Just Say No to DRM

Volume 8, Issue 99; 08 Jul 2005; last modified 08 Oct 2010

I'm not a thief or a crook and, you know, I don't have to put up with being treated like one.

Doing more things faster is no substitute for doing the right things.

S. R. Covey

Speaking of anger, DRM pisses me off too. This afternoon, I deleted all my iTunes files. Granted, I only had nine, and at least three of those were freebies, so it wasn't a financial hardship.

I had managed to crack the DRM on a couple of songs months ago, when I first tried iTunes out, so that I could damned well install them on my iPod using the tools I want to use. But something's changed and it didn't work with the songs I bought a few days ago.

As I was hunting around on the web, looking for some updated cracking tool, it struck me that being treated like a thief was turning me into a crook. I've seen this movie before.

Back in the early eighties, I worked in retail. I had a part-time job at a computer store where I got to watch first hand the battle between the copy-protection schemers and the copy-protection-cracking schemers. It was not pretty.

In the end, as I recall it, the consumers revolted and all that copy-protection nonsense went away. I remember how refreshing and sensible the Borland “treat it like a book” license seemed at the time. Still does, in fact.

Well, I'm revolting. (Read that any way you like :-)

I buy the music I listen to, but if you want to sell me music (or any other media for that matter) sell it to me without all this DRM crap all over it. That's not actually going to stop the folks who aren't honest, but it's a bloody inconvenient nuisance for those of us who are.

Sell it to me without the DRM or I ain't buying it.


Totally reasonable position, Norm.

Unfortunately some publishers feel that they can lock up their media with DRM without informing the consumer. I feel this is a consumer rights issue and that if we're going to have DRM it should at least be disclosed up-front.

Such disclosure, if in the form of warning labels like the "parental advisory" one, would have a pleasing catalyst effect on the consumer revolt against DRM, too.

—Posted by Alastair on 09 Jul 2005 @ 11:41 UTC #

I buy CDs of music. Not as many as I used to, but I still buy them. I haven't bought any online music because the current storage and proof of ownership all seems too ephemeral.

Last year sometime I bought a CD and took it home, the copyright owner (not the artist) had decided to include some gunk to stop me playing it on a PC. Problem was it wouldn't play on three of the four CD players I own. CD went back to the shop. No more CDs from that artist for me.

—Posted by Adrian on 11 Jul 2005 @ 03:06 UTC #

What drove software theft down was the drop in prices. When you feel like you're getting value for your money the incentive to steal drops. Music hasn't reached that price point because (AIUI) there are a lot of middlemen who skim profits between the customer and the artist.

Software also has gone to a flexible pricing model like airlines. If I'm a graphic desginer, popping out a thousand dollars on a suite of products from Adobe is no big hardship. If I'm a casual user and like to dabble every couple of months, I'm not going to shell out that kind of money. I will look for a student discount, a discontinued version, maybe even eBay. I have to be disciplined not to simply borrow a copy from someone. I don't know how to translate this into the music biz, but I'm expecting someone will before too long...

(Of course, this ignores "activation" which could be viewed as simply a user-friendly form of copy protection made possible by a connected world...)

—Posted by Jonathan Marsh on 14 Jul 2005 @ 07:46 UTC #

I solved the ethical dilemma (I consider the use of locked-down over-restricted stuff to be unethical) by running Linux with almost exclusively open-source stuff. (It helps that I'm a hardcore geek)

I do make an exception for games, but the newest game I play is probably the Golden Sun GBA ROM that I downloaded and I do own the cartridge for it. Most of my games are legally owned DOS or SNES stuff inside emulators.

As for music, I'm lucky; I don't like most of the crap that's out there. I get a lot of my music from sites like OCRemix and The Mod Archive.

I just wish that they'd hurry up and finish the open-source 3D-Accelerated NVidia GeForce driver, GPLFlash, and the GCJ Java Plugin so I can dump the three biggest stains on my system's record. (The BIOS doesn't count since open-source BIOSes are still rather experimental)

—Posted by Stephan Sokolow on 26 Sep 2005 @ 10:19 UTC #

I absolutely hate the whole DRM scheme. I have absolutely nothing against the labels, programmers or hollywood for wanting to keep what they own theirs and making money off of it. Thats their job. But to instantly think that every single pc user out there is a copy right infringer, that upsets the living daylights out of me. Ive copied music, yeah for myself. For example, one cd for the den, the other for the car. Not only that, I like making backups (of all of my media) so that I can store my originals so they last the longest.

I personally believe this DRM thing is gonna hit the fan. If not sooner then later. Not only that, I also believe that the DRM will be easy to crack once you've spent some time with it. (I hate you DRM and M$ with ure b$)

I dont want to rip off anything, and go sell it to some noob, I just want to be able to practice fair use. I want to be able to hear my music in my car AND my den w-out having to carry the cd with me.

—Posted by Sharpshooter on 18 Jan 2006 @ 02:15 UTC #

the whole DRM thing isnt really solving anything anyway.. moreover, it used to be that i'd buy a cd and use it in my car and home stereo and everything.. now i can download files but i cant use in my car's mp3 player because of the drm thing.. which i should be able to do when im paying $10 for an album.. u get a cd for $12 so why not buy the cd itslef..

—Posted by Amit on 20 Sep 2006 @ 03:04 UTC #