How I Stole Something I Bought

I hacked my first copy-protected CD tonight! Today I bought Kasabian because I’ve been hearing their stuff on satellite and it sounds good, plus the CD was only $7.99. But I was in a hurry when I bought it and didn’t notice the sticker saying it was copy-protected (“protected against unauthorized duplication”, to be exact). It played in my CD player, but in the computer it popped up a hideous license agreement to accept or decline. I declined and it ejected the CD! I couldn’t even simply play it without accepting the idiotic agreement, which I fortunately didn’t do because I found out that if you accept it installs a driver that checks all CDs for protection and blocks any form of copying.

So I put the CD back in while holding down the SHIFT key, and that prevented the license splash from appearing. Then I tried ripping to MP3 using MusicMatch. It ripped all the songs without a problem, but when I played the files they skipped horrendously. It almost sounded like they were being played backwards. I was almost ready to return the CD when I found postings on the Web from people who had successfully ripped the Kasabian using different software and/or CD-ROM drives. My two freeware CD rippers wouldn’t even recognize the CDA tracks, so I eventually ended up using the Creative MediaSource software that came with my Zen Micro.

I first ripped the tracks to WAV format and they sounded fine, then I converted to MP3. And now after wasting one precious hour of my life, I have the entire album in a format I can transfer to my MP3 player or burn onto a backup CD. Dear RCA/BMG, please explain why this rigmarole was necessary. I’ve been made to feel like a criminal just to reclaim what should reasonably be considered my “fair use”.

I strongly urge everyone to watch out for the copy-protection labels and avoid buying CDs that have them. Eventually it’ll take more than one hour to pick the all the locks that stand between you and your rights as an honest consumer.


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