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Yahoo Exec Speaks Against DRM 244

AWhiteFlame writes "Dave Goldberg of Yahoo spoke against DRM on media files last Thursday at the Music 2.0 conference in Los Angeles. From the article: 'According to attendees, Goldberg pointed to the experience of eMusic, which offers its subscribers access to MP3 files without any digital rights management attached. Rights management restrictions have created a barrier for consumers, he said, making it a hurdle to transfer music to portable devices, and creating incompatibility between music services and MP3 players ... A Yahoo spokeswoman said that Goldberg was 'basically trying to move the industry forward,' and wanted to prompt industry-wide discussion about what the consumer experience is."
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Yahoo Exec Speaks Against DRM

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  • Interesting.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by taskforce ( 866056 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:40PM (#14794491) Homepage
    ...considering Yahoo's music service uses a propretary media player (Yahoo's) with a propretary DRM implementation (Microsoft's) on the subscription model where your music is all deleted when you cancel your subscription... by DRM.
    • Re:Interesting.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by apocal ( 445331 )
      this is probably not by choice but what the industry demands. Yahoo doesn't like it, and is trying to open discussion for change perhaps?
      • Re:Interesting.. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drasfr ( 219085 )
        yes... maybe Yahoo doesn't like it because they have to pay royalties to Microsoft for the DRM technologies? Going unrestricted means:
        - no royalties for a DRM system to pay
        - systems easier to implement
        - customers more satisfied
        - good for the image...

        The don't own any DRM technology, and thus have no interest in such, adding some only frustrates customers and make them look bad. These days, they only want Google to look bad ;)
    • Re:Interesting.. (Score:3, Informative)

      by ( 782137 )
      If you look at Yahoo Music Engine's site, it says they charge you to burn CDs. Yes, it really does say that.

      I'm not going to use a program which charges me for a basic operation like burning a CD. I'll stick with foobar2000, thanks :)
      • Re:Interesting.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by joeljkp ( 254783 )
        Do people still not understand the subscription music business model?

        Subscription music services are a big jukebox in the sky, for which you pay $10/mo or so for access. Of course burning CDs is going to cost you more, because in burning a song, you're buying it, not just playing from their big streaming repository.

        They're completely different types of services: with one, you pay a little, and you get to listen to whatever you want from their site; with the other, you pay a lot, and get to keep the music yo
    • Re:Interesting.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LetterRip ( 30937 )
      [QUOTE]...considering Yahoo's music service uses a propretary media player (Yahoo's) with a propretary DRM implementation (Microsoft's) on the subscription model where your music is all deleted when you cancel your subscription... by DRM.[/QUOTE]

      Not really when you translate what he says to [QUOTE]Our DRM is incompatible with the iPod which really sucks for us[/QUOTE], it makes perfect sense :)
    • ..considering Yahoo's music service

      Normally I might agree that Yahoo (in this instance) would be the source of such aggravation. But if you look a little deeper you will see the truth.

      It's in Yahoo's best interest to have as many subscribers as possible. Restricting format options (such as not offering MP3s) only decreases subscribers.

      I do not think that it is any coincidence that there is no legal means of buying an MP3 download of music (outside of Mindawn, other indie labels, or Russia).

      I suspect that th
      • there is no legal means of buying an MP3 download of music

        Since being pedantic is apparently encouraged on /., here it goes:
        There are plenty of places where you can buy "an MP3 download of music". Just not the stuff you hear on the radio. If stations started playing something other than only what is sent out by the major labels then some of these other sites could get some traffic.

        If you mean that the only way to get legal non-DRM copies of what you hear on the radio... then you are pretty much right

    • Re:Interesting.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by javaxman ( 705658 )
      ...considering Yahoo's music service uses a proprietary media player (Yahoo's) with a proprietary DRM implementation (Microsoft's) on the subscription model where your music is all deleted when you cancel your subscription... by DRM.

      Very, very interesting... that this is the guy saying 'DRM hurts the customer experience' speaks volumes, because he's speaking from the experience of the online music retailer. He's speaking from the experience of running a service which ostensibly makes the same offering, b

    • I don't know much abouy Yahoo! Music, but if it's like one of the many sites that let you listen to all the music you want for a monthly fee, then that's one of the few scenarios where DRM does make sense.

      Otherwise it's just unlimited downloads for a fixed fee, which can't be a profitable business model.

      But you're going into it knowing it's a subscription service, so it's all on the up-and-up.
      • Actually the blanket licence, essentially a flat rate licence for arbitrary play of content is the standard for radio and other venues. The CD and MP3 taxes are similar in this regard. It's been one standard means of making profit for a good fraction of a century.

        The basic problem with the concept of a good business model is that present technologies allow for hypothetical models in which the industry takes a cut with every time you play a song or watch a movie in perpetuity. As long as this is held up as t
    • BAH! If you purchase a burnable copy of a song from Yahoo- it doesn't have DRM and can be in any format you like (including OGG Vorbis). It's only the Yahoo Music Unlimited music jukebox that has the DRM restriction.

      • It's only the Yahoo Music Unlimited music jukebox that has the DRM restriction.

        Irony = only the Yahoo "Music Unlimited" has the DRM restriction!
    • Yes. it's very ironic. However, if that's what you have to do in order to compete as a company (and to convince the information providers to give you what you ask for in terms of content) then you have to bow to industry security measures in the form of DRM.

      Without it you're stuck without any "worthwhile" content. I'm really happy that this guy from Yahoo is talking about it, because he's right. This kind of DRM as in No DRM, or invisible, manageable DRM with a good customer experience is exactly what the i
  • Promising, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by john-da-luthrun ( 876866 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:41PM (#14794498)
    ...DRM will only hit the buffers when ordinary users realise they're paying for their own shackles. At the moment I suspect it's still only a tiny minority of users who care about this issue, so "the market" still makes it worth record companies' while to impose DRM. Hence, while Emusic is a great service, it only has quite a limited selection - and even more limited if you live in the UK, and run up regularly against "This is not available for download in your country" notices even on Emusic.
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @02:07PM (#14794757)

      Sadly, the Slashdot eds decided not to run my story about the Gowers Review [] calling for evidence as of yesterday, so since it's directly relevant I'll mention it here.

      For those who don't know, this is a government-ordered review into the current state of intellectual property, and whether it needs amending in light of new technologies, easy distribution over the Internet, etc.

      The review is concerned with several quite general questions, quite a few specific issues, and any other comments interested parties care to make. Among the specific issues explicitly mentioned in the call for evidence (available on the web site linked above) are:

      • the period for which copyright lasts;
      • what sorts of fair use rights might be appropriate in the UK (bearing in mind that we don't have anything directly equivalent to US fair use provisions at present, and a lot of the things mentioned in this discussion -- such as format-shifting for personal use -- are clearly illegal here at present);
      • the use of DRM (including several very relevant questions about balancing the right of a copyright holder to protect their work and the right of a consumer to use it reasonably);
      • access to orphaned works, for which the legitimate copyright holder can no longer be reached.

      So, if you're from the UK and you've ever bitched on Slashdot about the unfairness of DRM, the media cartels gaining ever longer "temporary" protections, the daftness that format-shifting is illegal even when the industry is happy to sell you equipment that all but requires it to be useful, the use of patents to create a barrier to entry for OSS, or any number of other IP-related issues, stop complaining on here and write to the Gowers Review to make your case. You can bet the big businesses all will be.

    • The sweet spot for music sales has always been the Teen Market. Teens in America have traditionally had the most disposable income. Trends, fads, "cool" (whatever the current, this week only, word for "cool" is) stuff has been a money maker.
      When all media was a one way, we put it on, shut up and consume was a way to print money for those who controlled it. Today.... well, there is this Internet thing I keep reading about in the news...
      My 15 year old son keeps me appraised of th
    • DRM will only hit the buffers when ordinary users realise they're paying for their own shackles

      I've often wondered what point people will start to notice. Will it be when the owner of one of the "phone home" type DRM systems goes out of business and millions of people suddently can't listen to music they paid for? Will it be when new devices don't support the DRM on the music people bought just a few years earlier?

      Would people buy cars that had restrictions making them only work on certain types of

  • I never understood the whole "DRM" idea.
    In the day of the tape/casette/VCR players, nobody would cry about people with tape/casette/VCR recorders because they copied some music/movies from a rental service, or TV, or the radio.

    I wonder what would happend if EVERYTHING got DRM-enabled, and "piracy" would all but dissapear.
    Who the frag would even BUY some (?crappy?) music AT ALL if they never heard a single verse, nor seen a single scene, etc.

    I'd have to argue internet piracy has BOOSTED sales of crappy stuff
    • Re:I never got it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother@oEINSTE ... minus physicist> on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:50PM (#14794597) Journal
      In the day of the tape/casette/VCR players, nobody would cry about people with tape/casette/VCR recorders because they copied some music/movies from a rental service, or TV, or the radio.

      On the contrary: Jack Valenti Testimony at 1982 House Hearing on Home Recording of Copyrighted Works []

      To quote: But now we are facing a very new and a very troubling assault on our fiscal security, on our very economic life and we are facing it from a thing called the video cassette recorder and its necessary companion called the blank tape. And it is like a great tidal wave just off the shore. This video cassette recorder and the blank tape threaten profoundly the life-sustaining protection, I guess you would call it, on which copyright owners depend, on which film people depend, on which television people depend and it is called copyright. And that was 1982!

    • I hate DRM as much as the next guy, but I think you've got the wrong idea.

      While the old tech allowed you to make copies, new tech allows you to make a high quality copy and send it to several hundred people in under an hour with very little effort. So they certainly have a reason to be more worried of copying now than they were before.

      That said, I think they've gone from "worried" to "insane" and need to tone it down a bit.
    • Macrovision? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MS-06FZ ( 832329 )
      Please explain to me, then, why every VCR you can buy in stores has a Macrovision circuit, which causes the video signal to become intentionally degraded if you use a Macrovision signal (like a rental VHS tape played on another VCR, or a DVD player) on the line input - and not necessarily only if you happen to be recording that signal on the VCR. This is the same as DRM and it's worked its way into just about all the consumer-level VCRs out there, and it's been around for ages.
  • My cousin purchased a CD from EMI Music, but since he doesn't have a Discman, he tried to rip the music to MP3, however the CD wouldn't let him. It came with some software to rip the music to WMA format. Then he tried to load the music to his iPOD, which is also supposed to convert the WMA to MP3 I think. But it didn't allow him because the music was copyright protected. Stuff like this just screws the consumer.
    • This is why I have no plans to buy an iPod, ever. Or any more CDs for that matter. I have to assume I'm going to get ripped off. If you have CDs, the RIAA argues, transferring them to an iPod should be illegal. [] You should have to buy the music all over again:

      The [submitted arguments in favor of granting exemptions to the DMCA] provide no arguments or legal authority that making back up copies of CDs is a noninfringing use. In addition, the submissions provide no evidence that access controls are currently p

      • Thats a pretty dumb question. I own two. I've had my 3rd generation for about 2.5 years now. I use it everyday in my car. I've ripped my entire CD collection and have it stored on my iPod. I've also purchased music from iTunes Music store, although I now choose not to go this route due to DRM. I prefer the CD because of a better sound, no DRM, and the ability to resell it.

        I don't know what you mean about not backing up music that is on your iPod. My music is already on my Mac. And its copied to my i
      • If you buy music for an iPod, you can never back it up off the iPod- and if anything should happen to your iPod, well that's just too bad for you. Why do so many people buy iPods? It just seems like a waste of money.

        First of all, the RIAA is not Congress, nor are they a law enforcement agency. So, just because they tell you something is illegal doesn't make it so. In fact the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 says the following:

        No action may be brought under this title alleging infringement of copyright base

      • Don't tell the RIAA, but I think many people like to fill their iPods with MP3 music they've acquired from various, mostly illegal sources beforehand. This is certainly what I do with my crappy 40GBP flash-drive-style MP3 player.
      • This is why I have no plans to buy an iPod, ever. Or any more CDs for that matter.

        I'm pretty much fed up with the major labels as a whole. I'm far more likely to listen to some little-known artist via web radio than Britney Spears anyhow. So, bottom line, I don't give a crap what they do as long as they don't get laws passed that restrict how I use the music I purchase from other sources (such as

        I'm not a criminal and I don't like having my hands tied behind my back as if I were one.

        • I agree with you for the most part here, but honestly I don't care what the RIAA calls me, and I am sure they don't care for what I call them. The only clarification I offer is regarding "Now that the RIAA calls anyone downloading MP3 files a thief...". As much as they would like to, they cannot control artists that aren't under their thumb. There are plenty of good artists out there, that aren't locked into contracts with RIAA member companies, that still let you download their MP3s for the very reason
    • Isn't this the one that gets defeated by holding down the SHIFT key when you insert the disc?
  • The problem EMusic has is that it is impossible to browse their catalogue unless I sign up for a "free trial".

    I don't want to sign up for anything unless I know WTF I am going to be able to buy. I find most people fit into the same mindset. You need to know what artists are available before you are going to jump into this new unknown site.

  • I think this touched upon one key part though the portable media player market. While the growth seen there has been tremendous, it has been largely focused on one product the iPod. Dont get me wrong I love my iPod and think it is an excelent designed product but there are some other items out there that have caught my eye but I would not be as interested in because they dont play well with the music collect that I have bought (stupid me) and my computer (a mac, although remarkably usually less of an issu
    • There is an open, DRM-free format. Its called OGG. Some players even support it. But you, like almost all consumers, aren't willing to buy them because they don't work with the piece of software you want to use. The companies know this and lock you in to their products to protect their revenue streams. DRM is just another mechanism for this.

      Nothing's free, you have to give a little to get a little. In your case, you gave $$$ (ipod) to get compatability with a piece of software and the DRM that comes w
  • Is it me or does it sound like Yahoo! is making some sort of apology for their man daring to suggest DRM is bad? It's a shame that DRM seems almost inevitable now, despite the high profile debacle last year of Sony's rootkit and patches, it doesn't seem to have translated into a public awareness of what DRM is and how it restricts you. iTunes for example, seems to be doing rather well, it just reached its billionth download.
  • A lot of music stores have been having difficulty competing with the iTunes Music Store, and with good reason, iPods are hip, and the only Store guaranteed to work with the iPod is the iTMS.

    However there is another way, if Yahoo's store sold, instead of DRM encumbered MS only files, un-DRMed AAC or MP3 files, these would work fine with the iPod, they could sell them at a lower cost than iTunes and compete with Apple.

    Of course the RIAA will never allow them to do this, because non-DRMed music is bad, right?
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @01:50PM (#14794598) Homepage
    The only way I'll pay for downloaded music is if its lossless (wav,flac) and if it costs significantly less than the CD. If the artist only has 1 good song they aren't worth giving any money to. If they can produce an album where I like at least half the songs, and don't hate the rest, then I will buy the music. If the download doesn't cost less than half of what the CD costs, then I don't see where I am getting a better deal.
    • The only way I'll pay for downloaded music is if its lossless...

      The only way anybody will get me to download music at all is when they pry my 60 CD-changer stereo from my cold, dead hands...

    • You outlined my own thoughts on the issue almost perfectly. $0.99 a song can be more than the cost of a CD depending on the number of songs on the CD. And it's compressed at an inadequate 128kbs. And I'd have to deal with the DRM garbage. Sorry Apple, I ain't buyin' it.
    • You don't see where you're getting a better deal because you're not a moron.
    • Pardon the troll subject line, but I think lossless encoding is way overrated. MP3 and AAC are fine standards, but the "powers" have decided we don't deserve decent bitrates.

      What I decided to do was to offer MP3's at around 260-270 kbps. If you can tell the difference between that and lossless, .. you should be an audio compression engineer.


      BTW, have you bought my compilation yet? It'll cost ya 1 lousy buck. []
      odd tunes for odd times

      • I don't care if I can tell the difference. I want at least the same quality. Why can't they just give me the same quality. They are already not giving me a CD, or a case, or some nice art and lyrics on paper. I'm also quite limited in what I can do with that music compared to a CD. I also don't have to go through as many middle men to get the music to me. So, based on what I get, I should be paying way less than what i'm paying for a CD. But usually I pay about the same as a CD, and certainly more t
  • Basically, the consumer experience is that if you are law-abiding and buy your music, then you have all kind of limitations and problems, in exchange for your money. If you make an unlicensed copy then you have a very nice free file with no strings attached. I reminds me of the old dentist joke that said that there was a dentist that had in his waiting room a sign stating that pain-free treatment was 30 dollars, but painful treatment was a hefty 600 dollars. When the patient asked if there was an error, the
  • wanted to prompt industry-wide discussion about what the consumer experience is.

    Consumer experience? Consumer experience?!? Look, the corporations are the corporations because they know what makes a good consumer experience. They wouldn't be so rich, and they wouldn't be running this country if they didn't know what was best for us. Now buy what they tell you to, the way they tell you to, and quit your bitching. Why can't you people just see it their way?
  • The people have already spoken regarding this matter, and it shows in today's immense popularity of file swappers and format converters.

    We want free music that can run on all devices (PC, portable players, cell phones, etc.)

    We're sick of getting gouged by $20(or more) CDs with little, if any, worthy content. Does anyone remember how we were told CDs would go down in price after they became more popular than tapes? Well, that point arrived 10+ years ago! So until I see musicians starving on the streets, I'm
    • I suppose "musicians starving on the streets" are called "buskers". A musician failing through internet-driven poor sales rather than because he's not very good, would have to do what all bad musicians have to do - get a normal job, and busk/annoy pub-goers at the weekend.
  • Basically, DRM is a fact of life. Given that people can download and upload any file free of charge, etc, it needs to be done, otherwise files get swapped around etc.

    What needs to be done is a format used which has good quality at a decent file size (something like Musepack would be ideal), a DRM scheme added to it and lots of plugins released for lots of players on lots of different OSes. Maybe something like Steam could be worked out, so that the plugin talks to the client, makes sure the music is authori
    • The funny thing is that as long as CDs are sold, there will always be a leak into music swapping systems. Selling one DRMed copy of a song prevents one listener from swapping his copy, but it only takes one unDRMed copy to make it universally available. I keep wondering when they will decide to stop making CDs entirely.

      Even if they do, there will still be the analog hole, and I wonder what that will look like. In theory it only takes one person to do that "analog rip" and then watch it spread through the
      • Have you not been watching this whole HDTV nonsense, and DRM enabled monitor junk? They are just going to start selling DRM encumbered speakers and headphones! Really the only logical step to fix the problem is the research going into embedding chips into peoples eyes. The technology is already being used to help people regain vision... Only makes sense to make chips for your eyes and eardrums only allow the transfer of sights and sounds if you have the appropriate rights to see them.
  • Goldberg? (Score:3, Funny)

    by XMilkProject ( 935232 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @02:26PM (#14794960) Homepage
    This is surprising, given that the media companies do seem to be taking the Goldberg [] approach to DRM.
  • yes, the consumer experience sucks. thank you for broaching the subject with your peers in denial. it's not fun being called a criminal just because you want to listen to the music you like with ease. and to not be called a criminal means you must jump through so many hoops, such that being a "criminal" looks more attractive. one beings to wonder then if the real criminals aren't sitting in the board room next to you. so many thanks to you, David Goldberg

    thank you,
    the consumers
  • Yahoo, however, prohibits the download of songs with the string "allah" in them.
  • I pity the poor people who don't understand enough Chinese to use Yahoo! China MP3 search and download [] because Yahoo has got it right in China. Free, and it's got to be legal, right? It's Yahoo that's doing this, the RIAA would have attracted attention to this a long time ago if this was illegal. Try it with the help of babelfish or something, and see if you like it. It covers a whole lot, and will most definitely have what you're looking for. Bonus- no threat of being sued! This is the direction that Yah
  • the way music industry decides to sell files is really none of this guy's business. He can bitch about it, but at the end it is the music industry's decision.
  • Holy crap. Maybe now we'll start seeing things that DON'T hurt to use.

    I think it should be required that corporate execs spend a week without a charge card and 'only' $1000 in cash. Their goal is to use their own service as much as possible in one week. See how many times they have to call tech, etc. I think it would be a good test of their own infrastructure: put the top at the bottom and see how far they get before they want to stab someone.
  • my humble experience (Score:3, Interesting)

    by milimetric ( 840694 ) on Friday February 24, 2006 @03:40PM (#14795667) Journal
    Here's my "consumer experience":
    I stopped listening to music. It's too much hassle. Between bullshit restrictions on what players I can buy to go with what music stores and what artists are on what website and who does what with their precioussss intellectual property, FUCK IT ALL.

    Beethoven, perhaps the greatest musician of all time once said something along the lines of he dreams that there should be but one big warehouse where all the artists of the world can drag their art to and come away with what they needed.

    That's called the internet people, his dream has come true but you so called "musicians" and "record labels" have botched it. I don't listen to new music anymore. It's too hard for me to get some tunes that are still true to the spirit of music and art. I have my small collection of rock and roll and jazz and classical and I do just fine popping it into the car once in a while.

    So ROCK ON Yahoo! man, I hope they listen to you. (disclaimer: I hate Yahoo and worship Google)
  • My experience anyway is that companies have gone to war against the consumer/customer. Sooner or later people will start to realize this and fight back the only way we can - by not buying, or buying as little as possible from "devil companies". They call some of us devil customers, well, it goes both ways.
  • "Rights management restrictions have created a barrier for consumers, he said, making it a hurdle to transfer music to portable devices, and creating incompatibility between music services and MP3 players"

    Apple's Rights management restrictions have created a barrier for consumers, he said, making it a hurdle to transfer Yahoo DRMed music to iPods, by creating incompatibility between music services and iPods.
  • Well, now they Yahoo is against DRM, I guess its ok they are helping to send Chinesse to politcal re-education camps.

"The one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception a neccessity." - Oscar Wilde