Note to recording artists: Just say "no" to Apple

Note to recording artists: Just say "no" to Apple

Summary: In case you missed it, while I and other members of the anti-DRM brigade continue our crusade against digital rights management technologies (officially, DRM.  But I call it CRAP.

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TOPICS: Apple
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In case you missed it, while I and other members of the anti-DRM brigade continue our crusade against digital rights management technologies (officially, DRM.  But I call it CRAP.  Read why or watch CRAP: The Movie), France stepped up to the plate and drafted a copyright bill that, if passed into French law, would have required Apple to open up its proprietary DRM so that content (audio, video) downloaded from Apple's iTune's Music Store (iTMS) can play on other devices besides iPods and in other PC software besides iTunes.  Your fans should have the right to play your content back on the device of their choosing. In some ways, the French bill was looking to make Apple's DRM live up to its name: FairPlay. 

Being able to take your favorite Bare Naked Ladies song and natively listen to it with any of your digital playback technologies or devices without having to illegally circumvent the copy protection (eg: Apple's DRM) that's included with it seems like a fair thing to ask for.  It's also the right thing for consumers who, because of the way Apple has so smoothly integrated iTMS, iTunes, and iPod, are mostly unaware of the harm (in the form of restrictions) being caused to them as a result of using Apple's products and services.  For example, should they over time buy 1000 songs at 99 cents each through iTMS and later decide that, because of how powerful the new class of smartphones are, that they want to use the same Windows Mobile-based device for playing their music as they use for making phone calls, they may be surprised to learn that their $1000 investment in music won't work on their new $500 smartphone/playback device.  At least not without breaking the law.

If Apple didn't control more than 80 percent of all music sold online or didn't have the power to force the record labels to knuckle under, such trainwrecks in compatibility might not be an issue.  But Apple does control more than 80 percent of all legitimate online music sales and that power is what what brought the record labels to their knees, forcing them to knuckle under to Steve Jobs' rule that all songs will be sold for 99 cents even though that's not what the record labels wanted. 

In seeing the harm that could be (and will be) ultimately caused to its citizens, France had the prescience to take action and drafted a bill that would neutralize not just Apple's power, but also that of any other proprietary DRM purveyor (eg: Microsoft).  The bill had real teeth.  Incisors, bicuspids, and fangs that would make any US voter proud.  In contrast, here in the US, our draft bills and laws do the opposite.  They empower companies like Apple to harm us and they incarcerate us in jail if we do boo about it. For example, take matters into our own hands by copying an iTunes song in such a manner that it plays back on our Windows Mobile device.  Teeth? Removable dentures come to my mind when I think about the lawmaking here.

Now, however, it appears as though the French bill is having its fangs removed. According to several accounts including this story in Forbes Magazine,  French lawmakers are watering the bill down in such a way that Apple would still be required to open its DRM up for interoperation with third party devices, but only in cases where  the copyright holders (ie: the musicians or record labels) didn't give Apple explicit permission to lock those third party devices out.  

Whether or not its possible to even get the DRM working on a song by song basis like this (and, in a way that doesn't completely confuse consumers) is worth asking. Will Apple be forced to put some sort of visual cue on each song in its iTunes Music Store that indicates whether it's "WidePlay" (I made this up.  It means "plays on all devices") versus Fairplay (unfairly works only where Apple says it can work)?  Provided the scheme is workable (personally, I don't think it is), then I have one message to all you artists and record labels with copyrights out there: If and when this law passes and if and when Apple comes to you and asks if it can lock your content down to the point that it only works on iPods, just say no.  Your fans should have the right to play your content back on the device of their choosing.  Period.  End of story.

Topic: Apple

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124 comments
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  • Programmer needed

    I am looking for a programer with some Active X experience. I am looking for someone to write a ActiveX program that detects keystrokes and mouseclicks, along with Windows user name, and reports them back to me so that I know when someone is right-click saving a copyrighted image off of my website. Anyone interested please reply. Thank you.

    Note to admins / mods / laywers / all you good people - According to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, a website owner has the RIGHT, and furthermore, is ENCOURAGED to take whatever protective measures necessary to protect intellectual property.

    Furthermore, any antivirus or antispyware companies who attempt to circumvent any DRM technology are subject to lawsuit.
    Anthony S.
    • BWAHHAHAHAAHH

      How to circumvent:

      Use Linux
      Use a Mac
      Turn off ActiveX
      Turn off JavaScript
      Use FireFox
      rpmyers1
      • You Forgot

        Take a screenshot and then crop out everything else.

        These scripts are worthless.
        Edward Meyers
        • No Problem

          The parent wast talking ActiveX - not javascript. The site could require the installation of an Active script which could in turn install a low level OS hook that prevents the taking of screenshots.

          Muuuaaahhhahahahahaha!!! ;)
          toadlife
          • Active X uses Javascript

            With IE 6, it'll ask to instatiate the control, and the only way to check for installation is through JavaScript.
            rpmyers1
          • Always a way around

            Just point a digital camera at the screen.

            Bwah-ha-ha-HA!
            gdavisjr
  • Just say no to Microsoft

    Why is Apple's proprietary DRM seen to be worse than Microsoft's
    DRM. I think Apple should open up their DRM when I can play
    music and movies on my Mac. Fortunately Apple is winning this one
    at the moment because iTunes can be used on any computer.
    Windows media cannot.
    MacGeek2121
    • Why is Apple's proprietary DRM seen to be worse than Microsoft's?

      Mostly because of that 80% market share thing. Same reason why it's OK for Apple to bundle applications with their OS and it's not OK for Microsoft.

      That's not to say that either are good, just why Apple is getting more attention on this than MS.
      brble
      • It's where the most harm is being done ..

        ...right now. With that sort of share of online music sales, every individual file that's downloaded out of the iTMS is another file in the marketplace that will guarantee not just Apple's legacy, but a world where nothing interoperates. Technically speaking, Microsoft's DRM is almost as bad. I say almost because, at least Microsoft is licensing its DRM to third parties which enables interoperation across vendor products that's not available from Apple. The only odd-vendor out on the Microsoft front is Apple. To me though, that only makes it a hair better and raises the possibility that Microsoft, by virtue of its strategy, could end up where Apple is today: in control of the entertainment business by virtue of its DRM. So, my position has always been to avoid proprietary DRM, no matter who its purveryor is, like the plague. But Apple's is the most pervasive and is doing the most damage (including telling record companies how to do their business).

        db
        dberlind
        • You completely don't get it...

          "With that sort of share of online music sales, every individual file that's downloaded out of the iTMS is another file in the marketplace that will guarantee not just Apple's legacy, but a world where nothing interoperates."

          As has been pointed out multiple times, you can LEGALLY strip the DRM right out of the product. How can you do that from Rhapsody or any other service? What, have sound forge or some other wav mapping software running in the background recording it's input form the audio output channel so it's a HUGE wav and then formatting it over to WMA? Yeah right! How about just make a playlist, insert CD, burn... There you go. Done deal, you just crossed the boundaries from Apple only to any other device you could ever want. Home stereo? Check. TV w/ DVD player? Check. PC regardless of OS? Check. Car stereo? Check. Hell, if you want to have the songs on your minidisc you can rip that CD over to Atrac3 via Sony's propietary software and put those songs in a miniDisc, no problem at all! Huh, so I guess that kind of kills your point doesn't it? Oh, no because you have to take ONE ADDITIONAL STEP to produce the results that no other service offers AT ALL, Apple's suddenly the antichrist. How the hell does that work and what color is the sky in your world?

          Oh BTW, you might want to take a nod from MS as the "Urge" service they are working on with MTV is a blatent iTunes rip-off from look and feel all the way through to their licensing attempts. lol

          "Technically speaking, Microsoft's DRM is almost as bad. I say almost because, at least Microsoft is licensing its DRM to third parties which enables interoperation across vendor products that's not available from Apple."

          Yes, MS is licensing it's WMA & WMV formats to other vendors however you still can't remove the DRM at all. You don't have a choice in the matter, it's there. Also, the quality of WMV can't compare to Quicktime's H2.64 and WMA doesn't compare to DVD-audio so why would I want a DRM-plauged, lower quality version for maybe 20 cents less? No thanks, I'll stick with my high quality as I can always drop a file's quality for size constraints but you can't raise a file's quality for better sound. Once it's compressed, it's done. iTunes provides the highest quality, a good value, an AWESOME selection, great options for bypassing the DRM and they are fighting for the consumer, not the corporations. They are doing the public a great service and should be appreciated for it.
          J242
          • How would you do that?

            You claim to point it out but neglect to in this post. From my experience I have yet to find legal way to stip the DRM while maintianing the quality of the track. I can degrade the quality converting it CD format and back to MP3 format but that's a waste of time and money. Why not just freely copy the song to an open formate off digital radio and save the 99 cents. I-Tunes is tied to a few compters and an IPOD. Personally I'd rather go the illegal route and keep the quality I paid for; be it from a I-Tunes, a CD, or another source.
            voska
          • lol

            Anytime you convert from one format to another you have some form of loss, however ripping from a CD is generally higher quality than just downloading an unknown mp3 is it not? So what's the problem? You'd have the same quality you would as if you ripped it directly from a retail copy. Point is moot...
            J242
          • That IS pretty funny

            Apparently someone doesn't understand how lossy formats work =P When you buy iTMS (or WMA for that matter), you already have a file that's in a lossy format. Converting to a CD is technically lossless, but then you rip it back into another lossy format (AAC, MP3, WMA, etc).

            Whereas a CD you buy from the store is a duplicate of the golden master. True, you still lose quality, but you only only have to suffer compression and loss once rather than twice.

            Bottom line, stripping DRM does not result in the same quality as even ripping a song from CD. In one case you have to do two compressions in the other case you only need to do one.
            java.user
          • No, THIS is funny

            You don't understand what AAC audio is do you? It's higher format than CD audio, it's DVD audio. So yes, burning a CD from purchases made on the iTMS is degrading the audio quality down to that of a retail CD which is not as high quality as the original DVD audio. The reason Apple's audio is of such higher quality is that they don't rip from CD's they convert from the original SOURCE tracks. You can't get better than that on the retail market so yes, it's higher quality on an iPod than on a CD and a CD purchased through the iTMS is higher quality than one bought on CD at a store but buying from iTunes, burning it to CD and then ripping that into format .xyz is the same quality as ripping a retail copy. Is that better clarified for you? Sheesh.
            J242
          • ROFLMAO

            >> It's higher format than CD audio, it's DVD audio<<

            HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!

            You are right, that IS funny. AAC is an STEREO format. It maxes out at 48 discrete channels. DVD-Audio, on the other hand, can go all the way up 192 discrete channels.

            Here, go learn something:
            http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/aac/
            http://www.5dot1.com/articles/dvd_audio.html

            Thanks for the laughs ;)
            java.user
          • J242, java.user is right

            I suggest you follow the links he provided and educate yourself.
            toadlife
          • you are an example of consumer misunderstanding

            You clearly need some more education on audio formats, conversion and lossy vs lossless,if you want to make definitive statements as you are. You're not a moron, you're actually pretty typical in your understanding and that's the reason most people don't care.
            A format is a container and the quality of the stuff in the container can be a wide variety. Just because you're using a container capable of holding the highest quality available does not imply that the quality is 100% of what it could be.
            Conversion unless digital from lossless to lossless ALWAYS introduces degredation.
            Any conversion between lossless and lossy introduces degredation. But any conversion from lossless to lossless introduces no degredation.
            Lossless - no loss of information. Lossy - some information removed. Get it?

            And if I understand you correctly, you truly believe that the compressed audio format you get on iTunes is superior to a CD?
            I'm not even going to explain how wrong this is.
            shraven
          • No, I believe that J242 is right, and shraven agrees.

            Shraven said "...except for digital..."

            If you start with a digital format, using WinXP (using IDE cables, no analog audio connection to CD), and burn it to a CD (still digital), then rip the CD to MP3 or WMA there is no more loss than ripping a store bought CD.

            I downloaded an entire out-of-print Hendrix Album (256 kbps) and burned it to a CD and the sound quality is better than most of the factory CDs that I have. The surround sound is the real test, and it sounded excellent, front, rear and sub.

            The key is to keep it digital, and there is absolutely no loss of quality unless you try really hard to mess it up. ;)
            Spoon Jabber
          • I'm no expert on this

            But I do know that an ACC file is not as good sounding my home theatre as CD or the same song. So if I want to burn a MIX CD I find no loss. If I convert the song to an MP3 I do experience degradation in quality. I believe that's more because the MP3 format though. But since on my PC the sound quality is less of issue I don't really care that much.

            I personally hate DRM and don't want it. So I don't buy I-tunes because of that. I don't want to support that. I'll just buy the CD as long as it is DRM free and if it is not I don't buy that either. Lots of stuff out there for my money.
            voska
          • I'm curious Voska

            On your computer, do you use the analog audio cable to connect your internal CD/Burner? If so, there will be an immediate loss of sound quality directly, when the CD is Played, burned or ripped.

            If you use the IDE cable only, and XP (not sure about 2k or 98[probably not]), then the digital format is maintained throughout the ripping/burning process, and generally no loss of quality.
            Spoon Jabber