Now this might be a decent compromise. New music CDs protected by SunnComm’s new anti-piracy technology attempts to stop folks from ripping and sharing tracks over the net and yet still allow legitimate consumers to move tracks to their MP3 devices as well as to send limited-play tracks to their friends via email.
The disc has two sets of music tracks: one set of “encrypted” songs that can be handled by CD players but cannot be ripped on computers, and a duplicate set of tracks in the Windows Media format. These can be downloaded from the CD to a computer and then transferred to portable devices or recorded to home CDs.
But these “secure digital” tracks cannot be played on another computer should they be uploaded to the Net. “The whole concept was to create a legally licensed structure” for computer use of recorded music, says William Whitmore of SunnComm (sunncomm.com), which designed the anti-copy technology.
Record labels are hoping this CD will prove more acceptable because it lets fans use music with their own devices and share with friends, but not with millions of others, says Nathaniel Brown of BMG, which distributes albums on the Arista label. “This is the first generation that allows the kind of personal use that we have deemed appropriate,” he says.
In CD players, the disc plays normally. When put into a Macintosh or Windows PC, the disc installs software to keep the music secure, and an interactive menu pops up with several links, including one to copy some or all of the Windows Media tracks to your hard drive.
Another link allows you to send e-mail to friends so they can download a copy of the song playable for 10 days. “You’re sharing music, but you are not giving it away forever,” Whitmore says.
While this won’t make the folks who think they should be able to get all their music for free very happy, it is a step in the right direction for folks that do buy CDs and still want to be able to put tracks on their portable MP3 players. Now the question becomes how robust is the encryption and will hackers find a way around it?