I don't want my MTV

I don't want my MTV

Summary: The new MTV/Microsoft music service, Urge, is getting rave reviews. It all sounds great, until you take a closer look at the license agreement. Here's why I won't be signing up.

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TOPICS: Tech Industry
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CNET loves the new MTV/Microsoft music service, Urge:

Even with the media player and the music service still in beta, these products make a fabulous team, with the type of superb integration usually associated with Apple products. If you're looking for the Windows Media answer to iTunes and the iPod, this is it.

Sounds good, until you read the Urge license agreement. (Set aside some time - it's a 6800-word document that goes on for 13 printed pages.)  There is no way I’m going to allow a piece of software to update itself and install new “features” with no notification or consent to me:

Because the Software includes security components that permit digital information, including, without limitation, Content available to you in connection with our Website or Urge, to be protected and allow use to occur only as permitted by us and/or Content providers, there are some special rules and procedures that apply. For example, we shall (and you agree we are permitted) to transmit and arrange for automatic installation of any and all updates, modifications, and/or even full re-installations of the Software to address security, digital rights management, interoperability, and/or performance issues.

[...]

The Software also includes automated features that collect information that uniquely allows the Software to automatically identify your computer and your system, the version of the Software in use and to manage some or all of the digital rights associated with Content. These features may be remotely activated in order to update security components used by the Software, including, without limitation, portions of the Windows Media Player associated with your use of Urge. These updates, modifications, re-installations and other modifications to the Software can occur periodically or when necessary and without any notice to you.

Nor am I interested in having my activities monitored so that I can get more invitations to buy stuff:

We may use your Personal Information to tailor your experience on Urge, review your content libraries and files to better understand your preferences and make recommendations, to display Content, Promotions, information or offers we think may be of interest to you and/or to customize your Urge and/or Website experience according to your preferences. ... You may also have the opportunity to opt-in to special Promotions or offers from our generous Advertisers...

Isn't it odd to have that word generous in a legal agreement?

And I especially don’t like the idea that it’s booby-trapped:

The Software is also capable of monitoring itself to detect tampering or other security-related activities and has the ability to automatically transmit and communicate information about attempted tampering and other security incidents. The Software and certain applications that communicate with the Software may become restricted, de-activated or inoperable if you breach this EULA, any security or other rules or any of the digital rights applicable to the Content. You acknowledge and agree this can, and often shall, result in Content being unavailable to you.

Thanks, MTV and Microsoft, but I won’t be signing up.

Update: See this follow-up post for more details on why Microsoft should take another look at this license agreement.

Topic: Tech Industry

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25 comments
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  • Ahh, don't you just love DRM?

    Welcome to the world of DRM where the users aren?t in charge: it is content providers or guys over there. As I said before, the reason I don?t believe MS has not done well against Apple, is because its users like the liberty to do as they please with their machines and its content ? and not have their actions be dictated to by someone else. I believe this Urge thing is going to flop.
    P. Douglas
    • Brave new world

      Start with your digital restrictions management, add a generous doppup of the COPE Act (http://www.techlawjournal.com/topstories/2006/20060330b.asp) and you're all set for the brave new world of the future, where giant corporations tell you what you want to watch, read, listen to, and buy without you having the burdensome responsibility of deciding these things for yourself.
      JDThompson
    • Not particularly...

      [b]Welcome to the world of DRM where the users aren?t in charge: it is content providers or guys over there. As I said before, the reason I don?t believe MS has not done well against Apple, is because its users like the liberty to do as they please with their machines and its content ? and not have their actions be dictated to by someone else. [/b]

      Uh.. You might want to qualify that - Apple has it's own flavor of DRM and while it may not be quite as draconian as this new MTV/MS/Urge bit (yet), it doesn't let you do whatever you want either. There ARE limitations to what you can or can't do. You can only make just so many copies or burn a file just so many times.

      [b]I believe this Urge thing is going to flop.[/b]

      There's a good chance you might be right. THE one reason why Apple's been the success it has been thus far is the iPod. It's ONE seemless solution. It's got a certain "cool" factor - something that's missing from the MTV equation (so far)...
      Wolfie2K3
  • Urge sounds like spyware

    It's a good thing you read that license, Ed. Most users will just scroll all the way down and click "I Accept" without even glimpsing the license(and the media companies know that, too). Maybe you should ask Suzi Turner and the guys at spywarewarrior.com to check it out, since chances are MTV may not give you straight answers.
    Tony Agudo
  • What's the difference between Urge and Gmail

    "We may use your Personal Information to tailor your experience on Urge"

    Sounds like Gmail. So what? It all depends on how they implement it. As for partner advertisers, that's opt in. That's standard practice.

    I'm not saying that I would sign up for MTV's Urge, but I don't see that they're any worse than Apple's solution.
    georgeou
    • Do Apple and Google install software with no consent?

      That's the real issue, George. Plus, does either one of them disable your software if they determine, in their sole opinion, that you "tampered" with it?
      Ed Bott
      • The Big Issue For Me

        [i]The Software also includes automated features that collect information that uniquely allows the Software to automatically identify your computer and your system, the version of the Software in use and to manage some or all of the digital rights associated with Content. These features may be remotely activated in order to update security components used by the Software, including, without limitation, portions of the Windows Media Player associated with your use of Urge.[/i]

        The above is the portion that concerns me the most. The above gives MTV the okay to regulate your use of content that you purchased from the company. A Zdnet writer asked how does current DRM differ the DRM on DVDs and the limitations of the media content was distributed in the past? The answer is that content providers did not monitor your use of content and actively regulate it in the past. Once you purchased content, you were largely on your own, and you for the most part dictated how you used your content. Now in Big 'Brother-esque' style, these content companies want to go way beyond their previous bounds. This I find wholly detestable, and I will never buy content protected with this kind of technology.
        P. Douglas
        • The big issue for me

          Douglas that is a common misconception on your part (and part of what is driving DRM), if you read the documentation you got with your CD/DVD it states that you do not own the content you only have limited rights to use this content for your personal entertainment. You cannot do whatever you want with the content and cannot be used for any purpose that would financially benefit you without compensation to the content owners. This is just the content owners saying the honor system did not work so we are going proactive. Ask any business that uses music like radio stations and skating rinks how much a year they have to pay to each content group for the rights to play music in the establishments.
          richardc_z
          • Henry VI

            "Common misconception" ... "have limited rights to use this content"... "without benefit to the content owners"...

            Who let this legalist worm in the group? As Will Shakespeare said, "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". There ARE solutions.
            kentfx_z
          • Huh?

            ---if you read the documentation you got with your CD/DVD it states that you do not own the content you only have limited rights to use this content for your personal entertainment---

            Really? Where does one find such documentation. I've purchased thousands of cd's and never, ever seen any such documentation. Furthermore, any contract can not be held binding if I don't agree to it.

            ---You cannot do whatever you want with the content and cannot be used for any purpose that would financially benefit you without compensation to the content owners.---

            That is also legally incorrect. There are all sorts of things you can do under fair use that you can profit from. If I'm reviewing a dvd movie or a cd in a newspaper article and I quote the movie, that's re-using the content, and that's re-using it for profit, since I'm selling the newspaper. I need no permission from the copyright holder whatsoever to do this (assuming I'm only using a small snippet of content).

            ---This is just the content owners saying the honor system did not work so we are going proactive.---

            That's what they're trying to do, but fortunately, they have no legal standing to do so.

            ---Ask any business that uses music like radio stations and skating rinks how much a year they have to pay to each content group for the rights to play music in the establishments.---

            That's a different issue, as what those establishments do is considered "performance", and the licensing of copyrighted material for performance is covered under blanket licensing agreements.
            tic swayback
          • Compensation

            Does that mean that some of the rare records I have, which were very cheap when I bought them compared to the current marketvalue, obliges me to pay compensation to:

            The original artist ?
            His/her/their agent(s) ?
            The record company?
            Whoever owns the record company now ?
            Whoever owns the right to the song(s) now?


            Or is your claim only valid for CD's and DVD's. If I sell a CD/DVD which for some reason has higher value now that when I bought it, whom and how much should I pay ? Or should I in your opinion not be allowed to sell it at all?
            pkrdk
      • That's an interesting thought

        Of course you can't 'tamper' with Google's software (you don't actually have it), but can they cut off access to it, should they, 'in their sole opinion', decide you have violated TOS? Is that different?
        What about Apple? Does their EULA allow termination of service should you start stripping off FairPlay? Is QuickTime allowed to check for the existence of other software on the system?
        mdemuth
        • Practical answer

          Not sure what Apple's official stance on this is, but I've bought music from iTunes in the past, and used JHymn to strip out the FairPlay DRM. It plays just fine on iTunes, no interruption of service.
          tic swayback
      • You think Google or Apple would let you tamper with their software?

        I'm not saying you're wrong Ed, just that this applies to the DRM industry as a whole.
        georgeou
  • HELL NO!

    Monitor your use of the content? So they will be getting reports back on how many times I play any song, how many I cut play in the middle to do something else. Oh gee, it just reported that I tried to mix two songs together. Oh man, another report just went out because I was looking at the program trying to figure out why it wasn't operating the way I expected. Grrr. System automatically updated their software and I've lost access to all of my critical business software applications on my system. SHIT! Now my system isn't running at all because they reset 3 flags I needed on my Non-Standard Computer System with Homemade BIOS 321.65X.

    This license agreement gives them full rights to every damn thing on your system and gives the user absolutely no rights or protection. You know what? Don't buy any of their crap. Otherwise you may as well take down your firewalls and uninstall the popup blockers and antivirus software.
    Dr_Zinj
  • Don't accept the DRM and privacy loss

    /RANT

    It's time for consumers to stand up and send a strong message to corporations who use broad sweeping measures to compromise our personal use technologies.

    Don't download software that has this CRAP built in. That's the only way vendors will stop ... if no one accepts their flawed products.

    Also, legislators should pass laws that force vendorsw to identify the engineered flaws and the risks to consumers. It's done with tobacco, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. Start doing for software as well. If people knew what CRAP they were loading onto their systems, they can make informed decisions. Right now, the software and media companies are deliberately decieving the public.

    //RANT
    mmay
    • just what we DO NOT need ...

      [i]"Also, legislators should pass laws that force vendorsw to identify the engineered flaws and the risks to consumers. It's done with tobacco, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. Start doing for software as well."[/i]


      I must disagree. We do [b]not]/b] need more laws to control the activities of corporations. All additional laws do is allow future legislators more "wiggle room" to reduce our freedoms in this country. What we need is to promote the education of the public to hit such corporations where it hurts them ... their wallets. You tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on.
      David A. Pimentel
  • Don't buy it!

    I still remember how vinyl LP lovers refused to accept CDs because CDs somehow degraded the sound. Yet people en-masse seem to have accepted the substandard audio quality of compressed downloads, and what's more, are willing to pay a premium price of a buck a track for the privilege.

    And to add insult to injury, they will put up with draconian restrictions on the use of legally purchased material.

    Here's the deal...if you AGREE to those terms by buying the CRAP, then you get what you deserve.

    As I recall, there is NO license agreement on a CD...only a copyright. So get CDs...don't even worry about DRM. Rip 'em and listen away. Make the record companies deliver you a tangible product for your hard earned money.

    When everybody understands that we're dealing with the most PARANOID industry in the universe, then this will make sense. Why else would they seal a CD on 3 sides with sticky tape and shrink-wrap over it all? Have you EVER heard of anyone stealing a CD out of the jewel case? Or even wanting to? People who want to steal it take the whole thing...sticky tape and all.

    DRM CRAP is just an extension of this type of paranoia.

    Follow this progression to it's logical end and soon you'll be paying a fee EVERY TIME you listen to a song...metered use...they'll know.

    Fight the GREED! Don't buy the CRAP!
    becksdark
  • Thanks, I'll stick to CD's

    Much of what's new and passes for music today blows anyway. The real music of the last 50 years that exists on unDRMed CD's must count in the thousands or tens of thousands of albums if not more.

    I'll stick to buying those and ripping what I want to play on whatever equipment I own wherever I take it. No subscription fees, no DRM circumvention, no locked in to one piece of hardware, no worries.

    It boggles the mind to think of all the fools that allow themselves to be led around by these so called "services" like sheep, or lemmings, or something.

    Cripes, George Orwell must be spinning in his grave!
    Mantei Woodcraft Ltd.
    • Too right you are

      Mantei Woodcraft Ltd is entirely right about this whole thing. Cheers mate :-)
      oddly enough, though anyone could read 1984, not that many people seem to be able to open their eyes (unfog their brains?) and see what's really happening right now.
      How many of you are going to sell what's left of their freedom?
      bplivard