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Apple's DRM Is Bad For Consumers and Business 364

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the one-man's-soapbox dept.
BoredStiff writes "Cory Doctorow, noted sci-fi writer and Boing Boing editor, marshals a strong argument against digital rights management in a recent InformationWeek article. His assertion is that there's no good DRM and that Apple's copy-protection technology makes media companies into its servants. Other copy-protection technologies, like Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, are just as bad."
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Apple's DRM Is Bad For Consumers and Business

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  • Conflicted Feelings (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashdot-jake (986859) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:10PM (#15835048)
    There are some things that I prefer renting over buying, and movies are one of those things. With the exception of a few "classics", movies don't have enough replay value for me to justify paying more to buy them. Heck, if DVD's were as cheap as rental I wouldn't buy them because they would just be one more thing cluttering up the house.

    However, the concept of rental clashes with the nature of the online and digital world. Everything that exists can be copied in exact form. You can't return data - you have a copy, not the original. The way I see it there are two options, the concept of rental can be preserved artificially with the introduction of DRM, or it can be abandoned in favor of purchases.

    As a consumer I don't have a problem with the general idea of DRM on a rental - my fair use rights aren't being violated, because I don't have the right to backup, timeshift, or format shift rentals to begin with (unlike media I own, for which any DRM is intolerable). Where the problem occurs is the proprietary nature of DRM. At best, the rental DRM would be an "Open Standard" meaning anyone who pays RAND* patent fees and signs an NDA will be allowed to implement a device, and be given keys (specific to them) to decode the data. Then I could buy online rental devices or software from any number of manufactures, and it would be guaranteed to work with any number of online rental stores. This is similar to the legal workings of DVDs, Blueray, WMV. At the worst you have proprietary technologies, where each company has it's own format and player, like with Apple or DVIX (the first one). In both cases there will never be an open source player - the best we could hope for is something like the new Real Player that has an open source core with proprietary plug-ins. Even that is unlikely, as the movie industry is demanding end-to-end security (HDMI, Trusted Computing) which an open source operating system would not provide.

    In the other option, the internet utopia dream was that the price of media would drop to the point of making rental unnecessary and removing the allure of piracy from the general public. The media industries are strongly opposed to this model of the future, and the only way it will ever happen is if independent media producers embrace it with success, and eventually put the current media companies out of business. This is also unlikely given the weight that the media companies have in government. Therfore, media purchases will also be hindered with DRM for the conceivable future, and will continue to be priced at traditional rates.

    So given DRM on rental verses DRM on purchase, I definitely prefer the previous, but there is another potential risk with DRM rental and it is a biggy. The media companies have shown themselves very fond of the idea of DRM rental, as seen with Napster. They like the model where people don't own copies of media, but instead just subscribe to services that provide them. If too many people embrace these services, we could end up in a situation where everything is locked up. We continue to hear stories about how the original archive copies of important cultural media is being lost due to the extreme length of copyright, and the mismanagement of the copyright holders (Dr Who, classic films). But in most of those cases, at least lower quality copies exist in the form of consumer media. However, if we can no longer record broadcast media, and there are no purchased copies of media, the copyright holders will be the only ones capable of preserving the records of our popular culture. Time and time again they show themselves inept at doing so.

    Anyway, I plan on sticking to buying CD's and renting locally for as long as those options exist, and continue to support those independent producers who treat their customers with respect. I'll keep trying to inform my representatives about the issues. But I'm not optimistic. We'll see what happens.

    * For the uninitiated:
    RAND = Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory
    NDA = Non-Disclosure Agreement
    • by IAmTheDave (746256) <basenamedave-sdNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:55PM (#15835378) Homepage Journal
      As a consumer I don't have a problem with the general idea of DRM on a rental - my fair use rights aren't being violated, because I don't have the right to backup, timeshift, or format shift rentals to begin with (unlike media I own, for which any DRM is intolerable).

      I wonder - wouldn't fair-use rights of the media follow you for the duration of the rental? For instance, I have the right to skip from chapter to chapter, pause, rewind - basically time-shift any part of the movie. I have the right to play with any included interactive content on my PC during that time period (not that I would, mind you...) etc.

      Sure, the rights we're talking about are ones that don't make much sense for a one week rental, but while in possession of content that I've rented, am I afforded the same rights that I would have if I owned the DVD/CD/whatever, during the rental period?

      Also, if I rent a movie that installs DRM on my PC (ex: Sony rootkit) does the company's right to enforce such DRM end at the end of my rental period?

      • Sure, the rights we're talking about are ones that don't make much sense for a one week rental, but while in possession of content that I've rented, am I afforded the same rights that I would have if I owned the DVD/CD/whatever, during the rental period?

        No, that's not how it works. You can engage in fair uses all the time, regardless of whether you own a copy, rent a copy, or don't have a copy at all. Fair use is not contingent on ownership. Rather, it's contingent on the circumstances involved. For example
    • >If too many people embrace these services, we could end up in a situation where everything is locked up.

      I think the only way that will happen is if hardware-DRM becomes mandatory in such a way that the playing of 'unprotected' content is disallowed. 'How can we be sure that the video you are playing is really a home movie and not a pirate recording'. In the long term this might even be technically feasible (lets say that you introduce some kind of HDMI like control into A/V recording devices such that e
    • As a consumer I don't have a problem with the general idea of DRM on a rental - my fair use rights aren't being violated, because I don't have the right to backup, timeshift, or format shift rentals to begin with (unlike media I own, for which any DRM is intolerable).

      Well, as a consumer, purchasing from the iTMS gives you the right to backup, timeshift, and format shift.

      So what is the problem? Is it theoretical, or real?

      The real problem I see is that the DRM makes it inconvenient to format shift, but not im

      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:10PM (#15836750) Homepage
        What happens when the copyright expires, as the Constitution demands it ultimately must? Will the DRM magically evaporate? Or will it impair people from doing anything they like with the then-public domain work?

        This alone is reason enough to get rid of DRM to the fullest extent we can.

        There are other problems with it, though. For example, copyright does not prevent people from conveying lawfully made copies of works. But iTMS DRM interferes with this, since the work is not usable by the second purchaser. Copyright law is meant to serve the public interest. Why should the public tolerate mere authors and publishers interfering in this, twisting and warping matters for their own desires? Why shouldn't the default rules be the only rules, at least in ordinary consumer transactions?

        Copyright deals with the big picture, over the long term. You're thinking too small. Think big, and the problems that make DRM inherently unacceptable become plain as day.
    • Ummm.....guys? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DaveInAZ (944478)
      As usual, I saw something completely different in that story than everyone else seems to have seen. Of course, that could be because everyone else is so sick of this issue that they didn't really read the article. Wouldn't surprise me. Personally, I haven't been paying attention because I already decided it was bad the first time I heard the phrase.

      But, the thing that caught my eye was this statement; The DMCA makes it a crime to circumvent "effective means of access control." To me, the key word, there,

      • Re:Ummm.....guys? (Score:4, Informative)

        by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @10:25PM (#15836809) Homepage
        The DMCA makes it a crime to circumvent "effective means of access control." To me, the key word, there, is effective . As far as I'm concerned, if I can circumvent it, it isn't effective, Q.E.D..

        I'm going to take a guess here: you don't really know anything about the law, right?

        Not only is that not what it means, but no judge would ever think that your interpretation is correct, for the following reason:

        It is a rule of statutory interpretation that Congress never intends to pass a meaningless law. Laws all must do something that wasn't already being done, because there are no useless laws. So only interpretations where there is some use to the law, some real meaning, are valid.

        If it is illegal to break access controls that are effective, where effective means that they are unbreakable, then the law is meaningless. No one ever could break it, because it would be impossible to do so by definition. This cannot possibly be what Congress intended. Therefore, effectiveness must mean something else, something that permits a TPM to be broken, yet still be considered 'effective.' Maybe the word doesn't quite match the dictionary definition, but the law frequently uses words in a specialized manner. (Think of how various fields created their own definitions of words like 'computer' or 'broadcast' or 'network' or 'drive' or 'memory.')

        What it actually turns out to mean is that it has any material degree of effectiveness against nearly anyone at all. ROT13 is likely not effective, but analogue Macrovision probably would be.

        Your argument would get laughed out of court. You're coming across like one of those schmucks who rejects the authority of a court due to trivialities like the flag in the courtroom.
  • by revlayle (964221) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:11PM (#15835061) Homepage
    "...Apple's copy-protection technology makes media companies into its servants..."

    ...and Apple would have a problem with this why? Don't they want EVERYONE to be their servent?
    • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:28PM (#15835188) Homepage Journal
      "...Apple's copy-protection technology makes media companies into its servants..." ...and Apple would have a problem with this why? Don't they want EVERYONE to be their servent?

      The irony is that it was the media companies who gave Apple this power, by mandating DRM.
      • by peacefinder (469349) <alan,dewitt&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @06:48PM (#15835716) Journal
        "The irony is that it was the media companies who gave Apple this power, by mandating DRM."

        Exactly. Apple is neither demon nor saint here... they're just riding the wave of the moment.

        Their success comes because they put together a vertical integration: a playback device, a content distribution platform, a music store, and most critically an agreement with enough major record labels to support the rest. (It's probable that other tech powers could have managed this, but Apple is the one which did it.)

        DRM doesn't do Apple any good in itself. (Or didn't at the iPod/iTunes launch, anyway.) I'm sure DRM was a big headache to design and implement, and they could just as well have done without it. But a plausible DRM implementation was the only way for Apple to get the record companies to play ball, so (in order to reap the profits from the other stages) Apple had to include it.

        Now, the iPod/iTunes/iTMS/FairPlay stack is a raging success. It's so successful that it has given Apple the whip hand over the record companies. (Which is more than a bit amusing.)

        If at some point the record companies want to break Apple's grip on power, they can do so easily... just drop their DRM demand, thereby cutting their own throats. Or they can stop selling through iTMS, and watch that revenue stream dry up, their artists leave, and listen to their customers howl. Or they can go to an Apple competitor and negotiate a better DRM deal... which consumers will ignore, because a better deal for the record companies is necessarily a worse deal for the end user.

        So I think the record industry is done as a power broker. This is undoubtedly bad for them and for Apple's competitors, and it's less than ideal for consumers, but it's too soon to say that it's really bad overall. With the record companies' power broken, more artists are going to retain the rights to their works, and publish via TuneCore.com or iTMS or whatever. In time, that's going to change the face of the industry.
        • Finally. Someone who read ALL THREE pages of the article.
          The point of the article was not that Apple's DRM is bad. (Like the Slashdot headline says.)
          The points of the article were:

          DRM is bad.
          Apple's DRM isn't as bad for consumers as other DRMs are.
          Apple's DRM is worse for record companies than other DRMs are.
          Apple's DRM effectively locks users in to iPods.
          Most other DRMs are just there to get the record companies to hand over the content.
          iPods are so popular now that record companies can't play hard ball w
  • by jhfry (829244) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:12PM (#15835065)
    ... considering that this topic has been beaten to death here and every side of the argument has been discussed. It's a well known fact to any Slashdot reader that DRM is bad. Maybe this article should be posted on Apple's, the DMCA, and every other media monster's website. Here it's just telling us what we already know.
    • by Linker3000 (626634) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:19PM (#15835119) Journal
      Ric Romero is on the case.
    • It's a well known fact to any Slashdot reader that DRM is bad. Maybe this article should be posted on Apple's, the DMCA, and every other media monster's website.

      Fully half of Apple's revenues are coming from the iPod and iTunes. The second and third tier providers are by no means doing badly. So long as there is money to made here, the Slashdot poster can safely be ignored.

  • I remember when an old friend told me back at school that he had the ultimate anti-copying technology ! He said let's go back to the vinyl discs! I remember that i laughed my heart out back then, but everyday now I wonder what would the market become if he's right? Not to mention the users...

  • by sweetnjguy29 (880256) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:21PM (#15835132) Journal
    ...and realizing that DRM sucks. Recently a non-techie friend asked me if his ipod could "talk" to my Zen Mirco:M so he could borrow some music for a few days. I said "sure, they are just mp3s" - she wanted to know how that was possible...that it was so easy to copy and duplicate a file back and forth from my computer to my music device without any hassles...and after our discussion, she was flabbergasted that she had been locked into iTunes and how her rights and freedoms were restricted by its DRM.

    Many other people are waking up to the fact that DRM is shorthand for "you really don't own this piece of music you paid $1 for, and that you can't share it, or copy it, or use it on a different computer." People, and the information they rely and enjoy, desire true freedom.
    • by Otter (3800) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:36PM (#15835256) Journal
      Recently a non-techie friend asked me if his ipod could "talk" to my Zen Mirco:M so he could borrow some music for a few days...and after our discussion, she was flabbergasted that she had been locked into iTunes and how her rights and freedoms were restricted by its DRM.

      Putting aside your friend's sex change in the middle of this conversation -- what "rights and freedoms" are involved in not being able to "borrow" copyrighted music?

      • by kfg (145172) *
        what "rights and freedoms" are involved in not being able to "borrow" copyrighted music?

        The same as those involved in taking a book out of the library. Publishers put up a big stink about that too. Come to think of it, they've never ceased at looking for ways to subvert that. Someday they might succeed, say with ebooks, DRM and the DMCA.

        KFG
        • Well, presuming that you can't listen to the song while your friend is "borrowing" it, I think you've got a legitimate beef. On the other hand, if you bought a copy of a book that I wrote, photocopied all 1500 pages, and I didn't get a royalty hit, I'd be appropriately annoyed. Likewise if you had a PDF version of the book, and used file-copy to "borrow it," I'd want to know why you didn't buy it.

          Handing a book to a friend and copying a file are two different things. Cory (and others) need to "wake up" to t
          • Handing a book to a friend and copying a file are two different things. Cory (and others) need to "wake up" to this fact.

            Ah, but you're ignoring the different ways books and music are used.

            You don't typically just listen to a song once, and then consider yourself done with it until months or years later when you decide to revisit it. However, that is a common way to use books (and movies). Which means libraries fill basically the same market role for books that P2P sharing does for music: one person buys on

            • by TimTheFoolMan (656432) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @11:41PM (#15837162) Homepage Journal
              Yes, I ignored the differences in ways that the mediums are used. It's not relevant to the issue at hand.

              Return to the question of a PDF of my book. No doubt, you would look at downloading that across a P2P network exactly the same way, regardless of whether or not you were going to read it once, or read it daily. Is a Bible different because many people crack it open every day? Using your argument, any fixed document that's read and re-read regularly would be purchased exactly once.

              This is the same "change the game so my argument holds water" technique that Cory uses all the time. It's the kind of thing that makes it impossible to have a reasonable discussion with him, because he bases his position on a proposition that isn't relevant. Unfortunately, most people don't stop him at that point, because he's always carrying the banner of "information wants to be free," and pretending to be Thomas Jefferson.

              Ultimately, Cory wants to "possess" music (and other electronic data that is similarly protected) without paying the content creator for their work and he wants to get away with it. Whether you call it stealing or something altruistic, he wants the benefit without cost, and without renumeration to the artist or legitimate owner of publication/distribution rights. It's as simple as that.

              Tim

              P.S. Your argument also suggests that there is no value in owning books. I own them specifically so I can go back and re-read them when I choose to, and not when they're available at the public library. I buy music (principally CD's) for the same purpose. My gripe with online music is that the license doesn't follow the physical model that a CD allows.
      • Putting aside your friend's sex change in the middle of this conversation...
        I blamed DRM: Dick Removed from Man.
      • Putting aside your friend's sex change in the middle of this conversation -- what "rights and freedoms" are involved in not being able to "borrow" copyrighted music?

        Fair Use [wikipedia.org]

        On the same token, what right do media companies have to charge me money every time I let a friend listen to my music?
        • They don't. Then again, giving copies of the song to your friend is not fair use. Letting them listen to your copies on your CD/MP3 player/8-track/etc. would be fair use. Giving/selling them the physical CD/MP3 player*/8-track/etc. would be fair. Just letting them "borrow" a copy off your player is not.

          * Provided you didn't keep a copy on your hard drive, naturally.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        what "rights and freedoms" are involved in not being able to "borrow" copyrighted music?

        How about the right to sell something that you own?

        It seems pretty obvious to me. If you bought a CD, you'd expect to be able to sell it. In fact, if you look around, you'll see there are all of these "used CD" stores where they actually do this. Borrowing something is directly equivalent to buying something at zero cost, then selling it back at zero cost.

        DRM is an attempt to subvert ownership; the media companies wan

    • Locked into iTunes? I just left Borders where I could not stomach $18.99 for a new release. On the way out, I saw a Pink Floyd Album for $14.99 (not The Wall). I can buy them for $9.99 on iTunes, and despite what you say, I can put it on up to 5 computers AT A TIME, and can burn/copy it as often as I like, and if I choose to break the law, I can share it by burning a CD and giving it away. Oh yes, the recipient will have to re-rip, giving them lesser quality, but forgive me if I don't feel bad for those
      1. You can transfer music with just as much ease to and from your iPod as you can from your Zen.
      2. If by "locked" into iTunes you mean "must use iTunes music store". Your full of FUD
      3. If by "locked into iTunes" you mean you must use iTunes to transfer music. Not quite right, but then virtually all devices of this kind come with some sort of transfer utility.

      iPod is just a player. iTunes is just a player. iTunes music store DRM's their music like any other online seller of music like them. If you don't want

    • she was flabbergasted that she had been locked into iTunes and how her rights and freedoms were restricted by its DRM.


      How exactly does iTunes use DRM? iTunes itself does not create DRM encrypted files, the ones you download from the iTMS ARE of course DRM "protected" but iTunes doesn't lock anybody in. All the files I have in my iTunes (over 30K) are DRM free and can be copied anywhere I like to copy them.
    • "DRM is shorthand for "you really don't own this piece of music you paid $1 for, and that you can't share it, or copy it, or use it on a different computer.""

      Arguably you never have owned this piece of music.

      The real problem is that while there is only *one* source of DRM (yes there are many, but for the sake of argument follow it) there are multiple forms of copyright. Most DRM policies initiate in the U.S., which essentially means that although I am in Canada I'm subjected to some form of U.S. copyright p
    • Recently a non-techie friend asked me if his ipod could "talk" to my Zen Mirco:M so he could borrow some music for a few days. I said "sure, they are just mp3s" - she wanted to know how that was possible...that it was so easy to copy and duplicate a file back and forth from my computer to my music device without any hassles...and after our discussion, she was flabbergasted that she had been locked into iTunes and how her rights and freedoms were restricted by its DRM.

      Nowhere in this incoherent story have yo
  • by Deep Fried Geekboy (807607) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:22PM (#15835145)
    I'm so friggin' tired of his blathering on this subject. Apple's DRM has done more for the availability of music on the internets than anything except bittorrent. If it wasn't for Jobs having the cojones to square off against the music and movie congloms we'd all be renting our music by now. Without DRM iTunes would be eMusic.

    The guy needs to try a spell in the real world.

    And his novels SUCK. No wonder he has no need for DRM.
    • I would almost wholeheartedly agree. I say almost, because Apple does make it so you pretty much cannot use any progam and device combination besides iTunes/the iPod to listen to the music that you purchase. *

      I understand it from a business perspective-- but it does limit the consumer, and it was done purely for Apple's own benefit (i.e. not to placate the content providers, which is one reason always given to defend Apple's DRM.)

      * yes, you can burn it to CD and convert it back, or use the semi-legit hack
      • I agree. Doctorow is over-rated and also largely an idiot. He regularly froths at the mouth about the industry claiming that 'copying IP is not theft because no one has been deprived of its use after it was copied" and then in another pro-author incident, blatantly accuses the antagonist for "stealing IP"... (I can't find the references on boingboing right now).

        I might also add that I use mp3's on my ipod and none of them are DRM'd so I'm hardly "locked in".

        • I might also add that I use mp3's on my ipod and none of them are DRM'd so I'm hardly "locked in".

          That's not what I was saying. You can't play a track downloaded from the iTunes Store on a non-Apple mp3 player (not without a hack, I know it's possible by burning a CD and re-importing it etc., etc.-- but again, that's a messy workaround)

          That's where their DRM borders on the "evil." If a lot of your collection comes from the iTunes store, and you want to listen to this collection on a portable device, you a
    • by i_should_be_working (720372) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:43PM (#15835306)
      If it wasn't for Jobs we'd be buying cds and downloading mp3s, as many of us still are.

      The guy needs to try a spell in the real world. And his novels SUCK. No wonder he has no need for DRM.

      How is he not in the real world? He's practicing what he preaches. And no his books don't suck. I know that popularity doesn't equate to quality, but if an author can give away his books and still make money selling them, it should be obvious that he's doing something right.
    • by xigxag (167441)
      If it wasn't for Jobs...we'd all be renting our music by now.

      That's total Apple fanboy BS. Most music players contain mostly CD rips [magnatune.com], not iTMS purchases. People have always been able to buy music without purchasing tracks online, they continue to do so, and as you acknowledge they can still download music without purchasing it at all. It's the omnipresent fear of the latter that ultimately keeps the record companies in check, not Jobs's balls. I've got nothing against Jobs for being a savvy businessman,
    • by MKalus (72765) <mkalusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @06:12PM (#15835498) Homepage
      The guy needs to try a spell in the real world.


      I think he lost a bit perspective over the last few years. My favourite beef right now is that he is blabbering on [boingboing.net] that he is abandoning OS X because of the "proprietary file formats" that Apple is using. I am not quite sure which formats he means [thedarkerside.to].

      I am starting to get the feeling he just needs to be "special" and "differnt", Apple now has become "too mainstream" for him and he is "moving on".

      As for his Novels.... Some funky ideas, I just wish he would stop being so utterly in love with everything Disney does, or at least let's it colour his view of the world.
    • by leoxx (992) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @06:14PM (#15835510) Homepage Journal
      Do have an honest counter argument or is insulting him [nizkor.org] the best you can come up with?

      If it weren't for Apple, Creative Labs or Sony or Microsoft would be the #1 DRM'd music vendor, and we'd be bitching about their implementation instead. And the honest ones among us who dislike DRM no matter who makes it will still be doing what we have always done, buy our music from cool non-DRM'd labels [zunior.com] and occasionally in that old fashioned "CD" format.
      • Do have an honest counter argument or is insulting him the best you can come up with?

        Apart from insulting being fun, the ad-hominem attack is very effective. Why is this? Is it a quirk of human nature "I hate this guy so I don't listen to anything he says," or is it actually rational? I've mentioned this earlier on slashdot, and I'd like you to think about this for a moment:

        If one takes a Bayesian view of probability [wikipedia.org] (probability represents one's degree of belief in a proposition, not a frequency of
  • by mgabrys_sf (951552) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:25PM (#15835159) Journal
    re:"t Apple's copy-protection technology makes media companies into its servants"

    Wasn't this the protection scheme that the media industry demanded over it's content before providing licesens for distribution - hence it's NOT Apple's? And if it's not Apple's - are you actually claiming that the media companies are making servants of themselves?
    • 1. Media companies want DRM. Apple comes up with a (relatively) non-restrictive response, barely enough to get approval.

      2. iTunes explodes in popularity, in part because most people don't want to/need to go beyond what they are allowed to do. This popularity is not about "DRM is right" v. "DRM is wrong." It's about the illusion of freedom (and it is an illusion); the limits of freedom are only known when they're reached, and most iTunes users don't reach them. Those that do, go around because it's eas

    • There is a complex relationship going on between Apple, media companies, and DRM. Apple and media companies are both "winning" with DRM. They battle between Apple and the media companies is not if DRM is good or bad, but what form that DRM will be.

      Media companies like DRM for obvious reasons - they feel that it slows down piracy. To a media company, the ultimate form of DRM would be one which is pirate proof and that works in all devices.

      Apple has a slightly different objective. For Apple, DRM is useful
  • I don't get it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bobalu (1921) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:28PM (#15835184)
    I buy the CDs and rip them.

    No restrictions, no problem.

    • no rootkits?
    • No restrictions, no problem.

      For now. But I wonder what would happen if CDs had a sort of DRM (similar to DVD's CSS)? Imagine if they marketed those new CDs as "Red Ray" or "HDCD" or something like that, with triple the songs, clearer audio, lyrics on the disk, and other "benefits"? What if consumers don't care about the DRM and buy these new CDs in droves, effectively obseleting the CD (just like how the DVD replaced VHS tapes)? Then you'll have to answer to the DMCA, unfortunately, and that would be

      • They have already tried to do this with the audio DVDs. They have better audio than CDs, include videos (lyrics too?), etc. but have flopped in the marketplace. Why? For the same reason that something like your HDCD would: compatibility. There are many millions of CD players out there and any new format that is not compatible with all of them will need to be orders of magnitude better in order to displace them. I doubt that that will happen any time soon...
      • That's exactly what I'm doing. Let's face it, I'm old. I can pick up most of the music I ever really loved on CD before they get whacked by DRM.

        The rest I'll just have to live with.
  • by Zorque (894011) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:30PM (#15835210)
    Don't buy the music through the iTunes store. It's really that simple. Buy it from another service, buy the physical CD, even pirate it, whatever. You don't have the right to complain about DRM if you buy products that implement it when so many other services are available.
    • Exactly. This guy can yell to us about how Apple is hurting us with the iTMS until his face turns blue, but it doesn't matter. Most people don't have more money than they can spend, so they've tended to develop a pretty good sense of when they're getting screwed over. Apple's sales numbers clearly demonstrate that plenty of people don't feel so completely bothered by this little thing that keeps Mr. Doctorow up at night.

      And most of those that don't feel like the convenience of the iTMS makes up for its limi
  • Without Apple's DRM it'd all be "plays4sure" by now.

    Which is stronger than Apple's "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" honor system DRM, and (since it's all under Microsoft's eye) has the potential of becoming as invisible and ubiquitous as DVD encryption.

    Competition from Apple makes sure that DRM remains fragmented, difficult, and ineffective. And that's good for consumers even if they don't think so right now...
  • ...."Word is protected only by market forces, while iTunes enjoys the protection of a corrupt law that gives Apple the right to exclude competitors from the market" and "For example, in the software industry, it's legal to reverse-engineering a file-format in order to make a competing product."

    The article seems to be a generic troll by a recording industry lobbyist and his arguments are allover the place.

    My Gripe no 1: ITunes does not need DMCA to hide behind and "market forces" does not make microsoft's pr
  • Bad for who, when (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:39PM (#15835279)
    DRM is bad for business: True, unless you are the winner of the DRM lottery being the distributor of the DRM everyone is actually using. It creates a moat which makes it really hard to compete against. The deal is that there was an unwritten pact bewteen the music industry and Microsoft that the people sitting in luxury behind that DRM moat was supposed to be Microsoft.

    So DRM worked just as intented inthe effect it had, it's just that the "wrong" company currently benefits from it.

    Consumers: Actually they are better served than it would appear at first glance. Sure right now consumers have a harder time switching away from ITMS than they would have otherwise without DRM. But you have to consider the alternatives:

    1) Someone else holds the DRM (say Microsoft). Do any of you think that prices would be lower or terms MORE lienient if anyone but Apple had a stranglehold on DRM? Think back on the no-burn restrictions of early online music stores. Given that, the Apple system is about the best (for the consumer) DRM system we could hope to see.

    2) No DRM in place at all. An ideal world, that studios will not buy into - so this is the equivilent of saying there would be no major online music stores. Well what's the difference between that world and the one we have right now? I can still download songs via P2P if I like, or buy from eMusic (which I am a subscriber of). The only difference is that I can also "buy" songs with slightly more encumberance from Apple if I choose. It does not really reduce the choices that would exist if DRM did not exist, it only adds to them.

    Furthermore, Apple's lock on digital music distribution can possibly lead to the desired end-state of large music companies distributing msuic free of DRM. It's the only way a music company has of avoiding Apple store fees by going direct to the consumer with a format that will still work with the iPod. Here, see Barenaked Ladies and other Canadian artists. I can also buy those songs on ITMS but I can buy plain MP3 (or even FLAC) BNL songs and concerts from thier site. In theory bands being successful with this approach along with the music companies desire to get out from under the thumb of APple to try thier own "creative" pricing models could drive studios to non-DRM formats sooner rather than later.
  • by RLiegh (247921) * on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:44PM (#15835310) Homepage Journal
    We can thank all of the "but it's only a LITTLE DRM" users too. Now, DRM is on the rise and in the future you will not be able to obtain any mainstream music (IE, anything other than crappy folk) that is not rife with copy protection.

    This situation may have been inevitable (then again, I think it may not, too), but the apple zealots certainly helped push it along.

    There's a time and a place for fanatacism; four years ago was that time, DRM was that place.

    Thanks for selling us all down the river, Jobs!
    • Without Apple, it would be even more mainstream.

      Instead of having two confusing and conflicting DRM schemes in use, we'd have one, licensed by Microsoft, that everyone used... like CSS on DVDs. It's CSS, more than iTunes, that opened up the "only a little DRM" floodgates. I'd love to believe that Joe Sixpack would care enough about DRM to refuse to use encrypted music files if Apple hadn't made it easy... but Joe Sixpack doesn't actually care that iTunes is "only a little DRM", he only cares if it works for
    • Fine, let's say Apple had never built a music store. What then do you think would have happened?

      Either some other DRM would have been in use, but probably less popular. Fine, so you could simply steal music or buy non-popular music from smaller online music stores that did not use DRM.

      So how is that any different than what we have today. It's not like eMusic died because of ITMS. It's not like I can't use P2P to download any popular music I like.

      You are angry at Apple simply because they have been succe
  • Remember when DVD's were not cracked? Man that sucked. I don't seen Apple's DRM anywhere near something like that. Infact it has not ever been a problem for me functionally.
  • Why "Apple" topic? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Swift2001 (874553) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:49PM (#15835337)
    Apple didn't invent DRM. They're not the only ones who use it. Then this topic belongs on the Main section. "DRM is bad for--" I'm in absolute agreement.
  • Apple is not the one to blame. The entire industry has DRM'd music if it comes from a profitable record label. It's not just Apple. Apple is targeted by alarmist articles like this because it happens to be the most sucessful. It happens to be the most successful because of a couple critical things:

    1) Apple invented the industry of digitally distributed music from big labels.
    2) They have software and hardware integration that is rivaled by no one.
    3) They are "cool."

    Apple doesn't have a need for DRM'd music,
  • by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:55PM (#15835380) Homepage Journal

    It doesn't even matter if you're the creator of the work the lock controls! You can't even access your own work on your own terms if you need to break a lock to do it.

    This is a little off. 1201(a)(3)(A) [cornell.edu] defines circumvention as bypassing the controls without authorization from the copyright holder. If you, the copyright holder, authorize yourself to bypass the lock, then bypassing is not circumvention. This actually leaves some loopholes open, though I don't think they've been tested yet.

    The problem is with tools. 1201(a)(2) and 1201(b)(1) prohibit trafficking in tools that are primarily intended to circumvent (and this is a subjective judgement call, so you can pretty much expect a hostile judge to rule against you), and 1201(b)(2)(A) defines circumvention differently so that the tool is illegal whether you have copyright holders' permission or not. (By a super-strict reading of 1201(b)(1), all DRM players for copyrighted content should be illegal, even the "blessed" ones such as iTunes or DVDCCA-licensed DVD players.) Thus, breaking your own locks on your own content with your permission, still might be pretty hard, since the necessary tools will be "underground."

  • Just Apple? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by necro2607 (771790) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @05:59PM (#15835418)
    Err... why single out Apple? They have the most fair DRM sceheme I've ever witnessed (not that that is saying a lot). If someone is going to get all up in arms about DRM, let's take a look at some of the major DRM players. Microsoft, Sony, for example...
    • Because the "cool kids" aren't cool anymore and they want to be "better" again? So they move on and bash Apple now which they praised in high terms not a year ago?

      Blind worship is bad, blind defiance "just because" isn't any better really.
  • Fair Use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zelbinian (992687) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @06:05PM (#15835456)
    My biggest problem with DRM is that, if I shell out the money for their product, I should be able to do pretty much whatever the hell I want with it after that as long as I'm not making money off it. Whether or not I should care if what I'm doing is 'costing the company money' is debateable, because the legality of that has not been fully dredged out.

    It's already annoying that I can only change the region encoding on my laptop DVD drive a limited number of times. I can't think of any logical reasoning behind that besides trying to pigeon-hole me into a market segment. How is that good for me as the consumer? "The more you tighten your grip, the more starsystems will slip through your fingers." It's true here, as well. IMHO, the more ridiculous restrictions goverments/corporations put on media via DRM, the stronger (and likely, smarter) the piracy movement will become, because people will no longer want to deal with it. And I'd say downloading an mp3 or ripping a rented DVD arguably falls under the domain of civil disobedience.

    As far as mp3's in particular go, why should I pay roughly the same price for compressed, often proprietary audio as I'm paying for unadulterated WAV files on a CD that also include cover art and liner notes? Wired had it right a few years ago: slash the prices on mp3's and they'll make it up in volume.
  • I have blogged several times in the last 2 years about how much fun the iTunes music store is: spend some time, listen to free clips, and buy a track or two.

    The problem, which Cory points out, is that when you de-DRM songs by burning an audio CD, and re-import as MP3, you have to manually re-enter meta data. I don't mind the slightdrop in quality doing this round-trip, but the meta data manual entering is a nuisance.

    This also annoying when loading songs on my Linux laptop and desktop PC: when I rip my store
    • The problem, which Cory points out, is that when you de-DRM songs by burning an audio CD, and re-import as MP3, you have to manually re-enter meta data.

      Some of it, I guess, but this just didn't seem to match my memory... so I just did this as an experiment.

      I took my latest 80 minutes worth of protected ACC files, putthem in a playlist, burned it, imported the CD.

      Sure enough, all the ID3 information is intact. The only thing I lost was the cover art. I can live with that. What are you and Cory talking about?
  • I favor protection of my rights, obviously. I favor making archival copies. I also favor reality over holding my breath until Utopia appears. And the reality is that the article wasn't about your rights!

    Cory's argument is that because of DRM, protected by the DMCA, iTunes puts Apple disproportionately in charge of their devices by preventing labels selling music for it directly. But that's just not true. It only stands up if you assume that AAC (the iTunes/Apple format) is the only format supported
  • "Apple's copy-protection technology makes media companies into its servants"

    and all the artists say "see how that feels"
  • by heroine (1220) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:28PM (#15836546) Homepage
    It isn't Apple which imposes DRM. It's the content creators. It's the same way with Blu-Ray. The studios won't release anything unless they're certain the DRM works. The only advantage gained by Apple is the ability to lock out competing players by controlling access to the DRM. That's why Blu-Ray players won't go down in price the way DVD players did.

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