Why no DRM?

After my last posting about “Rockbox”:http://virtuelvis.com/archives/2006/05/rockbox — “Chris”:http://www.designdetector.com/ and other people have “asked me”:http://virtuelvis.com/archives/2006/05/rockbox#cid4997 what they should do with the content they have already bought with DRM.
My pragmatic answer is to re-rip the content, or strip the DRM off it if you are able to and you can do so without getting yourself in jail or debt for the rest of your life.
My real answer is simpler: Write off the content as lost. Because it was already lost before you even bought it. You have agreed to be bound by the limited uses whoever sold you the music are willing to grant you. You pay for a limited license to listen to the content on the player(s) (including both hard- and software platforms) your music store has decided that you can listen to the content on.
Accepting DRM is accepting that you cannot take your products with you from your current hardware platform, should you one day find a player that is better than the one you currently own. Accepting DRM is like accepting that the CDs you bought will only play in Sony CD players. Should Sony ever go away or decide to stop making CD players, you would have to re-buy your content for the new player you will eventually switch to.
Accepting DRM is accepting that you cannot freely choose where and when you can play your music. It is accepting that you cannot bring the music to any number of friends you have, and show them the music. Accepting DRM is effectively giving up any fair use rights you may have.
Thus, to those of you who buy DRMed content, and now ask me what to do with the content you “own”, now that you may want to use a player with better and more compelling features. I have no sympathy whatsoever. You accepted to be forever bound when you “bought” the content. Sometimes, there is a price to getting out of a gamed scenario. Losing a few hundred dollars of music might be yours. Live with it.
In [Soviet Russia] DRM owns you!

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5 Comments

  1. I totally agree with you, you put it exactly the way I feel about DRMs.
    I chuckle every time I hear someone complain they lost all their music when they lose their iTunes machine or have it stolen (in which case the thief now owns your music because it’s only tied to the machine, not to the person who bought it…)

  2. Asbjørn Ulsberg

     /  2006-05-19

    On a theoretical level, I completely agree with you. The problem is the practical, employable, usable level, where I am a simple user, interested in buying legal music in an easy way. By owning an iPod, iTunes is the obvious choice. iTunes is accessible, easy to use, legal and I have so far not had any problems finding music I want to buy.
    I have tried other solutions, and they are either hard to use, less accessible (I’m not talking from a disabled user’s point of view here), illegal (MP3Search.ru comes to mind), or doesn’t have the music I want to buy. iTunes is in this space just like Microsoft Windows. Although there are many good theoretical reasons for not using it, executing those reasons in practice is often not that easy.
    However, if you have a tip on a music store that qualifies the same pros as iTunes, and on top of that doesn’t employ DRM, I’m all for it. I would also like to mention that I’m such a huge sucker that I even enjoy having iTunes manage my music and that I use it as my primary music player. No other music players have all of those facilities afaik.

  3. Asbjørn: I still buy my music as physical products, and I do not know of any stores that doesn’t circumvent the problem by being located in countries such as Russia.
    Combine that with an Operating System which has “rip and encode” as default handler for CD’s inserted into the computer, and the physical product still isn’t that bad. Having said that, I am researching how to live in a world without the RIAA or other organizations keeping a dead business model on life-support.
    My first venture into this is “Ugress”:http://www.ugress.com/ — they offer their music for download, and they *permit their users to share the music over file-sharing networks!*
    The end-result of such a non-evil practice is that I am planning on donating a chunk of money to them, in addition to buying their products directly from them. It means more money in the pockets of a deserving artist, and less in the pockets of greedy multinationals and intimidation organizations.

  4. Asbjørn Ulsberg

     /  2006-05-19

    From buying several CD’s every month, I am now down to buying 1 or tops 2 CD’s every year. I don’t see any reason for having the plastic wrapping anymore, to be honest. Buying directly from the artists is a great thing, but it’s not uniform and you won’t see me browsing 570 different web pages of the same number of artists in search of new music. In iTunes I can get it all in one place. I just search, click, buy and play. All in one program.

  5. Sébastien Guillon wrote:
    bq. I chuckle every time I hear someone complain they lost all their music when they lose their iTunes machine or have it stolen (in which case the thief now owns your music because it’s only tied to the machine, not to the person who bought it…)
    So let me get this straight. I have backups of the small number of tracks I have bought on iTunes. If my PC gets nicked or damaged beyond repair, can I not set up iTunes again on a new machine and import the tracks I have saved? (Note: I do not own an iPod. But like Asbjørn Ulsberg above, use iTunes to manage my music.)