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Michael Jackson access control thriller

By Refrag in News
Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 10:59:24 PM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)

Michael Jackson's new single for "Rock Your World" will not play in CD-ROM drives. Sony has apparently decided to break the CD audio standard by using Macrovision's SafeAudio access control mechanism. When you buy "Rock Your World" on a 5" shiny metal and plastic disc, you won't be buying a CD, but instead some perverted new format.

[ZDNet News]


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Michael Jackson access control thriller | 34 comments (34 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
Place your bets ... (3.71 / 7) (#1)
by Ranma on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 11:38:30 AM EST

How long until this is cracked wide open.

not until... (3.50 / 4) (#8)
by walkah on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:11:18 PM EST

... an artist that's popular with the right demographic tries to pull this stunt.

can't say i was a michael jackson fan... but if i were, i wouldn't be now.

[ Parent ]
It's already been cracked. (3.33 / 3) (#24)
by delmoi on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 06:38:33 PM EST

All you have to do is run the captured audio through some commonly available filters. There's also a .vxd file for win9x that corrects the problem.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Links? (none / 0) (#34)
by Refrag on Sun Oct 07, 2001 at 11:35:40 AM EST



Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Well (2.12 / 8) (#2)
by nobbystyles on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 11:43:35 AM EST

It wasn't like I was going to buy it anyway or listen to either so it's not exactly a sad loss...

Bad attitude... (3.60 / 5) (#6)
by Refrag on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:08:37 PM EST

That's a bad attitude. You have to fight off every attack on anyone's freedom in order to ensure your own.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

No (2.40 / 5) (#11)
by nobbystyles on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:34:58 PM EST

Sorry, I don't get worked up about this as a) I don't buy much music b) I don't download MP3s and c) I am not in the USA.

[ Parent ]
(c) (3.50 / 2) (#16)
by Refrag on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 01:12:36 PM EST

C is irrelevant.

Despite your apathy, my previous point still applies. You can't wait until they're knocking on your door, you have to fight even when it's your neighbor's.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Well, (4.00 / 1) (#12)
by pallex on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:42:31 PM EST

just you wait until they do this to `the best of Status Quo`. Then you`ll be screwing! :)

[ Parent ]
If you can't play it ... (3.14 / 7) (#3)
by LQ on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 11:46:00 AM EST

If you can't play it, don't buy it. There is such a thing as a free market. People sell stuff and people buy stuff. If people don't buy then the sellers have to rethink. If people do buy, then the sellers don't have to think too hard.

If it's only geeky technos who won't buy, the record companies are not going to get into too much of sweat, are they?

How many people actually play CDs on their PCs? Or download tracks to a digital Walkman-oid? I would guess that most people stick the CD into a hi-fi or CD player in their car or a portable CD player.

The point (4.87 / 8) (#4)
by theR on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 11:48:44 AM EST

I think the point of the article is that there is no warning on the packages that you will not be able to play the CD in certain devices. If there is no warning, how are most consumers supposed to know and make the decision not to buy it?

[ Parent ]
Work (4.75 / 4) (#5)
by amanset on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:02:14 PM EST

A lot of people at my work do. None of our PCs have soundcards, so we all plug speakers or headphones into the CD out. I'm listening to the new Spiritualized album right now.

Even if we had soundcards, a lot of people wouldn't be happy with a load of possible copyright violations on their work PCs. The Napster etc ports are blocked, so the only way to get the MP3s to work would be on burned CDs, so now you need a CD burner. We're not all geeks here.

Somehow I don't think this phenomenon is limited to my place of work.

[ Parent ]

I propose a reverse boycott (4.47 / 17) (#7)
by Skippy on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:11:00 PM EST

EVERYONE go out and grab a copy, take it home, open it, try and play it, and then take it back to the store and bitch up a fucking storm. After 2 million or so returns the stores are gonna get the idea no one wants this. If that happens, it WILL go away.

# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
Simply not true (2.57 / 7) (#9)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:22:53 PM EST

Most CD players, computer CD drives, DVD players, and so on will play SafeAudio discs, and as long as you don't copy them, you're perfectly fine. Of course, you'd have known that, had you bothered to actually read the link you provided...

SafeAudio is a bad thing on several counts, but it certainly isn't designed to destroy the market for music on existing players, or else there's no way any Michael Jackson release would use it.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

point it out (3.50 / 2) (#10)
by Refrag on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:26:48 PM EST

You're going to have to point it out to me then, because I read it and I don't see anywhere were it says it'll play on those devices you mentioned. There is also already a lawsuit against another record label using the same technology because the disc wasn't playable in all of the purchaser's CD players.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

Ok... (4.50 / 4) (#14)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:49:04 PM EST

SAFEAUDIO provides high compatibility with legacy players, including PC's and provides an "authentication" option for PC and Internet applications.
In other words, as long as you don't deliberately passcode protect the disc(which would be pointless for music,) the disc is supposed to be playable. This does not mean that every player will play it; some players don't even meet the standards, much less conform to "de facto standards" that SafeAudio probably relies on. That said, it is supposed to work, and from what I've heard, it usually does, hence the fact that people are willing to bet so much money on it.

The main thing to remember is this: the music industry wants your life to be easy - they just want it to be easy their way.

The way SafeAudio works is actually quite clever; it includes errors in the recording(either gaps or else square waves,) which ordinary players typically are designed to filter out without you ever noticing. However, a ripper duplicates them in the music stream, rather than treating them as cd errors, and then you get gaps or loud pops in the sound. The loud pops(square waves) can damage your stereo gear.

By the way, a lawsuit because a disc didn't work in one of your players is liable to be laughed out of court; when you buy a cd, there is generally no warranty that it plays in any given player, no matter what you might want to believe. There may be some sort of implied warranty in a few states, but if there is, that's bad law; you need only look to the barriers to entry such laws create in order to see why. Such laws tend to create monopolies where they would not naturally exist, because of the liability they impose on producers of goods.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
The way I read that... (3.50 / 2) (#15)
by Refrag on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 01:10:39 PM EST

...was that it wouldn't work unless one used specific software on a PC combined with an authentication code. If you know your reasoning to be true, perhaps we should ask an editor to make the change.

It still violates the purchaser's fair use right to make a backup copy.


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

No (3.33 / 3) (#18)
by trhurler on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 01:46:49 PM EST

Apparently you don't know their chosen meaning for "legacy players." They're referring to "CD players," which you might know have been around somewhat longer than CD drives in computers. In fact, most of the players that will NOT play SafeAudio are computers, because they don't all properly implement all the error correction stuff that practically all console and portable CD players have, causing the SafeAudio deliberate errors to screw them up.

As for the right to fair use, you don't understand it. It means a copyright owner does not have legal recourse to prevent you from fair use. It does NOT mean he must provide you with the technical means to engage in fair use. The real problem here is the DMCA, which makes it illegal to create such technical means, rather than SafeAudio, which absent the DMCA would be a pathetic joke anyway.

I cannot prove to you that SafeAudio will play in most ordinary players, because I have neither a SafeAudio disc nor a wide selection of players at hand, nor do I have you present. However, this is what everyone who knows anything about it has said, and this is also the only reasonable thing to believe; keep in mind that probably only 5-10% of cds sold ever touch a computer, so if what you say were true, releasing a SafeAudio disc would be financial suicide. You'd lose more than you'd gain from less copying, by FAR.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Say WHAT? (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by regeya on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 07:03:03 PM EST

I cannot prove to you that SafeAudio will play in most ordinary players, because I have neither a SafeAudio disc nor a wide selection of players at hand, nor do I have you present.

Let me get this straight.

You don't have any SafeAudio discs.

Yet you're refuting the claim the author makes based on, what, a MacroVision marketing blurb?

Come on. Let's get real here. Out of all the MP3s and Oggs I have, 100% of them are from CDs I own. By introducing errors to the CDs, I can't rip one of these CDs in my CD-ROM drive, slap the Oggs on a ZIP or CDR, and take it to work with me without irritating my coworkers with a constant "POP! POP! POP! POP! POP!"

And, coincidentally, no CD-ROM drive that I've ever run into is as fault-tolerant while playing audio CDs as "real" CD players. I buy the music for entertainment. By a strange coincidence, this annoying hindrance is being foisted upon me by the entertainment industry.

I think the real point is that, rather than trying to annoy the piss out of MP3 traders, they should be getting to the real solution, providing pay services that are as convenient as Napster.

Or maybe the point is that CD-ROM manufacturers should be working to improve audio CD playback. ;-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

it DOES NOT WORK with standard CD-ROM drives (4.00 / 2) (#23)
by delmoi on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 06:37:04 PM EST

Even if you just try to play the disk. A couple of friends have been hit my this, trying to play it caused awful pops and scraches.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Hmm... (2.00 / 1) (#31)
by Nachtfalke on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 04:28:19 PM EST

I thought it was supposed to sound that way, being Michael Jackson...

[ Parent ]
well then, why not... (1.75 / 4) (#13)
by flummox on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 12:47:58 PM EST

just boot up "moonwalker" on the genesis? this way, you can see how stupid michael looks and listen to his music...

just a thought...

cap'n flummox

"Good Evening. For those of you who have candy, I hope you brought enough for all of us."
- Maynard James Keenan
uhm (2.00 / 1) (#27)
by lonesmurf on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 07:53:11 PM EST

Dude, I loved that game. And, on a whim, I'm opened up morpheus and snagged the new single. It's not exactly modernpop, but it IS stylistically micheal in his prime. Scream with Janet was my favorite song he ever made. This new song is crap. If they want to protect it, fine. I wouldn't buy it even if it wasn't protected.


I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.

[ Parent ]
yeah... (2.00 / 1) (#32)
by flummox on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 12:05:51 PM EST

i did enjoy that game. for the time, it was pretty cool. kinda funny watchin' mj slink around and dance and shit. funny...

sad to say, one of my favorite songs is "smooth criminal". and, no, not the new crappy version by fuck my ant farm. although, if you watch the video in mute, you can get a chuckle. good video; bad song. period.

i don't know why i got such low ratings on that post of mine. interesting...


cap'n flummox

"Good Evening. For those of you who have candy, I hope you brought enough for all of us."
- Maynard James Keenan
[ Parent ]
Work Around.... (4.60 / 5) (#17)
by Elkor on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 01:32:42 PM EST

Plug a CD players audio out into your sound cards audio in and capture the audio stream.

Since the "normal" player will filter the square waves and blanks, the audio output should be "clean" (though might be slightly degraded).

Once captured on your computer, rip into whatever format you want and burn to the media of your choice.

Or, write a program that emulates the hardware filtering present in standard audio players to remove the square waves, et al.

Does anyone know how this would impact CD burner decks? (the stereos with two CD trays, one for playing, the other for copying)

True, it isn't as convenient as being able to rip it straight to your hard drive, but there are no promises that life is easy.


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
That's their point (3.50 / 2) (#20)
by miller on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 02:21:48 PM EST

They know that anything that can be played on a hifi can be copied via analogue (I vaguely remember some attempts to restrict this which failed) - they're aiming to stop digital reproduction in order to force you to work around, losing quality and ease of use.

The Register has been reporting that this will likely affect consumer CD recording decks as well. Personally I'm likely to get the single to see what can and can't be done with it and if it doesn't play in all my devices, I'll know what to look out for in future.

It's too bad I don't take drugs, I think it would be even better. -- Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Work Around.... (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by terpy on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 07:15:26 PM EST

Or, do the same thing with a souncard that has optical in and out. Im sure that some people may be able to hear a difference in quality - but i sure cant.

[ Parent ]
Might not break Cd audio standard (4.33 / 3) (#19)
by Delirium on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 02:01:40 PM EST

I'm not an expert on either copy protection systems or the CD audio formats, so I'm just going by what I've read, but this disc might in fact meet the Redbook Audio standard for CD audio. I'm not sure what strategy SafeAudio takes in attempting copy protection, but at least one method of doing it is to introduce severe (but very short) distortions to the audio which a "normal" CD player will interpolate around, but a computer CD-ROM drive will not. This does not break the Redbook standard, as the data is all still written in the proper format - it's just that the audio is passed through a filter before being written in that format.

Now I've heard of other discs (the new VNV Nation single, for example) which cause all sorts of table of contents problems when one attempts to play them in a CD-ROM drive; presumably an invalid TOC would indeed be a violation of the CD Audio standard.

Any idea which method is being used by Macrovision?

Standards (4.50 / 6) (#21)
by Signal 11 on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 02:36:14 PM EST

I say that instead of attacking them for trying to copy-protect their work, you attack them for breaking a perfectly good standard.

In the electronics field, when a company breaks a standard, nobody buys their product - because it's incompatible, and quite possibly dangerous. Why hasn't the computer industry matured to that point yet?

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

This logo... (4.25 / 4) (#22)
by claesh1 on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 05:42:49 PM EST

...which says "Compact Disc Digital Audio". You see it on every CD and CD-player. I don't know who licenses this logo, but I guess that it can only be licensed for devices or discs that adhere to some standard. If this new format is different, is it still allowed to use this logo? Because if not it would be easy to tell in the store if this is something worth buying!

Compacg Disc Digital Audio - Logo and Licensing (4.50 / 4) (#28)
by hillct on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:35:59 AM EST

The terms "Compact Disc", "CD" and the recognisable CD logo are all trademarks of Philips/Sony who jointly developed the CD format. The terms are only licensed for use with discs that conform to the specifications as laid down in `books' that detail the technical requirements of a Compact Disc.

  • Red-book: Compact Disc Digital Audio (CD-DA). Discs have "Digital Audio" printed below the "CD" logo.
  • Yellow Book: Compact Disc Read Only Memory (CD-ROM). Discs have "Data Storage" beneath the "CD" logo.
  • Green Book: Compact Disc Interactive (CD-I) have "Interactive" printed beneath the "CD" logo.
  • Orange Book: Write-once recordable Compact Discs (CD-R) have "Recordable" beneath the "CD" logo.
  • Blue Book: CD-EXTRA (formerly known as CD-Plus), discs contain digital audio and data, indicated by a "+" alongside the "CD" logo.
  • White Book: Compact Disc Digital Video (Video-CD), discs contain MPEG video and have "Digital Video" below the "CD" logo.
Things that don't comply with these standards don't get 'Compact Disc Digital Audio/video/interactive' logos

--Got Lists? | Top 31 Signs Your Spouse Is A Spy
[ Parent ]
Copying CDs is often a practical necessity (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by isdnip on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 11:54:23 AM EST

I used to be very impressed by the technology of CDs. They have, in theory, three layers of forward error correction: EFT, 28:24 R-S, and 32:28 RS, the latter two cross-interleaved (CIC). So yes, you can put a bullet hole through a CD and not hear it.

But my CDs don't have bullet holes. They have scratches. Lots and lots of little ones. These accumulate from everyday wear. No, they don't occur much while sitting in jewel cases in the family room near the big stereo. But that's not, in practice, where the favorite CDs get the most use. They're played on the bedroom (nightstand) CD-clock-radio. They're played on the computer CD-ROM drives. And most of all, they're played in the car. Which is no place for a jewel case.

In the car, we keep them in a CD holder book, but sometimes (what can you do while driving?) they just get put temporarily into a bag between the front seats. No matter, they can and do get scratched. Quickly, and badly. And most CD players can't correct them after a while. We start losing tracks, especially outer (later) ones.

So sometimes we take the disk and just make a backup copy on the CD-R burner. Utterly "fair use", since it's to get a good copy before the original is unplayable. My favorite copier (under Win98) nowadays is Elaborate Bytes' (http://www.elby.de) CloneCD, which works far better than the Roxio crap that comes with most drives.

But the whole thing is so frustrating that my wife, who does most of the in-car listening with the kids present, has gone back to buying cassettes! They can break too, but are more rugged for handling, and really don't sound bad on the new Toyota JBL audio system.

I don't have the details on the "copy protection" hack that the Jacko record has, but I wonder how well CloneCD would do with it. CloneCD understands that different CD readers and writers have different capabilities; ElBy's web site lists which "extra" features (SAO, raw-SAO, Raw-DAO-96, etc.) are supported on which drives. I recently selected an LG drive in part because ElBy lists it as having support for "Raw+96" read, which is unusual in cheap drives. So would those features matter in creating a fair-use disk copier?

What happens when your CD's become scratched? (4.33 / 3) (#30)
by plone on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 05:11:12 PM EST

That is what really bugs me about this copy-protection scheme. When you purchase the disc, it already comes with in built errors, gaps that a normal cd will be able to use error-correcting algorithms to adjust to.

However, what happens when your disc gets scratched and there isn't enough information available on the disc for the error-correction to occur?

Am i going to be able to use a back-up copy that fair use laws allow me to create? Will I be able to return the cd to the store, 6 months after I purchased it, asking for a new disc?

Will the RIAA offer an exchange program where i can get new CDs of my scratched albums?

Highly unlikely, unless ofcourse the RIAA has developed some common sense since implementing this cumbersome, and potentially destructive technology.

Michael Jackson? Pffft. Irrelevant. (1.00 / 2) (#33)
by Ialdabaoth on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 12:46:32 PM EST

So what if Michael Jackson released his single on a coaster that violates the Red Book standard. The fact is irrelevant for two reasons:
  • First, who the hell buys singles on CD, given their inflated prices.
  • Second, who still listens to Michael Jackson? He stopped releasing interesting music around 1989.
Now, Iron Maiden releases their new album in a broken format, or if Metallica does it(which is likely given Lars' anti-Napster stance), I'd be concerned. If I cannot rip my favorite Euro-metal and make backup CDs for travel, I'll start kicking ass.

I could care less about the actions of some has-been who's had one nose-job too many, dresses like a reject from a Squaresoft RPG, and writes mediocre pop songs.

<ad hominem attack>
Oh, and Mr. Jackson. If you're listening, I have a question for you. If you love children so much, where the fuck are the little girls?!
</ad hominem attack>

"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley

Michael Jackson access control thriller | 34 comments (34 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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