Tuesday, October 04, 2005

More musicians: How to hack our CDs

In what I believe is a first, I have scooped CNN on a story. ("You hear about this kind of thing all the time, but you never think it will happen to you...")

Two weeks ago, I posted a story about how the Christian band Switchfoot was teaching people how to hack their CDs. Tonight, a colleague emailed me a story from CNN (via Billboard), pointing out that Switchfoot is among several bands teaching people how to hack their CDs. Others include the Dave Matthews Band and Foo Fighters. How many more musicians are concerned that the labels are keeping paying customers from enjoying their music?

As if that weren't rich enough, Sony BMG will also email the directions to you. Just fill out this form, and in less than 30 minutes, you can have your CD on your iPod. The short version is:
Import the tracks as "secure" WMA files
Burn to a standard audio CD using Window Media PLayer 9 or 10
Reimport the songs using iTunes
The fun part, though, is when the label tries to convince me that posting this on my blog is illegal:
This message and any attachments are solely for the use of intended recipients. They may contain privileged and/or confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that you received this email in error, and that any review, dissemination, distribution or copying of this email and any attachment is strictly prohibited. If you receive this email in error please contact the sender and delete the message and any attachments associated therewith from your computer. Your cooperation in this matter is appreciated.
But they're not fooling me. I may be one of a handful of non-lawyers who almost understands 17 USC 1201. I'm offering no "technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof." It's just unpaid commentary. In perhaps an even more ironic twist, Sony BMG is perhaps more liable than I would be under this law. At the media industry's behest, there is no fair use defense to Section 1201. By my reading, Sony BMG would, by the letter of the law, be as guilty as you or I if they started shipping BeatOurLameTech.exe files designed to undo their copy control technologies.

In the matter at hand, I think that neither Sony nor I is liable for giving such simple instructions for using tech you already have. But if I'm liable, they're more so; I'm exercising my "rights of free speech or the press for activities using consumer electronics, telecommunications, or computing products," whereas their email form is used primarily for the purpose of helping you to defeat their wack copy controls.


At 11:43 PM, Blogger Bill Herman said...

Using a comment in a footnote-like way, b/c my post is already way too long, to make two unrelated points.

1. This just shows how utterly wrongheaded Section 1201 really is. The labels or copy control vendors could sue any of these bands, and it would actually go to trial. If the guy in BestBuy were to tell you where to get the software that automates all this stuff, he's committed a federal crime.

2. Why doesn't the RIAA just hire Donald Rumsfeld and call it the "War on Piracy?" They're turning the hearts and minds of America's youth onto the decentralized shadow world of P2P networks. What's next? Trying to kill or capture more downloaders than they unintentionally convert?

3. I linked to the Wikipedia page on the Foo Fighters and not on DMB for one simple reason: DMB and the Wikipedia are both waaaay better.


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