Is Zune-to-Zune sharing really that scary?

Is Zune-to-Zune sharing really that scary?

Summary: The Microsoft Zune will be hitting stores shortly after Halloween and some reports of DRM being applied to your own content are scary. We clear up the DRM issue, but then also wonder about the purpose of a single Zune Marketplace and why there has to be any limit at all on our own content.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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I've been following the news surrounding the Microsoft Zune experience and as a gadget freak I am a bit interested in the device and do look forward to checking one out. The DRM aspects of the Zune have caused me a bit of concern and as I started thinking more about the content I would share with a buddy, I realized I had to get to the bottom of the issues. You see, if I buy a Zune, one thing I would do with it is share my MobileTechRoundup podcast wirelessly with others. Would Microsoft wrap DRM around my own original content? Wouldn't that cause all kinds of legal issues? How scary is this Zune DRM?

Microsoft ZuneI figured the best way to get the correct answer, since I have seen all kinds of opinions online, was to go directly to the source at Microsoft. I contacted Cesar Menendez, who is a member of the Microsoft Zune team. He has a very good blog called the Zune Insider and can be found around the Seattle area showing off Zune devices. He was very quick to respond with the straight answer that DRM will not be applied to any song or podcast that you obtain or create outside of the Zune Marketplace. Well, that was a quick relief of my concerns. However, the 3-day/3-play limitation is built into the Zune so while DRM will not be applied to the podcast I want to share, the podcast can still only be played 3 times or for 3 days if I share it via WiFi and Zune-to-Zune sharing. I guess the 3-days/3-plays strategy is a way for more content to be tried, but it seems like it might be a bit of a pain for the user to manage since they would then have to go download my podcast and put it on the device themselves, not using WiFi, to listen to it past a 3-day period. Fortunately, the 3-day/3-play limit does not apply to photos that are sent via WiFi.

On a related Zune note, it appears that Microsoft is giving a swift kick in the rear to all those providers who launched PlaysForSure content and hardware. I don't understand why the Zune can't support PlaysForSure and allow consumers a wide selection of content providers. It would be great to see Yahoo, Virgin, Urge, Napster, Rhapsody, and eMusic all compete for Zune owners while improving their services and offering competitive plans. It looks like Zune owners may be limited to the Zune Marketplace store with no competition to drive prices or services. Now that is scary!

Topic: Microsoft

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8 comments
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  • 3 days is lame

    It's good that the DRM wouldn't be applied, but the 3 day / 3 play limit, when applied to content you own, is totally unacceptable. MS **MUST** fix this if they want their wireless sharing feature to be more than a joke. Though I suppose someone will hack it within 48 hours of its release anyway.
    lostarchitect
  • Closed System no consumer choice

    [i]I don't understand why the Zune can't support PlaysForSure and allow consumers a wide selection of content providers.[/i]

    Really, the answer to that is crystal clear. They see how Apple is doing it and think they can do the same thing. It this wasn't the case, plays for sure would have been supported.
    This system was designed from the ground up as a closed, M$, Windows only system to make as much money as possible with little regard for the consumer.
    I look forward to seeing this product fall flat on it's face.
    DarthRidiculous
  • DRM = Anti-User

    One of the things that bothers me about Zune DRM is that it doesn't comply with the Copywrite restrictions for how long a user can keep copywrited material. Another thing that bothers me is how popular Ipod has gotten despite that it is bogged down with DRM. I guess it is true that, in times of war people lose most of their rights. Honestly, I don't believe that any company outside the government should have the ability to restrict the usage of media that they themselves do not own nor control.

    I refuse to own an IPod due to unfair DRM principles and I was hopeful Zune would not follow their lead.
    n.fournier79@...
    • If you have to put up with DRM ...

      ... that offered by Apple is the most flexible. (You can burn their DRM-protected material onto CD as WAV or MP3 so personal use is not as restricted as with PlaysForSure.)

      Plus, while Apple doesn't license their DRM technology, they license a wealth of interface products in order for the user to have broad choice.

      It's still DRM but it sells well because it gives the consumer far more flexibility than most DRM schemes. And iTunes does not tie you to a subscripton service.
      M Wagner
    • Cut your nose off to spite your face?

      "I refuse to own an IPod due to unfair DRM principles and I was
      hopeful Zune would not follow their lead."

      Oh c'mon . . . there are plenty of other ways you can fill an iPod
      without having to go to ITMS if DRM is your beef. Both my wife and
      I have ours filled and neither of us have downloaded a damn thing.
      999ad@...
  • This is an old trick ...

    You said:

    "On a related Zune note, it appears that Microsoft is giving a swift kick in the rear to all those providers who launched PlaysForSure content and hardware. I don't understand why the Zune can't support PlaysForSure and allow consumers a wide selection of content providers."

    This is an old trick ... which gives vendor the chance to experiment on their competitors and then, when they see the market potential, take it all away. Microsoft's "right" to do this is derived from the DMCA, which permits vendrs to alter EULAs at will.
    M Wagner
  • No DRM?

    How can the Zune lock you into 3/3 *without* using DRM? That doesn't make any sense.
    anythingbutmine0
  • The only way that M$ will sell the Zune is by

    undercutting their competitors pricing. I'm not talking about $25-$30, I'm talking about $100-$150. Otherwise, it won't sell.
    Beat a Dead Horse