How to beat Apple iPod-incompatible Sony BMG and EMI copy-protected CDs

“Major labels Sony BMG and EMI are releasing more and more new CDs that block fans from dragging their tunes to iPods,” Billboard reports. “Now, in the most bizarre turn yet in the record industry’s piracy struggles, stars Dave Matthews Band, Foo Fighters and Switchfoot — and even Sony BMG, when the label gets complaints — are telling fans how they can beat the system… For now, the copy-protected discs work only with software and devices compatible with Microsoft Windows Media technology.”

“The DRM initiatives are generating complaints from fans, many of whom own iPods. The message boards of artist fan sites and online retailers are filled with complaints from angry consumers who did not realize they were buying a copy-protected title until they tried to create music files on their home computers,” Billboard reports. “One solution artists offer to iPod users is to rip the CD into a Windows Media file, burn the tracks onto a blank CD (without copy protection) and then rip that CD back into iTunes… Columbia Records act Switchfoot, whose latest album, ‘Nothing Is Sound,’ is copy-protected — and debuted at No. 3 on The Billboard 200 last week — recently took copy-protection defiance one step further. Band guitarist Tim Foreman posted on a Sony Music-hosted fan site a link to the software program CDEX, which disables the technology. The post has since been removed.”

“Sony BMG says it is not trying to prevent consumers from getting music onto iPods. Fans who complain to Sony BMG about iPod incompatibility are directed to a Web site ( that provides information on how to work around the technology,” Billboard reports. “The company, which has sold more than 13 million copy-protected discs to date, is urging people who buy copy-protected titles to write to Apple and demand that the company license its FairPlay DRM for use with secure CDs… Artist managers are upset that the security is so easily beaten — in the case of Sony BMG, with the company’s assistance — that it makes a mockery of content protection.”

Full article here.

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What good is copy-protection that utterly fails to protect and just upsets consumers? Purchase your CDs carefully. SonyMusic feedback:

Related articles:
Sony BMG and EMI try to force Apple to ‘open’ iPod with iPod-incompatible CDs – June 20, 2005
New Song BMG copy-protected CDs lock out Apple iPod owners – June 01, 2005


  1. Lets see.. If we release a copy protected CD, and someone complains then we tell them how to work around the problem. That is like saying, we will keep your money in the safe but if someone complains we will give them the combination? These people are idiots..

  2. “It then goes on to talk about how to get the mosic from the disc onto Wintel machines using iTunes. Seems there is a difference in how these protected discs are handled by Macs using iTunes and by PCs using iTunes. Can anyone clear this up?”

    It’s very simple… Macs do not use the DRM software that Windows uses… Because the CDs have Windows software on them, they appear like a CD-ROM to a Windows computer, not a Music CD, and the DRM software is tightly bound into Windows Media Player which pays the music… If you put the same CD in a Mac, the Windows CD-ROM stuff is ignored and the CD looks like any other CD in a Mac (audio or ROM), and you can copy the files without problem. There are programs that can bypass Windows DRM… in essence, emulating the Macs methodology, and allowing the files to be read by alternative programs, other than WMP… Sony claims the quality is lower, but that is not always the case.

    At any rate, Mac users have no problems with these disks…

    It’s a problem for Windows users only… If Sony thinks I am going to write Apple and tell them to make their DRM accessible to Windows users without iTunes, they have their heads up their asses… I could care less if morons on Windows have these problems… they have an easy way around it all… They can grow a brain and get a Mac!

  3. Good. So that’s clear then. Windows users are thieving little rat-bags who distribute their music. Apple Mac users are so trustworthy there is no need for them to experience DRM inconvenience! Hey ho.

    Sony must love Apple.

    Or Sony are scared of Steve Jobs.

  4. I agree that Apple should license FairPlay, but they should be selective about it. That is, they should license it to any online store that wants to use it, any record company who wants it for CDs, but when it comes to Digital Music Players, they shouldn’t let anyone else have it except for cases like the ROKR phone. This would cement the iPod as the player of choice, even if it were to lose it’s style cache someday. They make very little profit from iTMS anyway, and, because of it’s ease of use, I seriously doubt many people would go to the competition. Besides, the money they make from licensing may very well cover or even exceed what they’d lose in iTMS sales. Even if they don’t ever decide to license to other online outlets, I really think it would be a mistake not to license to record companies for CDs. They are giving MS a chance to get their foot in the door if they don’t.

    Can anyone give me a reason why they shouldn’t license in this fashion? I’m not trying to be snide in asking this, I just really can’t think of any reason not to.

  5. I think it’s to do with most Wintel users being logged in as administrator by default, so the copy protection software self-installs without asking (as you’d expect with MS tosh) leaving the user with little choice. If they create a user account that’s managed with few rights then the software cannot install and they can rip as normal in iTunes for Windows.

    But then, they could just buy a Mac :p

  6. Let me get this straight. They went to the extra expense of adding DRM to their product and then spent even more money telling their customers how to get around that same DRM? Wouldn’t it have just been simpler if they just…oh….I don’t know…didn’t put the DRM on the product in the first place? WTF?

  7. General feed back I would send them a note like I did about what I think of there copy protection garbage. I also told them they should label there copy protected discs as such so buyers like me and you don’t have to buy them in the first place. And they wonder why there sales are going down the tubes. They just don’t get it do they.

  8. The real reason Apple doesn’t let other music stores play with the iPod is to preserve the user experience. A large part of the iPod’s success is because it works seamlessly with iTunes. If you get third parties involved, the usability is threatened.

  9. It’s not Apple’s fault that they have a good DRM. Why does Sony put crappy protection on there CD’s and then not warn consumers that they are copy protected. Buy from ITMS and forget the CD and you won’t have these copy protection problems. Apple got it right and now everyone is trying to put the blame on Apple yet I don’t remember anyone helping out Apple when they were down. Apple was only following the DRM requirements that were laid down by the record companies in the first place. So blame the record companies for requiring all of this copy protection DRM crap to begin with. It is all nonsence in the first place.

  10. Jesus, all you have to do to beat the DRM on those CDs on Windows is simply HOLD DOWN THE SHIFT KEY WHEN YOU INSERT THE DISC. That prevents the AutoPlay from running. The DRM is in the AutoPlay. Is this concept rocket science? Why all the complicated workarounds? I like simple solutions.

    MDN Magic Word: “section”, as in everyone who is getting in a tizzy and wasting time discussing this are ready for a Section 8.

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