Declaration of InDRMpendence

Declaration of InDRMpendence

Summary: Is your anti-virus or anti-spyware technology warning you about the Digital Rights Management software on your computer?  If not, it should be.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Mobility
192

Is your anti-virus or anti-spyware technology warning you about the Digital Rights Management software on your computer?  If not, it should be.  It's a Trojan horse of the worst kind.

Earlier today, after describing to a close friend the rock and the hard place that I'm between since I can't easily play the 99 cent songs I buy through Apple's iTunes music store on my $20,000 whole home entertainment setup, he said "Dave... check out Sonos' solution.  It'll solve your problem for about $500 per room." 

Not that I have another $500 per room to spend, but I checked into it and the solution is indeed very cool.  The units that you put into each room wirelessly form a self-organized mesh and just one of them needs access to your music library on a computer or network attached storage (NAS) device. Unfortunately, if I buy Sonos' gear, it appears as though I'll run in the same problem that I'm already having.  According to a technical specifications page on Sonos Web site, "DRM-encrypted and Apple or WMA Lossless formats not currently supported." In other words, songs purchased through  iTunes that are wrapped in Apple's FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) envelope won't work.  Neither will songs you buy from stores based on Microsoft's DRM technology found in content purchased through PlaysForSure-logoed merchants (eg: Napster-to-Go).  While I hate to be the breaker of bad news, I sent him an e-mail explaining the situation.

But now that DRM is coming up on my radar every day, and the more I read about it (on the Web, in our TalkBacks, and in my e-mail), the angrier I get.  To vent, I've decided to start regularly ranting about DRM.  Dating back to cassette tapes (which came before VCRs) and probably something before that, the entertainment industry has never liked the idea of people copying its content.   To Hollywood, the digital age is a double edged sword.  On one edge exists a highly scalable infrastructure that can ruin the profit potential of any single piece of content in a matter of hours. On other edge is the scalable control that Hollywood can finally retake over the duplication of its content through DRM technologies. 

What you need to know is that DRM can be, and has proven to be, a Trojan horse.  In a back and forth thread of e-mails, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's John Gilmore described to me how DRM technology basically allows those who sit at the controls of it to arbitrarily change the rules.  For example, one day, with Apple's iTunes, we were able to burn the same playlist as many as ten times. A day later, it was seven.   Unlike before, when we could take our vinyl records and CDs and do pretty much anything we wanted with them (to facilitate our personal use) or even sell them (or will them to family members), the "R" in DRM is much less about what we have the right to do and more about the Restrictions that can be arbitrarily and remotely asserted over something we paid good money for.  So far, the best suggestion I've heard to dodge the CRM bullet is seek used CDs.  It may not be a la carte song buying. But it's not a premium price for a bunch of music you may not want anyway. 

Microsoft and Apple couldn't have asked for a better gift horse (Hollywood) to come their way, seeking a solution that ultimately gives back to it what it has for so long wanted.  Both companies had a razor (the DRM playback technology) and all they needed were some blades (the music).  Today, with every individual DRM-wrapped piece of content that gets sold, we are securing the futures of the DRM licensors (mostly Apple and Microsoft). That content will forever be useless unless you have something that includes their playback technologies.

The fact that you have 1000 iTunes store-bought songs means that you will be paying Apple  to use that music for the rest of your life (directly for devices like iPods or indirectly through licensee's products like Motorola iTunes phones).  With Microsoft aggressively licensing its DRM technology to multiple device manufacturers (for both audio and video) and multiple online content merchants, I've already said that its DRM technology is positioned to follow in Windows' footsteps as the next dominant technology monoculture even though Apple's players continue to sell like hot cakes.  By continuing to buy DRM-wrapped content, we as consumers are actually unwittingly co-conspiring with Hollywood to give Microsoft and Apple the keys to the kingdom. 

Go ahead.  Ask your favorite iPod owner if he or she knows that by buying songs from the iTunes store, they're actually assuring Apple's legacy.  Apple could sell the songs at its cost and it would still be fantastically profitable forever while having unprecedented control over Hollywood.  It's no wonder Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. is threatening to put his foot down now.  He sees control over his business -- for example, who sets the price of the music he sells -- slipping away to the tech titans.  Perhaps he's just now realizing that his company (and his industry) may have sold its soul (no pun intended) to the devil.

The aforementioned Sonos anecdote represents the perfect opportunity to inspire this first rant because the first time I saw Sonos' gear was at a previous MIT Emerging Technologies Conference and, yesterday, while attending the most recent of that series of conferences, I had a chance to ask Motorola CEO Ed Zander one question while he was on stage discussing his vision of the wireless world. Motorola is the only company besides Apple itself that sells a device (the recently announced iTunes phone) that can play FairPlay-wrapped music.  That's because Apple licensed the technology to Motorola for usage in that phone. 

I asked Zander if, in his role as a licensee that's thrusting DRM-enabled products into the market, he didn't think that we were on the verge of anointing another technology monoculture.  The reason I asked this is that the number of handsets greatly outnumbers the number of computers and if everyone of them has either Apple or Microsoft's DRM technology on it, the market penetration of a major proprietary infrastructure control point will make the Windows monopoly look paltry by comparison.  As I said earlier in this blog, Microsoft is aggressively licensing its multimedia and DRM technologies -- a phenomenon that I've been documenting in this blog's Media Juggernaut category.

Zander never did answer the question. He did however mention that he's licensing DRM technologies from both companies for separate phones (Motorola has a Windows Mobile-enabled phone as well).  He also said that he'd like to see a single standard emerge.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt by saying he probably meant "open standard" (one where neither he nor Hollywood would be beholden to Microsoft or Apple).  But in replaying my question and his answer in his mind, I now wish I came back with a second question which would have been "Don't you think it kind of stinks that your selling two products that are incompatible with each other?"  In other words, if I decide to move to the Windows Mobile-based phone from the iTunes phone, none of the music I have stored on the iTunes phone can be transferred.  Imagine, for example, if the phone numbers you had for your friends worked on one phone, but not the other.  Wouldn't that royally suck?

The EFF's Gilmore has admonished me in e-mail for not being absolutely clear about my position on DRM.  When I omitted the qualifier "open" in my first discussion of why we'd be better off with a single standard that everyone complied with, Gilmore was quick to say "Be careful what you ask for."  PlaysForSure or FairPlay could easily become the de facto standard (a.k.a.  monopoly).   I should have said "open standard." Even so, I'm not sure that I even favor an open standard at this point.  Not if it's going to be used for Digital Restriction Management. 

You shouldn't take any of this to mean that I don't believe in compensating content copyright holders with whatever royalties they're due (DRM's other role is to assure such compensation to some extent).  But as long as DRM technology stands in the way of legitimate use of the content that I've paid for, I as an informed buyer will vote with my dollars by going elsewhere for my content (for example, sites where the artists offer their music for free).  You should too.  That's my Declaration of InDRMpendence.  Don't let this plague spread beyond the epidemic level that it has already reached. Just say no to DRM (stop buying DRM-wrapped content before it's way too late and oppose any DRM-related laws under consideration by any legislative body). 

I know it's not the most corporate IT-esque of topics (our charter here), but this issue has really got me steamed.  And, believe it or not, to the extent that it could lead to another monoculture, there are corporate implications. So, stay tuned for more regular rants about my DRM-free campaign.  And, if you have a good name for that campaign or want to submit some artwork for its logo, let me know at david.berlind@cnet.com. If you just want to show your support by being a co-signer of this Declaration, please just enter a message below in our comments section (and a co-signer you will become!).

Topic: Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

192 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Amen, and a few more words

    First,

    http://doc.weblogs.com/2005/09/30#theBerlindWallbreaker

    Second,

    It's too bad that good companies like Sonos look under-featured
    because they don't run DRM'd music from the likes of Apple and
    Microsoft. Oy vay.

    Not surprisingly, Sonos is a Linux Solution.

    Thanks, and keep the rants coming.
    Doc Searls
    • Why should I care?

      OK, let me play the part of the idiot in the room? I don?t really care that much about DRM in my music and movies. Why should I?

      I ripped a few CDs to play WMA songs on my iPaq (because it wouldn?t play MP3s and because WMAs were smaller). Then I switched to a Palm-powered Treo, and the RealPlayer software on that device won?t play WMAs. That?s annoying.

      I don?t have an iPod , so I can?t shop at iTunes. My wife uses Apple?s online store for her iPod, and it looks great. I?d prefer to use iTunes, and would if I could play the songs on my handheld devices. But I can?t. I also can?t play music my wife purchased.

      So I should be a poster boy for anti-DRM sentiment, right? My consumer choices in music are being restricted all over the place. But I don?t care that much. I?ve accepted physical restrictions on product re-use for my entire life ? can?t listen to LPs on my CD player, can?t run my Mac apps on my PC, gotta buy new types of RAM every time I build a new computer ? so I just can?t get all that exercised over the limitations on content re-use from DRM software.

      (Yes, I understand that in a connected, DRM-controlled world the publisher of content could change the terms of use after I bought something. That would suck, but I have a hard time believing that this would happen a lot. Seems like there?s a pretty straightforward consumer fraud lawsuit in there, if I pay for a product or service and the vendor changes the feature set on me after taking my money. That crap might play in the early days of an industry but not for long. So I don?t worry about it.)

      I?m not saying *no one* should care ? I respect David, and he clearly cares. Doc Searls is smarter than me, and he clearly cares. When I look at my own life, though, the inability to freely re-use digital music from device to device, format to format, feels a lot like the product re-use barriers I experience in many other areas. Why should I be outraged at the music industry?s DRM and not outraged at the SD card in my Treo that doesn?t work in my Sony camera?

      Am I supposed to be mad all the time, at every vendor that doesn?t do things just the way I wished? I don?t have time or energy for that.

      Stephen ?donning asbestos suit now? Howard-Sarin
      Stephen Howard-Sarin
      • Of Apples (literally) and Oranges...

        [b]OK, let me play the part of the idiot in the room? I don?t really care that much about DRM in my music and movies. Why should I?[/b]

        Because it's a slippery slope. If you start allowing companies to take away your rights now, they will continue to hem you in until you have NONE left.

        How would you like it if suddenly, instead of being able to play your favorite Black Sabbath downloads ANY time you wanted, suddenly, your iPod blocked playing that (and for that matter ALL of your) content except between the hours of say, 6pm and 10 pm. And NO Black Sabbath on Sunday! (Gotta keep the Sabbath holy! None of that devil music on the Lord's day!)

        I'd wager you'd be a bit miffed. Especially since you're in the mood for some 'Iron Man' at 2:30 am. Or on what happens to be the 25th anniversary of that first Sabbath show you went to waaay back in your ill spent youth and you met that truly awesome babe that turned out to be your wife? And you can't play "your song" on your anniversary because it happens to have fallen on a Sunday.

        Ok. I'm probably exaggerating the situation a bit, but in all reality, it can happen. There ARE a lot of bible thumpers out there who would LOVE to see the "dark side" banished from our airwaves and consciousness.

        The point is - it's about FREEDOM. Technology is supposed to free us from our bonds (or so it was when the computer was first introduced).

        [b]I?ve accepted physical restrictions on product re-use for my entire life ? can?t listen to LPs on my CD player, can?t run my Mac apps on my PC, gotta buy new types of RAM every time I build a new computer ? so I just can?t get all that exercised over the limitations on content re-use from DRM software.[/b]

        Well... DUH! Of course you can't play LPs on your CD player. It's a different physical format. The two technologies are light-years apart as far as how they work. That'd be like having a Model T engine powering a space ship. It ain't gonna happen. At any rate, you, as a consumer have to consider your options when new technology comes out and whether or not you want to "upgrade" your old media for the new stuff when/if it becomes available. Ideally, you would have a turntable for your old LPs and a CD player for the new material.

        But let's look at this a slightly different way. You make a trip down to your local music superstore. You buy a CD and on the way home, you can slip the disc out of the plastic wrap and jewel case and slide it into your car's in-dash CD player. You get home, you can take the CD out, walk into your house and insert it into the CD player in your audio rack and play it till your ears bleed. Or you can take the CD to your friend's house and stick it into his/her CD deck and listen to it there. And when you go jogging, or to the gym, you can take the CD with you and stick it into your portable Walkman type CD player and play it while you work out. The issue here is PORTABILITY. When you download a track from iTunes, you?re pretty much limited to what you can do with that track. You can copy it to your iPod, or you can copy it to your ROKR or you can make a back up of it on CD. But you can't take it over to your friend's house and play it on his/her equipment.

        As far as the RAM goes. Someone who writes for a computer mag should be familiar with WHY you generally want the newer memory when building a new box. It's usually faster than the old stuff. You normally build a new computer with the idea of making faster than the old one. So why would anyone want to handicap a computer by using memory that's too slow? In other words, when you buy the new memory, you're actually getting SOMETHING in return for the expense. Buying 5 copies of the same song because you're family has 5 different players, is a bit silly and in the long run is expensive.

        [b](Yes, I understand that in a connected, DRM-controlled world the publisher of content could change the terms of use after I bought something. That would suck, but I have a hard time believing that this would happen a lot. Seems like there?s a pretty straightforward consumer fraud lawsuit in there, if I pay for a product or service and the vendor changes the feature set on me after taking my money. That crap might play in the early days of an industry but not for long. So I don?t worry about it.)[/b]

        Yes, it MIGHT result in a law suit. Now think this through. How long do law suits generally take to resolve? Some of us might be old and gray by the time any of it gets sorted out in the courts. And by that time, it would take YEARS to deliver a resolution to the end users who got shafted in the first place. And if the case winds up in an unfriendly court (i.e. a court that's in the RIAA's back pocket), you're in for a long, futile ride.

        And then there's the all encompassing catch all defense for the DRM crowd... the EULA. MOST people don't bother reading them. Most people don't understand HALF of the legalese that goes into them. When you clicked on "I Agree to the terms...." - guess what... You've signed away your rights to a law suit because you've agreed to who knows what terms that went into the EULA. And the agreement to "hold harmless" is usually part of the deal.

        [b]Why should I be outraged at the music industry?s DRM and not outraged at the SD card in my Treo that doesn?t work in my Sony camera?[/b]

        There's NO reason to be outraged about the memory chips. You should have read the specs on the device BEFORE you bought it. Sony's are infamous for their use of the Memory Stick family. There should be NO expectation that an SD chip should ever work in a Sony device (or vice versa). Sony, as a manufacturer, invests money in research and development - and consequently, it has the right to use the results of said R&D in their products to make money. It's a well known and published "feature" of most Sony products that they use their own proprietary technology whenever they can get away with it. This is NOT to say they don?t also support more mainstream technology if they smell a buck to be made.

        If you want a camera that takes SD memory, you have to do some research and buy a brand that uses the SD format. When I was in the market for a digital camera, that's exactly what I did and wound up getting a decent little HP camera that takes SD memory that I can share with my Tungsten T2.

        This brings me to my two cents worth on the DRM front. DRM is a bit of technology infrastructure that Apple, Microsoft, the RIAA and MPAA and their willing accomplices around the world are attempting to slide in under people's radar.

        Why is this?

        1.) Greed.
        2.) Power.
        3.) Control.
        [b]4.) All of the above.[/b]

        How is it done?

        By hiding their real intentions behind mile long EULA's written in obscure legalese that requires an advanced law degree to comprehend it all.

        Chances are a good percentage of people would NOT buy any DRM enabled device if they read and UNDERSTOOD the terms of service that goes along with it. Most would probably agree that the whole thing "sucks rotten eggs."

        But given the fact that most people click on the I Agree" button when it comes time to install something, MOST aren't all entirely up to speed on the consequences of being locked into DRM Heck. Like you, they are too busy going about their lives - as long as the iPod works, then why should they care?

        Let's roll back the clock about 5 years. Napster was THE big thing. MP3's were THE format. You could download a copy of "Iron Man" from some dude who ripped it from a rare bootleg CD and then you could:

        a.) burn a copy of that onto a CD - converting it back to it's native CD Audio/WAV format.
        b.) burn it to CD as an MP3
        c.) copy it to any and/or EVERY MP3 player in the house
        d.) or just play it on your PC.

        And it would play correctly on all of the above options. Now, the copy you might have gotten may have been of lesser quality but that's another issue.

        Granted, this is neither honest nor legal. However, the solution that the DRM crowd has come up with is draconian, over the top and a headache.

        Now, wouldn't it be nice if it were possible to have somewhat less draconian technology in place?
        Wolfie2K3
        • Wow -- what a great response

          I wish all TalkBacks were that good, Wolfie. I'll try to keep up.

          You gave various examples based on my love for Black Sabbath and my ability to play those songs in the future. (Full disclosure: I'm more of a Dio-era Sabbath fan than an Ozzy-era headbanger. But I don't think that invalidates your points.)

          You wrote: [b] How would you like it if suddenly, instead of being able to play your favorite Black Sabbath downloads ANY time you wanted, suddenly, your iPod blocked playing that (and for that matter ALL of your) content except between the hours of say, 6pm and 10 pm.[/b]

          Of course I'd be furious if that happened. And so would tens of millions of other iPod owners. With Apple making billions from the sales of these devices, why would they ever do something that dumb? I understand that it's technically possible, but it's not likely enough for me to be concerned.

          You suggested that a lawsuit would take too long to correct bad behavior on the part of DRM content controllers. I'm sure you're right that a lawsuit would take forever and would be muddied by the EULA. But the court of public opinion would act quickly, as it did with the TiVo recording restrictions on a "King of the Hill" episode. (David talks about it in a late post: http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=1958.)

          Your wrote: [b] Sony's are infamous for their use of the Memory Stick family. There should be NO expectation that an SD chip should ever work in a Sony device?. It's a well known and published "feature" of most Sony products that they use their own proprietary technology whenever they can get away with it. [/b]

          You accept this incompatibility as part of the price of a Sony product, yet you (and David Berlind) do not accept it as part of the price of Apple's products. Why not?

          You wrote: [b] DRM is a bit of technology infrastructure that Apple, Microsoft, the RIAA and MPAA and their willing accomplices around the world are attempting to slide in under people's radar. [/b]

          I couldn't disagree more. RIAA is pursuing high-profile, odious lawsuits that've been front-page news. They're doing everything they can to equate "MP3" with "free music" with "illegal." Apple and Microsoft talk openly and often about how important DRM is to their media technology, and how crucial DRM is to getting the benefits of digital music.

          Your real argument -- and it's a good one -- is that the Napster-era stealing of music was much more convenient, and not just because the music was free.

          You wrote: [b]The solution that the DRM crowd has come up with is draconian, over the top and a headache. Now, wouldn't it be nice if it were possible to have somewhat less draconian technology in place?[/b]

          Yes, yes, yes! But as Anton points out in the post after yours: The content companies can reduce the hassle factor of DRM by loosening the restrictions; they don't have to give up DRM altogether.

          I think the battle should be fought over what constitutes a reasonable set of DRM restrictions, not whether to boycott the users of the technology.

          Stephen

          P.S. You wrote: [b] It's about FREEDOM. Technology is supposed to free us from our bonds (or so it was when the computer was first introduced). [/b] If I recall correctly, computers were first built so we could aim missiles at people better. I prefer them playing music.
          Stephen Howard-Sarin
          • You're missing the point.

            ""You wrote: How would you like it if suddenly, instead of being able to play your favorite Black Sabbath downloads ANY time you wanted, suddenly, your iPod blocked playing that (and for that matter ALL of your) content except between the hours of say, 6pm and 10 pm."

            Steve answered:Of course I'd be furious if that happened. And so would tens of millions of other iPod owners. With Apple making billions from the sales of these devices, why would they ever do something that dumb? I understand that it's technically possible, but it's not likely enough for me to be concerned."

            Suppose Apple or better yet Microsoft suddenly decides they aren't going to support the licensing of their technology for certain companies, so allowing them to control which companies can continue to sell computers or hand devices. Suppose they decide to suddenly change thier format, invalidating the format of all your purchased material.

            To me "purchased material" is actually a misnomer. If I buy something and I don't have control of it I'm actually renting it. So as far as I'm concerned if you buy iTunes you are renting them because Apple controls where and on what devices you can play them.

            The real problem is if I buy a song the format is immaterial. If I bought a song on LP, when LPs went out I could copy that song to a tape cassett. When cassett players became obsolete I could copy that same song to CD. When I bought a MP3 player I could rip that same song to play on my player. With iTunes I can now make a backup cody on CD and rip it to play on my non-iPod player. Since Apple controls the DRM technology they can change that at any time, making any investment I have in iTune songs worthless.
            carlino
          • Thanks...

            [b]You gave various examples based on my love for Black Sabbath and my ability to play those songs in the future. (Full disclosure: I'm more of a Dio-era Sabbath fan than an Ozzy-era headbanger. But I don't think that invalidates your points.)[/b]

            One would hope it doesn't. We could be talking about Britney Spears' or the Spice Girls and the point would be pretty much the same. I just picked an artist at random.

            [b]Of course I'd be furious if that happened. And so would tens of millions of other iPod owners. With Apple making billions from the sales of these devices, why would they ever do something that dumb? I understand that it's technically possible, but it's not likely enough for me to be concerned. [/b]

            The answer would be: Because they can.

            Right now, Apple IS calling the shots. But in some twisted future version of reality I would seriously hope NONE of us ever get to see, things might be different. As I said before, there are bible thumpers out there who would rather you NOT listen to devil music and corrupt your soul. Should they ever gain control, who knows what might someday happen. The point is, through decency legislation as we've seen in the 80's and 90's (remember Tipper Gore?) certain groups CAN and DO have the power to limit what can and can't be seen. We've had entire communities purge books because they've been found to be offensive. The bottom line - Apple may have NO choice in the matter. Laws, no matter how utterly stupid and unconstitutional, have been known to be on the books.

            I'll admit my example was a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but it's a question of illustrating the point with a clear example.

            As far as the court of public opinion is concerned, no doubt there will be plenty of people who can care less. The RIAA just LOVES people like you. Don't let them kid you into thinking they're ONLY interested in suing Suzy Sixth-Grader for downloading Britney Spears.

            The RIAA (and MPAA) have been gnashing their teeth for being caught flat-footed by the emergence of digital music transfers. But they've finally embraced it - otherwise you wouldn't be seeing all these music stores popping up on line (iTunes, Neo-Napster, Rhapsody, etc...). But they want MORE control. Imagine having to key in a credit card number into your next gen iPod to keep the music playing. The bottom line - they've realized how much money they can make and are getting downright greedy about it.

            [b]You accept this incompatibility as part of the price of a Sony product, yet you (and David Berlind) do not accept it as part of the price of Apple's products. Why not?[/b]

            Who ever said I accepted Apple's (or Microsoft's, for that matter) limitations? I'm 100% Apple free. Truth be told, I don't have a dedicated MP3 player of any flavor. I've made other arrangements for portable music - namely a portable DVD player that does MP3 DVDs. At 4 GBs per DVD, and having the ability to swap discs in and out at my whim, I don't see the need for dealing with the hassle.

            At any rate, the point is, as I said, when you're doing research on cameras, camcorders, what not, most people will look to see what format the device(s) support before they buy. When someone bops into Circuit City, Best Buy or whereever and plunks down his hard earned duckets for an iPod, chances are there HASN'T been any research done as to what the guy's in for with DRM Heck. He's just seen his buddys at the gym, or the hot babe next door with one and wants to be cool, so he goes down and buys one. installs iTunes on his computer all the while blowing past the reading of the EULA. In otherwords, he's bloody clueless about the entire issue until he tries to do something that's verboten as part of the EULA.

            [b]If I recall correctly, computers were first built so we could aim missiles at people better. I prefer them playing music.[/b]

            I was referring to the PC, not the mainframe. And actually, the first modern computer was desgined to calculate the trajectory of standard artillery shells, not missles. Missles came later.

            [b]Yes, yes, yes! But as Anton points out in the post after yours: The content companies can reduce the hassle factor of DRM by loosening the restrictions; they don't have to give up DRM altogether.

            I think the battle should be fought over what constitutes a reasonable set of DRM restrictions, not whether to boycott the users of the technology. [/b]

            That's just it. The content companies are the ones who want to be the most restrictive. They want to make more money.
            Wolfie2K3
          • Why did you have to ruin a good post?

            [i]As I said before, there are bible thumpers out there who would rather you NOT listen to devil music and corrupt your soul. Should they ever gain control, who knows what might someday happen.[/i]

            Yeah, you mean the same senate that starts every session with a prayer to God? Or the same Presidents that are sworn in on a bible? Or the same supreme court that has the ten commandments engraved on the building? Yeah, let's hope they never gain control.......oh, wait......we GAVE them control in the election. BOO!!!

            You should fear ignorance and fear-mongers more than any "bible thumpers".

            It is very sad that the same people who scream "they're forcing their religion on me" are the very ones that are really trying to force their non-believing anything goes mentality on the rest of us.

            Give it a rest, I am christian and I listen to Black Sabbath, and I try to spread the word, but have never put someone in a headlock and forced them to pray.

            How are you any better by preaching ignorance and hate?
            Spoon Jabber
      • Good point, actually...

        ... that DRM will be accepted as something aggravating but acceptable by much of the public.
        The concerns about formats and time-shifting and use in multiple devices will not even be noticed by many people.

        You might add the poor quality of sound in recordings available for download to your list of aggravations which won't bother many people.

        Also worth noting is that if any aspect of DRM policy becomes too aggravating, the content companies can change the policy without eliminating DRM.

        So you're right that the content companies will not see much reduction in demand from their policies. That's what the electronic device companies have been working to assure.


        But what you're missing is that new distribution channels can increase sales if managed well.

        Look at the amounts spent for something as superfluous as ring tones. I expect those are new sales and increased profits. Imagine what the internet distribution channel could do for full recordings if the content and electronics companies did not limit themselves.

        The DRM restrictions are reasons to buy music that have been actively prevented. Increasing convenience is a very typical sales point.

        I can only hope the content companies remain outraged by the piracy spawned by the content companies' policies. Some day they may decide to fight back by matching the features that encourage piracy, and at a price buyers consider minimal. Think ring tones again.

        Then they will make huge profits, reluctantly and angrily. Only buyers and stockholders will be happy.
        Anton Philidor
        • Ringtones, eh?

          Anton, thanks for the gentle response. I was worried I'd get roasted a lot worse in here. One thing that I think is really interesting:

          [b]Look at the amounts spent for something as superfluous as ring tones. I expect those are new sales and increased profits. Imagine what the internet distribution channel could do for full recordings if the content and electronics companies did not limit themselves.[/b]

          I take exactly the opposite lesson from ringtones as you do!

          Ringtones are silly, crappy little snippets of MIDI code or music samples -- and people pay as much for these as they do for full-length, full-fidelity songs from iTunes. Why? Because they have to.

          The cellular-network companies control access to ringtones for most people. It's a lot like DRM. They would stop making that money if people could put their own song snippets on their phones easily.

          So I see ringtones as an example of how content controls can jack up prices and limit competition, more than an example of how online distribution can increase demand.

          Of course, now that I've written the above another thought occurs: maybe it's an example of both.

          Stephen
          Stephen Howard-Sarin
      • Excellent point !

        Although I doubt many here will agree it's a valid point at all.
        No_Ax_to_Grind
        • I vote with my wallet

          I tried the Walmart downloads. I read the agreements and it was my understanding that I could transfer the songs to another computer, burn up to ten CDs, and put them on my Zen Touch mp3 player.

          Well, guess what, AFTER I paid for the songs I found out that just to play them I had to upgrade some of the software on my computer. If I wanted to transfer them to another PC I had to upgrade it also.

          So I jump through the first hoop and do the required upgrade and it still didn't work. I called the tech support and was told that I had to lower my security settings in order to get the upgrade. So I jump through the second hoop and reset my security as instructed. I was also told by them "just burn the songs to CD and then you can transfer them".....BZZZZT WRONG!!!

          So, hoop three, I took the CD to my CD player, plugged into the computer, recorded the CD into mp3 format and voila I can put/play the songs anywhere! And I made ZERO copies for anyone, I'm not an infringer.

          How ironic that the real pirates are still infringing away, DRM means nothing to them, while paying customers get screwed ( I paid for all nine songs up front!). No more DRMed cr@p for me period!
          Spoon Jabber
          • behind the scenes it's worse

            The crazy step you took of burning to CD, recoding back into the computer as an MP3 took your already inferior audio quality original MP3 and made it one generation worse by extrapolating back up to CD quality and back down to MP3 (possible through one stage of analog audio as well - not clear form your post).
            So your full priced digital copy is now 2 steps below the CD quality you should have gotten and you had a lot of hoop jumping to do just to use your music in an entirely legitimate personal use fashion.
            You should have been PAID to do this, not pay for the privilege!
            shraven
          • Yes, I should be paid, and

            some sort of attaboy would be nice too. After all, I went through the "legal" channels to actually purchase the music. I would bet that every song that I "bought" is available on some p2p network for free although I didn't even look for them.

            It is also weird that all of the songs are "oldies" and probably not in big demand (The Twist, Unforgettable, Unchained Melody etc, yet all were $0.88, the same price as the more popular newer stuff.

            I used to buy exclusively used CDs, and one-by-one watched all of my favorite stores close. The ones that are left have a really crummy selection.

            I just tried Limewire and found a CD in mp3 format that is unavailable anywhere; Jimi Hendrix: Hendrix in the West. I may be onto something here. ;)

            I can now understand, and agree that, alot of piracy (personal) is caused by the unreasonable restrictions of the greedy record companies.
            Spoon Jabber
      • Why????

        If you think nobody should care, read your terms of use for your credit cards and read the article on same in the latest Consumer Report. They bury in the small print they can change the rates anytime and for any reason. Today you think you are getting a 8% rate, and tomorrow you get hit with a 20% rate. Same difference here, so what you may think is no big deal today may become a big deal tomorrow. Downloaded a song at 99 cents? Maybe tomorrow they'll block playing that song unless you pay 5 cents or 50 cents for each time you want to play it. It's not today you have to worry about, but tomorrow.

        I think it goes to making money--why should I spend $9.00 to $17.00 for a cd with one decent song, when I can get that song for 99 cents, saving $8.00 to $16.00 in the process??? Guess which is going to lose money for the RIAA, and which hole they are going to try and plug. If I bought it, it's my music & I should be able to play it anywhere on any playback media I choose. LP's didn't care if you had a Pioneer or a Phillips changer, they just played. Ditto with CD's (up to now), DVD's, and VCR's (after the Sony war). Consumer rights--ha! Fat lawyers cash register--you bet; the DOJ has showed us M$ has more money than the US Treasury.
        Middle of the Road
        • Why would you even do that

          If the CD has only one good song why even buy that song? Seems you'd have to an idiot to do so when you can just record it off digital radio. You already are accepting a huge loss of quality by downloading what differnce does a low quality ripp off the radio make?

          If you like the more than one song on the CD chances are the others will grow on you in time. The way I see it, most CD that get released get approximately 3 radio play songs. If all 3 songs are songs I like I'll buy the CD and if not I'm happy with the captured recording of 1 or 2 songs. This actually what's been keeping me from buying CDs, that and the chance of DRM making the CD a useless coaster. If it don't play on my PC it doesn't get heard as that's where I listen to my music mainly. (yes my PC is wired into my home theatre sound system)
          voska
      • Here's why

        I bought a CD about 2 years ago. Put it my DVD player, which plays CDs, and it wouldn't play. Put it my PC and it wouldn't play, put it in my car CD player and it wouldn't play.

        So I wasted $9.99 on CD. Not much but I can buy blank CDs to use as coaster for less than 10 cents a piece so I felt pretty ripped off.

        Then I took the CD back to return. The store offered me a replacement only. Well what good is a replacement when we all know it's the DRM that screwed it up. So am I expected to fork out $200 for a CD player just to play the CD. So basically DRM is making CD cost about $210 plus taxes.

        For some really strange reason basic CD players are expensive now. You can buy a DVD player that plays CDs for under $50. You can buy a car stereo that plays CDs for the same prices. Even portable boom box with CD player is less money than CD player for the entertainment center. What's with that? All I want is a basic CD player but I can get one and I can't get a particular CD with out the DRM. So should I care? Only after I wasted my money then no I don't care.

        At that point those wanting me buy music should start caring as I haven't bought a CD since that one I bought a little over 2 years ago. I don't need any more expensive coasters.
        voska
        • I'd be PO'd

          Voska, if what you described happened to me with any of the CDs I've ever bought, then I would be as angry as you.

          I don't buy many (maybe 10 a year, mostly hip-hop), but I've never had a problem playing a CD in multiple cars, computers, or DVD players. Nor was I restricted in ripping WMA, Real, or MP3 format songs from the discs and playing them on portable devices.

          The CD is a good example of state-of-the-art in music portability. Any technology that fails to compare favorably is a hassle.

          Stephen
          Stephen Howard-Sarin
          • My children have downloaded music

            and purchase the CD once they like the songs. They want the artwork, the better quality, etc.
            I am Gorby
      • You Should

        "Why should I be outraged at the music industry?s DRM and not outraged at the SD card in my Treo that doesn?t work in my Sony camera?"

        The obvious answer (okay, maybe not that obvious as you had to ask) is that you should be outraged over all such problems. I hear there is a new organisation looking at standardizing the card nests for server blades. Well it's about time!

        To paraphrase Doc Searls: We have gotten so used to seeing, living with, techno-silos that restrict us to one consortium - even one supplier - that we think it's normal. But a healthy, open, market where everybody wins and there are no dead-ends doesn't have these silos.

        Get mad.
        Stephen Wheeler
      • OK, let me play the part of the idiot in the room

        "I don?t have an iPod , so I can?t shop at iTunes. My wife uses
        Apple?s online store for her iPod, and it looks great. I?d prefer to
        use iTunes, and would if I could play the songs on my handheld
        devices."

        Actually, you can. It is a bit cumbersome, but all you have to do
        is burn the iTunes music onto a CD and then rerip the music as
        MP3's and Voila, DRM is gone. If you use CDRW's the only thing
        you are out is some time.
        protagonist_z