Dear Mike,
(1) Well, the CD format *is* well-documented, but a further consideration is
that there are more than a billion "Red Book" players out there, whereas
Edison made only about a million cylinder players. Yet it is simple to watch
an Edison machine at work, and either create a new machine to do the same
job, or modify a vintage machine to transfer the information electronically.
This is only ordinary analogue engineering skill (although I agree the
weakness could be in that last sentence!) The *documentation* survives.
(2) Yes, this is beginning to happen, but the original patents (which
expired here in the year 2000) mean the vast majority of CDs should indeed
play, while the user-base of machinery means that the vast majority of audio
CDs still need to be compatible with older players. Again, it's "software"
which is the problem, mainly recipes for "surround-sound" encoding.
(3) I'm afraid I don't know Sanyo's "V-cord" format, but the Elcassette
contains quarter-inch tape which can be extracted from the cassette and
wound onto a spool. It can then be played on any 4-track quarter-inch
open-reel tape player. Likewise, another correspondent was bewailing the
fate of "eight-track" cartridges. Personally, I have been studying these,
because they often bear UNencoded quadraphonic recordings! They are not
common on this side of the Atlantic, but I have now found twenty-one, and
plan to move the tape from the cartridges onto open reels, and play them on
an eight-track quarter-inch machine. From this, it should then be possible
to fine-tune the SQ and QS encoding systems used for vinyl discs.
    Much of the above comes down to the fact that, for analogue recordings,
there is much to be gained from having the same sound on two different
formats. This is especially true if you accept the idea of getting back to
what the original recording engineers would have wished.
Peter Copeland

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Richter [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 18 March 2003 16:14
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Copyright and hard drives

At 02:04 PM 3/18/2003 +0000, Copeland, Peter wrote:
>Dear Joel,
>     Thanks for your posting. I've retired now, so I cannot speak for my
>successor, but I see little need for an "open source" software decoder for
>CDs. Any CD player with an SP-DIF output is capable of replaying everything
>(including the track flags) complete with error-correction, so the audio
>the flags may be moved to any other audio hardware capable of the necessary
>sampling-frequency and bit-resolution. (The AES digital connection-standard
>will copy the audio, if necessary for very long physical distances; but it
>does not include track flags. Our experiences with Betamax videotapes with
>digital audio also showed it was relatively simple to retro-fit the
>with SP-DIF outputs).

I am out of my base of knowledge here, but would like to offer some
questions with implied answers.

1. Is not the need for "open source" more for documentation so that the
format can be reconstructed even after it has been abandoned by its owner?

2. As the patents on CD format expire, liberties are being taken with the
color book standards. Is there not the risk that some 'protected' discs
will deviate far enough to preclude easy movement to another medium or

3. The Betamax example is perhaps too weak since the hardware was well
developed and in use for an extended period. Would the result have been
similar for Sanyo's V-Cord video format or Sony's El-Cassette for audio?

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