6 February 2007

Screwed by Digital Rights Management

Seriously. WTF is going on with the music industry these days? A few years ago I decided to ‘go straight’ and stop copying CDs from my mates and give up downloading music ‘for free’ from the Internet completely. I decided that if I wanted a CD, I would buy it. And I’ve been doing that successfully for quite a few years now. But then the digital age forced itself upon us...

Last year, I bought myself an 8GB iPod nano and ripped all my CDs to it – all of which were originals and legally mine. I actually don’t know whether ripping CDs like that is legal or not, and nor do I care, but it’s not immoral and that’s what counts (your honour).

For one of my Christmas presents, I got an iTunes Music Voucher to buy some tracks that are only available through iTunes. I purchased and downloaded them without any problems but was slightly peeved that I had to “authorise” my computer to play them. I figured that I could probably live with that though and burnt a copy to CD just in case I should ever wish to play the songs I’ve purchased on another player.

And that was my first experience of Digital Rights Management. It wasn’t too bad. I’d heard so many people moaning about it but really didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. It seemed fair enough to me. Until tonight...

When I got my new phone in December, part of my contract gives me £5 worth of free downloads each month. The great thing about the 3 Music Store is that when you purchase and download tracks to your mobile, you can also download them to your PC at no extra cost. That’s good because I don’t want to listen to music on my mobile; I have an iPod for that purpose. The problem? The tracks you download to your PC are DRM-protected WMA files. From the 3 Music Store FAQ:

Is the service compatible with iPod?

No. However, you can transfer your 3MusicPlayer tracks to any mp3 player which supports WMA format. Some third party applications exist for converting WMAs to mp3s but these are not supported or endorsed by 3.

Just to confirm: even though I have just spent ninety-nine British pence sterling on one three-minute long music track (ignore the fact that it was actually free) they’re trying to tell me that I can’t play it on the device of my choice? No problem. I’ll just burn it to a CD and rip it into an unencrypted format so I can play it on my iPod. (Again, I don’t know whether that’s legal but it’s definitely not immoral... is it?)

Anyway, here’s where the music industry, the record companies, Microsoft, 3 and DRM all get together and screw me over. The first time I tried to burn the CD, it failed. I was trying to use some old blank CDs and figured I was trying to burn too fast. So I tried again at a slower speed. Still no luck. So I tried again in my other CD drive. That didn’t work either. Having finally found some better quality CDs, I thought I’d give it one more try with an old disc in the 2nd drive on the slowest speed possible. Surely that would work, right? Nope! Because I’m only allowed to try and burn the tracks to a CD three times!!!

What sort of craziness is that? Even though I legally purchased and downloaded that music, and was only trying to listen to it on my preferred music device, I am now only able to listen to it either through the crappy, tinny stereo speakers on my mobile phone or through my PC speakers. I honestly feel like I’ve been put into a virtual prison for a crime that I didn’t commit!

Tell me, is it really worth trying to play fair by supporting musicians through purchasing their music in this digital age when the record companies are punishing the innocent like this?

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Wait, you've been purchasing music in order to support the musicians? The musicians are treated like fucking slaves my the record companies. Cash cows to be bleed dry and then discarded. The sooner the record companies a brought to their knees the sooner musicians will start to get a fair deal and be recompenses for their talent. We don't need record companies in the 21st century, they are anti-talent, anti-diversity and need to be destroyed. Fuck them.

Wait, you've been purchasing music in order to support the musicians?

I knew this point would come up. I see what you're saying, but if I gave the artists the choice of me either downloading their music illegally or buying their tracks legitimately, surely they'd want me to buy their tracks, wouldn't they?

We don't need record companies in the 21st century...

Now that I agree with 100%. Artists don't need record companies to distribute their recordings anymore because the Internet can do that instead. Still, I think it's up to the artists to break away from the record companies rather than us to stop buying music.

Maybe I'll stop buying music with my £5 worth of free downloads and just start downloading saucy videos instead...

iykstuvpzdnYou are correct DRM is wank. However...

Sell your PSP.
Sell your ipod.
Buy some earphones for your phone (bluetooth if you want).
Stop hording gadgets in your Monkey see, monkey buy, I've got too much disposable income, way.

If you ever did carry them all with you at once you would be a muggers wet dream.

Having ssid that, I may be slightly envious as I no longer have much disposable income. (My beautiful daughter more than makes up for it though.)

So if I were going to purchase a portable mp3 player/recorder;what would be the best for avoiding the problems you had ? Zune perhaps ?
I too do not download freebies anymore. I do wish to start downloading and burning to cd's that I can play in cd players. Is one type better than the other for avoiding the issues you encountered?
by Anonymous Anonymous  

Anonymous: The problem is the music I purchased rather than the iPod. I'd suggest you just buy whichever player you prefer and then be careful about where you buy and download your music from...