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Wednesday, July 25, 2001
Label cops to copy-protected CD

"...Charley Pride has become the first artist to admit selling a copy-protected, Napster-proof CD. Music City Records said Tuesday that "Charley Pride -- A Tribute to Jim Reeves," released in May, uses a technology called MediaCloQ from SunnComm Inc. The protected CD can be used on all compact disc players, but playing the disc on a computer gets a little tricky. For that capability, the consumer slides the disc into the computer as normal, but instead of being able to click a desktop icon and listen to music from the CD, the user is instead taken to a Web site. The site authenticates that the CD in question is a valid retail disc, then lets the customer download protected tracks onto their hard drive, but the files come from the Web site, not the actual CD. Of course, the MediaCloQ technology, therefore, caters to consumers with Internet access and could be troublesome for those without.

But consumers so far don't seem too inconvenienced by the product, SunnComm executive vp Bill Whitmore Jr. said. "There has been a minuscule amount of customer-service calls and a small return rate," he said, adding that version 2.0 will incorporate "second session" technology, allowing those without Internet access to play protected discs on their computers.

For now, burning a track from a MediaCloQ-protected CD into a consumer's own customized compilation CD isn't possible, but that function will be built into version 2.0 also, Whitmore said. SunnComm's MediaCloQ differs from a similar product by Macrovision Corp. called SafeAudio. Retailers and labels have been selling SafeAudio-protected CDs unbeknownst to the consumers who are buying them (HR 7/17). That product allows you to play the disc on your computer but not download music onto your hard drive. It prevents sharing in a peer-to-peer environment like Napster but also prevents digital duplication simply for one's own use and pleasure..."

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