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Digital Rights Management Stupidity

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First posted on Mark Is Cranky:

Ah…another year, another lame copy protection mechanism. Jokes are often made about the major record labels being multi-headed monsters but the more appropriate metaphor has got to be an animal with multiple feet. Let’s face it, the majors seem to delight in shooting themselves in the foot: over and over and over and over again.

Just this week, Sony BMG and EMI announced their new DRM scheme, including plans to roll the stuff out as fast as possible. Without going into the technical details (mostly because I don’t know them) the gist is that the CD’s may only be copied three times. Also, the copies may not be copied. How did they accomplish this? I don’t really care. Hey, they don’t really care about their customers, I don’t care about their pathetic machinations.

To quote the most infuriating bit of the article:

    “Executives at EMI and Sony BMG said the point was to rein in copying by the everyday music fan, not to stop determined bootleggers.”

Uhmm…hello Ms./Mr./Miss/Mrs. Executive! For how many years now have you managed to ignore the fact that people who download tend to purchase more music? For how many years have you convinced yourselves that downloading (as opposed to weak product offerings!) is killing your bottom line? How much money have you spent on these ridiculous technological “fixes”? Yes, ‘fixes’ in quotes because every copy protection scheme has been broken. That will never change. That’s right. You will never see a return on that ‘investment’ because it won’t work. It can’t.

In the meantime, you are further pissing off your customers while adding (and in all likelihood subtracting) nothing to your bottom line. NOTHING. Think about what I’m saying here. Think of the following scenario: I just paid good money for an iPod (I know, I know…you wish they didn’t exist. The same thought occurs to the rest of us about things like cancer, mosquitoes and Michael Bolton). Then, on a quick visit to the local CD store, the latest Foo Fighters disc makes its way into my hands. Now, at work my laptop’s CD player is usually busy with things like software installations, Encarta data, etc. So I figured that the iPod is perfect. I can keep working AND listen to the music that I love…that I just purchased with my own money. But your new scheme makes it difficult (but not impossible) to get those music files onto my lovely iPod.

I can’t make use of your product, but you’ve got my money!

Now, if you can just figure out how to get me to send in money with no product exchange. That’ll be the perfect solution. You’ll be rich and I’ll get nothing.

Just how many non-injured feet do you have left?

(For more reading on this brilliant business maneuver, read on.)

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About Mark Saleski

  • yeah, my post directly below this is about the very same issue. the geniuses at RCA have sold me an unusable Foo Fighters disc.

    somehow, they decided not to make their music compatible with iPods or iTunes. Brilliant move, as there are about 15 or 20 million iPods out there.

    it is rare I plunk down $20 for a CD, and now I know why. The record companies force me to go back to stealing music, because my legal copy won’t function.

  • Tarsanth

    Ultimatley they are never going to stop people copying, just piss em’ off. Like many things I believe that this is another development in history that starts extremley lax, develops into a strict regime, then eventually will settle around a middle ground. No record or software company in their right mind would continue to produce cd’s that couldn’t easily be burnt to a computer at the rate it is going today. Microsofts next generation operating system is even more based around integrated media than the current one, thus creating a conflict not only between the customers and the copy-prevention companies, but between the corporate computer giants whose users can’t use their software and the copy-protection companies.

    Ultimatley it is entirely impossible to stop someone copying a song without implementing a measure so that the song file doesn’t open when you ask it to (now that would be well harsh, not even letting you listen to the music so you can’t copy it). Anyone, myself included, with a marginally above average amount of computer sense can copy a music file simply by………cancel that, wouldn’t want any eyes from the copy protection business gaining yet another insight to try and snarl us all up with 😉

  • Jupiter Moon

    Now I have a dilema: do I spend £15 and buy albums that I can’t listen to on my in car MP3 player, my portable MP3 player or on my computer at work/home and possibly not even on my conventional CD player?

    Or shall I just go to LimeWire and download it of someone who has put an hour into getting round the copyprotection and be able to use it anywhere I like?

    Remember – copy protection is only supposed to act as a deterant – from buying the product!

  • “and only music lovers would buy an ipod”

    How do you figure? Actually, true music lovers own vinyl because those things have way better quality than CDs and especially Mp3s.

    Even though I own an iPod, I tend to equate owning own to someone who loves being part of a trend than being a music lover.