Dennis D. McDonald ( consults from Alexandria Virginia. His services include writing & research, proposal development, and project management.

Is The New Santana Album Infected?

I got an email this morning from Apple announcing the availability of the new Santana album via the Apple music service through iTunes. Since I don't buy through iTunes anymore (I'm concerned about DRM incompatibility and incompatible shifts in the platform in the future) I decided to investigate buying the CD.

I know, I've publicly sworn off music CD's due to DRM incompatibility issues, but I've been listening to Santana ever since Woodstock.

So I checked out Amazon. Uh-oh, I thought, this is a "copy protected disc." And it's on Arista, which is part of BMG. Question is, what kind of copy protection? Is it the easily defeated "hold shift key down" kind, or is it the "rootkit" kind that might lead to damage of the Windows operating system?

I went to the Sony BMG web page that lets you submit questions about individual discs and selected SANTANA and typed in NEW ALBUM and from the "description of the problem" list selected "uninstall request" since an option is not available like "description of copy protection approach."

(As a side note, consider the significance of the fact that a record company has to maintain a page like this where the main menu items are "system requirements," "how to use this disc," and "software upgrade"!)

Anyway, I'm not optimistic. I don't think I'll be buying the new Santana album. In the scheme of things, I suppose this is not a Big Deal compared with real problems like war, hunger, and judge-shopping by corrupt public officials. But consider the options:

  1. Give up on collecting music by one of my favorite artists (the most likely scenario)
  2. Try to manage the Windows install process so I can create an uninfected copy (dangerous -- I don't really have the software skills to be rooting around the Windows system kernel, and I don't have the ability to burn CD's from my old Macintosh)
  3. Find an unprotected copy floating around the web (as a copyright advocate I have a hard time with this option)
  4. Experiment with software for stripping the DRM from the Santana CD (again, dangerous -- and I use my PC for business as well as pleasure. Besides, this is a hassle AND I JUST WANT TO LISTEN TO THE MUSIC, not play around with ANOTHER piece of software so I can use what I've already legally purchased!!!)


Dear Carlos:

I'm sorry I won't be buying your new album.  Your publisher wants to treat me like a criminal and I'm just not going to play ball.

I'll really miss you music. Some of my fondest memories are associated with Santana.

I still remember hearing your first album being played on the radio at night when I was an undergraduate at Ohio State University. I was so blown away I literally RAN down Fraternity Row from my apartment on Summit Street to the record store on High Street to buy the album. I'm listening to that album now (on CD) and the music has not aged one day. Incredible stuff.

And just a few years back I remember buying SUPERNATURAL in a little record shop in Dingle Ireland and playing it over and over again while driving around the Ring of Kerry tour with my family. Great stuff as  backdrop to seeing some of the earth's most spectacular and beautiful countryside. I'll always remember that and think about Ireland when I listen to that album.

It's been nice knowing you.

Dennis McDonald 


Fallout from the Sony BMG "Rootkit" DRM Debacle

What is a "rootkit"? (Sony and DRM)