I recently bought "The Understanding" by Royksopp from play.com. When it arrived, I found it was in fact an EMI Copy Controlled music disk, not a genuine CD. I've since sent it back for a refund (which play.com are happy to do - their service is really pretty damn good).

About Copy Control Technology ======

EMI have created a format for the data on CD media. These disks are not strictly CDs because they do not conform to the standards that define what a CD should be. Thus, they do not bear the Philips Compact Disk logo, and instead have a different logo. Since both types of logo are usually difficult to see or find on the packaging, you may have to look pretty hard to find them.

The EMI format has evolved over a few years. Initially, the disks wouldn't play in a great number of players (resulting in record companies having to replace numerous copies with genuine CD counterparts). Latterly, the disk contained a data track which had an "autorun" program on it. This program ran when you put the disk into a PC. The software would then stop the disk being used, except with the (cheesy) player on the disk. People found that simply holding shift down while inserting the disk would stop the autorun feature, and so leave the disk unprotected.

More recently, the Copy Control technology has become harder to circumvent. Nowadays it does not rely on simple fixes such as those above. The data is written in a way that computers (of all varieties) will not recognise the disk as being usable without special software, which is of course supplied on the disk. Thus, Linux (or any Unix) users (who are not supported by the software) cannot listen to the disk. Because the data format has been manipulated, the disk will not play on some CD players, notibly some car CD players (and I presume some portable players too) because they read data from the CD into a buffer, much like a PC would do when ripping the disk.

As a music fan, I utterly dislike these counterfit disks. They are not CDs, and in my opinion should not be sold as such. They offer less features than CDs, and so have less value to consumers. Also, since they cannot be transferred to iPods or any other music player they are effectively constrained to "home use". With the seemingly explosive growth in iPods and other players, this is obviously a problem for all those people. Also because they are non-standard disks, future CD players may not work with them, which means that potentially disks will become unplayable when owners upgrade their Hifi equipment.

Anyone buying one of these disks should seriously consider returning it to wherever they bought it. Here in the UK, all retailers should offer refunds without question because it would be easy to argue the goods were "not fit for the purpose for which they were sold". Most retailers I've heard about seem to be quite sensitive to the problem, so it ought not get that far really.

I have not only returned my Royksopp CD, but have sent letters and emails to:

* The Royksopp official Web Site

  • Wall Of Sound
  • Labels (France)
  • EMI Group PLC
  • Virgin Records
  • Trading Standards

I used the following text for the emails and letters:
(click the + to see it)

- ======

^Date: July 31st, 2005
Dear [[Whomever],

I recently bought The Understanding (deluxe edition) from play.com. When it arrived, I found that it is a Copy Controlled music disk, not a CD. As a result, it did not play on my computer, nor could I transfer it to my iPod or my home music player. Resultingly, and sadly, I've now sent it back and am getting a refund for it.

This now leaves me none the wiser about the album, and of course not able to listen to it. From a business point of view, this also leaves you without the revenue from my purchase.

I consider myself a music fan; I own hundreds of CDs, and rarely leave the house without my iPod playing in my ears. I find it sad that I cannot do this with The Understanding because it has not been released in standard CD format. Whilst I am sympathetic to the music industry's desire to protect it's investments, the industry is under no threat from me, as all of my music is legal (and only used legally). Thus from my perspective the industry is being counter-productive, as it's investment is now worth a small amount less because I cannot use Copy Controlled music disks.

Clearly, I would urge Royksopp and their various representative companies to reverse their decision to only release The Understanding on Copy Controlled music disks, as opposed to CDs. However I really am only trying to solve my immediate problem: I would like to buy the album, and use it on my iPod and home music player. Is there any way I can obtain a genuine CD version of it?

Yours... etc etc.^

====== +Responses ======

I've had a response (1st August, 2005) from filling in the problem reporting form at EMI. They don't say a lot, except to say it's been referred to their technology partner for further investigation. They also say Linux is not supported, and that they'll be back to me in due course.

One thought: As Linux is not supported at the moment, even if every computer in the world runs Linux in 10 years, this CD will still be unplayable. Not good, huh?

====== +Wall of Sound (3rd August, 2005) ======

A chap from WoS replied to my email. He essentially passes it off to EMI, saying that they manufactured the disk, and they only now do Copy Controlled disks, so I'm out of luck. He also suggests that iTunes should be my first port of call if I want to listen to the music on my iPod.

Sadly, this still leaves me without a physical disk, and unable to listen to the music on anything except my iPod. Still not satisafactory, I'm afraid.


EMI still makes 'regular cds'

EMI sells cds all around the world with Copy Control technology, ECXEPT in ENgland (and in the US under the Capitol label).

One example: Paul McCartney's new album. Here in France, it's only available in shops with Copy Control.But I ordered my copy at Amazon.co.uk (it's in England), and it arrived at my house without any Copy Control technology, and without the ugly logos on the cover.

English and American people have better treatment than other customers from the rest of the world !


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 2005-09-21 14:05.
EMI CC in the UK

EMI are selling Copy Controlled Discs in England.
"The Best of Bix Biederbeck" for example.

Luckily I have a Mac, which laughs at the Copy Control.

But I am not laughing at the overall state of affairs of restricting users as to when and where they can listen to music they have legally bought.

I worked out a few years ago, that in my life I have given EMI/SONY et all over $6,000 - Maybe they should offer a lifetime subscription and give away free CD's... Any way, no way are they having any more of my cash.

Indie and online labels are far more interesting these days anyway.
Best wishes to all you music lovers, you know who you are.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 2005-11-21 22:10.
how to copy these discs

Musicmatch jukebox software www.musicmatch.com has no problem importing these discs or converting them to PC.
make sure to hold down the 'shift' key on a pc while you put the disc in to prevent it from 'autoplay'. then just use Musicmatch!

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 2006-02-18 00:11.

We all purchase CDs with the intention of listening to them in a variety of places and maybe even using an iPod/MP3 player. If you are unlucky enough to purchase your CD from certain record companies you won?t be able to do this because of CCT.Purchasing your CDs from these record companies means if you want to listen to the SAME music on your CD player at home and your iPod you will have to purchase the SAME music AGAIN from iTunes; paying record companies TWICE for the EXACTLY SAME songs. Using CCT on LEGALLY purchased CDs is nothing but a record industry con.

Please, please BOYCOTT all record companies that use this technology and the bands that are signed to them. You can do this by returning your CDs to the place where you purchased them and asking for a refund. Let the band and their record company know exactly what you think about CCT via their website.

So far I?ve been caught out by Goldfrapp (Mute Records), Gorillaz and Royskopp (both EMI).


Add the names of the bands and labels that have tried to con you and pass this email onto all your family, friends and colleagues.


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 2006-02-28 22:31.
A big beatle fan

I bought macs new CD C&CBY. The music was fantastic. But I was(:confused:) when I coundn't put in on my Ipod. I assume you want your music listened to, Paul. Keeping it off Ipods means it lies quietly on the shelf. Eventually it will be forgotten and die.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 2006-03-27 15:39.
how to beat copy control

it took me a while, but i found a way to get content protected 'cds' on an ipod.
import the music on to your computer using the crappy autorun player. because they are wma, they dont work on ipod, so you will have to burn them onto a disk using windows media player (it might say you don't have a security code. just play the album and it will download the codes automatically). the burned disk can then be recognised and imported using itunes

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 2006-04-20 17:34.
Re: how to beat copy control

Essentially the same method as beating iTunes Music Stores protection. Beware though, the WMA route will lose quality because you're compressing-recreating-compressing (recreating from a lossy format such as WMA essentially means the software has to make up the gaps in the data, which means it'll deviate from the original).

The best, most solid, future proof way to beat copy control is not to accept it in the first place. Take it back to the store, get a refund.

Submitted by coofercat on Thu, 2006-04-20 19:01.
1 band fighting back against copy control

I bought a CD by The Concretes (In Colour) that turned out to be copy controlled. I sent a very annoyed email to the band complaining about the injustice of this. The band replied the same day and offered to email me the mp3s. Apparently they did not know about this in advance and have refused to have any of their subsequent CDs copy controlled.

At least someone out there cares about the money paying music lover!

Submitted by Stef (not verified) on Sat, 2007-12-01 18:10.