This whole CD Copy-protection thing is just going insane now.
For the past couple of years, SunnComm and Macrovision have been working to put two different versions of songs on each protected album. The first set of tunes is a locked-down version of the CD's content. The second set consists of digital tracks that can be transferred to a computer or to some portable music devices. That "second session" has been filled, to date, with songs in Microsoft's Windows Media Audio format. Both companies chose the WMA format because it's supported by virtually every PC on the market, and a large number of different portable players.

Wait a minute. WMA? The bloated, buggy, low-quality compression scheme that Micro$oft came up with? The format that nobody in their right mind would use? The format that only works on Winblows? Go on....

The decision, which was never warmly embraced by all the major record labels, appeared to give Microsoft the potential for powerful and profitable inroads into the music business. If songs in its format were to be included on every CD, WMA could go a long way toward becoming a de facto digital music standard. But the subsequent meteoric rise of the iPod--which does not play Microsoft-formatted music--has forced a change in plans: no more reliance on Microsoft's technology, no more second session and an appeal to Apple for compatibility.

Ah. Didn't think of that did you? So they've gone headlong into a Micro$oft-driven monopoly on compressed music (and a lousy one at that), at the exclusion of 75% of the world's portable MP3 player owners. The funny thing was that BMG and Sony have had tons of customer complaints (over 8,000) about copy-protected CDs. Most of the complaints were "why can't I play this on my iPod" and the rest were "why can't I use the music I purchased in the way I want?"

As I predicted though, what happened to the RIAA is now happening with the MPAA. Movies are being downloaded more and more off the 'net and box office receipts are starting to see a drop off. Shame. Should have embraced MP4/DiVX compression as a distribution format instead of branding the author a pirate, shouldn't you? Of course that would have meant learning from the lessons taught by the RIAA and their gestapo policies.


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