Copy protection CDs hit Australian shores

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has urged the music industry to ensure all copy protected CDs display a warning that they can’t be copied.

The announcement follows the arrival of the first copy protected CD to be sold in Australia this week, Robbie Williams’ ‘Escapology’, distributed by EMI Music.

The copy protection technology prevents the CDs from being copied digitally with CD writers, but does not prevent analog copying.

While the ACCC welcomed the initiative, chairman Professor Allan Fels said the watchdog will be focussed on ensuring manufacturers, retailers and importers do the right thing by consumers by informing them of any restrictions on what can be done with a copy protected CD.

“Where the performance characteristics of a CD are being changed it would be appropriate to place a warning to consumers on the outer packaging of the disc in order to draw their attention to that change,” he said.

Paul Robinson, chief operating officer of EMI Australia, said the ‘Escapology’ album displayed a warning.

“The CDs are clearly marked to make consumers aware, using a sticker with the official worldwide Copy Control icon, and further details of compatibility are printed on the back cover,” he said.

“To this end, we will be starting to copy-protect all material.

“The technology has been thoroughly tested to be compatible with CD players and PCs. Details of compatibility are printed on the back cover.”

Robinson said ‘Escapology’ was the only EMI album with copy protection in Australia, and he was not aware of any protected CDs being sold by other distributors.

Robinson said EMI had to date received no reports from retailers of ‘Escapology’ being returned.

Australian copyright law forbids consumers from copying CDs, even for personal use.

Asked for EMI’s response to any consumer complaints about the loss of the ability to use CD writers with some CDs, Robinson said, “It is and always has been an illegal act to copy CDs.”

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