Summary: With more and more "copy protection" technology being introduced into music CDs and other software, it's becoming increasingly difficult to create legitimate back up copies for personal use. Paul is here to let us know what our rights are, how to protect them, and what hardware/software tricks we can use to circumvent the copy protection for our own personal backups.
There is this constant state of "battle" between consumers and corporations that has been going on as long as I can remember. Used car salesmen try to put the screws to the little guy, and a lot of people end up taking it on the chin. Gas prices rise for no good reason, but we still pay the price because we think there is little we can do about it. Movie prices rise to $8 or $10 a ticket, but like lambs to the slaughter, we keep handing over our hard-earned cash to "The Man". It looks like no matter what they throw at us, when it comes to entertainment, we have no will-power at all.
First Stop: Organized Resistance
I realize individual protests only go so far, and with that in mind, I have been looking for organizations that have the right mix of attitude and professionalism, and I finally think I have found one. This group is not about piracy and not about "sticking it to the man" but addresses the issue of consumer rights in a mature, intelligent way. It may not be as "grass roots" as some may prefer, but it is a great place to start.
I was lucky enough to get a very impassioned email from a visitor to the site dealing with the concept of Fair Use. He not only provided a link, he sent the key text in the same email right from the site. He even took the time to post it in the comments section for the Ramblings 6 article on FiringSquad. You may want to check out the specifics of that text
"Many observers believe that this same "fair use" analysis applies to creating copies of legitimately-acquired songs for non-commercial personal use, such as encoding your own CD collection into MP3 files in order to manage playlists. (A 1992 law decreed that certain types of personal use copies are specifically allowed under copyright law, but this 1992 law was silent on the point of whether certain other, important types of non-commercial personal use copies are illegal.) Assuming that this type of copying is "fair use," can Audiojacker or Total Recorder be used to make these personal use copies if the technological protection measures surrounding a song would otherwise prevent copying? If the DMCA's statement that it does not affect the fair use defense is to have any real meaning, then the answer >must be yes. And, again, if these utilities can be used for legitimate purposes, then they should not be illegal."
Yes. The fair use doctrine allows an individual to make a copy of their lawfully obtained copyrighted work for their own personal use. Allowing people to make a copy of copyrighted music for their personal use provides for enhanced consumer convenience through legitimate and lawful copying. It can also enlarge the exploitable market for the rights holders. The fair use privilege's personal use right is what allows an individual to make a backup copy of their computer software as an essential defense against future media failure.
Personal use also permits music fans to make "mix tapes" or compilations of their favorite songs from their own personal music collection or the radio for their own personal enjoyment in a more convenient format, or "format shifting." Another example of acceptable personal use copying of a copyrighted work is "time-shifting," or the recording of a copyrighted program to enjoy at a later and more convenient time.
As new media present new ways for people to enjoy music, the public's fair use rights accompany them into the electronic frontier. Now, music fans have the right and ability to copy their own music collection onto their own computer storage device and create customized play lists for their own personal use and enjoyment of their music.
It is important to note that while consumers have the right to listen to their own music collection for their own personal use, they do not have the right, however, to make their music collections available to others by uploading them onto the Internet for public downloading.
Please check out the master link that they provide at the very bottom of the page shown above. It is linked to a site hosted by Stanford University, and deals with issues of fair use in a pretty comprehensive way. Go directly to it at http://fairuse.stanford.edu/
SIDEBAR: If you have any additional links relating to Fair Use and consumers, please send them to me via Email or post them in the comments section. Most of what I am writing of relates specifically to United States laws, but may reach into international waters as well over time.
Taking Back Your Rights
I have not been a piracy advocate at any point during my time as a writer, but as these jack-booted thugs that represent huge corporate entities like the RIAA have kept kicking our collective heads into the sidewalk, a fine line has developed. They are trying to shove copy protection down our throats, and are, in my opinion, now infringing on our rights to Fair Use.
More Legal Talk
Before we go further, let's cover an important point. There is a concern about recording radio broadcasts for personal use. I have found a simple passage with some links to not-so-simple passages that explains things pretty well. Start by reading the question and the answer and following the links at the end of the paragraph.
Nothing here should be construed as legal advice. Consult your lawyer or appropriate government agency. In the USA, recording radio broadcasts for personal use is arguably permitted under the "fair use" provision of copyright law, and seems clearly permitted for music broadcasts under the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. For more information, consult the Copyright FAQ at
SIDEBAR: The actions of the RIAA has upset me to such a degree that even anti-piracy advocates and music enthusiasts like me have had enough. If they want to play this "tit for tat" game of juggling the intentions of existing copyright laws, then two can play at that game. You interpret them your way, I'll interpret them mine...
Getting It Done
We've laid the groundwork. It is tentatively established that we have the right to make recordings of our LP's, Tapes and CD's, and we also have the right to copy music and broadcasts off of the radio and MTV, etc. So, that said, I'm taking the position (after much deliberation) that whenever these actions by record companies interfere with our rights to fair use, we should have the rights to circumvent them.
Once, there was Napster, and it was cool. Now, Napster is virtually dead for good, so where are you to turn? Well, you don't want to use Kazaa because of that horrible embedded distributed-computing software built into the download, which could be triggered at any time. You don't want to use Morpheus because of the turmoil with the system and also their decision to work towards redirecting web traffic to sites it makes money from. Certainly cannot trust them. So what to do?
It's All About Personal Use
Technology is so interconnected in today's world. As a result, it is hard to limit yourself to dealing only with digital music and not dealing with other digital content. Bottom line is that the law has established consumers have the right to make backup copies of software and other digital content, but copy protection being foisted upon us by these large corporations makes this difficult to do.
Getting Around The Protection
My position is again, that anything these corporations do to prevent us from exercising our rights, we have the right to undo or to get around. So, I set off to figure out how to tackle this problem and have a very good solution that should work for just about everybody.
So how do you find out which models of the Cendyne 24x10x40 are actually the Lite-On 24102B? Well, on the back of every Cendyne box should be a serial number. It is located at the bottom of the "Performance Specifications" sticker on the right-side. At the bottom you will see a barcode and a serial number underneath it. When you see a 12 digit, all numerical serial number (most start with 2 I believe), then you have on your hands the drive you need to make clean backup copies of protected disks (for personal use only of course).
SIDEBAR: I spent about 3 hours going from store to store, looking at serial numbers on the back of boxes before I strolled into a Circuit City and found a pile of 24x10x40 Cendyne drives on the shelf. I looked through the selection, found two that had the right serial number pattern and bought one for $99 on the spot. Sweet...
The Lite-On drive comes with a very nice copy of Nero 5.5, which is really coming along as an easy to use and stable product. This great software, however, is not the one you need to make clean backups of protected disks. You might also be surprised that I'm not going to recommend Clone-CD either. Nope, the magic software that I'm talking about is called CD-MATE. This friendly, easy to use software can be downloaded from their web site at for free 30 day trial of the fully functioning package. It is much more than a CD cloning package and only costs $30 US. It’s an amazing bargain.
The screens above show the great interface and the helpful Wizard. You just open up the Wizard, choose to read the CD to an image file, hit the "Next" button and check out the options. The screen below-left shows the very nice Wizard Presets that are available to you with a few mouse clicks. No more hunting down the best set of command line parameters or check box preferences; CD-Mate does it all for you!
The final screen, the one above-right, is the Write dialog. Notice the S.A.M checkbox on the page. This box is helpful if you don't have a Lite-On 24102B and need help reading EFM correctly. It is akin to Amplify Weak Sectors (AWS) and is not enabled if the web browser language is configured for USA or Japan for legal reasons. To make sure you are in compliance, you may wish to confirm what web browser language settings you have. To do this, start up Internet Explorer, and choose the following: Tools, Internet Options, Languages. If it turns out that your language zone is not there, say for instance you live in Canada and it says United States, choose the Add button to find the language setting that is right for you.
The Last Word
There you go. I've told you in the past about SmartRipper, which helps you backup your DVD's, and now I'm going forward to tell you about taking care of the RIAA and copy protected data CD's. It's all about walking the talk, and the actions of the big companies have helped prod me into stepping it up a notch. I hope this information helps you get a handle on things. Feel free to send me information via Email and I'll do what I can to act on it. I can't respond to all the mail that comes in, but I'll do what I can to acknowledge helpful tips.
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