Pop behemoths Coldplay have scored great success with melancholy hits like "Yellow" and "Shiver." But now the British foursome has something new to sing the blues about -- namely the fact that their newest CD, "X&Y," comes with so many restrictions on its usage as to be, in one irate fan's words, "virtually unplayable."
Coldplay's label, Capitol Records, has installed extremely restrictive digital rights management (DRM) on the CD.
Although the disc packaging does clearly state that the CD is copy-protected, the buyer doesn't know exactly what the restrictions are until they've bought the CD and opened it up. Worse, the restrictions prevent the CD from being returned or exchanged unless there is a "manufacturing defect."
The DRM restrictions prevent the CD from being played in "some" CD players, CD-recordable or rewritable hard drives, DVD players, game consoles such as a Playstation or Xbox, and prevents any attempt to copy the CD or "rip" the tracks to MP3 format. The CD's restrictions also prevent it from being played or copied on Macintosh PCs.
Capitol is a subsidiary of the EMI Music Group, which clearly has not learned any lessons from Sony BMG and their ongoing fiasco with spyware-infested CD's.
Sony recently reached a tentative settlement in one of several lawsuits accusing it of surreptitiously installing software on users' computers that can cripple them.
Although several enterprising listeners have found ways to copy or rip the Coldplay CD to their music libraries, by doing so they can face potential lawsuits, fines, and even imprisonment for violation of copyright. The ongoing battles over copyright protection of music versus the "fair use" doctrine have sparked increasingly hostile moves by record companies and fans alike.
Artists and bands may suffer in the long term as well, when angry fans choose not to buy their CDs due to the DRM restrictions added by the music labels.
As one Coldplay fan posting on an Internet forum put it, "The only way you and I can tell the record companies that we don't like the way they're kicking our butts adding this sort of technology' is by returning their crippled discs back to the store, or even better, steer clear of buying them ... I support the artists, it's the record companies that need a wake-up call!"