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Interesting topic, this.  I'm doing a cartoon about a close topic this 

Especially on the heels of Sony's repeated flirtations with crappy 
protection and spyware on their audio CDs, and the RIAA's increasing 
of how the CD is somehow doomed to the fate of the CD single.

Think about the fact that, when CDs came out, there was no anticipation on 
the part of music companies that anyone would ever be able to play the 
in a PC.  Optical formats for the PC didn't become semi-standardized until 
the late 80s, and when the CD-R/RW format began to be used record 
were apparently caught quite by surprise.  The RIAA had been caught up 
trying to keep the DAT out of the hands of anyone not in the Big Five 
companies; manufacturers of DAT technology eventually had to give up plans 
to make the tape format into something for more than backups and 
studio-class digital recordings, and the CD-R/RW sped ahead as an 
uncontrolled medium for everyone, no matter what the RIAA tried to do.

The facts are, no copy protection scheme was ever imagined for CDs, and 
and P2P was never anticipated.  The RIAA/MPAA groups have concentrated 
efforts on the DVD as it emerged, but no copy protection methods have been 
attempted inside the US, but only overseas; no matter how incompetent they 
are at handling formats, these folks understand that a big backlash will 
occur against sales in the US if copy protection is used that gets in the 
way of people enjoying the content.  Outside the US all sorts of 
with Macrovision etc have been foisted on the public, to not much effect 
beyond not being able to have your VCR on while watching a pay-per-view 
movie.  Now Sony comes along with their BetaMaxThink ("our proprietary 
is the best, we don't need to open it up, the public will take whatever we 
give them", and other invalid bits) and the Big Show is revealed for all 

Simultaneously and with a nearly infamous absence of finesse, pundits have 
been sent out to shriek about the "end of the CD" in the same manner that 
was used on the CD Single.  Fortunately for everyone else the CD is not 
dying in the least, but according to Neilsen, is enjoying the biggest 
in 10 years.  So now that Sony's pulled a big one once again, everyone 
in the RIAA will sit back and see how bad they get ripped for all this, 
somehow I'm not sure they'll learn too much from it.

Recording technology is already in the hands of regular people, and out of 
the control zone as far as the RIAA is concerned.  Be assured that 2006 
have some interesting noises emerging from big companies in the 
entertainment biz, some of them quite alarming, though most I suspect will 
be just silly.

From: "Travis Hartnett" <travishartnett@gmail.com>
> It seems that consumers vote for "convenience" over "fidelity" in most
> cases.  Cassettes could be played in the car, didn't need to be
> flipped over every 20 minutes, and offered the option of getting a new
> album taped from a friend for the cost of a blank tape and an hour's
> time.  Improved fidelity over vinyl didn't enter into the equation,
> although I suppose they did sound better than 8-track, but they were
> smaller and didn't have that track switch every twenty minutes.
> CD's offered higher fidelity, but were more robust than vinyl (in
> terms of cleaning and proper storage), and again could be moved to the
> car, and walkman as well as the home system.  Plus, the ability to
> instantly skip over a duff track was appealing, particularly as the
> number of duff tracks seemed to be increasing...

Don't forget bumps in the road of course.  I found an additional one 
though - that of A&R people who always attempt to keep ones material out 
a listening space by claiming that the predominant format "isn't listened 
anymore".  This ploy was used before CD-Rs came along, on cassettes, and 
most likely just been rubber-stamped onto CD-R: "If they don't listen to 
in the office, forget getting any further."  The last time I heard that 
most execs I worked for had DATs in their offices, the CD players weren't 
used that much except for stuff already in their catalogues, and cassette 
decks were just vacant of media.  Now that every computer comes along with 
CD audio at LEAST, but most often a full-on DVD player (if not a 
so this line of attempted deflection doesn't really work any more.  I 
what the excuse for not listening to new material is, now?

> MP3's offered much of the convenience of CD's with the added bonus of
> decreased cost: i.e. nothing with illegal downloads.  The average
> listener doesn't really care about the difference between 128kps and
> 192, but they do appreciate $0 vs. $15 (or anything).  Plus, they take
> up less space.

I believe that the ethics of listeners hasn't changed that much from 1995, 
in that most folks don't copy or download with the intent to defraud; but 
rather with an intent to either replace lost tracks already bought, or 
listen before buying.  Most people don't discuss this a lot, and the 
RIAA/MPAA would prefer to keep their fairy stories about piracy 
Western Civilization etc in the prominent position of view, in the belief 
that over time we'll all succumb and just go along with what they want.

> Some people have suggested that switching to DVD audio would offer an
> added functionality (5.1 sound possibility, higher sampling rates,
> etc.) while making it difficult for the average listener to make
> digital copies (at least for the next year or so), but most car
> stereos won't play DVD audio, and if people just want to listen on
> their portable system (iPod or whathave you), then it's not much
> incentive.

I beg to differ on a couple of points here, though.  How difficult it 
be for the average listener to make digital copies, for instance.  It's 
fairly easy to do, without much technical knowledge, so long as you have 
software and hardware set up right.

As for "most car stereos" not playing DVD audio, just wait.  Five years 
CD players in cars were still quite subject to bumps in the road, now 
they're much better.  Given the capacity of a DVD one can imagine how 
un-jarrable the drives need to be in order to play without error.  Over in 
the UK cars are being touted as being "MP3 ready", just because the CD 
plays MP3/WMA discs.  So we've still got a ways to go before DVD audio can 
be played flawlessly in a moving vehicle.

This brings up the brief memory of the Quad version of Kraftwerk's 
"Autobahn", which came out in 8-track format in 1975, and was blamed for a 
number of accidents in cars that had Quad music systems onboard.  That bit 
with the synth car sound that went between the speakers?  In Quad it went 
AROUND where the driver sat, and caused knee-jerk reactions to what was 
happening on the tape.

> On 1/8/06, Per Boysen <per@boysen.se> wrote:
>> >
>> >
>> > 1) Should I bother to spend any more money on what the world can 
>> > already
>> > get for free?
>> But compressed digital audio files is not the same thing as the CD, is 
>> it?
>> Are you really shure the "downloaders" was going to buy the record and 
>> now
>> changed their mind beacuse of those crappy mp3 artifacts on their 
>> ;-)

Let's face it, when it comes to burning MP3s and CD audio, most folks are 
non-descriminating as they have been with tape recording.  I'll bet that 
everyone on this mailing list knows at least one person who doesn't know 
to set the record level appropriately, resulting in one of two flavors of 
audio: too soft with more hiss than music, or too loud with more 
than music.  This same lack of ability has transposed itself into the 
MP3/WMA world, with just one example being that most people don't know how 
to avoid making a bad copy.  How many of us have used Windows Media Player 
to rip from a CD while forgetting to turn off the EQ, resulting in an 
over-EQ'ed set of tracks that rivals the old tapes?

End result?  People eventually buy the legit copy to either have the legit 
copy, or to have a copy that sounds like it "should".  Unless the RIAA 
starts having us searched upon entering or leaving a retail establishment, 
whereupon it will be necessary for consumers to revolt.  Again.

Stephen Goodman
* Cartoons about DVDs and Stuff
* http://www.earthlight.net/HiddenTrack