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How DRM Won 221

Nerval's Lobster writes "In 2009, when Apple dropped the Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions from songs sold through the iTunes Store, it seemed like a huge victory for consumers, one that would usher in a more customer-friendly economy for digital media. But four years later, DRM is still alive and well — it just lives in the cloud now. Streaming media services are the ultimate form of copy protection — you never actually control the media files, which are encrypted before delivery, and your ability to access the content can be revoked if you disagree with updated terms of service; you're also subject to arbitrary changes in subscription prices. This should be a nightmare scenario to lovers of music, film, and television, but it's somehow being hailed by many as a technical revolution. Unfortunately, what's often being lost in the hype over the admittedly remarkable convenience of streaming media services is the simple fact that meaningfully relating to the creative arts as a fan or consumer depends on being able to access the material in the first place. In other words, where your media collection is stored (and can be remotely disabled at a whim) is not something to be taken lightly. In this essay, developer Vijith Assar talks about how the popularity of streaming content could result in a future that isn't all that great. 'Ultimately, regardless of the delivery mechanism, the question is not one of streaming versus downloads,' he writes. 'It's about whether you want to have your own media library or request access to somebody else's. Be careful.'"

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