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Last Update: 2004/08/23 07:02:56
The artists / record company's point of view
The world music sales have been decreasing during the last
years. One major reason for this development is the increase of
piracy. Many people who don't care for copyrights are making
unauthorised copies to recordable CD-Rs or download the music they're
listening to from file sharing systems through the internet for
At these levels of massive copying and piracy, huge damage is being
done to legitimate recorded music sales. If an artist's work is no
longer appreciated and none is paying for the music he likes, none
good music will be produced anymore. Think about it. Do you still want
to listen to the music you like in the future? A clever parasite has
to ensure his host will survive and gets feeded.
So there has to be done "something" against piracy. The music
industry decided that this "something" is to put some kind of
"protection system" on audio CDs. This means that it should be
possible to play these disks using an audio player device, but it
should not be possible to make a digital 1:1 copy.
The consumer's point of view
I'm a "hunter&collector" paying for the music I like. But when
I bought it, I want to listen to the music without restrictions:
- I'm listening a lot of music on my mobile CD/MP3-player, when I'm
walking or traveling by train or car. To keep my valuable original CDs
safe from damage or loss (scratches are usual for mobile use), I'm
using burned CD-R or MP3 for this purpose (MP3 has also the advantage
to reduce the amount of disks you have to carry with).
protected CD's it's now harder for me to do this, and with the recent
copyright laws (at least in Germany) it's now also illegal if the
original has some kind of protection.
What is the alternative?
Would each record company really offer me a free lifetime 24hour
replace service for my lost and damaged original CDs
- "Copy protected CD" are designed to play on "audio-only" players
correctly. But do you still have "audio-only" players? Me not. I have no
reason to buy a new device for audio CDs only. There are
"multi-disk-format" players who are able to handle DVD's, Video-CDs, MP3
CDs and Audio CDs. One device for all digital laser disks to save space
and energy. And of course I want to listen to my Audio CDs when I'm
sitting in front of my computer, in full quality on a Linux system using
my multi-disk CD/DVD-ROM drive. Unfortunately, many "copy protected CD"
are making problems on these kind of drives and can't be played. This is
(Some protection systems, like CDS-200 from
Midbar/Macrovision, are offering a Windows-only player with reduced
quality. Also unacceptable, since they don't work on Linux, and if I
would have to use it on Windows I want full
- Many protection systems (like the one used on the protected
edition of Dido's "Life For Rent") are placing 'artifical errors' on
the CD and trust that the 'regular' audio players will automatically
'correct' these errors. A media with build in defects is totally
unacceptable for me.
- It takes some effort to develop copy protection systems and put
them on a CD. These costs makes CDs more expensive than necessary, or
prevents the record company to make some more 'reasonable' investments
like supporting newcomers or building up longterm artists.
- I have no problems playing 20 or 30 year old vinyl records on my
record player. Why? Because both the manufacturer of the record and
the player device complied to a standard. For Audio CDs, there is also
a standard defined in the so-called "Red Book". Every copy
protected CD is violating this standard! So, even if some of
my current multi-disk-players should play a copy protected non-CD, how
can I be sure that in 20-30 years I will still be able to listen to my
original non-standard non-CDs with the player devices I'll have
(Well, if you look at the charts dominated by
fast-food crap these days you can get the impression that nobody cares
for long-term musical taste any more - but that's another
- Copy protections on CDs are never ever 100% secure. They don't
make a copy impossible, just harder. Professional pirates are laughing
about these kind of things since they'll always have the knowledge and
devices to bypass them. And if just one of them are spreading the
unprotected songs, the pirate has an advantage above the honest
customer since he doesn't have to bother with all the restrictions
copy protected non-CDs have.
- The Australian Record Industry Assocation (ARIA - http://www.aria.com.au/) announced
that 2003 was one of their best (!) years ever with a turnover
increase of nearly 6%! Quote from
The size of the overall market for recorded music
increased during 2003 and was up 5.98% in value from 2002 (increasing
from $609.5 million to $646 million). Nearly all of this growth has
been attributable to increased sales of music DVDs. Excluding music
DVD, the market remained relatively flat at $573 million. 2003 saw CD
album sales volumes increase by 7.85% in stark contrast to the
significant decline in the volume of CD single sales, which reduced by
Do you believe that Australians do not burn CDs and do not use
internet file sharing as much as Europeans and Americans do? Me
not. It's very doubtful that the decrease of sales in these countries
can only be blamed on these things.
- There are studies that comes to the conclusion that using file
sharing systems has no effect on CD sales. In my opinion, using file
sharing systems will even increase sales, since when you find
something you like, usually you want to explore the newly discovered
artists and get more releases. When you're not allowed to swap, how
should you introduce other people to artists they didn't knew before?
Only by listening to boring television and radio filled with
See for example http://www.unc.edu/~cigar/papers/FileSharing_March2004.pdf:
"We find that file sharing has no statistically significant effect on
purchases of the average album in our sample".
- I doubt that copy protected CDs will increase sales. Parasites
remain parasites, you can't convince them to pay for music by
punishing your paying customers instead. People who never or rarely
bought original CDs so far have no reason to buy now copy protected
original CD. And many consumers are getting angry and will discontinue
to pay for restricted non-standard non-CDs.
So, as an honest customer who pays for the music I like, copy
protected CD are making me very angry since the restrictions are not
acceptable for me. I want a value for my hard earned money, not mutilated
It's probably hard to satisfy both parties on this topic. But I
think it's unacceptable to 'punish' a honest customer with
restrictions a pirate doesn't have.
- One idea would be to add "non-copyable value" to original
unprotected CDs, like 'noble' packaging or bonus features.
- Another one would be to release two different editions of a CD, a
cheap copy-protected one and a slightly expensive "Red Book"-conform
one. So both kind of consumers can be satisfied, those who are wanting
cheap fast-food and those who are wanting unrestricted long-term music
- Piracy belongs mostly to new releases, so I can also think about
including a voucher to copy-protected CDs with whom you can get a "Red
Book"-conform CD after a 'grace' period (for example 3 months after
first release). It's enough to send the 'naked' disc since you can
keep the jewel case and packaging.
- And finally, to come to the conclusion that you can't prevent
private non-commercial music copies, can't fight professional pirates
this way, only making honest customers angry and should better spend
energy and ressources for more usefull things. There are still several
"unprotected" releases placed high in the charts, so they also do sell
It's a very bad strategy for a company to make their customers angry
and upset. They will discontinue to remain a customer.
These are just some ideas for proposal. If you know more about this
or have comments or suggestions, please let me know.