Europeans Miffed New Disc Won't Play in Some CD, DVD Players

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Call it the Imbruglia Imbroglio.

The latest CD from Natalie Imbruglia, the coquettish Australian pop star, won't play in some CDs and DVD players because of copy protection technology included on the disc.

That has prompted a spate of complaints to Imbruglia's record label, Bertelsmann Music Group, which has set up a toll-free phone hotline to deal with the fallout over the CD White Lilies Island, released Nov. 5 in Europe.

The album has not yet been released in the United States.

"We always are concerned if something is not playable on a CD player," said BMG spokeswoman Regine Hofmann, who said the company has received complaints from about one customer for every 1,000 CDs shipped. Hofmann would not give a number of total Imbruglia CDs shipped.

The blemish on the Imbruglia CD rollout would not detour BMG from pursuing copy protection technologies for future CDs, Hofmann said, though the company considers the protected CDs still a "test."

"The testing phase is proceeding in a way that we want to pursue it," Hofmann said.

Imbruglia's CD contains technology called Cactus Data Shield, developed by Tel Aviv-based Midbar Tech Ltd.

Midbar's CD copy protection also was included on 10,000 CDs Sony released in the Czech Republic and Slovakia late last year. There are several variations of the company's copy protection, including versions that permit tracks from a CD to be copied to a computer for listening but not moved to another PC or shared online.

Some people who purchased the Imbruglia CD complained the disc would not play in their PCs or Sony PlayStation 2 consoles, Hofmann said.

Others voiced their complaints on Imbruglia's official Web site. One person said the CD prevented him from playing the disc on his computer running the Linux operating system.

Another person posted a message indicating that the CD would not work in some older stereo systems and does not function in DVD players with audio CD capabilities.

But some argued that the ability to turn Imbruglia's tracks into MP3 files is a privilege, not a right.

"In NO way is someone robbing you because they choose to protect their music, they are preventing you from robbing THEM!," posted Scott Wyatt on Imbruglia's Web site.

Universal, Warner, EMI, BMG and Sony all are exploring technologies that will limit the digital duplication of CDs.

A California woman sued a record company and technology firm in September over a similar copy protected CD issue. Karen DeLise was upset after she found out her new Charley Pride CD contained a copy protection scheme from SunnComm Inc. that prevented the CD from being played in her PC.

DeLise is not seeking any monetary damages -- merely a better disclosure of what the CD will and won't do on the packaging label, her attorney explained.