The Beatles Remastered into useless obsolete plastic circles

The Beatles Remastered CD's released in New York

I love the Beatles. I grew up listening to their amazing melodies, appreciating the lyrics and the rich and visual compositions. I love the Beatles and what they stood for.

Over the years I’ve replaced some of the vinyl Beatles records I had with CDs, but there were several Beatles albums that I never got around to purchasing. I kept thinking I should buy them already, but never did.

Until The Beatles Remastered was released. Clearly, this was the opportunity to fill in the blanks and reacquire the entire collection in the best available quality, and to rediscover their genius music.

Last Friday I went to Tower Records (yes, an actual physical store!), handed over the counter 999 NIS (which is about $250), and received in exchange a beautiful black box containing the entire collection. On the way home I opened the box with excitement, took out "Revolver", put it into the car CD player, and enjoyed the familiar tunes.

When I got home, I did what I always do when I buy a new music discs. I inserted the disc into my Windows 7 Media Center machine, planning to rip the music into my Media Library so that I can listen to it like I listen to the rest of my music. After I am done ripping, I usually put the original disc away in storage, because I have no real use for these plastic pieces anymore.

Not this time though. Windows recognizes the disc as a multimedia disc with videos and all, but does not see the music tracks.

I tried another disc from the box. Same result.

A quick Google revealed that this is a known issue – apparently the discs use a copy protection scheme that makes them impossible to play on a Windows machine.

I have no use for plastic discs that I cannot turn into playable media.

So I did two things: I downloaded the entire Remastered collection from a torrent in the high fidelity FLAC format, and I went back to the store and asked for a refund, on the basis that I was sold a flawed product that is unusable in a rather mainstream consumer environment.

I spoke today with Asaf Peer, support rep of Tower Records, who told me that they will not give me a refund, because:

  1. Windows Media Center is not a standard CD player. But it is.
  2. Some people apparently buy CDs, rip them at home and then return them and ask for a refund. But I don’t.

The Music-in-CDs business is dead. We all know that. They know that too. What baffles me is why are these guys alienating one of the few remaining paying customers by providing me with a crippled product!

Did someone over there really think that by putting a copy protection in place they’ll actually be able to stop the music from reaching the net?

Here are the facts of life:

  • If it’s data, and it is stored on a medium for which there is a reader, the data will be extracted from the medium
  • For every genius software engineer that comes up with a super duper copy protection scheme, there are 1000X even smarter folks on the net who are determined to break the copy protection scheme.

The other thing I cannot understand is how come Microsoft (and others?) is letting these folks render the Media Center useless, and how come consumers don’t stand up and demand their money back. The only two explanations I have for these mysteries are:

  1. I am the only one using Windows Media Center
  2. The rest of you didn’t waste their time on obsolete cheap plastic circles and got your Beatles Mastered from Mininova like any normal person would.