they will get another cent from me. Not until they realize their mistake and sell unaltered, affordable records that I can transfer to my iPod.
The worst is that they are not even going to label the CDs anymore. What are they thinking? :smack: Not too much I guess.

Yeah especially when any schmuck can use the audio outputs to record it anyway. I hate these schemes where its more of a burden on the legitimate consumer, then the pirates they are intending to stop.

I really wish Douglas Adams was alive to work something like this into some of his writing. The RIAA makes the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation look like the Make-A-Wish foundation.

I’d recommend that people boycotts Bertlesmann releases to protest this, although it covers only major labels that release commerical crap. I’m afraid that the minor labels which actually put out decent music are going to follow suit just because Bertlesmann is trying to make it an industry trend. In the meantime, moving to copy-protected CDs in the future isn’t going to get rid of all the .ogg files on my computer. Bertlesmann thinks that people will either listen only to new music (ha! I’m still stuck mostly in the late 80’s, early 90’s) or buy the new copy protected versions of older albums, but there’s still plenty of old CDs, and even cassettes and records to rip.


The best part is that the time difference between the implementation of a new copy protection scheme and somebody coming up with a way to hack around it can only be measured using sophisticated atomic clocks. Of course, the honest, non-pirating, music-buying public takes it in the pants when their expensive new MP3 player is suddenly rendered useless, or even better, their hot new CD is unplayable because their CD player isn’t compatible with the copy protection.

Honestly, I wonder why they bother…it’s only going to drive prices higher as they try to recoup their development costs…and this, in turn, will make even less people buy new cd’s. I haven’t bought a new cd for over two years (and I used to by several new cd’s a month) simply because of the prices.

What really pisses me off is BMG is blaming incompatibilities on CD players, not the copy-protected CD-shaped discs.

Imagine taking one of these back to the store after you realize it won’t play in your car, and being told “Sorry, you can’t return it, the problem is with your CD player.”

Just in case you thought the record industry couldn’t get any more out of touch with reality and disrespectful of their customers, check out this article on The Register today. It’s a real letter from BMG customer service using the rudest language I have ever seen in a company response.

Apparently, if I want to rip a CD to my laptop’s hard drive so I can listen to several albums while at school without having to cart so many CD’s every morning, I’m a pirate who just wants free music :rolleyes:


According to copyright law, you are.

Then the law should be changed.

Not at all. Time-shifting and space-shifting for personal use are key parts of fair-use rights protected by copyright law. It is labels which do not understand that copyright laws enshine protections for the **consumer as well, and they try to legitimise their draconian measures of copy-protection by denying that those fair-use rights exist (and have been upheld by U.S. courts, as far as music goes, for over 20 years)


Update, recently posted on Fark. The linked article contains the text of a letter BMG in Germany wrote in response to a consumer’s letter expressing concerns over the new “copy-protected CD-shaped discs only” policy. Here are some choice excerpts:

Ain’t that beautiful? Not only do they blame the players rather than the discs for any problems you may have playing them, they say flat-out that they don’t give a damn about what the consumer wants.

Next time BMG sends me an offer to join their “club”, I’m writing 'em back with a looong nastygram about how neither I nor any of my friends will give them a solitary cent until they get an attitude adjustment.

UnuMondo answered this already, but I feel like chiming in as well. Most juristictions have a fair use provision, so that if you’ve purchased copyrighted material, you can make copies for your personal use (with certain limitations, of course).


  1. If I photocopy several chapters of a textbook I bought so I can mark it up with a highlighter when I study rather than mess up the book itself.

  2. Legitimately make a back-up my computer software in case of some kind of catastrophic disaster (storing copies of my computer software someplace off-site in case my home office burns down.)

Now if I make copies and distribute them (meaning, lend them, sell them, trade them, rent them, give them away, etc.), then that’s piracy.

Their copy protection is doomed to failure. It depends on CD-ROM drives reading the “table of contents” of the CD incorrectly… too bad all CD-ROM drives nowadays have flashable firmware. Update the firmware with a tiny program you download and double-click on… no more copy protection.

So effectively all they’re doing is turning expensive car stereos into hunks of worthless metal. Great plan, since car stereos have nothing to do with piracy whatsoever.


This was brought up on Slashdot this evening, but there’s a big obstacle to new firmware: the DMCA, which prohibits any technological measures intended to circumvent copy protection. Nonetheless, computer makers are really trying to make the computer the home entertainment center, and playing CD’s is part of that, so it may be that a coalition of hardware manufacturers will dare to release new firmware as long as they are willing to face the risk of handling the lawsuits which will follow.


I have told lots of friends about the issue and now they will all think twice, or check twice, when they plan on buying a new CD now.
The only idea I could imagine to be behind this is that BMG really wants to mutilate itself so that later on they can complain to the courts how bad the situation has become. Of course, sales of CD-Rs will have gone up as well. So it must be the pirates again.

I’m thinking about making a t-shirt that says something like this:
“Defend fair use. Don’t buy copy-protected CDs from these labels:”
and then list the culprits.

Wow, I wonder if that has been forwarded to their public relations arm.

Well, you make a good point about the DMCA, but I don’t see how that will stop people from sharing hacked firmware updates. They’re happy enough to share copyrighted music files and that was illegal even before the DMCA. The same networks they share mp3s on will have the firmware updates.

People already hack CD-R drive firmware to try and get them to burn at higher speeds, and DVD drives to disable region coding… I don’t imagine this will be all that different.

And of course there’s always the argument that the firmware updates aren’t intended to circumvent copy protection… they are intended to accomodate discs that are not compliant with the Red Book standard yet are still sold as CDs. We’ll see if Philips does anything about it… I doubt it.


The DMCA also says that felt tipped markers are illegal.

I’ve got to agree, this is a stupid move. I don’t even use a CD player, all my CDs are transferred to hard disk first. If I can’t do that then I’m not going to bother with elaborate ways of circumvent the copy protection - I’ll just download files from someone who has done it.