Copy protected music CDs only stop legal users.

Fan of the Foo Fighters or Dave Mathews? Own an iPod? Want to rip the tracks from their latest CDs to your iPod for a little jammin’ on the go? Well, you CAN’T because Sony BMG decided to put the Fairplay copy protection on the latest releases and Apple doesn’t have a license to allow iTunes to import the files to your iPod. 

“This (Foo Fighters) CD has a copy protection scheme that makes it totally useless to 30 million iPod owners,” wrote C. Anderson of Plano, Texas on’s customer review link. “How could a band be so stupid as to alienate such a huge percentage of their fans?”

About one-third of the 252 customer reviews of the Foo Fighters’ CD this week on Amazon, which prominently displays the fact the album is a copy-protected CD, complained about the copy protection.

Despite the complaints the CDs are selling pretty well with over 736,000 units sold—including 23,000 digital copies—so the inclusion of Digital Rights Management (DRM) doesn’t appear to be having a negative impact on sales. The whole point of DRM, though, is to try and stop illegal file sharing of the music in question. So does it work? Absolutely not as the folks at P2Pnet inform us that one of the tracks from the new Foo Fighter’s CD is currently the number 1 most traded song on the various file sharing networks.

Let’s review, shall we? The newest Foo Fighters and Dave Mathews CDs have DRM copy protection in place to prevent music piracy. This copy protection is preventing the legal copying of music tracks to iPods by legal owners of the CDs. However, the DRM has completely failed to prevent either CD from showing up on the file sharing networks where they are heavily traded. Yet sales are excellent despite the fact that both CDs are highly popular downloads on the P2P networks.

The end result? The only people who can’t use these CDs with their iPods are the ones who have every legal right to do so. If they want to use the CDs with their iPods they either have to break the DRM (a felony) or download the illegal MP3s being traded on the file sharing networks (also a felony) or write angry letters to Apple and hope that the company will license the Fairplay DRM for use with the iPod and then sit back and wait to see if they actually do so (Apple has said they currently have no such plans). Ultimately the DRM protection only causes problems for legal users of the protected content while doing nothing to eliminate the piracy it’s supposed to prevent which doesn’t appear to be affecting sales at all.

Found via Broadband Reports.

14 thoughts on “Copy protected music CDs only stop legal users.

  1. The last new CD I bought I couldn’t even LISTEN to, because I have no stereo anymore, and no CD players except in my PC either. So I got a CD I absolutely couldn’t use and had to go to to get the files there.

    Exact case in point. I even complained like suggested in the above example.

    Sure seems an idiocy, even more when shown this way. I haven’t bought ANY CDs since then, unless I knew they were from pre-DRM times.

  2. Of course it’s crap bands like the Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews band that are doing this. They’re not making money because they suck, and therefore have to resort to this.

    I don’t really care if it’s only CRAPPY music that I can’t listen to, but if someone does this to Elton John’s CDs then I’d have kittens.

  3. Of course it’s crap bands like the Foo Fighters and Dave Matthews band that are doing this. They’re not making money because they suck, and therefore have to resort to this.

    You do realize that the article says that their song is number one being traded right now? That kinda blows your theory right outta the water.

    Full disclosure: I’m not even sure I have ever heard a song by the Foo Fighters.

  4. Yes, I did Ingolfson. But this is the reason people resort to this. They think they’re not making money, so this is a knee-jerk reäaction.

  5. The video game industry is much the same…

    IMO, DRM and other ‘cd copy protection’ schemes are just a way for snake oil salesmen to suck more money out of companies that should know better.

    To me, copy protection is much like organized religion, except companies that should know better buy into it because those higher up in the company refuse to listen to the more technical people working for them and _it can be proven to be worthless_…but those who can do not.

    How are the two alike?
    Someone comes in and tells various managers that they are ‘losing millions due to piracy!’. They paint grim pictures noting that people will always go get things for free rather than pay if they can and talk about how easy it is to copy things these day. From their tales, they come to the conclusion that it is obvious that their new shiny drm product is required.

    Of course, the people taking the pitch are being wined, dined, and receiving gifts such as plasma tvs and tickets to their favorite sports games.

    When all is said and done, no hard numbers have ever been presented (unless you call ‘estimated numbers posted on the RIAA site’ as hard numbers…which they are not…but somehow people you know to be reasonable suddenly start claiming they are.).

    The people peddling these things are a bunch of fearmongers preying on those who do not understand technology.

    The people accepting these things are a bunch of fearful, ignorant business men that never had computers growing up and do not know how they work. In some cases, they may know better, but tout it as saving money to their managers while receiving gifts and drawing a paycheck.

    Games constantly have this garbage on them, but the fact is that you can _always_ find any popular game on the net before you can get it in the stores in most places…and many, many people have technical issues caused by it and then need help. The obvious solution, ‘get the cracked exe from gamecopyworld’ is not allowed as we are ‘paying for copy protection for a reason damnit!’.

    I no longer buy music, rarely buy dvds, and buy far fewer games than I once did. Not because I can get them online or cannot afford them, but because the companies distributing them are too greedy for me to support. Mosts artists get almost nothing from cd sales. If you want to support them, go see them in concert and buy the merchandise there.

    I do not even download music as I feel it supports the big media companies. (free advertising, er, I mean piracy on the high internet mateys!)

    So, what is under the hood?
    * Poorly designed code
    * Extra costs to customers
    * Extra costs for replacements and support

    What is not under the hood?
    * Actual studies showing the copying 0s and 1s around actually hurts companies (e.g. piracy) rather than helping them (e.g. free advertising)
    * Actual studies showing that the people who are copying files all over would have bought them if they could not have copied them (e.g. not from a poorer area, not a poor college student, etc.) We all know games and music are much more imporant than food and clothing.
    * Code that your average decent hacker (e.g. coder type, not the popular scumbag usage) can work around in almost no time.

    And what does the hood look like?
    * Free swag for the decision makers
    * Get to say to their boss that they are saving the company tons of money
    * Without buying, you will lose all of your money due to vile pirates on the high internet!

    Why do these things not work?
    * It is code. A good coder can take a scientific approach to it to see what is causing it to fail…and fix it via either sending it false signals (‘hi, yep, I am a registered drm burner’), or disabling it. Even if the people writing this garbage are some of the best coders out there (unlikely), there are far more people interested in breaking it than there are in creating it.

    Oh…and the fact that copying music and such is a felony is complete and utter bullshit. You can get more jailtime for copying some song than you do for beating someone brutally with a crowbar, or (in some cases) killing or raping someone. Something is just a little hosed with this picture…

  6. I bought the latest Foo Fighters album (“For Your Honor”) when it came out and immediately ripped it to MP3 via iTunes without any problem whatsoever. 

    I see that Amazon has one listed as a “copy protected CD”.  I bought mine at Best Buy, though, so perhaps different stores are carrying different versions or maybe they introduced the “copy protected” version after the initial printing.

    Anyway, I had no problem with things so it’s certainly not universal. [shrug]

  7. Long-time reader, first-time writer—

    I’m no fan of Sony and all of their bullshit copy protection stuff, but I ripped my son’s Foo Fighters CD to my iPod with no problems.

    It’s not great, by the way. I’ve already pulled it out of the rotation.

    Anyway. Just FYI.

  8. Now that is interesting. I wonder if perhaps Sony did a limited release of DRM protected CDs to see what kind of backlash they’d get over them? It wouldn’t be the first time. There’s been a couple of other CDs in the past that had a small number with DRM on them sold mainly in Europe. One of those, as I recall, was a Beastie Boys release.

  9. Hey,
      I’m a reporter with National Public Radio and I’m working on a story about how the record companies are using DRM.  I wanted to talk to some people who purchased the Foo Fighters CD and got frustrated because of all the legal things they couldn’t do with the CD.  If anyone wants to tell me about their experience please drop me an email at as soon as you can since I’m on a deadline.

  10. Damn, now I wish I were a fan of the Foo Fighters so I’d have a chance to be on NPR. Too bad I’m stuck in the 80’s musically.

  11. No problems ripping this to CD to all formats. All protection is the same and easily bypassed or unencryped. The 1’s and 0’s are there. They will never be able to change the CORE of all data online and changing or imposing bits or bytes into the existing data doesn’t damage or change the orignal data in any way.

    12 bucks for a CD that cost 18 cents to make and the artist works on the “content” for 6 months and makes 2 million to 6 million dollars for six months work..

    and they are complaining about us being able to port our LEGALLY bought music to “third party” media players?

    gimme a fking break.

  12. Okay, backup a tick..  The #1 traded song on P2P networks is also doing “extremely well” as part of a CD album that has DRM which is obviously not working.

    So where’s this “piracy is gutting the music industry” argument?  Looks to me like both are doing quite well.

  13. True dat, swordsbane—I know *my* musical purchases went through the roof when P2P hit the scene. I live in nowheresville radio-wise…hadn’t heard any decent music since I lived in metro-Detroit. Found P2P and I was saved, hallelujah. Well…as closed to being “saved” as this atheist will ever be.  smile

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