The recording industry is going to elaborate lengths to create music CDs that are copy-protected – to prevent you from copying, or “burning,” music onto recordable CDs, onto a computer hard drive, or onto a portable music player. Last week Apple Computers reported that the copy-protection scheme used by Sony and Universal can crash iMacs so thoroughly that they require a trip to a repair shop. (See my note below on May 14.)
An amusing followup that provides a good demonstration of why copy-protection efforts are doomed to failure. Reports are circulating widely this week that the copy-protection chosen by Sony can be cracked, and many people are having an easy time playing and copying the “protected” CDs. It turns out that if you take a felt-tip marker and scribble around the edge of the disk on the shiny side, the copy-protection is defeated and the CD can be played and copied without any problem. Although this is specifically directed at Sony’s technology, there are Internet postings that suggest the same method will work on other companies’ copy-protection technologies as well.
If markers can be used to circumvent technology that protects copyrights, I believe that makes them illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The recording industry is presumably considering a lawsuit that would shut down all stationery stores.