DRM Software on Kings of Leon CD
March 11, 2005 7:51 AM   Subscribe

I recently bought the new Kings of Leon CD. It won't let me play it without downloading some b.s. DRM software and it won't let me burn to iPod. How do I get around this?

This is really pissing me off, to the extent that I've written the bands management to complain. Basically, they have a DRM that states explicitly that you cannot convert to Apple's format. Of course, it doesn't say this anywhere on the CD packaging, which means I've been ripped off 10 bucks. Anyway, anyone know a way to get around 1) having to download the ridiculous software in order to even play it on my computer and 2) how to get around the whole iPod issue? This album is AWESOME and I want it in my damn iPod.

Bonus Points - any ideas on how to spread the word on this and maybe shame the band or label into stopping this B.S.? I mean, if they would just mention it on the packaging, I would have downloaded from iTunes and been done.
posted by spicynuts to Technology (37 answers total)
What OS?
posted by smackfu at 8:03 AM on March 11, 2005

Windows XP Pro
posted by spicynuts at 8:08 AM on March 11, 2005

That cd supposedly uses the MediaMax CD3 copy protection. If you're running Windows, here are instructions on disabling it. Basically, the key to bypassing almost all cd copy protection is to disable autorun on your computer so it doesn't get the chance to take over your PC the first time you insert the disc.

On spreading the word: write the band, the label, and leave a well-worded 1-star review on Amazon, for starters.
posted by zsazsa at 8:11 AM on March 11, 2005

I have no idea how to get around it, but if I were you I might email the folks at boing boing since they like to track these kinds of DRM issues and they have a large reader base that might be able to address your question.
posted by OmieWise at 8:11 AM on March 11, 2005

Thanks, guys. I've been spamming Craigslist with this..I wrote the band's management and the label. I also emailed Lifehacker. I'll hit up BoingBoing now and the amazon idea sounds good.
posted by spicynuts at 8:16 AM on March 11, 2005

Oh yeah, and if you can, try to return the disc and get a refund. These CDs are effectively defective, and you were especially screwed over because there was no warning on the packaging. If the labels get enough of these DRMed CDs returned, they may just get the message.
posted by zsazsa at 8:18 AM on March 11, 2005

I had a similar problem with Velvet Revolver's CD, where I couldn't import the CD into iTunes or copy it into my iPod. The official word from the label was basically "too bad, blame Apple."

I wasn't the only one, and quickly found a way around it. It's basically going into the registry and disabling a file. The filename for your CD may be different though.
posted by icontemplate at 8:20 AM on March 11, 2005

Play it on a CD player that isn't inside the computer. As in, a real stereo system.

Then take a line out of the stereo into your computer, and record the tracks as line-in audio. Then you're laughing.
posted by nylon at 8:34 AM on March 11, 2005

Question spicynuts. Does it, anywhere on the packaging, claim that it is a Compact Disc, or show the Compact Disc logo?
posted by Capn at 8:34 AM on March 11, 2005

Nylon, that's the extreme case when the media companies really get scared and get their act together.

For now, it's just a case of disabling auto-run in Windows.

The next escalation in the arms-race might be booting your computer in to Linux (using, say, a Knoppix live CD, so it's easy), ripping the files to a RAM disk then writing them to a CD-R, or just writing them to a USB flash drive.

I wonder if there will soon be demand for a purpose-built version of Knoppix just for ripping crippled CDs.
posted by Capn at 8:39 AM on March 11, 2005

First of all, you should always use the shift key when inserting your CD into the computer (assuming your computer is a PC). Even the tightest of the currently-available CD copy protection methods can be defeated by this simple technique. You'll then find that certain apps (eg MusicMatch, specialist ripping apps) can rip the CD to MP3 or WAV... you may find that other rippers (eg iTunes) don't work on the disc, but keep persevering.

Now that you have failed to press the shift key, though, you will find the software may be installed onn your machine - which is why you may need to play with the registry or look for another similar fix.

Finally, you should take the CD back to the store for a refund, and you should write both to the copy protection company and the record label. That is the only kind of message that will make any difference to these guys. It's only when customers complain that they take note - because otherwise they just assume everyone's happy.
posted by skylar at 8:41 AM on March 11, 2005

A class-action lawsuit might be in order. This shiny disc is masquerading as a CD, but I strongly suspect it does not comply with the CD specification. If it is labeled with the "compact disc" logo, then they are misrepresenting the product. I don't know if Philips (which created the CD spec) has any responsibility to certify that shiny discs labeled as CDs really are CDs, but it would be interesting if they could be put on the hook--if they felt they were at risk for all the pseudo-CDs out there, they'd probably try to enforce the spec more rigorously.

Obviously one doesn't just wake up one day and say "I think I'll launch a class-action lawsuit!", but considering some of the successful suits we've seen, I don't think it would be completely unreasonable.

Or you could just download a .torrent of the album...
posted by adamrice at 8:41 AM on March 11, 2005

zsazsa's right, return it, ask for a refund. it's fair use to make a back-up copy or time/spaceshift your use. you can't. so don't pay money for the product.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:42 AM on March 11, 2005

it's fair use to make a back-up copy or time/spaceshift your use. you can't.

Slightly off-topic: Despite what the hysterical Cory Doctorows of this word would have you think, "fair use" doesn't mean they have to make copying easy or even possible, it just means they can't sue you for doing it. The shop will give you a refund since the CD is not what you expected it to be, but it has nothing to do with "fair use".
posted by cillit bang at 9:33 AM on March 11, 2005

it just means they can't sue you for doing it.

Actually not accurate. Legally, fair use is a defense. You've already been sued and are in court before you can even raise the issue. Expensive proposition to rely on.
posted by anathema at 9:47 AM on March 11, 2005

right right, fair use is defense &c. no-one has to faciliate my non-infringing fair use if they don't want to blah blah

my point is, you want to use the product in manner X, which is a perfectly legal and legitimate way to use product X. but you can, so take the product back and get your refund and don't waste your money on products you have to dance around and stand on one foot to get to work in the way you want them to.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:58 AM on March 11, 2005

duh "but you can't"
posted by crush-onastick at 9:59 AM on March 11, 2005

If you google for Tweak UI (which is a microsoft powertoy), you'll have a quick and easy way to disable autorun, on everything, forever.
posted by ascullion at 10:03 AM on March 11, 2005

I wrote to BoingBoing and they also suggested a class action lawsuit. I don't think I'm up for that - I've got a life to live here.

I will check when I get home to see if the Compact Disc logo is used. I'd like to return the CD, however I threw out the receipt long before I opened the CD and discovered all this nonsense.
posted by spicynuts at 10:09 AM on March 11, 2005

adamrice : Phillips take a very dim view. And really, you can't even play the disc without downloading the DRM software? That's... absurd. Take the damn thing back.
posted by punilux at 10:27 AM on March 11, 2005

adamrice, nylon: I think you're confusing SunComm's lame MediaCloQ and MediaMax copy-protection systems with Sony's older Key2Audio system. (Or maybe spicynuts' disc has both?)

Re fair use: it's not a defense against the DMCA, unfortunately.

spicynuts, if you're feeling especially frisky, you may want to look into suing the maker of the disc under whatever computer-hacking laws exist, on the theory that they have sold you a trojan horse which installs crippling software on your computer without your consent.
posted by hattifattener at 10:43 AM on March 11, 2005

I'm not going to be doing any suing, people. Suing takes money. And time. I don't need to be a martyr for this cause.
posted by spicynuts at 11:26 AM on March 11, 2005

A class-action lawsuit might be in order.

Fuck that shit. These companies should be criminally prosecuted for illegal intrusion into a computer system. They're installing unauthorized software into your machine on the sly. If an individual were doing the same thing, they'd face jail time. Write the BBB, your state's Attorney General, and the local U.S. Attorney.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:56 AM on March 11, 2005

Find a music player that it won't play in (should be very easy - a home DVD player should fail, or simply add a guest account on your computer, as these lack application-installation priveledges).

Now you have a legitimately purchased CD that does not work on a legitimate redbook-compliant CD-player. Ie, the disc is faulty.

So return it for a replacement. Take the replacement home, unseal it and try it, next day return it for another replacement. Keep doing this.

Complaints can get ignored, but the number of returns is bottom-line-affecting priority data. The number of returns is typically not high even for DRM-crippled rubbish, so the extra returns you make will have a disproportionate effect.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:02 PM on March 11, 2005

"the number of returns is bottom-line-affecting priority data ..."

... unless the store just shrink-wraps the return and puts it back in stock. ;-P
posted by mischief at 2:25 PM on March 11, 2005

That might happen in a dodgy mom&pop store, but for big chains, it's easier and more efficient (not to mention policy I think) to just have the computer automatically pass the costs back to the supplier rather than have employees dither around with each one.

Retail chains are more powerful than the manufacturers and publishers, because shelf space is the big bottleneck. There are fifty other publishers clamouring to get their CD into that peice of shelf-space that this broken CD is taking up. If the computer shows that a product has unusually high defect returns, they have little reason not to drop it, and that REALLY gets things done.

I recall reading about an early case a few years back. I forget the names (band, retailer, label) but it was only a few hundred returns that prompted a chain to threaten to drop the CD if it wasn't fixed. It got fixed right away, and thus history recorded yet another gloriously failed attempt at DRM. :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:42 PM on March 11, 2005

To solve your immediate problem, I would suggest telephoning the record label. A label I used to work for used DRM on their products. While they did not announce the fact, they would replace product with DRM on it for product without DRM on it.

Now, to solve the general landscape of DRM, I'm sorry to say that I think it's quite likely here to stay.
posted by Captaintripps at 9:10 PM on March 11, 2005

Am I missing some obvious reason not to just download it off any P2P network?
posted by techgnollogic at 1:23 AM on March 12, 2005

Am I missing some obvious reason not to just download it off any P2P network?

Yes, techgnollogic, you're missing two ideas - 1) I don't steal music; and 2) I want the actual CD with all the artwork and such.
posted by spicynuts at 7:58 AM on March 12, 2005

I thought you already bought it?
posted by techgnollogic at 8:05 AM on March 12, 2005

Exactly. But I can't USE it. Which is what I'm trying to deal with. I paid for it, I want to use it. Besides, I don't like P2P - it's a pain, there's no guarantee you're gonna get what you're asking for, the quality could suck, and you could get prosecuted.
posted by spicynuts at 8:19 AM on March 12, 2005

You can return it for a refund, i think, too--i'd do that. Here's something on Universal's DRM and how it won't play on any Macs at all (i don't know if yours is Universal tho)
posted by amberglow at 9:30 AM on March 12, 2005

Spicynuts: What techgnollogic is saying is, keep the CD, and download the contents via P2P. You haven't stolen, you've got the liner notes, everything is square.

Your followup, not liking P2P, makes a lot more sense, and is your prerogative, of course. I just didn't want you to be misunderstanding what Techgnollogic is suggesting.
posted by Bugbread at 9:32 AM on March 12, 2005

"It's a pain" is reason enough to avoid p2ping. You want the full quality of your CD, understandably, in any format you want. I hate to linkslap, but I just have a moment and figured you could find something in this BoingBoing thread on DRM. Sometimes they post guides to getting past DRM -- especially look at the posts by Cory Doctorow.
posted by NickDouglas at 9:35 AM on March 12, 2005

"It's a pain" is reason enough to avoid p2ping. You want the full quality of your CD, understandably, in any format you want. I hate to linkslap, but I just have a moment and figured you could find something in these BoingBoing posts on DRM. Sometimes they post guides to getting past DRM -- especially look at the posts by Cory Doctorow.
posted by NickDouglas at 9:35 AM on March 12, 2005

Sorry for the double post; second is correct.
posted by NickDouglas at 9:36 AM on March 12, 2005

Had my first experience of this CD not playing in an older CD player, while normal (and even burned discs) would. Time to call Amazon and return it.
posted by dig_duggler at 4:59 AM on March 29, 2005

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