Did you “buy” any of them!?

Copy-protection turning fans off buying music: retailers
TORONTO (CP) – It’s becoming a regular occurrence in CD shops across the country: an irate customer comes in complaining the CD they bought won’t play on their computer, and worse yet, they can’t transfer the tunes to their IPod.
The culprit is copy-protected or copy-controlled CDs – something many Canadian music retailers say they would like to see pulled from store shelves.
“This is just another really, really ridiculous way of telling our customers, ‘We don’t want your business,’ ” said Tim Baker of Sunrise Records, which has 31 shops in southern Ontario.
“It’s so stupid.”
The issue was underscored last week with news that the anti-piracy technology used on about 50 Sony BMG titles released in the United States and 37 in Canada secretly left spyware behind on people’s computers.
The software – developed as a way to fight music piracy – made the machines susceptible to viruses and hackers. And trying to remove the software disabled CD drives.
Needless to say, the technology irked consumers. Thousands flocked to the web to vent, using blogs and online petitions to encourage people to boycott Sony products altogether.
“There’s still plenty of work to be done if we are to achieve our goal of being treated like the music lovers we are rather than the criminals that (Sony) assumes us to be,” read one posting on
Sony BMG said Friday that about 120,000 of the 4.7 million faulty CDs were sold in Canada.
They are not the only company to issue copy-protected CDs in Canada.
EMI has been releasing select albums – including the latest Nickelback album, All The Right Reasons – this way for about three years. The company intends to ship out all its releases with the technology by year’s end.
The EMI discs use different software than Sony BMG, and have yet to cause any computer troubles.
Labels say they need the technology in order to stop people from sharing music with those who haven’t paid for it.
Still, retailers say such technology is punishing those who are actually willing to fork over cash for music – an ever-dwindling group as it is.
“Consumers are not liking it,” says Leslie Purchase, assistant manager at CD Plus in the Halifax Shopping Centre. “People are getting very frustrated by (copy-protected CDs).”
She’s noticed an increase in customers who put CDs down after noticing the “copy-controlled” or “copy-protected” label.
“A lot of customers won’t buy them now. They say ‘I don’t want it’,” she said.
The copy controls are possible through digital rights management technology, or DRM. It lets labels restrict the number of times a CD can be shared – meaning burned or copied.
More controversial is the ability to control which programs consumers can use to playback their music. With EMI and Sony BMG discs, for instance, the music is compatible only with Windows Media Player but not with ITunes (for PC users).
That means people with IPods can’t add the newly purchased CD to their playlists without some complicated steps.
CDs with this technology are marked with a warning on the back, usually in a black box.
EMI and Sony openly admit its copy protection measures have upset and annoyed some of its music fans – specifically IPod users. They’ve even provided websites outlining ways to override the controls, and respectively, in order to get the songs on IPod players.
Complaints even trickled down to the actual musicians, who subsequently posted ways to circumvent the protection measures on their own websites. Bands include Dave Matthews and the Foo Fighters.
The grumbling doesn’t come as a surprise, says Terry Millar, director of manufacturing at EMI Canada.
“People have had the freedom to give 10 friends a copy of a disc. For anybody that’s used to doing that, all of a sudden they’re limited,” he said.
“We’re going to get complaints. We know that people are used to a certain thing. The thing about it is that it’s not the right thing to be doing.”
He expects other labels, like Universal and Warner, will eventually follow with similar technology.
But at least one label says it’s vehemently opposed to the content protection practice saying it unfairly punishes the music buying public.
“It’s backwards thinking. It’s protectionism,” said Terri McBride, president of Vancouver-based Nettwerk, whose roster includes the Be Good Tanyas. “The average consumer who’s not tech-savvy is going to buy the CD, thinking that they can load it onto their IPod . . . They’re going to be royally pissed off.”
He added: “Why do you want to piss off the people who buy?”