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2-4-4] ...on an audio CD (SunnComm - MediaCloQ and MediaMax CD3)


This article is from the CD-Recordable FAQ, by Andy McFadden (fadden@fadden.com) with numerous contributions by others.

2-4-4] ...on an audio CD (SunnComm - MediaCloQ and MediaMax CD3)


SunnComm (http://www.sunncomm.com/) has a product called "MediaCloQ".
It was used to protect the album _A Tribute to Jim Reeves_ by Charley Pride
in mid-2001. The results were inconclusive: clean versions of the tracks
appeared on the net, but SunnComm claimed they came from an unprotected disc
released on Australia. Their plan was to alleviate "fair use" concerns by
allowing users to download MP3 versions of the songs after they registered
the original. Some articles:

- http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1005-200-5924584.html
- http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,5082954,00.html
- http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1014-201-7311791-0.html

Some early stories indicated that BMG Entertainment was considering the use
of this product. Sony-BMG did eventually use SunnComm products on several
CDs. See http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,5094925,00.html.

The idea behind this protection is to make it hard for CD-ROM drives to
identify the disc as being an audio CD. The disc is multisession, and
uses a hacked TOC, so track rippers and disc copiers have trouble dealing
with it. SunnComm hasn't publicly stated any details.

In August 2001, SunnComm announced v2.0 of their product, but didn't
provide specific details.

In mid-2003, SunnComm announced "MediaMax CD3", a fancier implementation that
allows computer users to play the CD through software supplied on the disc.
The software installs a memory-resident driver that prevents CD ripping from
working on protected CDs. The protection can be foiled on Windows PCs by
simply holding down the shift key for several seconds while inserting the CD.
See http://www.cs.princeton.edu/~jhalderm/cd3/ for a detailed analysis.
SunnComm announced they were going to sue the Princeton researcher, but
quickly backed off.

In December 2005, following the XCP disaster (see section (2-4-10)), a
flaw was discovered in MediaMax v5 that could allow malicious software to
gain control of an affected computer. http://sonybmg.com/mediamax/ has a
"consumer advisory" regarding the problem, including a list of affected
CDs and links to a patch and uninstaller on the sunncomm.com web site.
It was subsequently determined that the patch was flawed; see

Some personal notes on SunnComm's protection of the Charley Pride disc,
including the steps I took to get a clean copy:

The packaging is labeled with the SunnComm logo, and states, "This audio
CD is protected by SunnComm(tm) MediaCloQ(tm) Ver 1.0. It is designed
to play in standard audio CD players only and is not intended for use in
DVD players." However, my DVD player was able to play the disc after
overcoming some initial confusion.

The disc itself has an unusual construction. There is a heavy band at about
the point where the music stops, and thin bands between tracks. These appear
to be purely decorative (and, I'm told, increasingly common on non-protected
discs). Some images are available on http://www.fadden.com/cdrpics/.

A computer running Win98SE with a Plextor 40max CD-ROM drive saw the
disc as having two sessions and 16 data tracks. My CD player only saw 15
audio tracks. This feature alone makes the disc difficult to rip or copy,
because the software doesn't see any audio tracks, and a CD-R copy would be
full of tracks that even a CD player would see as data. Another machine,
with a Plextor 12/20 and a slightly different set of software, seemed
to have a lot of trouble figuring out what the disc was. It eventually
sorted things out, but I get the sense the disc has been tweaked in ways
that confuse the drive firmware.

I tried using "Session Selector" to select the first session and then
access the tracks. This resulted in a Plextor 8/20 CD recorder becoming
unusable until a reboot. I'd guess the firmware got confused.

The next thing I tried was to crank up CDRWIN v3.7a (section (6-1-7)),
and extract some tracks using my Plextor 12/20. No dice -- the display
showed 15 unselectable tracks and 1 MODE-2 data track.

Next, I tried the "Extract Disc/Tracks/Sectors" function, selected "Extract
Sectors", chose "Audio-CDDA (2352)" for the data type, and entered a
nice range (0 to 300000, where each audio sector is 1/75th of a second).
This choked when trying to read starting at block 173394, so I tried again
stopping at 173390. This resulted in a rather large WAV file, which
I opened with Cool Edit -- revealing the entire contents of the disc,
plain and clear. Playback revealed no audible defects.

I believe this worked because the sector extraction function ignores
track and session boundaries, and just pulls the blocks straight off.
Losing the track markers is annoying, but it's easy to add them back with
something like CDWave (section (6-2-16)).

(FWIW, this same approach did *not* work for the _My Private War_ disc
with the damaged TOC, described in (2-4-2). It would probably not be
of help with a SafeAudio disc either.)

"zEEwEE" came up with a complicated but enlightening scheme for side-stepping
the protection on discs with damaged second TOCs. It has the advantage
of allowing you to use standard tools, such as Exact Audio Copy (section
(6-2-12)), which keeps the track breaks and can do fancy tricks to get
the best extraction quality. See http://cdprot.cjb.net/. [ I'm told
the disc used as an example was actually protected with Midbar Tech's
Cactus Data Shield 100, not MediaCloQ. ] The method involves making the
outer rim of the disc unreadable to the CD-ROM drive. It appears you
can use dry erase markers instead of adhesive stickers for the procedure,
which is good since an adhesive label might peel up and damage your drive.
This method, first posted in August of 2001, resulted in a flurry of media
attention in May of 2002.


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