Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Design Oversight

Executive summary: a copy-protection program distributed with at least one new CD release relies on an executable being started via the CD autorun file ... which, under Windows, can be disabled by holding down the shift key while entering the CD into the drive.

http://www.msnbc.com/news/977144.asp

Boy, I'd like to meet the software architect at this company.  And laugh at him.

Alyosha`
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

“This is something we were aware of,” said BMG spokesman Nathaniel Brown. “Copy management is intended as a speed bump, intended to thwart the casual listener from mass burning and uploading. We made a conscious decision to err on the side of playability and flexibility.”

doesn't sound like it was an oversight.  it's interesting that further down they say that holding down the shift key is lets the user know they're doing something wrong... i don't like the idea that not running software just because i insert a disc is *wrong*.  they shouldn't be able to force me to run their program.

nathan
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I use tweak UI to disable autorun of Data disks but not audio disks. I don't like music CD's starting and installing what ever POS spyware player they feel like onto my PC.

Pault
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

I disabled both.

Autoplay got obnoxious when I was trying to exercise my legal right of ripping one's own CD collection to MP3s for easier access and portability.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

And in other news, the same company rolled out their new innovative home-security device: a deadbolt lock with the knob on the outside.  "The casual thief", a spokesperson said, "will usually know he's doing something wrong".

(okay, this is sarcasm)

Alyosha`
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

CD Copy Protection was the inspiration for a consumer protection law I'd like to see. I call it the "Crunchy Frog Law." Spefically, if a truthful label regarding the product makes the manufacturer react "our sales would plummet!" then that label is required.

So, in this case, copy-protected CD's must have a label on the front that says in big red letters "COPY PROTECTEDD - You can not, may not, make copies of the music on this CD for any reason. The legal purchaser is not allowed to even rip the songs to MP3 for their MP3 players."

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Excellent idea, Philo. (Alas, I don't think it could be enforced, but it would be awesome if it could).

Exception guy
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Alright, I have to know.  Why "Crunchy Frog?"

Dignified
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

http://www.uib.no/it/pers/edpev/babyfrog.html

(text only, racy language)

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Ahhh, fangs for the memory.

I'd forgotten the frogs came from Iraq.  An example of WSD, Weapons of Small Destruction.

Hmmm, I must go and record my vinyl version of The Secret Policeman's Ball to protect it for my posterity, damn vinyl doesn't wear out in quite the same way....

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Ahh thanks Philo.  I had previously considered myself mostly familiar with Monty Python.  Mostly.

And additional gratitude for the content heads up *this* time. :)

Dignified
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

"Boy, I'd like to meet the software architect at this company´."

I'd like to work at that company. Sitting around, doing nothing, no innovation or even brainwork required.

You think those guys are stupid. I think they are incredibly smart selling a pile of nothing to BMG.

What bugs me is the stupidity of that researcher who found out how easy it is to circumvent that protection. He better keep his mouth shut, or even whine how impossible it was to break that scheme, so BMG believes they have something out there to stand against the haX0rz. Then, after some months of proliferation of that scheme on the market, i.e. millions of sold records, one could simply come out with the truth: "Look, we've been able to copy your records for months."

This is how the DeCSS thingie was run. If that CSS crack were released weeks after the first DVDs were sold Hollywood would've simply switched to another scheme. But the crackers waited until enough DVDs were sold, and drives manufactured with builtin CSS handling, and then released DeCSS.

Try to see it this way.

v1rg1n
Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Most users of the CDs are not power users.

They are beginner users - the kind of users who can use some programs, but don't know how to select text and cut & paste it, for example.

Do such users exist? Yes! The software company I work at offers them support every day.

Most users are this kind of users.

Now, let's imagine two situations:


1. That CD is released without copy protection.

Any user who knows how to rip the CD to MP3s will do so, and many of these users will give the MP3s to their friends.


2. That CD is released with a simple, childish copy protection.

Even if the copy protection is easy to bypass, probabily 60-70% of the users won't be able to bypass it. Remember they are not power users!

So, only 30-40% of the users who want to rip the CD will rip it (compared to situation #1), and some of these users will give the MP3s to their friends.

What has the company accomplished here?

They have not stopped the copying of CDs, BUT they have slowed it down by quite a lot.

From my experience, this will result in the company selling more CDs.


It may be impossible to totally stop copying of a music CD.

But if you slow the pirates down, as a company selling the CD, you shall have more sales.

Jericho
Thursday, October 09, 2003

I don't understand. A user who can't copy and paste, but knows how to rip a CD?

Thomas Eyde
Thursday, October 09, 2003

>holding down the shift key is lets the user know they're doing something wrong<

Hhm, I'm pressing my shift key right quite often during the day... nice. I try not to admit it but I find the shift key very kinky... I might be addicted, I even press it while I'm working.
YES! For a moment I could swear the shift went a bit deeper into the keyboard Oh god oh god it does keep it there...

LOL

Hit me with your shift key baby ;)

Spanky
Thursday, October 09, 2003

The label on the CD, should read "Copy Restricted", and not "Copy Protected".

It's protected AGAINST copying. Yes, I have met peopel who think copy protection is a good thing because "it protects their copy". No it doesn't; It protects' the publisher's interestes. You don't write "earns $8.95", you write "priced $8.95".

All labeling should make the consumer aware of _his_ status, liabilities, etc. And "protection" is not one of them (except, maybe in the mafia sense).

Ori Berger
Thursday, October 09, 2003

> I don't understand. A user who can't copy and
> paste, but knows how to rip a CD?

Yes, Thomas. You would be surprised.

I have a friend who works on a shareware CD to MP3 ripper program.

Some people buy the program. They are sent the registration code by e-mail.

The registration code is quite long.

He receives LOTS of e-mail stating things like:

> The code you sent is very difficult to enter. It has
> so many letters!!! I entered it 6 times! The program
> still doesn't activate.

Jericho
Thursday, October 09, 2003

theRe's nOthiNg iNheRentLy wRonG in pressinG tHe sHift kEy frOm tIme to tIme. bUt bE cAreful, rEcent reSearch suGgests iT miGht bE AddictiVe.

DaNiel
Thursday, October 09, 2003

> So, in this case, copy-protected CD's must
> have a label on the front that says in big
> red letters "COPY PROTECTEDD - You can not,
> may not, make copies of the music on this
> CD for any reason. The legal purchaser is
> not allowed to even rip the songs to MP3
> for their MP3 players."

I bought Iron Maiden's latest album, and (here in Portugal) it has a sticker with a warning, saying it has a copy prevention scheme.

You do have to be careful with some albums - they tend to have a warning on small print, on the back of the CD.

I count myself lucky that most music that comes out these days is junk (according to my taste, naturally). Most of what I buy is either the stuff I listened to when I was younger, or New Age/Ambient/Instrumental, which - for now - isn't plagued with all these restrictions.

On a side note, anyone has had any experience with http://www.magnatune.com ? I've just read about them (in http://www.wired.com/news/digiwood/0,1412,60732,00.html ), but I'm at work, and our filter is blocking the site. I liked the idea very much.

--
"Suravye ninto manshima taishite (Peace favor your sword)" (Shienaran salute)
"Life is a dream from which we all must wake before we can dream again" (Amys, Aiel Wise One)

Paulo Caetano
Thursday, October 09, 2003

As a side issue but connected, I received an email today telling me that Emusic.com is being sold to Dimensional Associates LLC.

For $9.95 a month at the moment I get unlimited downloads from their catalogue.  Now, come November, that subscription is being converted into a maximum of 40 downloads a month, that's tracks not albums.  If you need more then for $50 a month you can download up to 300 tracks a month.

Its not as if we're talking about new releases, for the most part its back catalogue and odd squirrelly releaseases.  And that is one of the things I did kind of like about it.  But $9.95 a month for so little is too much.

So I guess they're going to get bombarded with downloads over the next few weeks.

Simon Lucy
Thursday, October 09, 2003

It's a joke that anyone thinks $9.95/month for a lot of downloads is viable.

pb
Thursday, October 09, 2003

And now the company is sueing the guy who published the details *sigh*


Friday, October 10, 2003

Yep, they're claiming that telling people to press the shift key is a criminal violation of the DMCA.

The best is they are trying to get compensation for the ten million dollars they claim their share price plummeted by when people realized their product was dead in the water!

So we now know what happened to the garment workers in the US when textiles went offshore. The guys who made the Emporer's new clothes went into copy protection.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, October 11, 2003

And now they#ve decided not to sue

They don't want to hinder "research". Anyway, they say,

"(The research) doesn't dilute our technology at all, nor does it nullify our technology."

You can read all of their weaselling out at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/3186592.stm

Stephen Jones
Monday, October 13, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home