Defective Defective

Some music CD’s are sold with a technology called Copy Control, which is supposed to be a kind of CRAP (DRM). Some people don’t like those CD’s and refuse to buy them. The Free Software leader Richard M. Stallman is one of those people, of course. Usually he provides strongly philosophical and hard-to-read explanations for his ideas, but in this case his reasoning is very practical and simple. In his account of his trip to Spain RMS writes:

My hosts gave me several records of bagpipe music, one of which I like fairly well, and one of which I haven’t heard yet because I left it in a car in Italy. But the most important one was the Hevia record. It’s important because I had to refuse it. It was a Corrupt Disk, with Digital Restrictions Management, and presumably impossible to copy. As soon as I saw this, I gave it back to my hosts, and asked them to take it back to the store, so that the record company could not keep their money. I would have been glad to listen to Hevia’s music, but not on a Corrupt Disk.

A “CD” that I cannot copy is of no use to me. I always travel with a bunch of records so that I can offer my hosts the chance to listen. A year ago, when my backpack was stolen, I learned to bring only copies, not originals. If I can’t copy a CD, I can’t travel with it, so I don’t want it.

The funny part is that he writes: “presumably impossible to copy” and doesn’t tell that it’s outright impossible. This is very true: From my experience i never had any problem to listen to CD’s marked as “Copy Control” or to copy them. I own some: Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry, Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief, Beastie Boys’ Solid Gold Hits. I could copy all of them to my hard drive as lossless FLAC or WAV files, which can be later burned to a CD. I could listen to them in my car, and the CD player in my car is pretty bad.

Later in his article Stallman adds: “DRM attacks our freedom, and it attacks free software (since free software cannot access such media).” Well, it is wrong: I could play and copy those CD’s on Ubuntu without proprietary drivers.

So i don’t really understand what this technology does and why do record labels waste their money on it. I do know that those CD’s run some program when they are inserted into a computer running Windows, using Windows’ Autoplay feature. The software is a kind of a dumbed-down media player, which seems to play the music in a lossy format – MP3 or some other audio format with CRAP – which really fucks the honest customer who bought the CD’s, ‘cuz he payed for CD quality and gets to listen to a lossy file. This application probably also locks the CD drive, so it can’t be easily read or burned. It is not a problem for me, though – every time i use a computer with Windows one of the first things i do is turning off Autoplay’ing of CD’s. As far as i know, turning off Autoplay is not illegal, but then maybe in the US it is illegal under the DMCA.

You gotta fight for your right to party – but you don’t need to avoid CD’s just because they carry the Copy Control mark.

To make things clear, if i would have any practical problems playing them in my computer or CD player, i would return them to the store.


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