music, technology

The New DRM Class-System

Originally it looked like Apple and EMI would get rid of DRM altogehter, but now the facts are out. You can get DRM free tracks for $1.29 or DRM-laden tracks for $0.99. So, what does this mean? It means you have to pay $0.30 per track to purchase back some of your rights as a consumer. Removing DRM from music is a step in the right direction, but the precedent of charging more is step in the wrong direction. It is anti-consumer, but it is also creating a class system for music.

File quality. We can ignore the fact that the DRM-free mp3’s are better quality. Why? Because it’s a red-herring, meant to trip people up, there is no added cost for EMI to offer better quality files and only a margin added cost for Apple. It has nothing to do with the increased cost. It is important to remember that you aren’t paying for the file itself, you’re paying for the rights to play the music. And that is part of the problem— intellectual property, and how its owners want to manage it.

Imagine a company selling t-shirts sold two versions of the same shirt one for $20 and another for $26. The company says you could only wear the $20 to the supermarket, but if you pay $6 more you can wear it wherever you’d like. What do you think of that company? What do you think of that business model? Isn’t intellectual property awesome?

But now let’s consider who it is that buys the different versions. The rich suburban kid buying the $26 shirt is the same one that is going to be able to buy the DRM free music, while the people in a less financially position will be forced to choose DRM burdened music. If you have the money you can listen to your music, which you bought, under your terms. However, if you are not so lucky then  you are forced to listen to music, which you bought just like wealthy people, under the arbitrary terms of record and software companies. Doesn’t being rich have enough perks, do we really need to create a class of products that controls how lower and middle class people use the things they buy?

If you pay for something than any personal use should be fair game. Companies don’t want you to believe that you have that right. People need to tell them what they want doesn’t matter. Just say “no” to DRM and “up yours” to paying more for the right to say no.

music, technology

DRM Free Music from iTunes

It happened! EMI is releasing DRM free music on iTunes and the files will have twice the bitrate. Could this be the beginning of the end of DRM? It seems like this might signal that business is hearing the market. Apple tends to be on the edge of reading the market trends though, so even if this is the beginning it will likely be a long and painful death for DRM. Hopefully it won’t cause anymore pain for consumers than it already does.


The Death of DRM

The big news is that Apple and EMI may be dropping Digital Rights Management. In case you are wondering DRM is the worst thing ever — it makes everything it touches crappy. If you are unlucky enough to have Windows Vista it is what a lot of your OS was designed to enhance. If you buy music on iTunes it is what forces you to authorize each computer that plays your music. If you do just about anything with a computer it is the thing that makes things either slightly (or pants-kickingly) difficult.

eliminate drmNot too long ago Steve Jobs wrote an open letter trash talking DRM (he’s a bit late to the party[1][2][3][4], but a welcome addition). Now Mac Rumors is reporting that it is very likely that EMI music will get rid of DRM. Personally, DRM-less music what would get me buying music from iTunes— and I am sure that I’m not alone here. It’s a bit early, but if this is a signal that folks are finally starting to understand the dangers of DRM then it’s time to break out the noise makers.