Digital Rights Management. Right?

DRM versus iPod. myMusic, myPod. iTry, iFail.

Sarah in Tampa, a blogger and sysadmin for a small business, probably knows enough about technology to live happily with her PC. When it came to getting some Madonna tunes she purchased from onto her iPod she was bitten by misguided DRM technology which is there ostensibly to prevent copyright violation. She had to input licences (which she owned) track by track then burn the tracks to a CD, before ripping the CD back to the PC – losing the DRM in the process – in order to have digital copies which could be transferred to her iPod. Why should legal owners of works have to jump through hoops to use them the way they want?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation are strong advocates of open source, common formats, and unrestricted digital media. Quoting from their paper on the subject of DRM :

DRM delivers no public value but exacts a punishing public cost. It is so harmful to the interests of developed countries that there are widespread revolts against DRM underway in the US and Canada, in Europe and in Asia.

As you will see, the answer to “Which DRM will spur the most development in my nation?” is “None at all.”

Their conclusion :

The iTunes Music Store manages to make millions of dollars selling music that can be downloaded for free (just as Evian makes billions selling water that can be garnered for free from the kitchen tap) by offering a superior, competitive product.

Sarah in Tampa, it would have been quicker for you to download those tracks for free (albeit illegally) in order to transfer them to your iPod. Congratulations for being part of what must be a minority in my opinion: tech-savvy enough to work around the situation. What happens when you don’t know how to exercise your right to listen to the music you own on the gadget you want? My bet is that most people probably just fire up their peer-to-peer filesharing software. Delicious irony.


  1. I really enjoyed your comments about the Digital Rights Management. Great Blog! I’ll definately be back to read more of your writings. Thank you!

  2. Simon

    14/9/2005 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks a lot Kristi. It’s great to have positive feedback!

  3. You’ll love the latest…MSN Music store charged me again for the tracks!

  4. Simon

    15/9/2005 at 8:50 am

    Maybe we should just go back to vinyl and making compilation tapes for the Walkman. Or something.

    iPods are great, but buying digital music online is still a royal pain. I haven’t even started yet, although I buy a lot of physical CDs online.

    I cannot understand how MSN Music store could charge you without you explicitly giving them permission to do so.

  5. I reviewed my account history…I was wrong. Thank god. Apparently, they don’t bother billing you immediatley when you make a purchase. The charge was for songs I had purchased a few weeks ago. But with the timing of the incident, I guess you can forgive me for jumping to conclusions.

  6. Simon

    16/9/2005 at 10:52 pm

    Glad to hear you weren’t billed Sarah. That would have been adding insult to injury!

  7. The sooner they get this DRM issue sorted, the sooner they can get to work on the fact that in the UK tracks cost twice as much as the States, and you can pay the same for a physical copy of the album with all the reburning rights you need as you do for the emasculated MP3 Napster version.

  8. Simon

    16/9/2005 at 11:28 pm

    Good points Nick. I like your new cartoon style on your blog : before they looked scanned from sketches, whereas now it’s like you’re drawing them directly in Illustrator or similar. They look slicker.

    I would have posted this to your blog but I don’t have a Blogger identity…