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Music biz patents anti-rip encryption technology

Want to copy a CD to a PC? Then pay up

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Recording industry organisation the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry has come up with yet another scheme to foil listeners who rip CDs on their PCs.

Details of the method appear in a patent filed by IFPI. The patent, GB2357165, centres on encrypting the track time codes stamped onto every music disc, New Scientist reports.

CD players (well, most of 'em) ignore the time codes, which detail the duration of each track, but CD-ROM drives do not. So scramble the time codes and a disc will happily play in a hi-fi (probably) but no one will be able to play or copy it using their PC.

IFPI's patent specifies that the CD should contain the software and keys needed to restore the time codes, but that these can only be unlocked with a password. In other words, if you want to play your CD on a PC, you'll need to ring up and buy the password.

Such a copy mechanism wouldn't necessary prevent copying. As we've reported before, tools like CloneCD allow discs to be copied on a bit-by-bit basis, rendering copy-protection methods that utilise CD playback hardware's error correction mechanisms useless. However, CloneCD would duplicate the encrypted time codes, so any duplicated disc would still only be playable on a hi-fi, not a PC.

It doesn't, of course, prevent anyone hooking their hi-fi to a PC, and copying the disc to the hard drive using audio recording software, but it might well eliminate the direct ripping of CDs to PCs. ®

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