Successfully implemented CD purchase protection

My girlfriend bought me a CD yesterday. It was one I really wanted so it was a well appreciated gift.

Now, we have our entire 5-600 CD collection ripped and stored on a server in our home. There is no stereo in our living room, only iTunes. So obviously the first thing to do with a new CD is to rip it and store on the server.

But NO, there is this wonderful copy protection mechanism on the disc and I would probably need to go to some lengths if I wanted to surpass it. This means I will probably not listen to the disc a lot – our CD collection is stored away in boxes and I will probably not be keeping this one disc around to be able to play it – and by the way on a lousy custom built player that comes with the CD.

So, for me, this CD is flawed. After all, I’m pretty sure my girlfriend was buying me the music, not a piece of plastic – the bits, not the atoms as Nicholas Negroponte would say. And my bits are flawed. Usually when you buy something that is flawed, you can return it but the store will probably not be accepting my compaints in this case.

From now on we will be checking any disc we’re thinking about buying for signs of copy protection, and if it has one – we won’t buy it. It’s as simple as that.

All of a sudden the intended copy protection has become a successfully implemented purchase protection!

Nice one – music publishers. No wonder you’re going out of business. If we could only buy our bits without hassle, you would be doing great.

So, next time you’re in a CD store – check for a copy protection label. If its there, don’t buy the disc. You want to be buying the bits – not the atoms.


  1. Ah, but you can purchase bits instead of atoms relatively easy. Have a look at You buy the songs as MP3s in the bitrate you want. No DRM, not copy protection, just the way it is meant to. And it is also very cheap (almost suspiciously so)

  2. Sure enough. There are several ways to buy the bits and when iTunes finally makes it across the Atlantic we’ll all be happy bunnies.

    The point was more that the copy protection mechanisms are having the exactly opposite results from those that the publishers intended.

    And – yes, thanks for the link to allofmp3.

  3. Bring it to the office. I believe the CD in the Dell laptops here can rip copy protected CDs. The interesting thing is that the CD player in my car can’t play them (!), but my laptop rips them with no hassle. I wouldn’t call that a successful copy protection mechanism.

  4. There is a wonderful little program called isobuster ( which bypasses the windows filesystem drivers and gives you straigt access to the tracks on the CD. It can rip the stuff you own (music) of the container (cd) in raw pcm format and then you can compress it and backup it to a CDR. Just keep the orginal so you can prove you own it. And the beauty of this is that this is perfectly legal by icelandic laws as you pay for the rights of digital copy’s when you buy RW media.

  5. This is so very, very, true. I have also digitized my CD collection and the last time I went to the record store it was specificly to purchase the new Nora Jones album. I found the CD, took it to the sales clerk and asked whether it was copy protected, she told me it was so I had no use for it.
    The good thing about asking the clerks is that that way I won’t have to worry about the various discreet markings of copy protection, the store gets active feedback and if I’d been told a CD isn’t copy protected and then it’d turn out it was, I would demand a refund.

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