I bought the new Dave Matthews Band CD “Stand Up” today. I love DMB – they are always good to listen to when I am stressed at work or school. However, today was different. I put the CD in my computer to rip it to my iPod, and that is when my troubles began….
SonyBMG has the CD copy protected. I could not rip Stand Up to my iPod. In fact, the only way I could listen to at all was to agree to a license agreement that popped up when you start the CD. Since iTunes and WMP played garbled crap, I elected to accept the license agreement so I could hear the music. This was a mistake, DO NOT accept the license agreement. It allows MediaMax to load software on your computer, from that point on you are totally screwed.
MediaMax controls the licensing of protected WMA files that can only be downloaded to your PC via the DMB web interface. Once loaded, they will only play on WMP. Great – I use iTunes. This is a friggen joke.
With persistence, you can get a license from Sony to make a backup CD and then burn the backup CD to MP3 so that it will play on your iPod. Of course, if Sony allows me to do this process, why not just let me rip to MP3 in the first place? There is a good reason, they don't tell you there is significant quality loss! The music sounds like a cheap radio copy.
By this time I am totally steamed – I’ve spent an hour playing by their rules only to be rewarded with exceeding crappy results. (Did I mention that I had to retype the MP3 tags?)
By this time, I am looking into hacking the CD – I find the driver for MediaMax and contemplate a lobotomy using regedit. I have had mixed results with this technique in the past and prefer to work on a test system instead of my main personal computer, so I nix the idea.. I dived into a googling the issue by filtered through a great many people struggling with the same issue. Then, on antsmarching.com, I hit pay dirt. J. Alex Halderman of the department of Computer Science at Princeton University had published a paper on this lame-ass technique in October of 2003. Sure enough – his solution worked.
I was able to rip using iTunes and I am now listening to “Stand Up” – I’ll post a review later after the angry little man as left my head. I had purchased “Stand Up” and Weezer’s new “Make Believe” earlier in the day. Weezer had ripped with no problems. Stand Up took 2 hours – Dave Matthews Band, Sony Music, MediaMax – I want my time back. Please send a check for $300 to Mojoey!
When confronted with the ethical dilemma of buying original music and then ripping it for my collection or stealing it from the web and adding it to my collection, lame-ass copy protection schemes help make the decision very easy. Wise up Sony.
Final thought – DMB – this is reprehensible. Of all bands, I would have expected much better from DBM.