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Copy-protected CDs slide into stores

A security company says it has released more than 10 million copy-protected CDs in the United States and Europe, highlighting ongoing endeavors to combat digital piracy.

Israeli security company Midbar said Tuesday that it has released more than 10 million copy-protected CDs in the United States and Europe, highlighting the company's ongoing endeavor to combat digital piracy.

Midbar said its technology, dubbed Cactus Data Shield, prevents people from illegally reproducing music without altering the sound quality. Midbar said the announcement, which did not indicate a time frame for the releases, includes CDs protected with its latest technology, which allows discs to be played on a CD player or a PC, resolving previous playability issues.

The announcement shows that digital rights management companies and record labels are aggressively pursuing copy-protection plans--even though most anti-piracy technologies are still in an experimental phase. Last year, for instance, record giant BMG Entertainment began testing technologies from security companies including Midbar, Macrovision and SunnComm. But the label's attempt to release discs protected by Midbar's technology in Germany led to consumer complaints that the CDs would not work on their players and forced BMG to abandon that project.

It is unclear how many people have purchased copy-protected discs. P.J. McNealy, research director for GartnerG2, a division of the Gartner research firm, noted that although more than 10 million CDs have been released in the market, it "still doesn't mean 10 million have been bought" or that the technology has been perfected.

Midbar says it is continuing to upgrade its technology.

"It's been an exciting year, packed with great achievements as well as useful learning experiences," Noam Zur, vice president of sales and marketing at Midbar, said in a statement. "We will continue to upgrade this already proven technology as we embark on the path to the next milestone."