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THOUGHT: Major Music labels still don't get it
Posted by Arne Hess - on Sunday, 07.08.05 - 14:33:24 CET under 09 - Thoughts - Viewed 10158x
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Yahoo! News has an interesting article about the latest CDs by Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews Band containing a new anti-piracy technology which are selling (still) well despite a backlash among some fans angry that the discs are incompatible with iPods, experts said on Thursday.

Aiming to curb piracy, labels like Sony BMG, which released both records, are rolling out copy-protected albums in the United States, which let users make three exact duplicates of a CD and store files on a PC in Microsoft Windows Media format!

But the copy-protection bars users from importing music onto iPods since Apple's Fairplay software is incompatible with protected Windows Media Audio files.

"This (Foo Fighters) CD has a copy protection scheme that makes it totally useless to 30 million iPod owners," wrote C. Anderson of Plano, Texas on's (customer review link. "How could a band be so stupid as to alienate such a huge percentage of their fans?"

About one-third of the (so far) 291 customer reviews of the Foo Fighters' CD this week on Amazon, which prominently displays the fact the album is a copy-protected CD ("Copy-protected CDs include technological features that can prevent users from making additional copies of the CD or can limit the number of allowable copies. Proprietary technology will be necessary for limited copying where it is allowable to do so. Some copy-protected CDs are not compatible with computer CD-ROM players, DVD players, game consoles, or car CD stereos, and often are not transferable to other formats like MP3."), complained about the copy protection.

Record executives said they were continuing talks with Apple to make these CDs compatible with iPods. In the meantime, Sony BMG also released versions of each album to Apple's iTunes service.

That appeased some iPod users, but others are still angry because they like to physically own a disc before importing it to iPods.

American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu said it would benefit both Apple and record labels to resolve the issue.

"Apple's the leader in digital music. It doesn't make sense to release too many copy-protected CDs if they're incompatible with iPods. But Apple could also be at risk if these CDs keep selling well," he said.

"It's up to Apple to flip the switch," said one record label executive.

Apple declined to comment on such talks. "We have not announced any plans to license Fairplay technology," said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris.

Meanwhile, record industry officials said the Dave Matthews and Foo Fighters CDs are selling well.

"I haven't noticed them selling off par with their past albums. In fact the Foo Fighters' first week was the best week they've ever had," said Geoff Mayfield, director of charts at Billboard.

Other copy-protected albums recently released in the United States include EMI's latest Jermaine Dupri album.


This behavior drives me crazy and IMHO they still haven't caught the message: If a customer isn't able to copy (music) files he (virtually) own to any device (and hey, what's three copies of a CD? Must be a joke since I burn at least two copies of every CD for my car CD player) users will definitely continue to use file sharing systems because there are always experienced enough users who made a copy anyway. So basically, if you own a PC, a Notebook, a Media Center PC, maybe an MP3 player, a phone with MP3 capabilities as well as a car stereo with CD player you want be able to play your latest tracks on all of these devices. If you can't because of a "copy protection" you might not go with the tracks or you download it illegal from P2P networks or you buy it from other sources like iTMS which offers the user far more options to legally make copies of a music track.

I for myself have done my decision: I will not buy any copy protected CDs anymore which keeps me away from making (legal) copies (legal in my definition) and here in Germany we even have a new tough copyright law now which doesn't allows users to make a copy of something which is copy protected (even if it is easily possible with the right program) nor it allows the (so far free) press (and I'm member of the press) to write too detailed about how to make ((il)legal) copies of copy protected material and now it's even completely forbidden to link to sites and applications which helps you to do so.

Yes, I want to make copies of music files (I bought and paid for) to use it on my Notebook, my Media Center, my iPod and my Pocket PCs and Smartphones. No, I'm not sharing these files with others over P2P networks and it seriously bothers me that the music industry suspects everybody to share music illegal. IMHO this behavior drives more people into the P2P networks than it keeps away!
I, as an experienced computer user know how P2P networks work and how to get these clients working. My girlfriend for instance doesn't knows and I configured her iTMS lately. Now she is more than happy and she buys a lot of music online now, even more than she bought physically before!

Also my Dad visited me lately and we talked about some music tracks. During our discussion, I went to my PC, had a search in iTunes, found the artist, bought the album, burned him a CD and he was so amazed how easy it worked, that he registered himself with iTunes now even if he (will) never listen music on a PC nor he own an iPod but he will create his own CDs from the tracks he bought from iTMS to listen it on the living room Hi-Fi. And no, my father with his 66 years will not share these tracks over P2P networks (even if he have heard about P2P in the press, he has no clue how it works nor he knows how to get it running not to mention that he isn't interest in doing something illegal).

Anway, I will stay away from these CDs from now (hope we will never see it released in Europe which I don't believe anyway) and either the music industry also jumps into the (digital) 21st century or they will lose. You can not keep your customers away from making copies the way they want. And no - I'm not featuring illegal sharing here and I completely agree that sharing music via P2P is criminal but the way the music industry treats its customers isn't less "criminal" since I'm not allowed to use something I paid for the way I want to use it!

Cheers ~ Arne

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