Record Labels Announce Anti-Piracy Breakthrough

By Shamus Posted Friday Sep 14, 2007

Filed under: Rants 32 comments

Here is a bit of humor necromancy. I wrote this years ago, but the recent BioShock / SecuROM / 2kGames DRM nonsense brought it to mind again.

HOLLYWOOD, CA — Major record labels released a joint statement this week announcing their latest plan to combat music piracy: the Unreadable Compact Disc. Developed in association with Sony, the new discs will be unreadable and unplayable in all existing computers and CD players. This makes the discs nearly piracy-proof.

(Left) A normal Compact Disc<br />
(Right) The new Sony Unreadable Compact Disc
(Left) A normal Compact Disc
(Right) The new Sony Unreadable Compact Disc
”The UCD is a big technological breakthrough for us.”, said RIAA Director John Henkel, “Years of research have gone into making these things as secure and unreadable as possible. Pirates will not be able to steal the music that is on these discs by playing them.”

According to a recently released technical document, the new system works by taking a readable CD and “dramatically reducing the depth of the protective surface layer in a non-uniform manner.” The result is a CD that is safe to distribute to the public without fear of users “ripping” the music to share on the internet. Consumers can identify a UCD by looking at the surface of the disc. If it features many deep grooves and the surface feels coarse to the touch, then the disc the new proprietary Sony UCD. Sony has already applied for several patents on the revolutionary process.

Critics pointed out that with the new system in place, nobody will be able to listen to the music. Hankel was quick to dismiss the claim, “We will of course be sending non-encrypted versions to radio stations so the songs can be heard on the air. This plan will only affect common consumers. We may also offer a readable copy of the music to the original artist for a nominal licensing fee.”

When asked about the reasoning behind the new discs, Hankel explained, “Earlier protection schemes made discs unplayable only to people using old CD players and computers, but sales of CDs using those schemes have been low. The only conclusion we can draw from this is that these units are still being pirated. So, we need to make the copy-protection even stronger.”

Despite the breakthrough, Sony is already planning the next step in the fight against piracy. Anticipating that someday determined pirates may eventually break the UCD encryption, Sony is developing the Aggressive Defense Compact Disc. The ADCD will react when it begins to spin, anticipating that someone may be trying to read the contents of the Disc. Razor sharp blades will then spring out of the surface, destroying the drive.

Asked why they would punish consumers this way, an RIAA spokeswoman replied, “Who do you think has been pirating our music all these years? Duh.”


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32 thoughts on “Record Labels Announce Anti-Piracy Breakthrough

  1. (FP) P'kay says:

    Why not the CD that also bursts out your eardrums as well, not only making the music unplayable but pointless to listen to?

  2. P'kay also says:

    Oh, and I suppose you’ve seen this?:

    (FP means the obvious)

  3. Fenyx says:

    To P’Kay: They already have CDs that burst your eardrums. I hear young whippersnappers playin’ ’em in their cars as they drive past my lawn.

  4. Renacier says:

    I volunteer to beta-test the ADCD in my neighbor’s stereo.

  5. Phlux says:

    It has a very “Onion” vibe to it. I like.

  6. Avaz says:

    But I still wouldn’t put it past the RIAA to do something this dumb and think it “revolutionary”. :)

  7. Dan says:

    “oniony” is about right; Shamus, have you considered sending it in to the Onion? I believe that not only is this is superb, it’s just in the right absurdist style for them.

    (Now let’s see how much an opinion from a nigh-anonymous blog commenter is worth to the Onion editorial staff :)

  8. William says:

    Shamus, this is what the onion used to be — funny.

  9. Deoxy says:

    I mostly agree with William… the Onion just isn’t usually as funny as it used to be. Once in a while, they still get there, but not with any regularity.

    (Of course, I quit reading about 2-3 years ago over that problem, so PERHAPS they have improved… I hope?)

  10. Deoxy says:

    Oh, and the original post is wonderfully perfect as well, of course.

  11. Ryan says:

    NO WAY! Irregular Webcomic is Shamusizing Star Wars d20?

    First I get a raise, then I find out that my wife and I are having a baby, and now this!

    This week keeps getting better and better! :P

  12. Paronomasiac says:

    I was linked to this post by a friend who told me it was an “awesome satire.” Personally I find nothing funny in the RIAA’s new anti-piracy move. This alone will…

    Wait, what’s that? They /aren’t/ really doing this? Well, given their track record you certainly had me fooled. Good show, well done, and all that.

  13. Snook says:

    Why not make them even more expensive? I’d *love* to pay $40 for a CD!

  14. Mari says:

    The problem isn’t the price of the CDs. It’s the price of the downloading technology. See, right now they’ve set up a couple of places that let you pay to download a single song which you can then, theoretically put on your computer, your iPod, your MP3 player capable cell phone, etc. Obviously, this is an issue. You need to make people pay for each time they LISTEN to a song. There needs to be software that monitors how often you listen to the song and sends that information back to a secure server which will then handily bill your credit card. I’m thinking $8-10 per listen would do it.

    I’d e-mail a link to this to the RIAA to show them just how much the world loves them except they’d probably take it seriously and try to implement some of this.

  15. zylche says:

    Heh, even if the disc was made, a basic hardware hack of rewiring the speaker to a microphone port in a computer then saving the playing file would create the music files needed. Unless they had a special speaker embeded. Then you could just use a microphone.

    Still, nice spoof.

  16. Woot Spitum says:

    The next step is obvious: Musicians under contract to Sony may no longer perform live due to the fact that someone might record the performance, cheating Sony out of their hard earned money.

  17. John says:

    The RIAA should focus more on eliminating middlemen and lowering prices. Meanwhile, there’s a great program out there that lets you swap entire folders of large files with friends privately and safely:

  18. Oh, this was masterful. I’m very rarely a laugh-out-loud kind of person, but this did it.

  19. hotsauce says:

    Shamus, this right here is what we like to call “giving them ideas.” Please stop it.

  20. Mars says:

    Haha, this reminds me of a joke a Croatian music band LET 3 pulled on their fans, they created an album which featured “nothing”… The buyers recieved an empty disc, nothing on it… Still, they sold about 250 copies before people figured out what was going on :D
    Try to pirate that, pirates!

  21. Daemian_Lucifer says:

    Final step in combating piracy:You pay to sony to get a song and get apsolutelly nothing in return.Well,nothing except for a harsh beating and being kicked out of the store.

  22. Phlux says:

    For those lamenting on how awesome the Onion USED to be: My favorite article of all time:

    Be warned, it contains….gratuitous cursing.

  23. Zukhramm says:

    Is it a copyright violation to look at a CD in a mirror? You’re making a virtual copy!!11

  24. Armagrodden says:

    Mars: It turns out that I have about 50 pirated copies of that CD sitting in a carousel on top of my desk right now. Who knew?

  25. tafka says:

    Whatever these guys wer smoking when they came up with this idea, I want some.

    I could use some purple flying elephants right about now.

  26. Raka says:

    YHWH Joins RIAAOld Testament God to bring prior experience with “Smite your own customers” philosophy to industryWASHINGTON (AP) In a Tuesday press conference, RIAA chairman Mitch Bainwoll announced the inclusion of YHWH, the God of the Old Testament, to the already comprehensive RIAA roster. “This is a pivotal time for the music industry,” said Bainwoll. “Now, more than ever, record companies need to reach out to their listeners. Reach out and smite them biblically. YHWH has a proven track record in this field, and we're proud to have him aboard.” Bainwoll went on to draw parallels between God's frequent punishments of Israel and the RIAA's litigation against its listeners. “Everyone knows that nothing builds loyalty like terror. YHWH's arbitrary lashing out at his followers echoes our own practices perfectly. We're working to integrate his “˜plague of fiery serpents' technology into our latest copy protection software. For the P2P community, we're exploring some interesting firewall applications.” As part of the new initiative, burned CDs will henceforth be referred to as “graven images”.RIAA opponents were disheartened but not surprised at the news. “When the amnesty agreements began saying signers must “˜wander the desert for forty years until they or the copyrights expire', we knew something was up,” said founder Bill Evans. Bainwoll scoffed at allegations that the RIAA had shown preferential treatment to YHWH and ignored alternatives. “We looked into INRI, which is a spin-off of YHWH. While their ‘Jesus’ product is certainly popular, we found that it had no place in our business model.”The Jesus team was unavailable for comment, but a message on their webpage said they'd be returning shortly.

  27. Raka says:

    Hey, look. The mighty line-break is beyond my meager talents.

  28. Lo'oris says:

    ahahhahah that’s really great, totally fun, gg

  29. Rachel says:

    And here I thought you were kidding:

    Halo 3 Discs Arrive Scratched.

  30. Silent Prayer, eh hindi kami nakaabot..:(

  31. I think Cds are going the same way as tape cassettes. Digital media seems to be the future. It will be hard to stop people from pirating digital media if the can hack it.

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