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Tuesday, 4 September, 2001, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Stealth war against CD piracy
CD racks
The CDs with devices have not been identified
More than one million CDs with anti-piracy devices have been slipped onto racks in record shops across Europe.

The discs form part of an experiment by major labels to find out how well their digital security systems work when trying to stop tracks being copied onto blank CDs or swapped as computer files.


At this stage, it appears to be experimentation

Adrian Strain, IFPI
The five major labels have refused to reveal which artists' CDs are involved.

The companies have launched the CDs in response to what they see as a growing threat from swapping MP3 files over the internet and CD copying, or "burning", onto recordable discs.

If music fans try to copy songs illegally from CDs with the devices, they will either find the end result is extremely bad quality, or that their computer will not allow them to make the copy at all.

There are also fears that some CDs may not work as normal when played directly on hi-fis or computers.

Charley Pride
Charley Pride: Problems with anti-piracy device reported
One of the methods developed by technology company Midbar allows tracks to be saved on a computer for listening, but not copied to another PC or shared online.

A further 450,000 protected CDs including technology from another two companies have been released.

Earlier this year, all 50,000 copies of country music star Charley Pride's new CD included an anti-piracy device that hid the disc's directory of songs.

Record company bosses hailed it as a victory - but some fans complained that they could not even play it on their home stereo.

Enjoy

Sami Valkonen, BMG's senior vice president of new media and business development, said the label did not want to stop fans storing music on their computer desktops - but wanted to control how it got there.

"A lot of people enjoy their music digitally these days," he said.

"We would never ever in the US have the situation where people would not have the ability to enjoy their music as digital files."

Many of the devices work by adding noises that are "undetectable" when listening normally - but which are picked up by a computer.

Burning

Kevin Gray, a Hollywood-based recording engineer who works for all five major record labels, says such added pops and clicks would be "very audible" to jazz and classical experts.

CD burning is also a major worry for the industry, with recent figures showing that more CDs were copied than were bought in the last year in Germany.

"You only have to look at a market like Germany to see how serious the situation with CD burning is at the moment," says Adrian Strain, spokesman for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

"At this stage, it appears to be experimentation.

"The laws that exist and the new ones that coming along confirm that the way to deal with getting music to consumers in the digital age is to use technology like encryption, which will control copying."

See also:

15 Aug 01 | Sci/Tech
Technology puts a lock on CDs
28 Jun 01 | Business
Tax CD burners, says German court
12 Jun 01 | New Media
Hunting the music pirates
01 May 01 | Sci/Tech
Record makers lock music away
26 Mar 01 | New Media
Stopping the copying
22 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Music piracy 'threatens industry'
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