BMG Restricts Discs

More compact discs that attempt to restrict how you use them are coming to a record store near you. BMG announced last week that its Arista Records division will be the company's first label in the US to release a commercial CD using copy-restriction technology.

Until now, BMG says, its US labels have used copy management technology only on promotional CDs as part of their overall approach to restrict the use of copyrighted content. The first of the new restricted CDs will be Comin' From Where I'm From by singer/songwriter Anthony Hamilton, slated for release nationwide on September 23.

Although restricted CDs have become a thorn in consumers' sides, BMG's Thomas Hesse insists, "The consumer experience is BMG's top priority. Consumers who purchase this CD will have broad flexibility, including the ability to listen to it on a whole range of devices and players, and the ability to burn copies for their personal use. At the same time, this CD will not be able to be mass copied. Because of improvements in the SunnComm MediaMax technology, it is now possible to offer consumers the level of flexibility to which they have become accustomed, while beginning to better protect our artists' rights."

The company reports that Comin' From Where I'm From utilizes a copy-restriction technology that allows the CD to play on "nearly all standard playback devices," including CD players, DVD players, car stereos, boomboxes, PCs, Macs, personal portables, and game consoles. "Using the original disc, consumers can transfer this album to their personal computers. From their computer, consumers can also transfer the music to a secure portable device and burn three copies to a CD-R."

CS2 (Consumer Surround Sound, Inc.) executive William Grecia points out, "The fickle thing about this whole 'restrictive' CD craze is, you can't stop analog recording. If a device has analog outputs, then the signal is free from restriction. People at record labels and 'copy protection' companies need to stop thinking consumers are technically ignorant, which is why the recorded music industry is in such a tailspin." Grecia's company offers the recently released CS2CD technology.

The BMG discs will retail for $13.98 and are restricted using SunnComm's MediaMax CD-3 Technology which adds a digitally encrypted file for each track on a CD. BMG also notes that the discs will be "appropriately labeled" to inform consumers of the technology and the "range of uses that can be made of the product."