High End Society 2002 Show Frankfurt Germany
The High End Society held a press conference with
representatives from the Society and also equipment representatives from T+A and Marantz. While this show has nearly 200 rooms covering around 500 brands, due to the limitation of the hotel size, there were 30 others who wanted to attend yet could not. The show motto is, roughly translated, "Hear What You Can". The topic of this conference concerned the protection of music as it concerns prerecorded software (CD Protection/Copy Protection). This subject has been covered man time on Enjoy the Music.com on both our Industry News pages and also various editorial articles within our Review Magazine. Several consumers and high-end dealers have been having problems playing the new protected CD discs. While America does not have as many different titles that are protected, here in Europe there are quite a few popular titles that have copy protection. Due to this situation, some equipment manufactures have been seeing equipment sent back as being defective, when in fact the unit was fine and it was the copy protection that caused the player and inability to read/properly playback the software. Worse still, the consumer has no idea about these discs, as they are not clearly marked that they employ a protection system on the CD label/cover. Worse still, these CDs do not conform to the "Red Book" standard, the technical specifications that dictate what a disc needs to be in order to be called a Compact Disc. Adding insult to injury, it has been said that these protection scheme may adversely affect the sounds quality of the music. There needs to be an audibly transparent way to protect a disc, yet also make it universally playable.
I asked the High End Society representatives since Philips has officially said that protected discs do not meet Red Book standard, if they were considering a class action lawsuit against the illegal marking of these discs. Alas, class active type lawsuits are not part of the Germany legal system, though consumers are, of course, free to begin legal actions against such disc mislabeling.
The Marantz representative gave a slide show presentation that also included facts from the IFPI, the reporters of music sales worldwide. The IFP claims that 640 million pirated CDs sold in 2000 (up 25 percent from 1999). This totals 35% of all CDs sold worldwide. In fact 27 compact disc production lines were shut down that were making illegal CDs around the world. Since the Sony/Philips license concerning the compact disc has expired, there is technically no restriction on the "Red Book" standard and no legal recourse. Various companies have begun using their own protection scheme on music discs. By the end of 2001 we may expect to see at least 20 percent of new releases to be protected, though it could reach upwards of 50 percent. Of course the most popular titles from the major labels will probably be protected. End result is that no PC, CD-R, CD-ROM or DVD can read the audio playback of a protected music disc.
As a side note, please see our exclusive editorial by
Steven R. Rochlin to help fight the possibly illegal activities of these protected music discs.
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