Friday, September 10

One DRM to rule them all! (warning rant)

We now have two options to buy music digitally. One that won't play on anything but the iPod and the other that won't play on any device (including the iPod) not directly connected to the latest Windows operating system. Both of which ironically require you to burn the music back to CD (where you could have bought it in the first place) in order to liberate it by re-ripping into the MP3 format.

Don't worry people. If I'm right the promise of DRM (digital rights management) means we'll soon have at least 4 or 5 more formats that will be equally frustrating, or one proprietary format (likely Microsoft's) will crush all the others and we'll be left with one fascist ideology that will at least be concise in it's spoils.
According to analysts who've pondered Microsoft's decisions to go into the music business, here's the plan as the company sees it: The main aim of the MSN Music shop is to have people purchase songs in Microsoft's Windows Media format, rather than in the AAC format that Apple sells in its store. The Windows Media format (which is used not only for music but also for movies and TV shows) is only compatible with computers and other electronic devices that run or license Windows. Microsoft wants you to store all your content in Windows Media, in other words, in order to lock you into Windows; when all your music and movies are compatible only with Windows devices, how could you ever possibly think of using Linux or Apple or whatever else may come along?

...promoting a format in order to lock you into a platform is standard operating procedure for Microsoft. The company's various application monopolies -- the main one being Office -- are made possible by the strategic husbanding of "network effects" (i.e., since everyone else you know uses Word, you too must buy Word), and we're all pretty much used to this tactic by now.

And the truth is that Microsoft is not the only company looking to lock you into a media format. Apple, too, doesn't want your music to be free; music from its store will only play on the iPod, and the iPod won't play music from any competing stores. (When RealNetworks recently reverse engineered Apple's system to allow Real's proprietary format to play on the iPod, Apple became apoplectic.)
Translation: Who are we kidding, both Apple's and Microsoft's DRM schema's suck.
"What clearer evidence do you need that DRM on purchased downloads does not help copyright owners -- MSN's own tech support is advising people that it's trivial to defeat using nothing other than the software already on their PCs. We already know the DRM isn't helping customers -- it makes your downloaded music a brittle investment, subject to the whims of the DRM jailer in your PC. So who does the DRM actually help? After you go to the trouble of actually paying for your downloads, you're now conscripted into the Apple-Real-MSFT platform wars? They should be paying you!"
— Fred von Lohmann, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's copyright law expert
Translation: DRM sucks.

Microsoft's help pages regarding playback on the iPod have been updated several times. As of this writing they state the following.
The iPod does not currently support the Windows Media Audio (WMA) format and will not natively play any songs purchased from MSN Music, or any other Windows Media-based music service.  If you are an iPod owner and would like to play MSN Music songs on your iPod, you can send feedback to Apple and ask them to change their policy and add support for the Windows Media format.
Previously the help pages have stated the following.*
There are more than 70 portable audio devices that support MSN Music today, and we hope that someday Apple decides to join with the industry and support consumer choice.
So you can't play Apple's AAC files on anything but the iPod and you can't play any other file formats besides MP3 on the iPod, but Microsoft, being hypocrites, forgets to mention that the don't allow Linux or Apple users to purchase or play Microsoft's proprietary music files.

This clearly illustrates the problem doesn't it. Microsoft is accusing Apple of locking people into their iPod. Meanwhile Microsoft is a complete hypocrite because they are trying to lock people in to the Microsoft operating system.

The problem and solution are simple. DRM is a cavalcade of shit. It penalizes people, all people, because all people need to play or share their music between devices as is their legal right to do, as is an inherent requirement of music. While DRM penalizes those who use it, it does not stop the tidal wave of real pirates who will continue to share or bootleg it world wide without so much as a hiccup.

Don't let Microsoft, Apple, or even Real use you as a pawn to your own peril and frustration in yet another market leveraging war. Just avoid any DRM schemas altogether.

*All quotes from Technology | One music store to rule them all unless otherwise stated.

Related Articles:

Will DRM protect people like Solomon Linda who's "lion song" has been recorded by more than 150 different artists and featured in at least 15 movies and stage musicals including Disney's Lion King? Then what is it's purpose?
Linda, who died with less than $US25 ($36) in his bank account in 1962, was a Zulu migrant worker and entertainer who composed the song Mbube (lion) in Johannesburg in 1939 and recorded it with a singing group called the Evening Birds.

Folk singer Pete Seeger came across the song in New York in 1949, transcribed it note for note and called it Wimoweh, from the Zulu uyiMbube, which means he is a lion.

In 1961, the Tokens recorded the song and added the English lyrics starting with 'In the jungle, the mighty jungle'.

Since then, the song has been recorded by more than 150 different artists and features in at least 15 movies and stage musicals. It has been translated into several languages including French, Japanese, Danish and Spanish.
from Herald Sun: Disney loses song challenge [08sep04]

No comments: