Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Did Recording Industry Intend Compact Discs (CDs) to Have Copy Protection? ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Did Recording Industry Intend Compact Discs (CDs) to Have Copy Protection?
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Music
Asked by: lobeman-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 20 Aug 2002 06:09 PDT
Expires: 19 Sep 2002 06:09 PDT
Question ID: 56500
I remember reading an online article a couple months ago, which said
that one of the reasons the recording industry so strongly introduced
CDs, was that they believed they would be uncopyable (or less copyable
than tapes, 8-tracks, et al, as existed back in 1983). 

--Is this true? Did the recording industry really intend CDs to be
uncopyable? Did they state this in 1982, 1983, when it was introduced?
(And was there any difference in opinion between the different
players, e.g. content vs technology (Warner Music vs. Sony
Subject: Re: Did Recording Industry Intend Compact Discs (CDs) to Have Copy Protection?
Answered By: lot-ga on 20 Aug 2002 13:45 PDT
Hello lobeman-ga

Having worked for Philips Audio division, the CD was invented by
Philips, not Sony. Philips innovations include inventing the Compact
Cassette, CD-I / VCD, CD-R, CD-RW, DCC and codeveloping some DVD
Philips to my knowledge never meant the CD to be copy protected.
DCC and DVD however are protected.

The industry has always known that the compact cassette was able to
perform a recording, including one of a CD. (A recording of a DVD to
VHS tape is copy protected). The recording and electronics industry in
the early 1980’s obviously thought at that time, a perfect CD copy was
of little threat and or at least very difficult, certainly Philips
did, and some less educated industry sources 'may' have foolishly
thought it was perhaps 'protected'. The music industry was preoccupied
in promoting the virtues of CD; Smaller size, easier track
selection,‘better’ sound quality, dust proof, no ‘hiss’ etc, and
increasing their revenues by re-releasing recordings previously on
vinyl onto CD, than worrying about copy protection.

An excerpt from one of Sony’s websites
Describes that in the early 1990’s a CD recordable drive cost over
$100,000 -
“Of the writable CD technology, Compact Disc Recordable (CD-R)
technology was developed to meet the demand from the industry. In the
early 1990s, the first CD-R drive was introduced at the price of over
US$100,000 and the size of the machine was huge.”
So even if the recording or electronics industry had the benefit of
this information ten years earlier (by way of a fortune teller or time
traveller), I really doubt that anyone would think that the perfect CD
copy threat was strong.
Infact the music industry was much more threatened by the introduction
of the digital tape from Sony DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and Philips DCC
(Digital Compact Cassette) than of CD-R, as this was a ‘tangible
threat’ an audio tape to become a possible replacement for the
traditional ‘analog’ compact cassette.


“Enter: Sony's Digital Audio Tape (DAT). In the late 1980's, DAT
technology was hailed as the next leap forward in music recording
format.  As with compact discs, the technology is such that there is
no distinction between an original and a copied (or pirated) version
of a recording. Naturally, the recording industry feared further
erosion of revenues since there would be little consumer cost
incentive to purchase original work”

“Philips Electronics brought its own version of digital audio tape to
market just subsequent to Sony's DAT. The DCC format incorporates...
copy deterrent called the Serial Copy Management System (SCMS), which
prevents multigenerational digital copying of the same master.”

“In 1992, Congress enacted the Audio Home Recording Act ("AHRA") in
response to problems created by the advent of digital technology,
digital audio replication and the Digital Audio Tape ("DAT") in
particular. The AHRA "is arguably the most significant piece of record
industry-related legislation of the modern era."  The AHRA came into
existence more or less because the recording industry predicted that
DAT technology would lead to colossal revenue losses.

The recording industry initiated a suit against the DAT manufacturers
for contributory copyright infringement and the manufacturers
counterclaimed for refusal to release pre-recorded material on the DAT
format.  Eventually, fearing tremendous losses on both sides, the
parties settled.”

“The AHRA was intended to balance the privacy interest of consumers
with the compensatory interests of copyright holders and the
technological advancement interests of the electronics industry. The
legislature accomplished this in two ways. First, a royalty scheme
(essentially a tax) on all digital recording devices and media was
implemented in an effort to compensate copyright holders for lost
revenues. The collected monies are placed into a fund and distributed
among those having an interest in a copyrighted musical work.  The
Alliance of Artists and Recording Companies ("AARC"), a non-profit
organization, is an example of a common agent for filing and receipt
of royalty funds.  In exchange, the music industry agreed to allow all
non-commercial home recording of copyrighted works without pursuing
legal reprisal.  Thus, consumers can now freely record compact discs
on to analog tape for personal use in a personal tape player (i.e.

The second way in which Congress attempted to alleviate piracy fears
was to require a unique and ingenious copy prevention system on all
digital audio recording devices.  Serial Copy Management System
(SCMS), originally designed by Philips Electronics, is an encoding
technique, which prevents second generation copying from a
pre-recorded digital source. In other words, it prevents making copies
of a copy of an original source. The Copyright Act prescribes that it
is illegal to manufacture, distribute or import any digital audio
recording device that does not incorporate the SCMS.”

“The AHRA expressly prohibits copyright infringement actions against
consumers for non-commercial digital copying of musical recordings.”
Which leaves a big loop hole, allowing consumers to copy their

The following is an excerpt which highlights the complacency of the
recording / music industry from “Creativity and ownership:
where is the balance?” by Ram Samudrala, Ph.D. June 1998
“Copyright and the music industry 

A few years after the copyright in sound recordings was first
instituted (in 1971) cassette tapes began replacing vinyl records.
Given the ease with which it could be done, home recording of tapes
from vinyl records began to flourish. The recording industry attempted
to introduce several technologies that would abridge the ability to
make cassette tapes from vinyl records.

One of the most publicised attempts by the industry was to introduce a
"spoiler signal". When encoded with a such a signal, a vinyl record
taped to a cassette would result in a high-pitched noise whenever the
tape was played back. When recording artists started objecting to this
(Elvis Costello released his album Almost Blue with a sticker
indicating that it didn't contain a spoiler signal), the industry gave
up this effort.

Contrary to industry expectations, home taping did not detract from
the sale of vinyl records and the industry as a whole enjoyed massive
profits through the late 70s and the early 80s. Industry pundits
attributed this to the fact that people who heard tapes of music they
liked, which provided a convenient means of distribution, went on to
purchase the vinyl version (which is superior in quality).”

The new generation digital tape formats were seen as a threat as they
were audio ‘tape’ and the launch prices were affordable. The CD
recordable drives were not marketed as ‘audio’ products as such and
marketed as computer equipment for data, whereas the DAT and DCC
drives were destined specifically for the audio market. Even today,
there are not many companies who do sell a ‘audio’ CD recordable
device, - the standard compact cassette recording mechanism remains
the default mechanism in portables, midi’s and sound systems.

The home PC market in the early 1980’s was not established, so it is
not surprising that only audio related recording devices were seen as
a threat.
The CD recordable has crept up on the music industry through a ‘back
door’ via the PC platform, and as legislation felt that non-commercial
recordings were acceptable, it added more complacency.

emedia “Copying Music to CD: The Right, the Wrong, and the
Law” by Robert A. Starrett February 1998

The AHRA itself left a ‘loophole’:
“The Act specifically excludes media and recorders that are "primarily
marketed and most commonly used... for making copies of nonmusical
literary works, including computer programs and databases." To fall
under the Act, recorders must be "designed or marketed for the primary
purpose of... making a digital audio-copied recording for private use"
and of course CD recordable drives weren’t!
“CD recorder manufacturers have generally taken the position that
their recorders are not designed or marketed primarily for the purpose
of making digital audio copies and are professional model products.
CD-R media, likewise, is primarily marketed and most commonly used for
copying computer programs and databases.”

Personal CD copies on CD-R drives are an irritant to the recording
industry, however the main concern to the record industry in regard to
CD copying was the alarming combined use of the internet, popularity
of the MP3 format and players from 1998, and the increased processor
power of PC’s enabling uses to ‘rip’ their own MP3’s into this smaller
and easily distributable format. This coupled with broadband access
this century, facilitated fast and easy file sharing using peer to
peer file sharing from services like Napster in the late 1990’s. To
add a nail in the coffin, electronics manufacturers this century now
produce hardware MP3 players and audio CD players which can play MP3
It would have been difficult for somebody or anybody in the early
1980’s to predict the above, hence the rather relaxed attitude to copy
protection or false sense of security in the early 1980's. Many would
not have even predicted the popularity of the world wide web in 1983
let alone the rise of an MP3.

The following article highlights the fact that the recording industry
was aware that CD’s were not free of risk from piracy or copying, and
have been accused of negligence with failure to take care of the
interests of the artists or Plaintiffs:
“Plaintiffs vs. Record company Defendants”
“Negligence and Gross Negligence 

84. Beginning as early as 1982, when audio files on CD's disks first
became commercially available, there arose a risk of digital music
"piracy," which results when unauthorized duplicate digital "clones"
are made of the audio files on the CD's, which are themselves in
effect "masters" of the digital audio files.

85. Since 1982, as CD recording devices have become more affordable
and more user-friendly, the risk of digital music piracy has increased

86. Beginning as early as 1982, the record company defendants were in
fact aware, or reasonably should have been aware, of the risk of music
piracy stemming from the digital mastering of music, and the resulting
adverse impact upon the trailing royalty payments to plaintiffs and
the other members of the Class.

87. Defendants were under a duty to take reasonable care to protect
plaintiffs and the other members of the Class from digital music

88. Since 1998, digital audio files were available in a format that
permitted downloading or broadcasting (known as "streaming") over the

89. Beginning as early as 1998, all defendants were in fact aware, or
reasonably should have been aware, of the risk that downloadable or
streamable digital audio files would adversely impact the rights of
plaintiffs and the other members of the Class to trailing royalty

90. Defendants were under a duty to protect the copyrights which they
claim to have to the digital audio files from digital music piracy,
and to take all steps reasonably necessary to protect against digital
music piracy, in the form of clones of the digital "masters" on CD's
as well as in the form of audio files in downloadable or streamable

91. Despite actual or constructive knowledge of the risk of digital
music piracy, defendants, in order to further their own economic
interests and in deliberate, reckless, grossly negligent, or negligent
disregard for the economic interests of plaintiffs and the other
members of the Class, caused, permitted, or facilitated the
manufacture, distribution, and/or sale of CD's containing digital
audio files without adequate protection against digital music piracy.

92. Despite actual or constructive knowledge of the risk of digital
music piracy, defendants, in order to further their own economic
interests and in deliberate, reckless, grossly negligent, or negligent
disregard of the economic interests of plaintiffs and the other
members of the Class, caused, permitted, or facilitated the
availability and/or distribution of digital audio files capable of
conversion into, or already in, downloadable or streamable form.”

However the industry has now wised up, and has introduced some copy
protection into audio CD’s (at last) like ‘key2audio’
“Using highest quality and ensuring best compatibility, key2audio was
developed to support the music industry in protecting its music from
illegal duplication and copyright infringement. Without altering the
music data stream, key2audio CD's still offer crystal clear sound and
no read fault errors.

During glass mastering, several special hidden signatures, similar to
a unique fingerprint, are applied outside the music data area. These
signatures can neither be duplicated by CD-R/RW burners, nor by
professional glass mastering systems.

Audio discs protected with the current version cannot be recognised by
standard CD/DVD-ROM, CD-R and CD-RW drives, thus they do not play on
PC, Apple Macintosh or other systems equipped with CD-ROM, CD-R,
CD-RW, DVD-ROM and DVD-R devices. This ensures the highest efficiency
currently available. Due to the fact that key2audio™ protected discs
do not play on PC, no ripping is possible. Analogue copies, on the
contrary, can be made to any analogue devices. (eg MC).

key2audio does not alter the sound quality in any way. Music data is
not accessed, the bitstream is exactly the same for a protected and an
unprotected CD (no C2 errors/uncorrectables in the music data). Only
the copier notices a difference, for the listener, the sound remains
the same.”
Oh and lastly... they should have stuck to the vinyl records, I don’t
believe any one could have performed a one to one copy of them, unless
you have an injection moulding machine occupying most of your front
room ;-)

Search strategy:

sony phillips copy piracy "recording industry" introduction OR launch
"compact disc"
piracy "introduction of the compact  disc"
blank tape levy

sony phillips copy piracy "music industry" introduction OR launch
"compact disc"
cd recordable copyright sony music "industry"
"compact disc" vinyl advantages 1983 OR 1982 "music industry" OR
"recording industry" reasons introducing cd

If you need any clarification, just ask.
kind regards 
There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy