When DRM dies what happens to my restricted songs?

When DRM dies what happens to my restricted songs?

Summary: As the music industry transforms and ultimately ditches DRM--and it will happen probably sooner than we think--one question is left hanging: What happens to the tunes you bought already with DRM restrictions? On a feature at RealMoney (subscription required) called Columnist Conversation Michael Comeau asks an interesting question: "If DRM gets abolished, I wonder if Apple (AAPL) will allow people to download songs they've already purchased in the unrestricted mp3 format.

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TOPICS: Apple
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As the music industry transforms and ultimately ditches DRM--and it will happen probably sooner than we think--one question is left hanging: What happens to the tunes you bought already with DRM restrictions?

On a feature at RealMoney (subscription required) called Columnist Conversation Michael Comeau asks an interesting question:

"If DRM gets abolished, I wonder if Apple (AAPL) will allow people to download songs they've already purchased in the unrestricted mp3 format."

Hmmm. I'm not sure anyone has an answer to that one. Why? Most of us have been following the banter between Steve Jobs and the likes of Edgar Bronfman Jr. since Jobs' "Thoughts on Music" open letter. Others have been ranting about why DRM stinks. We could go into a lot of history here just over the last week or so, but Engadget has summed up the state of affairs nicely.

So let's cut to the chase. When DRM disappears what happens to the restricted songs I purchased at iTunes or another store? Is there a DRM kill switch? Am I stuck? Is there a bill of music downloading rights? Do I really have to burn a CD and then put it back in the library to get rid of the restrictions?

I have no clue. Even worse, who will decide what happens to my DRM-enabled tunes? Apple? The music industry? Bill Gates? Me?

DRM-enabled songs in a world with no DRM makes for an interesting conundrum that we better start pondering quickly. DRM's days are limited. [poll id=50]

Topic: Apple

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  • Another option

    First, Apple won't go back in time and use an outdated format such as MP3. I am pretty sure they wil stick with AAC, as its a superior format. It would just be DRM free.

    What I think Apple would do is make an option in iTunes to 'Remove DRM', that way there is no redownloading. It would be crazy to have to go through and download hundreds of megabytes of songs in some peoples cases just to remove a few kilobytes of code. Simply have a utility to remove that bit.
    Stuka
    • The Remove DRM Feature is already in there

      It's called allowing you to burn your protected iTunes to unprotected CDs and then re-rip to any format you want. Granted there may be some quality loss and if you are completely technically inept it may not be an option for you.

      There is a very good reason why all iTune exclusive songs ends up on P2P networks on average 180 seconds after they are released... and the above is the reason.

      It also shoots down the entire argument that FairPlay is designed in any way to stop P2P piracy.
      Edward Meyers
    • The ideal solution ...

      ... is for Apple to establish a sign-on specific database of your purchased music (like eReader.com does on downloaded ebooks. Need to download a purhcased song again because your HD got hosed? Just go to your apple.com-based music library and get another copy. Then, if DRM actually DOES go away, you can simply download what you have already purchased.
      M Wagner
    • use tunebite

      tunebite does a sort of analog re-run of songs and re-records them to unprotected mp3/wma/ogg/wav. i found it when i left ipod for creative zen. it is a pretty slick application, not sure if the big companies will figure out how to circumvent the methods tunebite employs though...

      www.tunebite.com
      markshervey
  • Why wait?

    What happens when [i]any[/i] of your DRM schemes goes Tango Uniform? It's not like it hasn't already happened and won't happen again.

    Anyone remember Circuit City's DIVX videos? Are they still playable?

    For that matter, have you tried lately to access documents in really old versions of office suite files? I have, for organizations whose documents are still quite relevant after 20 years, and it's not fun. My advice is that if the data matters to you, make sure you have a system that can use the software that produced it. If that's too expensive, paper is your next best bet.

    Or cassette tape. What[b]ever[/b].
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Three letters

      [i]"have you tried lately to access documents in really old versions of office suite files?"[/i]

      ODF
      bportlock
      • ...until ODF 2.0 comes along.

        Let's face it, every format sooner or later gets replaced. EBCDIC, ASCII, TXT, RTF, WP, DOC, ODF, it doens't matter what you choose, sooner or later, the data will be unusable unless oyu devote time and resources to moving that data from format to format.

        And what about media? Cassette tape preceded 5.25" floppies, which went from 120KB (single-sided) to 360KB (double-sided) before they were replaced by 5.3" diskettes (720KB, then 1.4MB). And there was ZIP (first 100MB, then 250MB). There were WORM drives and MD drives. And these were just the POPULAR data storage options.
        M Wagner
  • Why do you think Apple cares?

    Nothing in Apple's history suggests that they give a damn about their users once the product has been paid for. How many complaints were there about scratched iPods, dead batteries, cracked iMac cases, overheating laptops, etc. etc. went completely ignored by Apple? Your iPod battery dead? Buy a new iPod. Your MacBook randomly rebooting? Buy a new MacBook. Your iTMS songs can't be played any more? Buy them again.

    Apple is single handedly responsible for the whole DRM thing considering they are the #1 seller of DRM encrusted content and they install a TPM DRM chip in [b]every[/b] single computer they sell.
    NonZealot
    • Ignore the troll

      Well, its good to see the local troll likes coming out from under his bridge all the time. I would hate forhim to [i]stay[/i] there and feel lonely.
      Stuka
      • Ah, the true sign of having lost the argument

        is to resort to personal attacks. What's the matter, couldn't point to any factual inaccuracies in my post?

        How, exactly, did Apple respond to all the problems that iPod owners have faced over the years? That's right, they did nothing until they faced a class action lawsuit about it.

        Now, let's see if you can point out any factual inaccuracies in this post or if you will simply try (and fail) to insult me again?
        NonZealot
        • Simple Truth...

          You are known as *THE* troll here.

          As for your 'facts'...

          I have replaced several batteries in several iPods. You can buy them at many places, and generally have greater capacity than the stock battery. The whole battery deal a few years ago was started by a guy whom was a complete idiot. Most people know this now, which is why you don't see it anymore.

          As for scratches on iPods, the very first nanos did scratch easy, although this was fixed. But it also has to do with how well people take care of things. Thats like getting mad at a car maker because you scratched your paint by driving through brush.

          The MacBooks got a firmware update which fixed that issue.

          That TPM chip is for the OS to look at to help keep OSX off normal PC's. It has nothing to do with music/video DRM. If you wan't to get into that, go over and look at what your beloved MicroSoft has done with Vista. You can't even watch BluRay/HD-DVD's on it because it purposely degrades the output.

          I would say Apple cares about their customers a LOT more than MS does.
          Stuka
          • I'm flattered!

            [i]You are known as *THE* troll here.[/i]

            Thanks! Coming from a Mac zealot, that actually does mean a lot.

            [i]I have replaced several batteries in several iPods.[/i]

            So that is SOP at Apple? When something breaks, it is up to the user to fix it themselves? Okay, how does that dispute my claim that Apple won't care about people who can't play their iTMS music? Apple had to be sued and eventually settled which proves that they knew they were in the wrong. They were simply going to make their customers jump through every hoop possible before actually doing something to fix the situation.

            [i]As for scratches on iPods, the very first nanos did scratch easy, although this was fixed. But it also has to do with how well people take care of things.[/i]

            Blame the user, blame the user, blame the user!! If it was all the user's fault then how come it had to be "fixed"?

            [i]The MacBooks got a firmware update which fixed that issue.[/i]

            Wow, really? Apple was able to distribute a firmware that removed extra thermal paste from the heat sink? I'm impressed!!!

            [i]That TPM chip is for the OS to look at to help keep OSX off normal PC's. It has nothing to do with music/video DRM.[/i]

            Sure it doesn't.
            http://boingboing.net/2005/07/31/apple_to_add_trusted.html
            [i]It means that the price of being a Mac user will be eternal vigilance: you'll need to know that your apps not only write to exportable formats, but that they also allow those exported files to be read by competing apps.[/i]

            http://www.masternewmedia.org/news/2006/04/05/mac_security_the_evil_drm.htm
            Oh, but you trust Apple not to use this for any purpose other than to lock you in to their hardware? Even just admitting that TPM does nothing more than lock you in to Apple's hardware makes you look a little... apologetic. :)

            [i]You can't even watch BluRay/HD-DVD's on it because it purposely degrades the output.[/i]

            What a hilarious and incredibly untrue statement considering that Vista right now is the [b]only[/b] OS that has the ability to display full resolution HD/BluRay protected content!! It is actually OSX that must, legally, degrade the output! HILARIOUS!!!!

            [i]I would say Apple cares about their customers a LOT more than MS does.[/i]

            Of course you would. Jobs pays you $20 a week to say so!
            NonZealot
          • riiiight...

            Here is the bit on MS and their built in DRM:

            http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/02/drm_in_windows.html

            [i]Certain high-quality output paths -- audio and video -- are reserved for protected peripheral devices. Sometimes output quality is artificially degraded; sometimes output is prevented entirely. And Vista continuously spends CPU time monitoring itself, trying to figure out if you're doing something that it thinks you shouldn't.[/i]
            http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.html


            The Macbook never had overheating issues. That was the MacBook Pro, and that was fixed ages ago. Anybody that had the issue could send it in and have the mobo replaced with a lower voltage CoreDuo processor which ran cooler.

            As for the iPods, every one was several years old. buying a new battery after several years is not a big deal. You have to do the same with cell phones and other devices.

            As I said, the very first iPod nanos had a screen made of softer material, it was fixed. No company is perfect, every one makes mistakes.

            What annoys me about you is you know nothing about OSX or Macs because you don't ever use one. I use windows machines all day, so I (as well as others here) can make a far better comparison. You just make stipulations on what you have heard.
            Stuka
          • Try again zealot!!

            Ahh, good old Gutmann! Way to quote a guy who has been refuted far too many times to count!

            You can disagree with Intel's HDCP DRM all you want but if you want to watch full resolution HD/BluRay protected content on your computer, you had better watch it on Vista because OSX is simply incapable of handling it! If you don't want to watch full resolution HD/BluRay protected content on your computer, none of this matters at all and you aren't affected in the least by Vista's support of Intel's HDCP DRM. Tell me, does the fact that the iPod supports FairPlay in any way affect your ability to play unprotected AAC files? No? So what was your point again? What? You don't want to play any more? I don't blame you. :)

            However, you have resorted to a common tactic of deflection whenever anyone gets uncomfortably close to pointing out all the flaws in the Apple ecosystem. The [b]fact[/b] is that today, Apple is the #1 seller of DRM encrusted material. The [b]fact[/b] is that Apple is the [b]only[/b] computer manufacturer to install and enable a TPM DRM chip in all of their computers. Those are indisputable facts and no amount of deflection can possibly change them.

            [i]That was the MacBook Pro, and that was fixed ages ago[/i]
            http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/laptops/thermal-greasy-apple-sics-lawyers-on-something-awful-171394.php
            Yeah, but Apple actually sued their customers over this one!! Again, the question isn't: did Apple eventually resolve the problem? The question is: does Apple care about their customers? Time and time again, Apple proves that the answer is no.

            [i]As for the iPods, every one was several years old. buying a new battery after several years is not a big deal. You have to do the same with cell phones and other devices.[/i]

            Huh? I don't know about you but I've never had to sue any of my cell phone manufacturers to get them to change the battery in their sealed units after less than 1 year. Apple was sued. Apple eventually settled. Apple knew they were wrong. Why do you continue to defend Apple over something that Apple admits was their fault?

            [i]As I said, the very first iPod nanos had a screen made of softer material, it was fixed. No company is perfect, every one makes mistakes.[/i]

            You are absolutely right. The problem is that Apple has to be sued repeatedly before it will correct its mistakes. After being sued about iPod scratching and finally relenting, Apple is being sued again because it is charging to replace scratched iPods when the warranty states that replacement is free.
            http://macdailynews.com/index.php/weblog/comments/consumer_group_files_lawsuit_says_ipod_nano_defective/

            It seems like you shouldn't because an Apple customer unless you have good legal representation because if Apple isn't suing you, you have to sue Apple over mistakes they refuse to correct!

            [i]What annoys me about you is you know nothing about OSX or Macs because you don't ever use one.[/i]

            So then it should be easy to correct all the factual mistakes in my post. Do it then! Besides, I shouldn't have to own something to comment on it. Considering how many Mac zealots hated the Zune without ever using it, I don't feel too bad about my posts about Apple. At least my posts are factually correct unlike most of the vomit that comes out of Mac zealots! Again, if my comments are factually incorrect, point out how. If my comments are factually correct and backed up with links then whether or not I use Apple products should have nothing to do with the discussion at hand.
            NonZealot
          • You two are funny

            "Ahh, good old Gutmann! Way to quote a guy who has been refuted far too many times to count!"

            Yeah, and he'd say the same thing about you. Big whoop. Seriously, you're shooting past each other, getting nothing accomplished with many words. You're both hamsters on wheels spinning around thinking you're getting somewhere but in reality not moving an inch.

            Claiming to have the "upper hand" in logic is the biggest logical blunder you can make. Logic is not about stroking egos or gaining ground, it's about examining claims and checking both the claims and the evidence for validity.

            A good logician checks both the facts [b]and[/b] the claims. If your facts are good, but the claims are questionable, then the argument falls just as easily as if the claims are valid and the facts are questionable.

            And oh, yeah: It's also possible for several claims to fit the facts.

            Truth be known, we're not mind readers, and I doubt either one of you know the CEOs of either corporation personally. All of your guessing about their motives is pure conjecture.

            "The fact is that today, Apple is the #1 seller of DRM encrusted material."

            As far as I know, Microsoft comes in at #2 here. Both companies sell DRMed music, and Microsoft is competing to sell the most music. Truth be known, this situation could easily be reversed in the future if Zune becomes more successful and iTunes less successful. But does this really matter?

            "The fact is that Apple is the only computer manufacturer to install and enable a TPM DRM chip in all of their computers."

            Have you looked at 100% of the manufacturers? How do you know this? Better yet, why do we care about this?

            "Those are indisputable facts"

            Assuming you've done a completely exhaustive analysis of all computer manufacturers for TPM, how would this fact be relevent?

            "Yeah, but Apple actually sued their customers over this one!!"

            Can you claim that Microsoft has never sued a customer? How is this lawsuit relevent?

            "The question is: does Apple care about their customers?"

            The question is misleading. A large corporation like Apple or Microsoft is generally made up of thousands of employees - some employees may care more, some may care less. The corporation itself is nothing more than a legal entity. Talking about it "caring" is personification (aka the pathetic fallacy), and your argument could be even be considered a form of hasty generalization (applying specific incidents to the corporation as a whole). Correct me if I'm wrong.

            From what I can tell, you are still asking the wrong question.
            CobraA1
          • Maybe I am missed informed

            [i]What a hilarious and incredibly untrue statement considering that Vista right now is the only OS that has the ability to display full resolution HD/BluRay protected content!![/i]

            You mean once you have installed a 3rd party application like WinDVD and have full hardware support (which very few new computers shipping today have).

            Good luck using optical audio with HD.
            dragosani
          • Pull the other one!!

            You mean I have to have the right hardware support to play HD/BluRay content? Maybe that explains why my copy of Taladega Nights won't work in my 3 year old DVD player!!!

            You are right of course, BluRay/HD DVD have certain hardware and software requirements and without both, you aren't watching protected content at full resolution. If you use Vista, you have solved the software side of the equation. If you use OSX, you are screwed.

            However, let's assume you are right and BluRay/HD content can't be played on Vista or OSX or Linux. Just like the iPod's support of Apple's FairPlay won't stop you from playing unprotected AAC files, Vistas support of Intel's HDCP won't stop you from playing any unprotected content either. So why the fuss again?
            NonZealot
    • what about

      Rosetta? I didn't have to wait for updates to my software in order to use my apps on intel based macs. After a short while, updates were available to that same software, at no charge, with Intel binaries. Also, MacBooks had a problem with the battery, and I'm sure Apple lost a lot of money replacing them, which they did for free.
      Voodoo187
    • Re: Why do you think Apple cares?

      [i]Apple is single handedly responsible for the whole DRM thing...[/i]

      Have you seen the new poster? His nick is Ladies_Man but I hear he hasn't got any in 4 years. Go figure.




      :)
      none none
    • Because they've proved it

      Apple consistently gets top marks for customer service, year after year. I personally had some problems with an iBook, took it to the Apple Store, and they sent it in. I had it back in a week. I checked the paperwork which stated "replaced logic board". That's a $700 repair, for free. Indeed, the day I bought it I spent over an hour on their Internet connection downloading FireFox and all the current system updates. Right now I'm listening to an iPod that's over 3 years old, has never given me any trouble, and the original battery still lasts 6-7 hours. The display is scratched but that's MY fault for letting cement dust get ground into the faceplate (don't ask). Battery failure? Wake up - most people know batteries don't last forever. Batteries hard to replace - have you ever looked inside an iPod? I'm amazed they got all that stuff in there to begin with. Your complaints are at odds with my experience, and that of the vast majority of Apple customers.

      On the actual subject, I don't see any reason Apple would make future iPods incapable of playing FairPlay AAC files so you've still got exactly what you paid for. I personally believe they would provide a way to remove the restrictions. Disclaimer: I have never bought any tracks from the iTunes Store. Partially on account of the DRM, but mostly because they are compressed files. 128 Kbit AAC is an excellent compressed format, but it's still not as good as full range CD audio. If I'm going to spend my money on something, I want the best. That's why I buy Apple products.
      --------------------
      Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!
      Imaginos1892