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Home > Essays > Optical Storage

Saturday, January 26, 2002
Cactus Data Shield 200

1. Introduction

Cactus Data Shield 200 - Page 1

- Introduction

Most Audio CD copy protection technologies are designed to prevent people "ripping" music for distribution via the internet. But the technique has proved controversial because protected CDs can cause problems for some older players, portable devices and in-car stereo systems. They may refuse to play or only play with errors on these machines. CD protection systems currently involve introducing errors that PC players cannot cope with, or including confusing information in a CD's "table" (TOC), which tells a player how to read its data. Critics allege that the techniques used could also impair the quality of a disc's audio content over time by making a disc less resilient to genuine errors.

Recently BMG in Europe had launched two of its chart CDs, Natalie Imbruglia's White Lilies Island and Five's Greatest Hits, with copy protection technology but have now switched production to "clean" unprotected CDs, following consumer complaints. The discs were launched "clean" in Australia. In the US, Universal's new compilation CD of Fast and Furious rock music is copy-protected but is clearly marked with consumer warnings, unlike previous discs. BMG released both their CDs with only a small print reference to "Cactus Data Shield" and no explanation that this meant it was copy-protected and might not play properly on computers and some CD players.

After reading such interesting news we decided to test the Cactus Data Shield 200 protection and found out how effective is or not!

- What does the indrustry state?

Philips controls the CD standard and their spokesman says: "Any changes that put a disc outside the CD standard result in a disc that should no longer be described or marketed as a CD." Philips, because of conformity issues, has warned the record labels that the discs are actually not compact discs at all, and must bear warning labels to inform consumers.

"...We've made sure they would put a very clear warning that you're not buying a compact disc, but something different. We've been warning some labels to begin with, and they've adjusted their behaviour. That means labels would also be barred from using the familiar "compact disc" logo that has been stamped on every CD since Philips and Sony jointly developed the technology in 1978. The attempts to graft protective measures onto the 20-year-old CD technology have had mixed results. Because there are hundreds and perhaps thousands of different CD players on the market, it's likely that some will be unable to read the new discs. It's extremely difficult to retrofit the system with copy protection without losing the ability for all CDs to play on all players. We fear some of these so-called copy-protected CDs will play at first, but will eventually show problems and break down..."

Even when the protection technology works as intended, Philips spokesman said that normal wear and tear could eventually overwhelm the error correction for the altered discs, causing them to become unreadable within a few years.

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