June 21, 2005

Is This Legal?

by Guest Contributor

[Jed Sorokin-Altmann] I was under the impression that CD is not just a generic term for the shiny silver discs with music on them, but rather referred to a specific format, currently owned by Philips although developed by both Sony and Philips.

Ah -- as I was writing this, I looked up an article on the Red Book Standard (audio CD standard) over at Wikipedia, and I was right.

Red Book is the standard for audio CDs (Compact Disc Digital Audio system, or CDDA). It is named after one of a set of colour-bound books that contain the technical specifications for all CD and CD-ROM formats.

Recently, some major recording publishers have begun to sell discs that violate the Red Book standard for the purposes of copy prevention. Philips has warned them that including the Compact Disc Digital Audio logo on such non-conforming discs may constitute trademark infringement; either in anticipation or in response, the long-familiar logo is no longer to be seen on many recent CDs.

Given this, I don't understand this article by Jeff Leeds titled, "New Software May Sink Music Pirates: Sony BMG rolls out CDs that restrict copying." Sony is putting copy protection software on a wide assortment of its CDs, limiting the potential number of copies to three. Furthermore, Sony is trying to pressure Apple to amend its software to work with the DRM in limiting such copying.

Has the copyright infringement claim that Wikipedia referenced already been resolved? If not, isn't it tremendously irresponsible for Sony to implement such software on its CDs? I would think that not only might Philips gain more damages should they sue Sony over infringing on their format, but also, consumers might be able to successfully sue Sony for false advertisement or some other tort claim. After all, if an audio CD is defined by the Red Book Standard, and Sony is selling audio CDs that do not meet that standard, I would argue that it's a bait and switch. Consumers think they are buying an audio CD, it's advertised, packaged, and sold as an audio CD, but in fact, they are buying something else. Heck -- I'd be surprised if a class action suit didn't arise out of this.

June 21, 2005 12:47 AM | TrackBack

I wonder if this has anything to do with the "DualDisc" that one apparently MUST buy in order to get certain albums.

Posted by: PG at June 21, 2005 02:36 AM

The link has expired, so I can't read the article, but does it say whether Sony is or is not including the CDDA logo on its new CDs? It seems to me that the basis for any claims is sharply weakened if they're not using the trademarked logo.

Posted by: Tom T. at June 21, 2005 04:17 PM

I don't know if they are including the logo or not, I don't believe the article specified, but I know that past claims by Phillips against DRMed CDs included a complaint that did use the CDDA logo.

Posted by: Jed Sorokin-Altmann at June 22, 2005 01:55 PM
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