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Analysis of the MediaMax CD3 Copy-Prevention System

Report ID:
September 2003
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MediaMax CD3 is a new copy-prevention technique from SunnComm
Technologies that is designed to prevent unauthorized copying of audio CDs
using personal computers. SunnComm claims its product facilitates "a
verifiable and commendable level of security," but in tests on a
newly-released album, I find that the protections may have no effect on a
large fraction of deployed PCs, and that most users who would be affected
can bypass the system entirely by holding the shift key every time they
insert the CD. I explain that MediaMax interferes with audio copying by
installing a device driver the first time software from the CD is
executed, but I show that this provides only minimal protection because
the driver can easily be disabled. I also examine the digital rights
management system used to control access to a set of encrypted, compressed
audio files distributed on the CD. Although restrictions on these files
are more relaxed than in prior copy protected discs, they still prohibit
many uses permitted by the law. I conclude that MediaMax and similar
copy-prevention systems are irreparably flawed but predict that record
companies will find success with more customer-friendly alternatives for
reducing infringement.

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