Campaign for Digital Rights
Buying a new CD? Watch out for inferior imitations Tuesday December 18, 2018

Date: Fri, 14 Sep 2001 16:10:38 +0100
From: A BBC Producer/Sound Engineer

I haven't read about this anywhere else, but I imagine it might be
common currency in the next few weeks.

Sony have recently sent out promo copies of the new Michael Jackson
single "You Rock My World" which appear to be unreadable by Windows
PCs. We came across the problem while trying to record the song into
our office computers for use in a radio feature.

When loaded into the CD drive, the disc spun continuously as though
the drive was trying to access the TOC of a blank or corrupted CDR. We
tried it in several different machines (two HP, two Compaq, and a
Dell) running several versions of windows. Ususally Windows Explorer
came back with "Cannot access D:/" - although the Dell managed to read
the disc once.  However it still wouldn't play, and the computer
registered 5 tracks, rather than the three on the single. None of our
stand-alone professional or domestic CD players had a problem with the

In the end we had to make an analogue copy, but even then one of the
tracks couldn't be ripped into the CD (although the PC allowed us to
play the whole thing as a normal disc - which hadn't been the case
with the original).

I haven't heard anything about a new copy protection system from Sony
- and it's possible that we had a faulty disc. But it wouldn't
surprise me if this is the next step in combatting internet 'piracy'
by the record comapnies.  How long before it's hacked, though? And
will it be as easy as stripping SCMS from minidiscs?

Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2001 09:20:11 +0100 
From: BBC Producer/Sound Engineer

I recorded the Michael Jackson CD onto minidisc last night and it works fine 
- using both analogue and digital links. No distortion or odd artifacts. I 
also played the CD in a BBC reference machine, and it did not have to
perform any error correction.
I think the copy protection system is much more simple than forcing
the use of a CD player's error correction ---- the reference machines
intermittently decided that the disc was a CD-R upon loading...
As far as I can can deduce, the TOC tells a windows PC that the disc
has a Multisession / Hybrid CD-Rom portion. But that section of the
disc is either corrupted or has a piece of code that the computer
can't read. And so the CD just spins in the drive. Cunning.
The system works even if the 'autorun' function is disabled. We don't
have any Macintoshes or non-windows operating systems here, but I'd
bet the system works on them, too.
Of course, none of this discredits the theory that I've been delivered
a cocked-up CD. But I think Sony are paranoid enough about
"Invincible" to do this sort of thing - especially to promo CDs.
If I can be of any more help, let me know.