Music Exec

More wheel Spinning Dept.

Reader and contgributor Michael Fielder gives us this crontribution. He’s not the only one complaining. This is a disaaster done for no apparent reason. You cannot play this is your PC without installing some sort of special software that does who-knows-what.


I just wanted to bring to your attention that the just released “Stand Up” CD by the Dave Matthews Band is encrypted so that you can’t play or record it on your computer unless you download a digital key from SunComm. When you do get the digital key, it only lets you play downloaded .wma files, which are compressed. You cannot get .wav files. The CD does play full bandwidth on a normal CD player. I wrote a letter, which I have enclosed below, to SunComm complaining about this. In looking at their site, there are about 50 other cd’s that have been encrypted like this. Bottom line is that the media police are at it again, and the consumer is the loser. Maybe you could address this in one of your columns in PC Magazine. You can also tell by looking at the back of the cd that something is strange just by looking at the pattern on it.

Your ticket 011912 has been Answered

Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your purchase of the Dave Matthews CD and apologize for any inconvenience.

Please note that due to the fact that some portable devices allow for the uploading of mp3 and wav files (note: these are un-secure file formats) to P to P sharing networks, MediaMax only supports those players that can play secure WMA files which do not allow for further transferring. We would like to suggest that you check your player’s tech support site to see if there are any firmware updates available.

Please let us know if we can assist you further.

Thank you.


SunnComm Tech Support

I use the Creative Media Player. My gripe is going to be: I would rather have full bandwidth with .wav files. This appears to only give me limited bandwidth .wma files; yes, I can hear the difference. This cd is of no use to me if I can’t transfer the files as .wav files to my computer. I have a collection of about 4,000 cd’s and never allow anyone to copy them, and copies I make are for my own purposes (my listening pleasure). If I am not understanding something, please set me straight, but if I all can copy is .wma files, this cd will go back to the place I bought it, and I will boycott your products. I have worked in the media industry for 35 years, and this is carrying things too far.

  1. Oscar Papel says:

    Did you specifically grant permission for any software on the CD to run on your computer? Is there a “breaking this seal means you agree” sticker on the CD? I’m no lawyer but I’m pretty sure that your civil liberties have been violated otherwise. It is NOT reasonable to assume that there will be a foreign program run when you insert an audio CD. Audio CD’s are widely held to be just data.

    What happens when you place the CD in a Mac? or in a Linux box? or even a PC running Windows 3.1?

    Since the data files are protected WMA’s, is there a disclaimer on the CD that the CD is compatible with XP only?

    Since the CD plays on a regular CD player, the first session on the CD MUST be intact and in an unsecured format. Therefore, as a security protection mechanism, this is very weak. It will do nothing to stop those that want to bypass the protection while at the same time infuriate the casual user. This seems to be a specialty of the music industry! I can’t imagine another industry that is trying so hard to drive away it’s customers.

    Oscar Papel

  2. Adam says:

    Will it play on a Mac? Of course there’s always the old solution of Audacity and a line-in cable.


  3. gquaglia says:

    Thank you for contacting us. We appreciate your purchase of the Dave Matthews CD and apologize for any inconvenience.

    Please note that due to the fact that some portable devices allow for the uploading of mp3 and wav files (note: these are un-secure file formats) to P to P sharing networks, MediaMax only supports those players that can play secure WMA files which do not allow for further transferring. We would like to suggest that you check your player’s tech support site to see if there are any firmware updates available.

    Please let us know if we can assist you further.”

    Thank you for buying our CD and helping to put more money in the pocket of our CEO, he really needed the money to buy his 3rd house at the shore. We really feel sorry that you can’t do what you want with the CD the you just BOUGHT, but too bad, we make the rules and you will obey.

    The only way this nonsence will stop is if consumers stop buying these CDs. Otherwise it will be business as usual with the Fat Cats dictating what we can do with something we PAYED for.”

  4. Chris says:

    I almost bought this CD a couple of weeks ago. On a whim, I read the warnings, then put it back onthe shelf. No I almost want to download it just out of spite.

  5. Chris says:

    And another funny thing is that they provide full instructions on how to get this CD into the iPod. The instructions are basically burn WMA files to a new cd and rerip to the iPod on a Mac. Nice and secure from P2P networks. 🙂

  6. Ima Fish says:

    I have no problem with the industry doing this, as long as the CD is marked as such. For example:

    This CD limits your fair use rights.


    Buy this and you’ll get screwed out of your Constitutional rights.


    Our right to screw you out of every last dime trumps any Constitutional rights you may have.

    You get the idea. As long as the consumer is fully informed, I have no problem.

  7. Miguel Lopes says:

    “You can also tell by looking at the back of the cd that something is strange just by looking at the pattern on it.”

    Can we see a scan of the CD os something to that effect? For us to know what to avoid.

    Like other ‘protection’ schemes that treat us consumers as criminals, the way to act is to NOT BUY them. Simply. Vote with your money. Let these idiots see that greed is bad.

  8. Anthony says:

    One major thing I don’t understand.

    This band has released music directly to Kazaa before it was shut down. He has also made it clear he fully supports such applications.

    So why is he releasing such a CD?

    Am I the only one highly confused? Don’t get me wrong. A artist has the right to protect their music any way they see fit. It just seems he has made a 180 degree turn in regard to his stance on music sharing.

  9. Daniel says:

    First, I am shocked that somebody hasn’t hacked it yet.

    Second, isn’t this the first step towards forward integration into a napster-like subscription model? I think it is crude, but the signs are there. Napster went nuts trying to figure out a way to keep people subscribed. What’s keeping the RIAA, once they get realistic, from just putting their whole catalog out and charging for subscriptions?

    Digital Rights Management has always creeped me out.

    The moral of the story is that machine is kicking in, starting to learn how to control our behavior on this new front. Ready?

  10. Josef says:


    only once did I buy a protected CD (well, it was actually a gift from my mother) and since I do not have a hi-fi and play my CDs from my Linux box I wanted to return that crap immediately.
    But since I loved that music a lot I did circumvent the protection and burnt a standard audio CD.
    But now the protections are getting more and more intricate and I swear not to buy any protected CD again.
    I can almost hear them crying that pirates and P2P networks kill music…

  11. Chris says:

    I recently purchased this CD and the fact is that the rights protection is only on the ‘additional content’ included on the CD. I popped the CD into my PC (which has CD autoplay disabled, natch) and ripped it with iTunes straight away no problem. I paid to get the 14 songs ($9.99 @ Target) and could care less about the ‘extra’ stuff on the disc. I’ve had no problems playing the disc in my car or in my home stereo system.

    Now, if they start messing around with the plain audio tracks I’ll be pissed too.

  12. Chris says:

    I just went back and monkey’d with the CD a bit in a VMWare session, and does seem that there is DRM on the music tracks if you allow the disc to install the Suncomm ‘driver’. I’ll reiterate that I had no issues ripping the disc with iTunes…just don’t install the DRM garbage and it seems that you’re OK.

    Now I too am somewhat pissed at DMB.

  13. AFD says:

    Great business model.. offer less quality and functionality, while keeping the product overpriced like normal CDs. I absolutely refuse to use online music services after actually listening to the horrible quality of the poorly encoded WMAs they release. Completely worthless format, with or without the evil DRM licensing.

    Here’s an article about how Suncomm threatened to sue a Princeton student that published a paper describing the incredibly simple method to defeat their “copy-protection.” Not sure if this method applies to their current technology or not.

  14. Matt says:

    Yeah treating your customer like this will keep them coming back for more and it just shows you the far superior product you get from the record labels vs the P2P networks.

    What a bunch of ignorant pigs…

  15. Pat says:

    I am of two minds on this issue.

    First, when you buy a CD, you don’t buy the music. You only buy the right to listen to the music. The artist, producer, and publisher all retain their rights to that music. They may offer to allow you the ability to enjoy hearing that music in any way they choose. That may be on vinyl, a compact disk, mini CD, or on computer storage, in analogue or digital format. As the owners, they may attach such conditions, as they deem sufficient, within the limits of the law.

    If you don’t like the format or conditions attached to the music then you do not have to buy the vehicle that holds it.

    Take it or leave it.

    Second, if the music industry continues to alienate and frustrate their customers and fans then they will continue to see sales decline. I often listen to CDs as I work at my computer and my computer is not in the same room as the stereo. And NO, I will not install more software that I do not know about to listen to a CD I just bought.

    Then there is the price. When they first appeared, it was understood that CDs cost more then vinyl records. As the production process matured though, CD prices do not appear to have come down. And cases of music artists getting rich from music sales are rare.

    Sell it or keep it.


    I believe that CD sales have declined over the last few years because there are no real “super stars”. If anything, music sharing has probably helped sales.

    Recorded music has been with us for over a century now. It has gone from scratchy wax cylinders to very high fidelity digital storage. It wasn’t until Elvis Presley, in the mid-50s, that the music industry, including both hardware and recordings started booming. In the mid 60s, domestic playback equipment improved as consumers wanted to hear the superstars; the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Judy Collins, and many others, in true splendor. In the 70s there were super bands such as Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and Pink Floyd driving the listening experience. We used 8-tracks and later cassette players in our cars. Into the 80s we got Madonna, U2, and Michael Jackson. Into the 90s the super stars declined and it was the changeover from vinyl to CDs that continued to fuel the music industry. After everyone’s collections were changed over and no super stars came along, the industry stopped growing at the rates it had become used to.

    Personally, my wife and I own over 2,000 CDs, cassette tapes and vinyl albums purchased from the early 80s to the present. Yet, neither of us feels any urge to purchase more then three or four albums a year as there just isn’t much we really care for out there. I don’t want to hear another Rolling Stone or Eagles Greatest Hits collection.

    Until we get another group like the Beatles, or Michael Jackson to fuel the music buying public, sales will continue to decline. I doubt that such a super star(s) will appear as the music industry has fragmented into so many different tastes that no one could appeal to most people. There are lots of very good music groups out there already and more trying to make it. But ordinary does not cut it. We need inspiration.

  16. Chad Hart says:

    Hey everyone,
    Read about this system here:

    You can get around it by holding down the shift-key, etc.

  17. Richard says:

    No One should waste thier money on CD”s or poor quality mp3 at a buck a pop.
    The industry is just too greedy.
    The smart move is Sirius or XM Radio.
    The units are now handheld. You can listen to anything you want.and the quality is excellent.

  18. James says:

    Ohhh Ohhh… easy one, I got it…. this is a very easy fix, REFUSE TO BUY IT!! Period. When they can’t sell them perhaps they will decide its easier to let you do what you want with the CDs you buy.

  19. Miguel Lopes says:

    They want our money more badly than we want their music.

  20. T.C. Moore says:

    “Fair Use” is not a Constitutional right.

    It is granted in the Trademark and Copyright laws.

  21. anonymous Canadian says:

    Even on a Windows box with autorun enabled, I think that you can just hold down SHIFT when you insert the CD to prevent it from installing malware on your computer:

  22. Jeff says:

    Your ticket 017198 has been Answered

    Thank you for contacting us Jeff. We appreciate your purchase of thie Dave Matthews Band CD and apologize for any


    The software on this disc is only directly compatible with specific secure formats and portable devices as detailed on the back of the CD packaging as well in the interface on the disc.

    That said, there is still a way to get content onto portable devices that are not directly compatible with the disc at this time. Please follow the instructions below in order to do so:

    If you have a Mac computer you can copy the songs using your standard media player as you would normally do.

    If you have a PC place the CD into your computer and allow the CD to automatically start. If the CD does not automatically start, open your Windows Explorer, locate the drive letter for your CD drive and double-click on the LaunchCD.exe file located on your CD.

    Once the application has been launched and the End User License Agreement has been accepted, you click the Copy Songs button /icon.

    Follow the instructions to copy the secure Windows Media Files (WMA) to your PC. Make a note of where you are copying the songs to, you will need to get to these secure Windows Media Files in the next steps.

    Once the WMA files are on your PC you can open and listen to the songs with Windows Media Player 9.0 or higher or any compatible player that can play secure Windows Media files, such as MusicMatch, RealPlayer, and Winamp.

    Using any of the compatible players noted above, you can then burn the songs to a CD. Please note that in order to burn the files, you need to upgrade to or already have Windows Media Player 9, MusicMatch 8, or Media Center 10.

    Once the CD has been burned, place the copied CD back into your computer and open the media player you normally use for ripping and transferring files to your portable device. You can now rip the songs as you would a normal CD.

    Please note an easier and more acceptable solution requires cooperation from the various digital rights management and portable device companies. SONY BMG has already reached out to many of the companies in hopes of addressing this issue. To help speed this effort, we ask that you contact your device manufacturer and ask them to provide a solution that would easily allow you to move content from protected CDs onto your device rather than having to go through the additional steps above.

    Please let us know if we can assist you further.

    Thank you,


    SunnComm Tech Support

    I want to put my music on to my psp. but i think that the psp can only support mp3s instead of wma

    mp3 baby!

  23. Terantula says:

    Well… With that kind of inconvienance and hi cost for low album lengths and tracks, its no wonder the world is turning to P2P programs to get the full 80mins that the average cdr holds at quality.

    After all… what happened to that EXTRA TAX that was applied to blank CD-R’s to compensate the “Fat cat” for custom cd’s… now they say we can’t do that… hrmmm…

    Guess nobody said that “Fat cat” was a “smart cat” eh?

    Love from Canada


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