Old code defeats new CD anti-ripping technologies

CloneCD defeats SafeAudio and Cactus, we hear

Macrovision's SafeAudio and Midbar's Cactus - both new technologies designed to prevent CDs from being copied successfully - may have been defeated by software released over two years ago.

CloneCD, from German developer Elaborate Bytes, was written to duplicate discs bit by bit. The code requires a CD-R or CD-RW drive that supports RAW mode, which, according to EB, almost all currently available models do.

Essentially, RAW mode allows data to be read and written as pure binary data rather than files (as a CD drive does) or music tracks (the way a CD player works). CloneCD generates a perfect copy of the data on the source CD - including all the noise and other modifications to music and control data made by the likes of Cactus and SafeAudio.

Of course, that also includes any other copy protection system. As EB's own Web site points out, "CloneCD does not disable the boot protection found on console CDs... CloneCD does not modify the data it reads or writes in any way".

Both SafeAudio and Cactus are designed to prevent file copies. Theoretically, then, CloneCD copies are not affected, though duplicating a CloneCD copy in the usual way will be blocked by those two technologies. We understand that CloneCD has been used to successfully bypass SafeAudio, but as yet we've seen no corroboration for that claim.

EB is smart enough to loudly proclaim that CloneCD is not licensed to be used to copy discs for which the user lacks permission to do so. It's a moot point whether that's enough to protect the authors from the strictures of the US' Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which renders any attempt to bypass a copy protection mechanism illegal, but we'd caution them not to make a fuss if they're ever visiting the States - Dimitri Sklyarov is proof of that.

EB notes that not all CD writers support RAW mode, and we suspect that over time fewer and fewer will as the music industry attempts to plug this particular hole in their anti-piracy wall. ®

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Related Link

Elaborate Bytes: CloneCD homepage