Macrovision Beta-Testing CD Copy Protection Technology

Forget the Serial Copy Management System, music fans. Macrovision Corporation is taking CD copy prevention to the next level. The folks who made it impossible to loop your DVD player through your VCR want to make sure you can't copy new music either. On February 27, Sunnyvale, CA-based Macrovision announced that it will begin beta-testing its "Safeaudio Toolkit," a CD-audio copy-protection technology. One major record label has already completed its own testing, according to an official statement. Macrovision announced its intention to go forward with the technology late last year.

Safeaudio (a Macrovision registered trademark) is intended to prevent the copying of CDs, or tracks from CDs, onto CD-R discs. The technology was developed jointly by Macrovision and TTR Technologies, Inc. in response to the widespread availability of CD burners and disc compilation software. Safeaudio encoding is "applied during the mastering process at CD manufacturing facilities and is designed to prevent unauthorized copying of music CDs." The process takes place at the mastering house "on existing replication equipment . . . automating the copy-protection process and keeping the original unprotected master file secured," Macrovision claims.

"The proliferation of commercial-grade CD-recordables and inexpensive CD-R media has become a major concern to the music labels. We believe that Safeaudio provides an opportunity for the music industry to regain the billions of dollars lost to unauthorized casual copying. We are eager to start our beta trials and to get the technology into the hands of the music labels for evaluations," commented Macrovision president and COO Bill Krepick.

The system runs on standard PC Windows 95/98/ME/NT4 and Windows 2000 platforms, and consists of a "Safeaudio protection generator (SPG) program integrated with the Media Morphics and Eclipse EFM encoders." The company has a strong track record with such ventures: Macrovision's "Safedisc" CD-ROM software copy protection technology has been licensed to over 100 mastering and replication facilities throughout the world and is used by many publishers. We have no idea how this will affect the many thousands of audiophiles who use separate D/A processors.