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Consumer warning: Transmission records

Mithandir reports:

I hereby implore you NOT TO BUY ANY albums produced by the Transmission Records label. The reason? Copy protection.

See, I don't own a CD player. I got a PC with a good sound card and good speakers and I have a portable mp3 player. So the first thing I do when I legally buy a CD is rip the tracks to mp3's so I can actually listen to them. But now I have two CD's that ... well I can't listen to them. Oh sure, they put a bunch of 128kbps encoded wma's on the CD too, but my portable player can't understand those and while my PC does, they are of crap quality with a tonal range more usually associated with early 30's sound recordings. 1830's at that.

On top of that, the CD runs a 2.2 Mb autorun.exe file when you insert it into your PC. This starts up WMP to play the wma's.... right ...

Look, I'm a programmer. You don't need a 2.2 Mb .exe (and some additinoal DLL's, data files and configuration files) if all you're doing is starting a program. Heck, you don't need a .exe at all. So they're doing something else there and they're not telling what.

Oh, also there is NO indication on the box that a copy protection system is used in these. The only external indication is a small logo on the CD itself (which you all know they take out in the CD store to prevent theft so you only get to see that after buying the CD). This logo sits right underneath the official "Compact Disc digital audio" logo. I'm not a lawyer, but Reinder informs me that it is illegal for a CD with copy protection to bear that logo.

About that last paragraph: we've been discussing the problem in IRC and I've been trying, unsuccesfully, to help Mith get those tracks to his computer. How well "Copy Protection" works depends on what combination of OS and CD-ROM firmware is running. There's a good chance that I might be able to rip these CDs by simply sticking the CD into my iBook, or by installing my old 16-speed CD-ROM player into my PC.

Anyway, I don't know much about the legal intricacies of logo-compliance, but what I've read over the past few years is that Phillips, who own the CD audio format patent will only licence it to, and allow the old Compact Disc Digital Audio label to be used by, labels that put out CDs that comply strictly to their standards, which do not include "copy protection" measures. I don't know if any lawsuit on this issue was ever brought to completion, but my belief as a reasonably well-informed layperson is that Transmission are in breach of Phillips patents and, at the very least, morally culpable of defrauding their customers, as well as harrassing them with malware and selling them a broken product. Don't reward these practices with your money.

By the way... why do pre-ripped tracks on CDs and DVDs always have to be so bad? I got some awful ones included with Ian Gillan's recent Gillan's Inn album, and it seemed to be that there was no reason for them to be as badly done as they were; they were there as bonus tracks on an otherwise excellent dual-disc package, not as a consolation prize for customers bamboozled into buying a defective, "copy-protected" disc. And the filesizes weren't particularly small. Is there someone who does the pre-ripping for all record companies and who happens to be deaf?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 5, 2006 11:17 AM.

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