A contact from the Netherlands has provided the following report of
his experiences with a Cactus-200 corrupt CD release "Dance Train 2002
vol 3". See HERE for more
information and reports on this corrupt format. On these particular
CDs, the audio stream is corrupted, and a low quality compressed
version of the audio is included for PC users (64kbps/22kHz in this
case, which is very poor). Here follows the report:
Here is an in-depth report of the Cactus Data Shield 200 protected
CD compilation "Dance Train 2002 vol. 3".
In 1996, Eindhoven opened a new CD store called "Superclub". This
store differed from many others because they also imported from
Belgium. In February, I found a double CD called "Dance Train 96-1
club edition". I took a look at the track listing and I got really
excited. This was what I was searching for! 26 dance/club tracks,
mostly featured in the long, unedited versions you hear in the clubs,
many of them unavailable on other CDs! It was worth the price: 24
euro, and I bought it. I did the same with volumes 2 and 3. Then,
Superclub went bankrupt and had to close their stores.
During 96/97, I had my graduation project at the Eindhoven
University of Technology, and I was not that focused on Dance
Train. However, another dance oriented shop, Midtown Records, was able
to offer me 97-2. Meanwhile, a friend of mine was able to offer me
96-4. I was surprised, because I thought there were only 3 volumes a
year! I was lucky: my friend found it in the sales corner for 5
euro. I bought an undated release "Dance Train" also for 5 euro. This
appeared to be the predecessor of 96-1.
In the beginning of 1998, I was with my grandparents in
Hamont-Achel, a village right behind the Dutch-Belgian border. I had a
chance to buy 97-3, 97-4 and 98-1 in one "burst", but they could not
offer me 97-1 (I'm still missing this one). From that moment on, I
bought every edition that followed almost immediately after
release. It was not easy to find the release dates. I didn't have an
Internet connection at that time and had to make many phone calls to
AN UNEXPECTED STANDSTILL?
Dance Train 2002 volume 1 was released in January, volume 2 in
April, so I expected volume 3 in July. That didn't happen. I had to
wait until September. Then I found on a CD cover site information
about volume 3. The back cover contained a logo and a statement about
copyprotection. I got pretty upset and I didn't know what to do with
First thing I did was just listen to it at the listening booth of
my favourite music shop. I did not have any problems with both CDs. I
decided to buy the double CD, because the music was still good, at
least very much better than on other compilations. I asked for the
receipt, and also if I could return the CDs for a refund if they
wouldn't play on my equipment. A money refund was not possible, but I
was allowed to buy something for the amount I invested in Dance Train
2002 volume 3, which is about 28 euro.
I got home, and inserted CD 1 in my regular JVC CD player. The CD
played for beginning to end without problems. The same result for CD
2. At least, the CD is not listen-protected, and if the CD fails to
play in my PC, I'm able to make an unprotected line-in copy via my
I entered CD 1 into the CD-rom drive of my Windows 98 machine, but
there was no sound. The CD just kept on spinning without showing me
the contents. At least, I expected files like AUTORUN.INF,
CACTUSPJ.EXE or YUCCA.CDS, but they did not appear in Windows
Explorer. I closed Explorer, ejected the CD, inserted it again and
opened a DOS-prompt. I was not able to access the CD-rom drive (OK, it
is quite old, A-Open 36x).
Then, I switched to my Plextor 12/10/32 ATAPI CD-rewriter. I use
this device also as a CD-rom drive. Plextor recognised the CD, but
gave an illegal TOC. Only a portion of the audio files was
recognised, the rest was overwritten by faulty entries obviously
caused by CDS200.
I installed ClonyXXL 188.8.131.52 after that. This is a German utility
that is able to detect copyprotection, and also which one. It also
displays a number of skulls which indicate the chances you have
in order to make a 1-1 copy (0 is no copyprotection, 10 is impossible
to copy). However, ClonyXXL was giving the following information:
- CD 1: Key2Audio, 6 skulls.
- CD 2: "Kein oder unbekannter Kopierschutz" (no or unknown copy
protection), no skulls.
So, this Cactus variant is able to mess with detection methods...
I removed ClonyXXL and installed "Feurio!", another German
application. Feurio! is a CD reader and writer, like Nero Burning Rom
(also German). Feurio! recognised the copyprotection and advised me
to put my CDRW-drive in single session mode. This, however, appeared
to be impossible. In a later phase, Feurio! found my Microsoft Common
Controls to be outdated.
ON THE DOUBLE!
I downloaded and installed the up-to-date Common Controls from the
Microsoft site. I also upgraded the Plextor's firmware and downloaded
a new version of PlexTools as well. With these three measures, I was
able to put my CDRW-drive in single session mode. I inserted
CD1. Feurio! showed me the correct TOC. I entered names for the files
to extract and started at the advised 4-speed. Although lots of errors
were encountered, the resulting WAV-files were fine! I followed the
same procedure with CD2. Again, no problems.
Then, I launched Sound Forge to view the state of the
WAV-files. Sound Forge opened the files without errors and there were
no gaps or distortions in the WAV-files.
After that, I launched Nero Burning Rom 184.108.40.206 to write the
WAV-files from CD1 to an Audio CD. During the burnprocess, no errors
occurred. I played the resulting CD in my CD player and in my
CDRW-drive: there were no problems with the "copy"! The same occurred
Finally, I launched Audiocatalyst to create MP3s from all 28
files. Again, no problems. After that, I visited a friend who tried
to rip the CD without Feurio!, but only with PlexTools. He could
finish the job without problems.
This so called "copyprotection" is easy to bypass under the given
circumstances. No hacker knowledge was needed, no cracks, no
additional software, just a simple hardware setting. This means that
customers not only pay already high prices for CDs, but they also
support in copy protection methods that do not work!
-- Anon, Netherlands, Sep-2002
Just to add to what our contact in the Netherlands has said above
-- it is usual for corrupt CDs such as these Cactus-200 discs to have
problems on one CD drive make/model, and yet apparently work fine on
another. Also, sometimes it has been found that one audio extraction
program will work, but not another. Needless to say, this causes
problems and sometimes great inconvenience for honest users, but it
doesn't actually stop copying. So what is the point?
Perhaps the aim of corrupt releases is just to upset the average
customer, and let them know that the record company doesn't really
like them and wants to cause them inconvenience and trouble. It's
hard to see what else they are really achieving.