Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Bad Plus minus

I'm a big The Bad Plus fan and gave their initial CD "These Are the Vistas" to a lot of people as a gift after taking a flier on it when it first came out. I'd really like to buy the band's new CD "Suspicious Activity" and almost did today until I looked at the back. Sony has applied its XCP copy protection scheme to the disk, meaning it can only be copied to players that play copy-protected Windows Media files, of which there are damn few, or Sony's own protected format ATRAC, which almost everyone agrees sounds awful.

Either way, none of my iPods, or anyone else's, can play those formats. Likewise, you can't use them in iTunes on your computer. Sony's system prevents you from coverting the tracks to MP3 files, which lets out most non-iPod players and non-iTunes playing software as well.

To be fair, you can buy the disk's contents at the iTunes Music Store for $9.90, or $9.09 less than I would have paid for it at Borders. Then again, I was most interested to see what the guys did with "(The Theme from) Chariots of Fire," so I just bought that track for 99 cents. Net savings: $18, which I invested in a CD from another company, one that wasn't copy protected. Incidently, you also could burn the tracks from the iTunes Music Store to a CD from iTunes and rip them back onto your computer as unprotected MP3s with what I would classify as acceptable sound quality. Otherwise, the iTunes Music Store's protection scheme allows you to burn seven CDs without changing the song list, play copies of the songs in iTunes on five computers at once and copy the files to an unlimited number of iPods.

Note to record companies: I spent about four figures on CDs last year and I am on track to do so this year. If you're going to make them impossible to use in my iPods and iTunes, I'm going to stop buying them and live with what I've got, the reasonably restricted (in my opinion) files from the iTunes Music Store and the unrestricted tunes I can get from emusic. I do commend Sony for labeling the disk as copy protected. Such labeling should be required by law.


Janet said...

Well said to the record companies, Greg -- EXACTLY how John and I feel!

As I travel a lot, sometimes I've been able to find the same CD in a non-copy-protected version on another continent. But isn't THAT a heck of a lot of trouble just to be able to make my music collection "portable"?



Mr. Greg said...

While I certainly don't want to discourage making stuff available at the iTunes Music Store, it makes no sense to make a CD available there and yet prevent the actual disk from being used in iTunes and transferred to an iPod or another MP3 player. It's just customer unfriendly.