Feb 272002
Authors: Rachel Spannuth

It started with Napster.

Music companies have taken further strides to eliminate the pirating of compact discs.

The record labels participating in this, including BMG, cite illegal copies and uploading of CDs to the Internet as reasons for implementing this new technology.

For listeners, the downside of these CDs extends past their inability to be copied. According to PC Mag, these CDs cannot play in certain computers, car stereos and high-end stereos.

Super Audio Compact Disc is a new version of software that writes original CDs. It creates what cd-writer.com calls a “hybrid” disc, creating watermarks on the CD. This prevents any kind of copying or pirating.

“It’s a good idea for them to prevent people from getting free CDs, because they’re in it to make money. For that same reason, it sucks for me, because I like to copy songs off CDs,” student Corbu Stathes said.

Macrovision is a company behind another version of software that prevents copying of CDs. According to their website, the program, SafeAudio, degrades the quality of the digital code recorded onto the CD. When played on some sound systems, the CD has bursts of hiss that add to the distortion of the CD’s sound. This also contributes to tiny gaps in the music, according to www.cd-writer.com.

“I think it’s smart,” student Gabriella Dancourt said. “The record companies are always complaining about people burning CDs, so it’s good they finally did something about it.”

Compact discs that are encoded with this new software have been sold since the beginning of 2001.

This is apparently what makes computer CD players unable to play these specific CDs. Musictarget.com says regular stereo CD players can ignore the slight errors in the data recorded onto the CD. Computer stereo players cannot skip over the corrupted code, and show error messages when the CD is entered.

Phillips, the company that created CDs and one of the major manufacturers in the CD industry, disagrees with the measures Macrovision and other companies are taking to prevent pirating. They think the record labels that put out these CDs should put warning labels on the album cover, warning consumers that there is a possibility the CD will not play on their equipment.

This new technology is controversial, especially with the law passed in 1992 that allows listeners to make personal copies of their own music, according to musictarget.com. The record industries began receiving revenues from the sales of blank audio products like blank cassette tapes and CDs.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act blurs this law. The act says it is illegal to break the copyright protections on digital media.

“If you’re determined to steal the music, the music can be stolen. Our technology is not thief-proof. What it’s meant to do is provide a speed bump,” Peter Jacobs, CEO of SunnComm, a company that also produces the anti-pirating CDs, said in an interview with Tech News.

“It’s a good move for the corporations, but us music pirates say ‘ARRGH!'” student Chris Scheiber said. n

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