Will Knight / New Scientist
Philips, the inventor of the Compact Disc, does not expect controversial attempts by the music industry to introduce CD "copy protection" technologies to last very long, because of consumer complaints.
Philips is opposed to the use of copy protection systems. The technology is designed to stop CDs playing or being copied on personal computers but it can also prevent them from playing on many normal systems.
As inventor of the CD standard and the industry's licensing body, Philips could refuse to license such copy protected discs as genuine CDs, or pursue some other legal obstruction to the practice.
But Gary Wirtz, general manager of the Philips Copyright Office at its headquarters in the Netherlands, believes that copy protection technology will fail all by itself.
"Any kind of legal action would take years and we don't expect these [discs] to last that long," Wirtz told New Scientist. "At the moment we are trying to reason with people rather than sue them."
Wirtz believes that consumer complaints should put music companies off the technique. He adds: "It's not going to work, because any hacker can still make copies. It's only going to effect legitimate consumers and we know there have already been considerable complaints."
"If anybody should know its Philips," says Jim Peters, a spokesman for the Campaign for Digital Rights, a technology-focused consumer rights groups based in the UK.
Peters says that copy protection systems infringe upon a listener's right to play music on any platform they wish. Relatively few recordings have been released with copy protection so far.
CD copy protection technologies are designed to prevent people "ripping" music for distribution via the internet. But the technique has proved controversial because protected CDs can cause problems for some older players, portable devices and in-car stereo systems. They may refuse to play or only play with errors on these machines.
CD protection systems currently involve introducing errors that PC players cannot cope with, or including confusing information in a CD's "table", which tells a player how to read its data. Critics allege that the techniques used could also impair the quality of a disc's audio content over time by making a disc less resilient to genuine errors.