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Copy Control

Music Sound

Copy Control

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Copy control logo Copy control logo

Copy Control is the name of a copy protection system used on recent EMI digital audio disc releases in some regions. While basically intended as a means of copy-protecting compact discs, Copy Control discs cannot properly be referred to as CDs as the system introduces intentionally corrupted data, making the discs incompliant with the Red Book standard for audio CDs. The system is intended to prevent digital audio extraction ("ripping") from the protected discs, and thus limit the file sharing of ripped music. The techniques used are:

  • Multisession (Blue Book) information is included which effectively hides the audio tracks from most CD-ROM drives;
  • Error-correction codes for the audio data are corrupted, which may introduce audible errors to ripped copies.
  • The data area of the disc usually includes DRM-restricted copies of the audio content, which are compatible with some major operating systems such as Microsoft Windows.


The Copy Control system was devised in response to the file sharing and casual CD copying that has become commonplace in recent years, allegedly causing the music industry significant lost revenues. Neither issue was particularly relevant when the CD standard was introduced in the early 1980s, and thus, unlike the more recent DVDs, the CD standard specifies no inherent form of copy protection or other digital rights management. Copy Control is one of a number of attempts to apply copy protection on top of the CD standard, but since it is merely a modification of the already unrestricted standard which must still yield usable results in most CD players, the efficiency of the system varies significantly.

The CDDA logo, absent from Copy Control releases The CDDA logo, absent from Copy Control releases

As the Copy Control discs do not conform to the requirements of the CD standard, they are not labelled with the CDDA logo, which is trademarked by Philips and Sony. A Copy Control "CD" which would not play in a woman's car CD player, was deemed "defective" in a French 2003 lawsuit, and any recent Copy Control releases carry visible Copy Control notices stating merely compatibility with CDs and the possibility of playback problems "on some equipment, for example car CD players". Nevertheless, the discs are frequently incorrectly referred to as CDs or "copy-protected CDs" in music stores and in colloquial language.


A Copy Control disc will appear as a mixed-mode disc, with audio and data content. Under Windows, inserting the disc will usually autorun an audio player utility, which plays the DRM-protected audio files provided. (This should be temporarily disabled by holding down the shift key while inserting the disc, or by disabling autorun altogether.)

The ability to extract the CD-Audio tracks is otherwise largely dependent on the disc drive used. The first obstacle is the 'fake' Table of Contents (ToC), which is intended to mask the audio tracks from CD-ROM drives. On the other hand, CD-R/RW drives, and similar, can usually access all session data on a disc, and thus can properly read the audio segment. (It has been reported that the fake ToC may also be bypassed by obscuring the outer 2-4mm of the disc with a temporary felt-tip marker. This method, however, may no longer be effective due to advances in Copy Control technology.)

The other major obstacle is the corrupted error-correction data. Again, the effect of this is dependent on the disc drive; some drives will be able to read the data without problems, but others will produce audio files with loud pops every few seconds. (A related problem is that copy-controlled discs will probably not be as resistant to scratching.)

Copy Control also does not prevent copying a disc by recording it as audio through a computer's sound card, which only causes a slight degradation in audio quality, or none in the case where a digital link is used. More substantial is the loss in recording speed. This poses a major problem to the music industry, due to the fact that many "pirates" illegally rip protected CD audio in this way.

Usually a CD-R/RW drive will play the disc but with occasional stops (about every 10 seconds) and DVD-R/RW drives will be able to read the data without problems and can be ripped straight to the PC. CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives in a computer will usually refuse to play the data except in the provided player.

Systems other than Windows, however, can easily play Copy Control discs, with the disc appearing as two entities, "Audio CD" and whatever the data portion of the disc was named in manufacture. As the bundled players are usually Windows Proprietary, and, similarly, the auto-launchers are designed for Windows, there is little that can be done to stop a non-Windows user from ripping a Copy Control disc (though, arguably, the process may take longer).

In Mac OS X, Copy Control discs are easily accessed through iTunes and Quicktime (When a CDDA track is dragged to a folder other than the CD, Quicktime automatically converts it to AIFF, which is a lossless PCM format). Though some Copy Control discs do have Mac OS software, this is becoming less common.

Content on the CD extra

CDS-100 or CDS-200

A player and a media file database(A copy of the audio contents in Windows Media). The player will only play the audio contents in the media file database.


A player and the anti-copy program only. The player can ignore the anti-copy program to read the audio tracks. The player allow users to play the tracks, rip the audio tracks as DRM WMA files and burn CD for 3 times(The player will rip the CD as 320kbps WMA files, then burn the audio on a CD-R, notice that the volume is lower and the quality is worse on the burned CD)

Methods to remove protection


It is the most simple one to remove. You can see that there is a visible empty track on the CD. You just need an ink pen or sticker to cover some part of the track outside the empty track.



When you put in this kind of CD, there is a small program installed automatically by the autorun, no matter you click "Accept or Decline". In order to avoid the protection, you need to put the CD before you go into Windows System. For those whom may have installed can use the "uninstall.exe" to remove the program.

Step by Step:

1. Put the CD into the CD drive

2. Close the Autorun program

3. Browse the CD drive, run the "uninstall.exe"

4. Reboot the computer (Don't take out the CD)

5. Finished!

Notice that now the CD in the drive is no different with "CD extra". You still can't rip the music by Windows Media Player or iTunes. You may take the following actions:

a. Use CD Burning Software(Nero Burning Rom, WinOnCD...) to remake a normal CD


b. Use some CD Ripper(Goldwave, Exact Audio Copy...) that support CD extra

Author's Notes:

For CDS-100, you can only ignore the second TOC in order to rip the audio tracks but you can never duplicate the whole disc including the second session.

For CDS-300, you may just use any CD copying program to duplicate the whole disc with every details on the CD. The CD ripped is also a "Copy Control CD" which its Autorun program is still functional.

External links

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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