Too Cool for Internet Explorer

Sunday, March 26, 2006 Products

Jeff pointed me to a video segment from ZDNet that suggests D.R.M. (digital rights management) is C.R.A.P. (content restriction, annulment, and protection).

The person makes a good point, but then implores you to not buy C.R.A.P. But there are problems with his argument. Admittedly, what I’m about to say only applies to Apple’s DRM. I cannot speak to the practices of other music providers because, frankly, I really do think they are crap. :-)

Inasmuch as Apple is concerned, the video suggests—by way of the “annulment” part of the acronym—that your music can suddenly be taken away from you at a moment’s notice. That’s not entirely accurate. Let’s pretend for just a moment that something catastrophic happened and Apple just shut down the entire iTunes Music Store (iTMS) service. First of all, if that happened, your music that was purchased from iTMS doesn’t immediately stop playing. Remember, your DRM-authorized music can play just fine even when your computer is offline. You have to open the iTMS and specifically de-authorize a computer from playing iTMS music—the purpose generally being to transfer that authorization to another computer. I don’t see how Apple could send out some mass wave of data through the internet that immediately de-authorizes (annuls) all the iTMS music out there.

But even in the surreal world event that they could, wouldn’t you imagine the owners of those 500+ million songs that have been purchased would rise up in ear-deafening outcry? At the very least, Apple would probably inform all iTMS customers that this Very Bad Thing™ was about to happen and that you should burn all your iTMS purchases to an audio CD.

And that brings me a second point. Why the hell do untold numbers of nay-sayers relentlessly imply that everything you do with your iPod is subject to the whim of the DRM implementation? There are some people who never have and never will make the first purchase from the iTMS. Instead, they only rip their own CDs (and stay clear of CDs to which idiot music labels apply DRM). This is right up there with that asinine “Do the Math” television commercial that Napster released last year. Everyone who pooh-poohs the iPod seem to tell you that you can only put iTMS purchases on it—at least that’s what it sounds like they’re telling you.

Don’t believe it!

I hate to use a very cliché-like saying, but it absolutely applies. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Likewise, if you don’t like DRM (C.R.A.P.), then don’t buy music.

David Berlind, ZDNet Executive Director, that big area between all the devices that you drew on your whiteboard is a crock. Your spiel would be perfectly fine if you had chose to aim it at the iTMS and not the iPod, and you may even be correct about players from other companies since, for all I know, other digital audio players may apply DRM even to songs you rip from your CDs (in fact, I think some do). But Apple does not! Anything I rip myself and put on my iPod is completely at home in that world between other devices that you so artistically visualized. I’ll give you that other devices may not support the AAC format that I use, but that’s not DRM. That’s just a matter of supported formats. And I can easily choose to rip to MP3 instead. I don’t because I don’t ever see myself using anything other than an iPod for playback.

Here’s the bottom line. I accept Apple’s DRM because I enjoy the convenience of being able to select individual tracks. Yes, I do occasionally buy full albums, but the majority of full albums I buy still come in the form of physical CDs. But in my acceptance of Apple’s DRM, I willingly understand that what I’ve bought comes with conditions, but I also happen to trust Apple to do everything in their power to not abuse those conditions. Would you give that same trust to Napster?

But, again, it’s time for idiot pundits to stop blasting digital music players for restricting what you can do with your music when it’s the online music providers they should be talking about. And, they should remember that not everyone thinks the model is distasteful.

I absolutely hate sushi (and most seafood, for that matter). It’s disgusting. It’s crap. People shouldn’t buy and eat crappy food! Stop buying crappy food!

See? You seafood lovers wouldn’t pay one smidge of attention to me if I blasted this statement across the media. I may hate seafood, but you love it. It’s the same thing. Berlind, you may hate DRM. But, while I may not love it, it does not leave nearly so nasty a taste in my mouth as raw fish!

» Posted by ALBj at 11:35 AM (ET)
Category: Rant


My biggest beef with DRM is that it doesn’t work. If I can hear it, I can record it. It’s the way it will always be. But, like you, I’ll still buy DRM music because I want music that has DRM protection. Nuff said!

» Posted by Queue
March 26, 2006 09:08 PM

Yeah, exactly. I have, on more than one occasion, specifically went out (or went to Amazon) and bought a CD of music that I had originally found on iTMS because I knew I wanted a physical CD copy of it and not a DRM’d version. All the iTMS purchases I’ve made comprises music that I’m not concerned about Apple’s DRM.

» Posted by Lee Bennett
March 26, 2006 10:06 PM

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