A German computer magazine and software company have created a new program to help consumers take advantage of the “analog hole” to make copies of “copy-protected” CDs, according to New Scientist:
- Music companies have introduced a range of “copy protection” technologies as part of a drive to stop unauthorised CD copying and the sharing of digital music online. The industry blames these practices for damaging music sales.
But the tactic has angered many music fans for a number of reasons. Copy protection means music cannot be transferred to digital music players, or backed up, and some protected discs do not play at all in certain CD players.
Now, the magazine c’t (Computertechnik) and RapidSolution Software have developed a program called unCDcopy to enable computer users to get around any copying restrictions.
Sven Hansen, an editor at c’t, says the program was produced because music fans are being treated unfairly. “It’s a strange thing to punish the people who bought the CD’s,” he told New Scientist, rather than those who copy music illegally.
Hansen says it is unclear whether the program could fall foul of the European copyright regulations introduced in 2001. The EU Copyright Directive makes it illegal to sell any device that circumvents copy protection technology. A similar law, called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), exists in the US.
All CDs can be copied by recording the analogue output from a regular CD player, but reconfiguring the recorded data into a useable digital file can be time-consuming.
UnCDcopy performs this task automatically. Once the analogue output has been captured, the program then checks with a database hosted by c’t to determine where the digital file should be split up, in order to make separate tracks for each song.
The quality of this recording will be significantly less than that of a digital copy. Jim Peters, a representative of the UK’s Campaign for Digital Rights, agrees that the technique is low-tech, but says it should be effective.
“This is like CD to tape copying, only brought into the 21st century,” Peters told New Scientist. “It will let you defeat any copy prevention system, but in an obvious low-tech way.”
I don’t see how this analog approach could run afoul of the DMCA, whose purpose is to deal with digital copying.