Stand Up

The CD version of Stand Up, the latest release from the Dave Matthews Band, contains copy control technology that is ostensibly designed to limit or prevent copying. The technology doesn't do a particularly good job at stopping copying, however, though it is very good at annoying consumers. Artists don't appear to be fans either. The Dave Matthews Band has posted instructions on their website for how to work around the technology to copy the songs on the CD for playback on an iPod.

For Macintosh users such as myself, there is nothing additional to do, since the copy-control technology does not work on a Mac. For Windows users, there is no need to hack the program since making several permitted copies using different programs eventually leads to the songs ending up on your iPod. I'm not sure about Linux users, though I am guessing that the copy control doesn't work on their systems either.

The Dave Matthews Band posting and its label's use of copy-control technology raises several issues. I discussed the consumer implications of the technology in an earlier posting on the Coldplay CD. The web instructions also highlight the continuing divide between the labels and artists (see the iTunes related reaction of Japanese artists to Sony Records for another example).

I'd like to focus on two other issues here though. First, the private copying implications. The Dave Matthews Band may support their fans copying their music onto iPods, but Canadian law still does not. Canadians that follow the band's instructions appear to infringe Canadian law. Moreover, it is worth noting the recent remarks of RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol. In a speech to NARM, Bainwol commented that the RIAA has "no objection to personal use burning" (slide 59). This raises the question of why Canadians are stuck paying millions for the private copying levy, when the levy doesn't cover the copying they typically engage in, the artists have only received a fraction of the money collected, and the industry itself does not object to the copying (and in the U.S. at least does not expect any additional compensation for such copying).

Moreover, consider these instructions within the context of Bill C-60 and its anti-circumvention provision. The provision applies to a "technological measure," which is defined as "any technology, device or component that, in the ordinary course of its operation, restricts the doing . . .of any act" that would constitute an infringement of several different Copyright Act provisions. Section 34.02 of Bill C-60 provides copyright owners with a basket of rights against anyone who "circumvents, removes, or renders ineffective a technological measure" for the purpose of copyright infringement.

This brings us to the question of these provisions and copy control technology. First, leaving aside the private copying issue, consumers that follow the Dave Matthews Band instructions would not appear to run afoul of this particular provision since they are not circumventing anything. Mac users are proceeding as usual, while Windows users are using the functionality built into the copy control mechanism to make their desired copies.

Second (and more interestingly), does the copy control technology even qualify as a technological measure under Bill C-60? If it does, should it?I don't think we have a clear answer here. Other jurisdictions focus on the effectiveness of the technological measure. Given the Dave Matthews Band instructions, it is hard to see how these measures are effective. In Canada, however, the bill speaks of "ordinary use." The copy-control may be advertised as being ordinarily used to control copying, even if it does nothing of the sort. It should not be enough to simply characterize a technology as a technological measure and immediately enjoy legal protections. The failure to include an effectiveness standard in Bill C-60 is yet one more reason why Canadians should stand up to the proposed copyright reform package.


  1. Herb Powell says:

    “Copy protection” on the Dave Matthews
    FYI, the copy protection on the Dave Matthews Band CD does not work on Linux, either, or in fact on any operating system except for Windows. The way it works is by (ab)using the “autostart” feature to load a program as soon as the CD is inserted that then prevents direct access to the audio tracks; this makes the solution inherently Windows-only.

    FWIW, getting around this “protection” is even easier than the band described on their website; it’s enough to hold down the Shift key while the CD is being loaded, as this tells Windows to ignore any autostart features the CD might contain. Furthermore, it’s also possible to completely disable the autostart feature (instructions can be found on Google); once this is done, the CD is fully accessible without any sort of copy protection.

  2. Mark Hamilton says:

    I think this is another example of why the Canadian government needs to move with great caution on copyright change when we clearly in a state of huge transition. If laws are passed that take away what are perceived as existing rights, they won’t change behaviour, they’ll lead to disdain for the the government and the rules. There hasn’t been a TPM developed yet that hasn’t been cracked (sometimes with 24 hours) and if I feel I have a copying right, based on what I’ve been able to do in the past, I’m likely to use those cracks. I’m not a lawyer, but I think it’s clear from the existing copyright law that the intent is to allow copying for private use, research, etc. Does a technological change from analogue to digital wipe that intent away?

  3. Techie
    I just dont buy copy controlled CD’S
    I even wrote a letter to EMI Canada.
    But got no answer from them.
    Wanted to buy the latist Meat Loaf album but the CD was copy controlled…Sorry no sale …. found some artists for sale on the old Vinyl format (no copy control ) bought it recoreded it in real time and made the Mp3’s for my car.
    the same said records were available in CD but copy controled… I have a lot of audio gear studio I will get around any TPM they toss out…. they should be lucky i don’t p2p my mp3’s i make for my self….so easy if your willing able have the equipment and time ect just a waste of money better to scrap TPMs and sell the CD’s cheaper and make money on volume.

    my 2cents


  4. RE: “Copy protection” on the Dave matt
    Thats kind of ironic….the only people that the protection is useful against is the people that are too computer illiterate to actually use p2p. The people that are doing the actual ripping and posting on p2p are MUCH more savvy then this wimpy little protection scheme.

  5. DEWLine in Ottawa says:

    Boycotting CopyControlled Albums
    I too simply boycott such albums. I don’t deal with the underground filesharing movement, I’ve been an aboveboard customer for years and any of the downloading I do sticks to those freebies on offer from the artists at their individual websites. I see no reason why I should economically encourage “CopyControlled” albums in any sense.

    Sadly, it has an artistic cost. Not only to myself but to the DMB, Enigna, K-OS, ColdPlay, Leahy and many other artists and bands whose works I’d be otherwise inclined to buy at the HMV, MusicWorld and indy stores, whose bottom lines are also paying the price.