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).
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
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.