Universal Music’s Copy Protection Already broken. 

12-31-01 antiGUY

The first CD featuring Midbar Tech's Cactus Data Shield (CDS) copy protection system was on store shelves less than a month before a serious flaw was discovered.

Universal Music released the first CD utilizing the new copy protection technology earlier this month. In theory the copy protection was intended to prevent users from “ripping” the audio tracks into MP3’s by making the files accessible only through the special CactusPJ player when attempting to play the disc with computer CDROM drives. 

Unfortunately for Universal, who is reportedly planning to use the new copy protection system on all new CD’s, The Cable Technology Channel Tech-TV found a flaw in the system which allows the audio files to be accessed and ripped using a popular DVD drive. 

Tech TV’s Patrick Norton, host of the networks Screen Savers show discovered that if the first CD using the system, “"More Fast and Furious: Music From and Inspired by the Motion Picture 'The Fast and the Furious'" is accessed using a NEC DV-5700A DVD drive the Cactus Data Shield is all but ignored by the drive allowing the user to access the audio files to either play them using standard PC audio players or copy the audio files (also known as ripping”) to create MP3 copies of the tracks. The only hitch Norton found was that the first track on the CD was unplayable in all the programs he tried but ALL tracks were “rippable to MP3 format”.

According to Norton the DVD drive in question is not available at retail but is the standard drive used by Dell Computer in their consumer PC’s. Norton tested Dell computers equipped with DVD drives and found that all were able to access the audio files directly by passing the copy protection system entirely. Again the only hitch is that the first track was unplayable on the drive but could easily be ripped into a MP3. 

So much for CD copy protection.  Norton also told his readers “I've already had a phone call from a group of audio enthusiasts that is considering a class action suit against Universal Music.”  

Read Patrick Norton's full report by clicking here.