I'm a Human Inbox

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

DRM, How Content Providers Don't Care

[Media: Articles]

There have been a number of articles relating to DRM lately that I've wanted to talk about, but instead of getting their own post I'm going to put them all together here into what I hope is a somewhat coherent mess.

Again and again I reiterate that I'm not against the Content Industries because I like to Pirate their media. No, it's because of their complete lack of respect they have for their own customers, and an utter removal from reality as a whole. Everything short of complete control is seen as a fault of their customers, whom they see as criminals first, and income second.

First in case is TiVo, of which they recently started selling out to the TV industries by allowing the content providers the ability to control how people store their television shows. This is a pretty huge surprise to TiVo's customers because for ages, TiVo was very popular with consumers because it allowed the consumer to be in control of what they watched. But that has changed, and anyone doesn't like it, is going to get screwed.

David Zatz, a TiVo owner, decided to cancel his TiVo service. After all, he'd bought a device that could record all shows, not one that could record all shows save those that some paranoid Hollywood exec, overzealous broadcaster, or fumble-fingered technician gave him permission to record. TiVo had broken his device and he didn't want to keep using it.

But when he looked up canceling his TiVo, he found out that under the terms of his "agreement" with TiVo (e.g., the crap he clicked through when get got set up), he was obliged to pay a $150 "early cancellation" fee.

In Finland a Record Exec wants to force people to use regular CD players. Screw everyone else who would dare use CDs in a way the Record Industry disapproves of.

"Now, we need to understand that listening to music on your computer is an extra privilege. Normally people listen to music on their car or through their home stereos", says Kyyrae and continues; "If you are a Linux or Mac user, you should consider purchasing a regular CD player."

And finally, ZDnet blogger, Dave Berlind complains about being unable to play his ITune songs on his $20,000 stereo system. For those who don't know, Apple recently downgraded everyone's ITune songs so that they couldn't be played on other devices. John Gilmore of EFF decided to point out that Berlind should have known better, and that he shouldn't have bought DRM encumbered songs in the first place.

The whole point of DRM is *restrictions*. The point of all previous audio formats was compatibility. CDs play on any CD player. Cassettes play or record on any cassette player. Neither one cares what you do with the audio that comes out. By contrast, DRM is designed to prevent the audio from coming out in any way that the oligopoly objects to. And they even keep changing the rules as they discover new things that annoy them. ...Rather than calling for everybody to implement DRM, which would be uniformly terrible for most musicians, most equipment makers, and all consumers, you should be calling for nobody to buy DRM. We can't stop them from building it — there's no law against companies selling painful products. The only cure is education — of their customers.

A long post I know. But the point is, DRM is a horrible thing for the customers who are willing to pay for music. DRM restricts you from using the devices you want, backing up your music, or even listening to it whenever you want. DRM puts a lock and key on music, television, movies and more, and it doesn't help anyone but the Content Industry. If you want to buy music make sure it doesn't have DRM restrictions, because you will pay for it later.