February 9, 2005

ZDNet OpEd on DRM [7:25 am]

Certainly speaks for me - but, then again, I was a long term OS/2 holdout, too: Isn’t rights management an oxymoron?

I’m in a digital music bind, and I don’t like it. And I’m getting a little impatient waiting for the rest of the public to catch the DRM outrage bug. I can’t imagine why people don’t object more strongly to the idea that you can’t choose a music player without choosing a compatible music service and vice versa. Maybe it’s because the model is similar to ones we’re already enslaved by, such as our forced cell phone/carrier marriages. But that’s thinking about things all wrong. I wouldn’t buy food that can be cooked only in a GE microwave. I wouldn’t buy a car that I could drive only while wearing Adidas shoes.

[...] So where’s the outrage about the creeping death of digital media DRM? I blame the iPod, in part. If you’ve got one, by golly, and 90 percent of hard-drive-based MP3 player-owning consumers do, you just don’t care that your iTunes songs won’t play on anything else–and once the iPod Shuffle wins over the rest of the flash player holdouts (and it will, I’m sure, despite its baffling lack of display and even more baffling lack of decent features and included accessories), no one will care about snapping up all those locked-down songs. As long as you have your little service-to-player synchronicity, you’re happy. But doesn’t it bother you, even a little bit, that you can’t sync your iPod with your home computer and your work computer? That if you lose or erase one of your iTunes-purchased songs, you can’t just download it again, you have to buy it? That if you buy your wife, daughter, or pal an iPod and load up a bunch of songs from the Music Store as an additional gift, wife/daughter/pal can’t copy those songs onto a computer because they’re tied to your iTunes Music Store account? If it doesn’t, it should.

Call me crazy, but I truly believe there should be no copy protection on digital audio. People will pay to download music, so why restrict what they do with that music once they buy it? Especially if they’ll pay what is, really, the exorbitant amount of $1 per song. That’s one dollar per digital audio file . This unholy alliance of hardware and digital audio must end. Until it does, I’ll keep buying CDs, and I’ll keep ripping my friends’ CDs and loading ‘em up on my iPod while my iTunes Music Store account goes untouched. Come and get me, RIAA.

Related: MP3tunes.com shuns digital rights management; also No DRM in Mr. Robertson’s neighborhood

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