Monday, June 16, 2003

Hail to the Thief / MP3s Are Killing Home Taping

Bought the new Radiohead last Tuesday and discovered it was Copy Controlled, meaning I couldn’t rip a copy for my girlfriend. This irritated me, especially since the Internet wasn’t rife with ways to circumvent this new anti-piracy measure that EMI has introduced (unlike me, she has high-speed Internet, but downloading an album is generally a hassle, and there’s something to be said for a first generation digital copy).

I was also pissed off because every time I put the album into my iMac, it claims to be unable to read the CD, and I have to click on a pop-up window and select Eject, even though this doesn’t make the CD Eject, but instead, it remains in the slot and works just fine. (Although the CD ejected once for no reason half-way through the album. Also, the first time I played the CD it didn’t really work for awhile). All of this is to say that a digital version of the album on my harddrive would be far more convenient, especially since I bought the album, nice and legal. (Please ignore my earlier mention of trying to make an illegal copy for my sweetie, since that weakens my argument somewhat).

Anyway, today – nearly a week later – I found this little tip at MacOS X Hints Website:

Tape and Marker trick
Authored by: thoughts on Tue, Feb 18 '03 at 11:22AM
I read about this a long time ago, tried it, and it works for me.

If you look at the bottom of your CD, you can see that about half a centimeter from the CD's outside edge, there is what appears to be "session separation line." Everything after that line is your normal audio CD, everything before that, up to the edge of the CD, is the "copy protection."

Solution? Take a bit of scotch tape, colour it black, and stick it so it reaches from the outside edge of the CD, right up to where the copy protection ends and the 'normal' part of the CD begins. It can and should only be a tiny piece - don't need to tape the *whole* copy protection area away ;p

Now, when you put your CD into your drive, it will automatically skip the copy protection, and mount properly.

For victory! :)

It actually works, if you delicately line up the tape right to the edge. It takes some fiddling, however, and to warn you, putting a bit of Scotch on the CD results in a long delay before your iMac recognizes the CD. At least, mine did, but it’s a 2000 blueberry, and I’m not running OS X, which might make some difference.

At first MusicMatch wouldn’t let me rip the CD, so I ended up downloading Audion3 and that seemed to work pretty OK (although three tracks wouldn’t rip – 2, 10, 13 – and the encoding interface is kind of lame and the free trial only lets you rip 20 tracks before you have to register). Then I took the tape off and discovered Audion3 will rip a Copy Controlled CD without the tape, but try as I might, 2, 10 and 13 wouldn’t encode.

Next I tried WinAmp for Mac, but that doesn’t let you rip anything. (As if to taunt me, on their download page there was a downloadable WinAmp skin of cover art from Hail to the Thief). Rumour has it iTunes can rip the album without problem but that requires OS X, and I’m running 9.0.3. The link to the marker trick features at least five or six other possible solutions and runarounds for the Copy Controlled technology.

I’m sure there’s some witty, ironic, luddic or post-modern comment to be made about how one can almost completely bypass an anti-piracy measure that no doubt cost thousands of dollars worth of R&D with .01 cents worth of tape and marker, but I’ll leave that to