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Chris to Virgin: I’m back, but I’m not happy

So I caved on the whole Virgin Records can go fuck itself thing… the new A Perfect Circle album just couldn’t be passed up. The copy control mechanism is still a crock of shit (though they’ve added Mac support to their ridiculous software–based CD player and resolved whatever issues my MP3CD player was having with the discs), but I can’t do without this album in my collection, so I won’t be returning it.

The solution to my woes, I’ve found, is to just download the fucking tracks. I’ve paid for them, I have the CD and the receipt right here, so if they want to sue me for using a P2P network to acquire useful copies of my music they can go right ahead. Something I strongly believe the record labels should do, though, is work closely with Apple for a new feature to the iTunes Music Store: download vouchers.

With a voucher system in place, not unlike the KMart gift certificates your aunt keeps giving you for your birthday, record labels could ‘give’ (read: sell, included in the price of the CD you just paid for anyway) digital copies of their music. I picture it working a little like this: the labels stick a slip of paper inside every copy–controlled CD’s jewel case; a piece of paper with a unique, single–use–only code on it; a piece of paper that allows you to mosey on over to the iTMS and download a digital copy of that CD… complete with Apple’s FairPlay DRM. The end user still can’t share the music, but it does give them the ability to play the music on their computer and their iPod. The record labels are already chummy enough with Apple, why can’t we make this work?

You might ask “why wouldn’t they just download the album from the iTMS in the first place?”, and you’d probably be making a very good point. My answer to this, of course, is that I prefer to be able to flip through the booklet that comes with the CD and appreciate the artwork; whatever digital artwork is provided along with an iTMS track is a poor substitute. My other answer is that the iTMS is currently not available outside the US… but that doesn’t wash with my voucher idea so we’ll gloss over it for now and get back to downloading ‘illegal’ copies of A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step.


One particularly accommodating OpenFT user (note: Poisoned rocks) has enabled me to enjoy Thirteenth Step, in high–fidelity, no–crackling, beautifully–captured audio in record time. To that anonymous user, I tip my hat. Thanks for the bandwidth.

Colin Devroe was quick to suggest something to me that is even better than a voucher system. It’s roughly the same principle; but instead of a paper–and–entry–code system, iTunes identifies discs that can’t be played or ripped in the conventional fashion (i.e. identifies copy–controlled discs) and automagically (according to user preference, of course… and subject to iTMS availability) downloads the tracks. Beautiful.