Overriding copy protction on my _own_ songs

I’m a musician. Recently, my duet partner and I recorded some songs at a local recording studio. The engineer mixed them into .cda files and put them on a music CD. When I got home, I found that my computer wouldn’t copy the files onto the hard drive – they’re marked ‘read-only’, and won’t let me change this. When I attempt to copy a file, the system creates a pointer to the CD.

I am able to rip .mp3 files, but I paid for CD-quality sound, and would like to get it. I also am able to copy the entire CD, but I need to distribute the songs in various combinations (demos, CDs to sell, etc.)

Note: I am not asking how to rip off copyrighted material (all the songs were either written by my partner and I, or are re-working of old public-domain blues and country songs). I just want to distribute my songs.

I suppose I could go back to the studio and ask for another copy that’s not copy-protected, but I would like to save the effort (and besides, the engineer may not know how to change the protection from ‘read-only’, else he would’ve done so in the first place).


I don’t think there is any sort of copy protection on these files, they are just a CD audio file. Your best bet is to rip them to a .wav file rather than MP3. Your ripping software that you use to create MP3’s should have a setting to rip to .wav instead of MP3.

Mines Mystique

This explanation doesn’t work for me for two reasons. First, all files on any CD are read only (and they maintain that flag when copied to a hard drive in Windows, for reasons that escape me). So that’s perfectly normal.

Second, copying IS read-only, or you’d never be able to copy anything off a CD, ever.

Could we get some more details (actual error messages, the steps you’re taking)?

The .CDA ‘files’ that you see on your computer are simply pointers that the operating system knows how to use to get to the actual song data. (Look how big they are–around 1 kilobyte. A full CD holds around 700 megabytes.)

The operating system uses these pinter files because regular audio CDs have no file structure as computers usually interpret it.

Audio compact discs (which were later named CD-Audio discs after CD-ROMs and other CD variants appeared) were designed around 1981 or so, long before people really sensed that computers and CD drives would become common. CD-Audio driver software ‘knows’ how to decode the data from the CD-Audio on the fly, as it comes off the disc, and present it to the computer, either to be played, or to be captured as a file, by other programs. This is what ‘ripping’ software does.

Easy solution – if you’ve got a Mac available, mount the CD there, instead. The Mac OS will expose audio CD tracks as .aiff (CD Audio) files (not pointers), and let you copy them to a hard drive as such. I didn’t realize Windows didn’t do this trick, too–I guess I’ve never tried it there.

Surely Mac OS is converting the CD-Audio data to AIFF files? Maybe it does it invisibly or on-the-fly.

ISTR that the data on audio CDs is 16-bit linear PCM, two tracks, interleaved and error-corrected. What is the format for AIFF?

I also STR that the CD-Audio disc format is rigidly-specified, and when Sony tried to sell discs with built-in copy-inhibition, they were not allowed to put the CD logo on them because the copy-inhibition features were outside the CD standard.

Which brings me back to the OP: if your engineer gave you a disc that met the standards for CD-Audio, it cannot have any form of copy-inhibition or DRM software on it.

And you should be able to rip .WAV files from your songs just as easily as .MP3.

What you discribed as pointing to the cd is a windows shortcut and not a copy.

I physicaly inserted a disk now to try this.

Open “My computer”.
Right click the cd drive and choose “open”.
The .cda files should be visable.
Highlight one and hold down the right button of the mouse on that file and drag it over the desktop.
Release the button and click on “copy here” on the menu that appears.
Right Click the song copy on the desktop, and choose properties.
Clear the read only box at the bottom and click the ok button to close properties. You now have a cda file that can be changed as you like.

Just so you aren’t worried about using WAV:

HD, when I follow your instructions, the copied file is still only 44 bytes, which I assume is still a pointer. And it doesn’t play, even with the source disk in the computer.

FWIW, when I examine ‘Properties’ on the CD itself, the files appear to be only 44 bytes (size on disk, 2 kB). Does that indicate a problem with the disk? I can play the disk in the computer, and in my car CD player.

I am ripping with Windows Media Player, and when I went to change the destination format, all other options are variants of Windows Media Audio. (Dumb question: this is not the same as WAV, right?) Will ripping to Windows Media Audio cause problems replicating the files? If so, maybe I need to find another ripping app that would let me rip to .wav?

I’ve also noticed that the date on the files on the disk is 1994, so I assume the engineer may have some funky settings on the machine that wrote it. I think I’ll give him a call.

If you can rip MP3’s, you can rip WAV’s. Problem solved.

AIFF is some industry standard format for CD Audio: Audio Interchange Format File or somesuch. I don’t know much about it, but I think it’s just a file wrapper around whatever’s on a CD in digital form to begin with. Which means it might just be another name for what CDA wraps.

I am sure it’s lossless, and huge, and transparent on the Mac; it appears that the AIFF files are just what was on the CD to begin with. (Of course, you wouldn’t normally open a music CD as “files,” but if you do, a bunch of AIFF files is what you see.)

The way you worked with cd’s early on was to save them as 44.1 khz stereo wave files on the hard drive. Any wave file could be burned to a cd in .cda format, but lower sample rates on the wave degraded the content. Any wave sample rate higher was more than a .cda file needed and just made the wave file larger on the hard drive.

Using Goldwave (sound editor), I use Tools->CD Audio Extraction. Save to WAV, MP3, whatever. I’m sure it’s similar in other editors/rippers/players.

Viewing a CD with the OPsys, I only see CDA files. Not what I want; wrong tool.

EAC (Exact Audio Copy)Will generate a file with no audio compression. I think it may do so true lossless data compression to save disk space. It will also make multiple attempts to read scratched (or whatever) media, and will do it’s best if some of the data is unreadable. This is a big plus, as most computer applications will totally reject a file if even one bit is detectably corrupted.

EAC has hooks for codecs so that you can automatically convert the files to MP3s or whatever, but you don’t have to use that feature.

If you did what I wrote, you are not using a media player to rip the cd. You are copying a file to the dexktop, with windows explorer. Are you using media player to rip the file from the cd to a different format? .mp3 .wav

I don’t know if you need it in it’s original format. Are you looking to have a mp3 file in the end for portability? Are you looking to have a non compressed format, that doesn’t lose detail to compression, so you can edited it and record the changes?

I second Kevbo’s suggestion of EAC. Windows Media Player is not the tool for this job. If you want something that might be a little more user-friendly, I’m 99% sure iTunes will also let you rip to .WAV, and I’m 100% sure it will let you rip to some other lossless formats.