Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
User Journal

Journal stinky wizzleteats's Journal: The Effects of DRM - From Ignorance to Activism

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a very serious advocate of free software and that I adamantly oppose things like DRM. It may surprise very few to know that my wife, until very recently, was not. I would try to explain the importance of things like fair use, the broadcast flag, etc. - but ultimately, nothing I said every really translated into something she could care about in her daily life. It was all too abstract and took too much effort to take the time to understand.

Then she bought an MP3 player.

The last experience she had with MP3s was in the days of Napster. She pretty much thought she could bring home an MP3 player, fill it up with free music from *somewhere*, and go.

"Honey, you can't get free MP3s anymore."

"What? I don't believe you." A few minutes' Googling ensues.

"Crap, you're right. Well, okay, I'll get songs from Wal Mart - they're only 88 cents."

"Those don't work like you remember. They have DRM now."

"What are you talking about? DRM? Just put the damn songs on there!"

I fire up the Windows box, connect her to Wal-Mart's site. We buy several songs, put them on the player, and they don't work.

"Why doesn't this work?! The songs are on there!"

"It's DRM, I'm telling you. That's what DRM does. It makes music you paid for not work on equipment you paid for."

"How can they do that? I PAID for this. I played fair. Is it legal for them to break my MP3 player like this?"

"This is what I have been telling you for years. This is what it has come to."

3 hours of tech support hell ensues while we try to figure out how to license the songs correctly on the mp3 player.

Now she is PISSED. "Who supported the laws that allow this bullshit to happen?"

"Our own senators and our representative in the house. They've actually sponsored new copyright laws in the past few years."

My wife becomes an IP activist and starts telling her friends about the evils of DRM. 2 days later, the battery in her MP3 player goes dead.

"Why do the batteries in this thing go dead so fast?"

"Because DRM requires decryption on the player. It uses more electricity to play DRM music. You are required to provide the energy for their DRM to work."

And with that, my wife goes from activist to pissed off activist. Good job, RIAA. You did more in 3 hours to convince my wife that you need to be destroyed than I could do in 13 years.

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant