Copy protection (or lack thereof)

This is an post from the olden days – read more about them here.

I have this album in my possession from LCD Soundsystem. (I borrowed it form the local library)

Anyway, the front of it states that the disc (well, it is not an actual audio CD, as I will explain later) is "copy controlled" and to see the reverse for more details.

The back states "This disc contains copy control technology. On some equipment, for example car CD players playback problems may be encountered" So I wack the disc into my computer, and fire up my CD ripping program, expecting to get some kind of error.

But lo and behold, it gets copied to my computer without any problems and the ripped copy is perfect.

Well great copy protection guys…

This disc is among many released by EMI in Australia that use the Macrovision CDS-200 copy protection system (Macrovision also designed the system that prevents you playing or recording DVDs through your VCR)

It works by putting small errors into the audio stream. Your conventional CD player uses error correction to remove them, but a computer CD-ROM drive doesn’t. Other CD players (eg in-car, discmen) suffer the same problems, and so do not play these discs.

Each disc has a special data partition on it with low-quality DRM’ed audio files on it. The correct way to play these discs on your computer is using the included software on the disc to play these copies. It will not work in any normal media player (Even P.O.S. Windows Media Player!)

As a result of these changes, these discs are NOT allowed to be called audio CDs. Each normal CD has a logo on it, stating "Compact Disc Digital Audio" They do this because they conform to a standard developed in the 1980’s by Phillips Electronics.

The EMI webpage at says:
Question: Why does the disc not carry the Philips Compact Disc logo?
Answer: Because we have introduced a new standard to the Audio disc market that is not the same as the old Phillips standard, therefore we do not use their logo.

Called the "Red Book’ standards, they were conceived to enable any audio CD produced to work in any CD player produced. And because EMI decided to piss all over this standard and do something different to prevent their discs from working, they are not allowed to use the logo.

Anyway, another album that has this copy protection is The Concretes self titled album (in my opinion a great album) The Australian release has copy protection on it, but the import version from the USA does not. This doesn’t worry me too much, as the vinyl version is on its way to me right now, all the way from Sweden 🙂

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