We went out on a short shopping trip yesterday afternoon. We bought some baby stuff (Fiona’s first dress) and some books (Tricia Sullivan’s Maul, amongst others). I would also have picked up a copy of Sarah McLachlan’s new album, Afterglow, but her record company seems not to have released it in CD format. Bummer! Instead, they’ve released it on some kind of shiny CD-sized disc that can only be played on “Home stereo equipment” and PCs running certain specific versions of Windows. Bummer! So I bought Start Something by the Lostprophets instead.

Yes, there are ways of getting around copy-protected discs and DRM-locked music files. But standing in the shop yesterday afternoon I was struck by an overwhelming wave of apathy. I love Sarah McLachlan’s music, and I would love to listen to her new album, but I really can’t be arsed trying to figure out how to get the songs off of the copy-locked CD and into iTunes. Because that’s the only way I listen to new music nowadays: we don’t have a stereo in our living room any more, we just have my PC and some speakers. The CD might work in my car’s CD player, but that’s not much use if I want to listen to the disc while reading a book on my sofa.

I feel like a PS2 owner who wants to play Halo but can’t, because it’s an XBox exclusive title. Is this the future of music? Platform exclusives, and platform incompatibility? If so, it sucks.

3 Replies to “Non-CDs”

  1. You’ve got my attention now, because I always hate to think that someone would miss out on the joy of Sarah-music. 😉

    I listened to my Sarah CD on my computer before sticking it in the dying CD player in our office room. And I ripped it without any problems (using CDex: ). But I am using Windows, so maybe that’s why it worked for me?

    So what indicates that its copy protected on the CD? I see a “Compact Disc” logo on the inside of the plastic case.

  2. I considered putting the latest Dido album on my wish list, but decided not to because of copy protection. Unlike Martin, I wasn’t going to play it on anything controversial or non-standard. I simply didn’t want to give the record companies any encouragement in their policy of taking away my rights as a purchaser of music.

    On the one hand, I didn’t get an album I wanted. On the other, the record company didn’t get any money for a non-compliant “CD”. I can hum, or listen to something else. Their shareholders can’t replace money with anything else.

    As consumers, I figure we need to vote with our wallets, no matter how much we may want a given album.

  3. It looks like it might only be the UK version of the album that features the copy protection. If you look at’s page for it (, it says “This CD includes anti-copying technology that is intended to prevent unlawful copying of the CD with a PC. This may affect playability of the CD on certain computer devices such as PCs and gaming platforms.”

    On, the album’s description ( carries no such warning. also carries an “Import” version of the album (at a higher price, and without the extra bonus disc:, and it doesn’t have the copy-protection spiel, either.

    I might have to buy a copy of the UK disc–for research purposes, of course–just to see how offensive the DRM actually is.

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