Gathan Beaga

radiohead, do you copy?

I was going to buy the new Radiohead album last week. But I didn’t, and not because of the quality (or otherwise) of the music.

Becky and I had read the reviews and thought it might be a return to a similar vein of the first three, which we liked a lot. I picked it up in Real Groovy to have a look. But then I saw it had the EMI Copy Protection logo on it.

In a (futile) effort to combat fileswapping on the Internet EMI have arsed around with the error correction to the point where it plays OK in CD player, but not in a (more fussy) computer CD-ROM drive. This may have an effect on sound quality; it will make the CD less resistant to scratches and possibly even have a shorter life.

But worse, by all accounts it won’t play in my iBook at all. While EMI have generously (irony intended) provided some crappy low bitrate MP3s on the CD for PC users (and even these have severe restrictions on their use) there is nothing for Mac or Linux users.

Are they mad? MP3s are how I use music today. I buy. I rip to MP3. I listen to it in my MP3 player. Music for me is mobile these days – my home stereo has The Wiggles on high rotate so my best opportunity for listening to music is while walking to work or using my laptop. So a CD that can’t be ripped to MP3 is practically useless for my purposes. I don’t obtain music via fileswapping services because frankly it’s not worth the bother. And in any case I still like to have the physical CD somewhere.

Plus, EMI’s automatic assumption that I am a pirate really pisses me off.

I don’t buy much music anymore: from between one and two CDs per week ten years ago I’m lucky to buy five a year these days. There’s at least two good reasons for this: the first is that my leisure time activities have changed from music related to internet related, and following on from that I’m simply not as obsessed with music as I used to be. The second is that any new CD has to compete with the 300-odd CDs I already have. When making that purchase decision the CD has to be pretty shit-hot.

And now there’s this new consideration. Can I use the CD?

So for the benefit of the record companies here’s my terms of purchase as a consumer. I will not purchase any CD that I cannot rip to a free (as in freedom, not free beer) MP3 of an acceptable quality for use in my MP3 player.

So get fucked EMI. And get fucked Radiohead. You’ve lost a sale. Goodbye.