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to be or not to be... pissed?, latest copy protection tactics
outscape
post Nov 10 2003, 06:17
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here is a little interesting story for you all. i went to the record store today to check out sarah mclachlan's latest album, "afterglow". the record label is nettwerk. generally i buy music from the internet, but since this album received such pathetic reviews pretty much everywhere, i decided to go to my local HMV and give it a listen at the store before deciding whether to buy it.

the first thing that struck me is quite a lengthy paragraph on the back of the product. it said: "this cd contains software from bandlink and suncomm mediamax. blah blah blah you need this and that pc, player. bandlink brings artists and fans together, gives you access to exclusive content, blah blah blah... this cd may not play on all computers or cd players. the manufacturer of this cd or the record label will not be held liable for any damage that may occur to your equipment as a result of playing this cd."

well, that's very comforting i must say.

now, AFAIR, suncomm mediamax is a copy control system (similar to cactus data shield). however, on the sarah mclachlan's album, this is not specified. the average person out there does not know that he or she are in fact buying a corrupt product. at least EMI music has the decency to clearly mark their latest releases "copy-controlled". nettwerk does no such thing. it is not stated anywhere that this cd is copy-controlled. it is only "implied" after you read the fine print, which most people would probably not be able to figure out.

i guess the "the manufacturer of this cd or the record label will not be held liable for any damage that may occur to your equipment as a result of playing this cd" part is a response to some hardware manufacturers voiding warranties if you play non-standard discs in their drives.

according to the extensive database at ukcdr.org, this is not the first copy-protected title released by nettwerk. when some people contacted nettwerk about difficulties playing their cds, they received an angry and rude reply from nettwerk.

so here we see the same trend again. record labels resorting to cheating the consumer, lying to the consumer, and selling the consumer a corrupt product. when will record companies start to think? when will they stop with the sleazy tactics, cheating the very people who keep them in business?

oh and btw, for anyone considering to buy the new sarah mclachlan - save your money. with the exception of two tracks, it's pretty crappy. this album is nowhere near sarah's previous albums in terms of quality.


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ScorLibran
post Nov 10 2003, 07:12
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It's kinda funny, the fact that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 states that it's not allowed to intentionally circumvent copy-protection, but how can you do that if they don't tell you it's copy-protected???

I recently extracted Natalie Imbruglia's White Lilies Island, a CD which has had some circulation of copy-protected versions in the US, where corrupt discs generally are not found as often as in other countries. I haven't confirmed whether it was CP'ed, but EAC took two hours to rip it (at 0.4x), the drive kept clicking and "restarting", but nothing explicitly told me that it was copy-protected. Not anything on my PC, not the case, nor any writing on the disc itself.

I guess if they want to make that law enforcable, the manufacturer will have to print "COPY-PROTECTED" in large letters across the front of the CD case. Otherwise, the DMCA gives everyone the assurance they can legally copy it under fair-use provisions (specifically, for archival purposes). There's even a loophole that allows you to knowingly copy a CP'ed disc if in the course of maintenance and repair of your PC...meaning you can claim that your CD drive is acting up, and you need to copy the disc to diagnose and fix the problem. If the "fix" takes ten years, then that's allowed too.

(I just realized you may not be in the US, but the laws where you are may allow for similar "fair use", if it's even addressed by laws.)

Your encounter is yet another testament to the failure of recording industries to use copyright laws to protect their material. If they'd at least use common sense and inform consumers that the disc is copy-protected, then maybe some of them would be deterred from copying it at all (the ones who haven't read the law where they live and aren't aware of any fair-use provisions, anyway).

Oh, and as for Nettwerk (or any other disc-corruption company) wanting to feed sh*t to a paying customer, that's when your credit card company's fraud-protection insurance comes into play. Most say that within thirty days you can contact your card-provider and claim you were defrauded in the course of a purchase...a music CD that won't play music on your player for instance, even if your "player" is a PC, and you were in turn denied a refund. Then they will refund your charge and back-charge the vendor who sold you the corrupt disc. When sellers stop receiving payments for enough corrupt discs, maybe the pain will feed-back to recording industries and they'll wake up and smell their customer's frustration.
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rompel
post Nov 10 2003, 09:04
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Interesting... the copy I bought (in the US) was an Arista release (although there is a very small Nettwerk logo on the back). The small print on the back is much tamer than the stuff you quoted. The worst of it reads:

QUOTE
Certain computers may not be able to access the enhanced portion of this disc.  Neither the manufacturer, the developer, nor the distributor makes any representation or warranty or assumes any responsibility with respect to the enhanced portion of this disc.


So the "enhanced" content won't work on my Linux box. Boo-hoo. I had no problems ripping the audio content with cdparanoia.

--John

P.S. I agree that Afterglow is nowhere near the quality of FTE or Solace. After listening twice, I'm liking about half the songs, putting it about on a par with Surfacing. About all I expected, alas, but still worth buying if you're a Sarah McLachlan fan IMHO.
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Vidalgo
post Nov 10 2003, 21:08
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There is a simple trick to make a "protected" audio-CD, "protected" from computers and, probably,
from some home audio players...
When we are listening an sound from any source, VERY SHORT drop-outs
(says, up to few milliseconds) is still inaudible.
This state allow us to use CD with dust and scratches (of course, if small enough).
Audio stream seems non-stoping,
player usually just skip those unreadable short blocks, like an old-fashion vynil plate.
On second side, when we go to extract audio tracks with PC, computer acts as
DATA-READER, bit-by-bit. Scratched CD's takes a lot of reading attempts. Trivial facts, no more.

Now - trick.
I take any track with no errors (file). At random points I can change normal audio
data blocks (again, VERY SHORT) to something another (for example, fill it with zeroes).
It's important to keep original file size and checksum unchanged. Now I put modified track to CD.
It is "protected" !
On home audio player I probably would not hear defects, up to some "error level"
- depends how much "bugs" putted inside.
Computer with this CD just frozed in endless attempts to read false audio data...

This is my theoretical "method" for "protection". Simple, isn't it?
No engineering, no R&D, simple special software - on-the-fly "protection"...
And labeling with horrors words, of course.

Hmmm... I run to get patent...

What to do with this protected CD, if it's really exist? Don't buy it. Post it. Tell to friends.
Send your critics to any possible place, except manufacturer.

Sorry for my english...

mad.gif
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AstralStorm
post Nov 10 2003, 23:11
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QUOTE (Vidalgo @ Nov 10 2003, 10:08 PM)
Hmmm...  I run to get patent...

You have just reinvented Cactus Data Shield 200 w/o Table Of Contents alteration smile.gif

As there are no read errors on the disc, the data will get read verbatim and you'll hear a click if C2 is ignored.
If C2 is taken into consideration, then the ripper may choose one of two:
- reread the data in hope it will get correct block (impossible with mastered C2 error)
- interpolate over the error

The second thins is done for example by home audio players.
Doing it in software is also possible...

This post has been edited by AstralStorm: Nov 10 2003, 23:26


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Pio2001
post Nov 10 2003, 23:57
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QUOTE (Vidalgo @ Nov 10 2003, 09:08 PM)
When we are listening an sound from any source, VERY SHORT drop-outs
(says, up to few milliseconds) is still inaudible.


I posted an artificial sample with the smallest possible drop outs : one sample each ! They are very audible : http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....=post&id=152060

QUOTE (Vidalgo @ Nov 10 2003, 09:08 PM)
No engineering, no R&D, simple special software


No software can introduce errors in an audio CD. Software can only access data error correction, not audio. R&D / engineering are needed.
Well, there is an exeption (weak sectors), but you have to replace the music with an unreadable pattern.

QUOTE (AstralStorm @ Nov 10 2003, 11:11 PM)
As there are no read errors on the disc, the data will get read verbatim and you'll hear a click if C2 is ignored.
If C2 is taken into consideration, then the ripper may choose one of two:
- reread the data in hope it will get correct block (impossible with mastered C2 error)
- interpolate over the error

The second thins is done for example by home audio players.
Doing it in software is also possible...


I don't think there are PC drive left nowadays that doesn't interpolate over the error.
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Moguta
post Nov 11 2003, 01:03
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Why complain when it has already been widely publicized that all you have to do is make sure the CD doesn't install its Windows or MacOSX driver on your system? (Or disable the drivers if they did get installed.)

This post has been edited by Moguta: Nov 11 2003, 01:04
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ScorLibran
post Nov 11 2003, 10:11
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So far (AFAIK) all you need to read any "corrupted" discs is a Shift key, EAC, and preferably a C2-capable drive (this last item may not be mandatory, but would allow faster extraction through read-errors).

Based on what Pio2001 says, I'd guess they're fighting an uphill battle to find more ways to do physical copy-protection of CD media or other similar media types as they become more popular for licensed distribution of IP (intellectual property).

And keep in mind, taking steps to read a corrupt CD does not constitute "intentional circumvention" of copy-protection. AFAIK, if a disc extracts very slowly, or if I have to tell EAC to manually detect the table-of-contents, this is simply a corrupt disc. Nowhere does it clearly say on many of these discs "copy-protected", and hence any attempt to copy them for fair-use is not an intentional circumvention. Without obvious notification to the consumer, the consumer has no reasonable way to know they have a copy-protected disc.

Even if/when they start printing "copy-protected" clearly on CDs and CD cases that don't already have it, there are still loopholes in many IP-protection laws (such as the DMCA) that allow for intentional, legal cicumvention: CD player maintenance and media archival to name a couple.
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tiki4
post Nov 11 2003, 11:09
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I got a copy of Dido's latest "Life for Rent". There is no indication on the disc that it is copy protected. Just if you look hard enough you see that the Compact Disc label of Philips is missing I know there was a huge thread about this CD already so I cut it short:

The only way ripping the CD in EAC was in burst mode with speed reduced to 4x. Secure modes didn't manage to generate two times the same file (surely because of different interpolating). My drive is a LiteOn DVD and otherwise pretty robust when it comes to copy protection.

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Vidalgo
post Nov 11 2003, 12:43
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to AstralStorm : < You have just reinvented Cactus Data Shield >

Don't kill me. I just put my idea after 2-min. brain attack, without patent searching.

to Pio2001 : < No software can introduce errors in an audio CD. >

I talk about audio data processing before making a CD

to Pio2001 : < I posted an artificial sample with the smallest possible drop outs : one sample each ! They are very audible >

Try to do it with real music, for example, within powerful lead-guitar solo, or just before an another instrument attack rising - remember about hearing inertion.
With a wave editor, I can mark short segment and swap L - R channels inside it, i.e. introduce artifical distortion. Do you hear it ?

to Pio2001 : < R&D / engineering are needed. >

Yes, but will be amazingly cheap for CD manufacturer.


Really, I only try to explore some possible way for audio-CD "protection". Such method is dirty play. You pay for broken music, you have problems with playing, regular legal actions like backup becomes impossible. This is the point, not a technical details.
Again, manufacturing audio CD outside from Philips CD-DA specification just turn on for me green light to call such disks as pirate disks, no more.

P.S. Good memory for DVD zone-protection system...
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tigre
post Nov 11 2003, 13:55
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QUOTE (Vidalgo @ Nov 11 2003, 01:43 PM)
to Pio2001 : < No software can introduce errors in an audio CD. >

I talk about audio data processing before making a CD

Audio CD players as well as PC CD drives use error detection/correction data (C1, C2) stored additionally to pure audio data on an audio CD to find out if audio data is valid or corrupt. If corrupt samples are found that are uncorrectable using the error correction data, the drives will interpolate to make the errors less audible.

If you only introduce "wrong" audio samples without corrupting error correction data as well, no drive / player will interpolate, so clicks will be audible with all drives / players.

There's no way to access audio error correction/detection data with consumer CD burners. When burning a CD the software only sends audio information to the burner, the burner's chipset converts to a stream containing *correct* error correction data on the fly.

So, as Pio2001 said: R&D / engineering are needed.


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mp3chan
post Nov 11 2003, 14:29
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Making errors by altering data in a sector only possible with data CD, the error introduce by making the data, EDC and ECC mismatch. The sector will not readable if the error is too much or uncorrectable.

However, audio track doesn't use EDC and ECC, so generating unreadable/uncorrectable sector is not possible. The only way is by altering the C1 and C2 so that it generate errors and it could be done only in lower level. Isn't it?
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Vidalgo
post Nov 11 2003, 18:52
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to tigre : < There's no way to access audio error correction/detection data with consumer CD burners. When burning a CD the software only sends audio information to the burner, the burner's chipset converts to a stream containing *correct* error correction data on the fly. >

Don't mix - all CDs, include audio, not burned, but printed - like wafers. Not CD-burner, but CD-R-burner (or -writer, or -recorder). We are burning our CD-Rs at consumer level; for high volume CD production this way is very expensive.
Yes, CD-R burner (or CD master-disk maker) call an low-level routine to fill audio or data stream with some control code before putting to the blank disk. Yes, on-the-fly. But what prevent me to call another special routine and slightly modify content ( either of audio data or control codes, or both) for next printing of "wrong" CDs, when integrity of content isn't controlled? Purpose - to get a "protected" CD, playable with acceptable quality on home system, and hard-to-read on computer CD-drive. I think, it's possible with data manipulations.
Wrie/modify a special routine? It's no big deal for low-level programmers. It's no expensive.
R&D/engineering? To find an acceptable balance between audio-readability and computer-non-copyability. One-time investment, seems not to be expensive.
Consumer critics? Shipped!

to mp3chan : < audio track doesn't use EDC and ECC, so generating unreadable/uncorrectable sector is not possible. The only way is by altering the C1 and C2 so that it generate errors and it could be done only in lower level. >

You're right - I must to learn more about CD data layout. I'm talking about basic idea, not detailed. IMHO, such or similar cheap method was introduced, and we have a long list of "broken" disks...
Either of legal or pirate CDs (or copies) can be good quality or poor quality; but when I pay full-price for such "protected" (from me?) disk and I get new and new problems - I will search another ways to get music. Law-maker don't protect me...

P.S. It's here! Purchased by my son, audio disk without CD-DA logo, with strange notification. This is local, etnic music, so I omit title and manufacturer name. I go to check it with all my devices.
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Vidalgo
post Nov 12 2003, 21:07
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I check it ! Copy protection = drive destroyer !

Well, yesterday purchased, so-call copy protected audio disk, without Philips CD-DA logo, with strange notification on cover's corner (very, very small font).
I have 8 various home devices, capable to play audio-CD, but I don't try them, remember of possible problems. I get from shelf my old CD-ROM, connect to my PC and check playing with two my old audio-CDs. Device is working perfectly.
Now I take protected disk, put it into drive. 2 or 3 min. CD-drive was spin-up and spin-down several times, blinking LEDs, pause about 30 sec. , spin up/down again and stop. Eject still working. I replace this protected disk to normal, previously checked. Load - and nothing. Windows reports about unexpected problem, device manager talk about hardware problem with drive. I have a special tool for firmware upgrade, for this drive model. I try to use it, program says: no firmware present or corrupted. I disconnect this drive and check it with another my PC - same result. Drive is destroyed ! God save my Rotel and other players...

so, IF YOU WANT TO DESTROY YOUR DEVICES - BUY PROTECTED AUDIO DISKS !

for stories with better english try this link : http://ukcdr.org/issues/cd/docs/damage.shtml

This post has been edited by Vidalgo: Nov 12 2003, 21:22
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