Sony Japan Rethinks Copy-Protected CDs

Sony has dropped copy protection from their CD range, as they believe they’ve educated the public not to make illegal copies – and that only a small proportion of people made the copies in the first place. So, if this is the case they won’t be introducing another form of copy protection later on, then? Sony had previously been amongst the most enthusiastic proponents of copy protection in the market and indeed only recently decided to support the protection-free MP3 format in their range of digital players.

My guess is of course that Sony are giving in to market pressure – piracy is still robbing artists of millions of euros every year but restrictive copy-protection turns the public off and harms revenues too. Sony has looked at the popularity of the iPod and other MP3 players, seen that it wasn’t the end of the world for recorded music and decided to jump on the bandwagon. Neatly avoiding potential legal action at the same time. Now, in order to avoid legal threats and criticism from its customers, Sony will supply all CDs after 17th November without copy protection.

Sony’s copy protection system was unpopular with the public as it sometimes prevented CDs from playing in a range of devices, such as car stereos, and also infringed some citizens’ legal rights to make copies of purchased media for personal use. The copy-protected CDs are not strictly CDs, and incorporate a technology for preventing computers from ripping the music on the disk, but contain a compressed and DRM’d version of the music for use on music players and PCs.

A guide to CD copy-protection schemes

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?