CD Copy Protection and shit...Saturday, 5 April 2003
Well I bought my first CD. My first original CD. Massive Attack’s 100th Window.
And I sucked R.I.A.A.’s dick so to say. Because the CD is copy protected. I haven’t noticed much from the start. I saw the sticker on the CD but when I put it into the CD-ROM of my ‘puter a player popped up and started playing… So I enjoyed. The fishy thing were the high hats. Which sounded a bit weird. But I listened to the album anyway.
The problem came at night. Because at night I usually listen to the music using my headphones, which aren’t Sennheiser but are some fairly good quality Kenwoods. So I started listening to the album. And it sounded bad. Really - really bad. I asked myself: what the Hell? What do they use that million dollar studio equipment for if the result is so lo-fi? I was thinking that I had better quality recordings on tape!
I checked Massive Attack’s forums. And while checking and reading about 100 threads about people having problems with copy protection I suddenly realised that I’m not listening to CD audio tracks chained through that awful looking player but some shitty WMA or what… At 47kbps. Oh GREAT! Just great!!! So I pay for my first CD and I’m stuck listening to shitty WMAs because I only own a computer CD-ROM and not a stand-alone CD player. Grrr! Maximum annoyance! Frustration. Questions like: “Why haven’t I downloaded this from the Internet?” Etc.
Next stop: Exact Audio Copy. Since I was looking rather confused at some fake shit I checked EAC’s forum. And there came the answers! It seems that my CD is protected with Cactus Data Shield. This involves two methods of protection (at least as much as I figured):
- First of all the CD has two sessions. The first session contains the audio tracks. The second session contains “garbage” and it’s meant to confuse the computer. That happens because while audio CD players only read the first session of an audio CD, CD-ROMs read everything up to the last session. And if this last session contains garbage info about the CD the computer is confused and it’s got no clue that there’s an audio CD hidden in the first session. This “protection” can be “easily” circumvented by using EAC’s “Detect TOC Manually” feature. Or by using a black magic marker to cover the outer rim of the CD which contains the second session. On my CD this is clearly visible.
- The second protection is unfortunately worse from a potential ripper’s point of view. Because the CD’s got artificially mastered C2 error codes into it. And so the CD-ROM thinks that the CD is full of errors. This is nothing for the domestic audio CD players because they use error protection algorithms which easily repair these problems (the listener never hears anything). And even CD-ROMs play the CD right when playing it in audio mode. For this to work the listener must uncheck the “Enable digital CD audio for this CD-ROM device” in his CD-ROM’s properties.
OK. Further actions I took today: Went to a friend. Borrowed his Sony MiniDisc Deck. Fired up EAC. Read the TOC “manually”. Pushed record on the MD deck. Play in Exact Audio Copy. I’m recording it to MD now. Where I’ll listen to it mostly anyway…
If I’ll get really angry I’ll record it in analog mode to the computer too. And then MP3 it. I do have SPDIF connection between my soundcard and CD-ROM so the quality will be almost the same as of a direct rip. I think… And I hope. :-)
Conclusion: Fuck RIAA!!!