Study: Consumers shun copy-protected CDs

Music companies thinking of distributing copy-protected CDs to protect their content from piracy will likely raise the ire of consumers while lowering their revenue, a new study warns.

According to a survey recently released by GartnerG2, the research service of Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner Inc., 77 percent of respondents thought they should be able to copy CDs for personal use in another device, while 60 percent said they should be able to give copies of CDs to members of their families.

Meanwhile, 82 percent of respondents said that they should be able to copy CDs for personal backup purposes.

The results fly in the face of efforts by the music industry to gain tighter control over their content as they face the perilous, infinite possibilities for copying in the digital age. But while the ghost of such free file-sharing services as Napster Inc. still haunt the halls of Hollywood, Gartner discovered that consumers do not think copy-protected CDs are the answer.

Not only do the copy-protected CDs limit users options -- preventing them to make a copy of the CD to play in their car, for example, just as one could with a cassette tape -- they also limit their mobility. In some cases, the protected CDs cannot even be played in more than one of the consumer's CD players.

These restrictions are likely to frustrate users, possibly resulting in a decline in revenue for the record companies, the researcher said.

But while consumers are perturbed with this solution, the study found that 74 percent of those surveyed believed that if the music companies must distribute copy-protected CDs, they should contain warning labels.

GartnerG2 conducted the online study of 1,005 U.S. adults, 18 years or older, and 1,009 teens, ages 13 to 17, in July of 2002.

While the music industry has raised the issue of copy-protected CDs in recent months, few CDs have so far been released with the copy protections included. However, as the industry faces growing piracy thanks to consumers added ability to make perfect digital copies of music by burning CDs, such measures could become more widespread.

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