Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo


Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

{ action.text }

… for revealing that the shift key will defeat its copy protection on MediaMax CDs.

I am not making this up! According to an article by Tony Smith in The Register (a publication that you should be reading), SunComm has threatened to sue Alex Halderman for revealing that the Windows autorun facility doesn’t run if you hold down the shift key when inserting a CD.

The company claimed that this “shift key” technique was a violation of the anti-circumvention terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. (It probably was, given how poorly the act is written.)

For people who haven’t been following this, you should know that the companies that have licensed this technology, including BMG, thought that people would be deterred if an Autorun program runs when they insert the CD into their computer to “rip” it.

(“Rip” stands for Raster Image Processing, and it’s actually a term from the prepress industry, but don’t get me started. Lawmakers think that the term means “rip off.”)

In any event, other anti-computer CD measures have had similar failings, like the technology that could be defeated with a magic marker.

Sigh. Don’t the record companies realize that if you are going to put high-value content on an unprotected, unencrypted legacy media designed in the 1970s, people are going to help themselves to it?

More importantly, don’t they realize that it is our music once we buy it?

Well, the good news is that SunnComm changed its mind a day later, according to this News.Com article by Declan McCullagh.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives


Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me