US record label sued over anti-rip CD technology

Suit alleges company misled consumers

An unnamed Californian woman has sued US country music record label Fahrenheit Entertainment for allegedly misleading its customers by shipping CDs protected with an anti-rip mechanism, Web site Music Target has reported.

The suit centres on the album Charley Pride: A Tribute to Jim Reeves because it apparently gives no indication that the copyright protection mechanism prevents the disc being played back on a PC CD drive.

Fahrenheit launched the album back in February, ahead of its April release. At the time, the label said that the disc would be encoded using SunnComm's MediaCloQ anti-rip technology. Says Fahrenheit's release at the time: "SunnComm's MediaCloQ is a proprietary CD audio product that is playable in standard audio CD players but will not function in computers where files could be copied or 'ripped' then later, uploaded to music-sharing services, such as Napster, which are gaining popularity on the Internet."

Arguably, then, Fahrenheit has made no secret of the use of the anti-rip mechanism. That said, if, as the suit claims, there's no indication of the fact on the disc itself, buyers might well feel peeved when they find the CD won't play on their PCs.

The suit also complains that the disc forces consumers who want to download the disc's tracks - so they can be played on a PC - to register on the company's Web site. The suit claims that leaves the buyer open to privacy violations.

Since the release of Charley Pride: A Tribute to Jim Reeves, CDs protected by similar technologies to SunnComm's MediaCloQ - including Macrovision's SafeAudio and Midbar's Cactus - have shipped in Europe and the US. And since almost all of them have been released to test whether consumers can tell the difference between protected discs and unprotected discs, we'd be surprised if they contain warning messages either.

Expect more suits to follow this one. ®

Thanks to reader Eric Smith for the MusicTarget link

Related Links

MusicTarget: Lawsuit against digital copyright-protection on CDs
Fahrenheit Records: SunnComm Goes to Market with the World's First 'Cloaked CD'