A couple years ago, I bought a CD. I brought it home and put it in my computer (because I don't own a stereo). It wouldn't play. Apparently, this was an early form of "copy protection" for audio CDs. If the CD drive won't recognize it as a valid disc, then obviously I can't copy it. It even removes the dreaded output stream hack, by not allowing the CD to play.
Now, I'll admit that I fully intended to copy the CD. Who the hell listens to CDs now anyway? My entire music collection is on my computer as mp3s, because as I noted earlier I don't own a stereo. This may make me seem like the people who don't own a TV, but I believe there's an important distinction: I still listen to music, rather than just talking about how I don't own a stereo.
Needless to say, I fired up a P2P program and downloaded the album. It took about an hour. Since then, I've cut out the completely superfluous first step of buying the CD, and just download. This has saved me time, money, and shelf space.
In evaluating the effectiveness of a copy protection scheme, there are two metrics you can use. If the question is simply "Did the scheme prevent the disc from being copied?" the answer yes. I would assume that CloneCD would have no problem creating an equally unplayable copy, though I didn't try for obvious reasons. It did prevent me from ripping the CD, and that's probably all they were after.
Another metric, which I think the record industry ought to consider using instead, would be to ask "Did this scheme encourage people to buy CDs rather than downloading songs off the internet?" Obviously, not only did the copy protection fail to promote sales, it actually promotes downloading since the CD has been rendered useless as a content delivery mechanism. I'm assuming here that an entertainment company's intent is to sell an entertainment product to people which they can then be entertained by. It could be argued that their current business model is in fact to sue people for not buying the product, thus rendering the actual utility of the product irrelevant--all that matters is that they own the exclusive rights to distribute the product, even if they choose not to do so.
Now, however, it appears Sony Music is pursuing a different tactic altogether: install a rootkit, ???, profit!
For those not in the know, a rootkit is a tool used by vicious, malevolent H4XX0RS to "get root" on your system. Root, in this case, is a synonym for total pwnage.
In the past, I've described the entertainment industry as a senile, toothless old man whose last attempts to remain relevant to society is to be really obnoxious and annoying. Now, it would seem, the old guy is decked out in Hilfiger and bling, trying to fit in with the younger crowd. Why, besides 1337 cred, would they want to pwn all those n00bs? As a copy protection scheme it is arguably less effective than the simple non-functional CD, being as it is completely vulnerable to the dreaded shift key 'sploit.
Assuming that Sony's ultimate goal is the pursuit of profit(!), it follows that there are a limited number of ways to go about this. First, obviously, is to leverage their w1ck3d h4xx covertly, either to steal credit card info and the like or to find more targets for their lawsuit scam. The second, but arguably less risky method, is also more convoluted.
Right now, Sony's Everquest Persistent Internet Game has gone from undisputed market leader to a small sliver of the "other" category. Nobody can service the Koreans like Lineage, which makes World of Warcraft Sony's main nemesis in the PIG market. WoW, you may recall, is the one with the pod people.
The creators of WoW take a dim view of cheating in their game, and have gone to the extent of installing spyware on their user's machines to sniff and snuff it out, called The Warden. Sony's new rootkit, while completely ineffectual as an anti-piracy ploy, provides the Warcraft cheaters with a simple and effective way to hide their nefarious malfeasance from The Warden, thus making WoW a crappier place for regular players and driving them toward EQ.
Sound far fetched? Maybe, but remember that Sony is run by the Japanese. They're like real-life elves: sexually depraved, weak fighters, but always scheming.