She bangs the DRM

He milks the pun
He milks the pun

Apple made what is supposedly their last appearance at the annual Macworld conference in San Francisco yesterday.  In the final day’s Key note speach Apple’s senior vice president of world-wide product marketing Phil Schiller (how does he fit that title on his office door?) announced that apple would be removing digital rights management from all music sold on itunes.  The move sees 8 million songs DRM free with immediate effect, with the final two million to be DRM free by the end of March.

The decision to remove DRM from itunes has long been on the mind of Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, who was sadly unable to deliver his usual keynote speech due to serious illness.  In 2007 Jobs published an open letter, ‘Thoughts on music’ in which he called for major record labels to drop DRM.  It’s taken time but Jobs has achieved his aim with Sony BMG, Universal and Warner finally reaching an agreement.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies are in layman’s terms a means of controlling the usage of digital media by preventing access, copying or conversion to other formats by the end user, meaning that though a buyer has paid for  a product, they are not free to use that product in any way they wish.  With regard to itunes the music files are encrypted preventing play on any product other than itunes or the ipod.  Files can also be played on only five different PC systems which must be authorised by the account holder from which the music was purchased.

With the dropping of DRM Schiller also announced that the current price policy of one price for all would also be changing, introducing a two-tier pricing system with DRM free itunes tracks costing an additional 30 cents, it is so far unclear if an increase in price will also be seen in the UK where currently plus tracks cost the same 79p as older tracks.  Mark Mulligan, a director with market analysts Jupiter Research, reacted to this by saying the end of DRM in its current form was inevitable,  “Ultimately, what we’re going to end up with is a new form of DRM. The more you pay, the less DRM you get bolted onto your music. Premium music will be DRM free, the cheaper it gets, the more shackles are attached,”

Following the successful launch of Amazon’s DRM free download service it seemed inevitable that apple would be forced to react or lose market share, however I’m a little concerned that they seem to deam it necessary to charge extra for this service, while the new style tracks are a higher quality, the difference is only really audible on high end equipment, so therefore a moot point  with the average itunes user.  While no increase in price has been announced in the UK the charge to upgrade previously purchased tracks to the new format is twenty pence I can’t help but wonder if a 99 pence price point is being considered in the future, 30 pence higher than many tracks offered by Amazon (starting at 59 pence, with most priced at 69p).

While DRM may not be an issue to the average itunes user, that doesn’t mean that they will be unaffected by the issue, while it currently looks like the major record labels are through itunes taking a step in the right direction apple will have to take care not to price themselves out of a market which in 2009 as the high street suffers is only going to get larger and more competitive as consumers seek new music at lower prices.

27 thoughts on “She bangs the DRM

  1. mbooth

    I have yet to dip my toe into the digital music distribution pool, having previously failed to find a good reason NOT to buy the CD and make my own DRM-free, format-shifted copies.

    I, for one, am willing to pay more for unencumbered muzak, as I am sure anyone aware of the issues surrounding DRM will be. However, it is your responsibility to make people aware!

    If you are interested in DRM, you should read Defective By Design, the anti-DRM blog:
    http://www.defectivebydesign.org/

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  2. Neil

    And it must also be made abundantly clear that DRM sucks balls. Giant, hairy, salty ones.

    Bold move on Apple’s behalf though. Surely Amazon will be stealing some of their thunder with cheaper already clean downloads which are in nice compatible mp3 format?

    Now all we have to do is get businesses to remove it from video and audiobooks; get rid of CSS on DVDs and BluRay; get rid of SecuRom, SafeDisk et al and then we can rest. Sigh.

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  3. mbooth

    > Neil wrote:
    > nice compatible mp3 format

    You say that but MP3 is still a no-go for users of North American based Linux distros, particularly those of us who prefer crimson head-gear:

    http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/ForbiddenItems

    (Ubuntu may package DVD and MP3 decoders by the way, because Canonical Ltd is not headquartered in the United States. In Fedora-land we have a special out-of country repository solely for libCSS.)

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  4. Owen

    The pricing isn’t for unencumbered tracks, cheaper tracks will cost $0.69 normal ones $0.99 and more expensive $1.29 (newer ones being more expensive), they will be DRM encumbered or not (depending on the label), most will not, the price will not be any different, like the current iTunes Plus tracks.

    Also the DRM format used by Apple is clearly iPod + iTunes centric, and probably about the least intrusive of all of them, it’s nice of them open the store up and tracks not be DRM’d, however out of all the implementations this is quite possibly the least offensive I have ever seen, the only time I had a problem (yeah I’ve bought a lot of tracks) was when I found I had used all 5 of my machine activations (activated 3 computers at work and forgot to deactivate when I left), but once every 12 months you can get all your tokens back and since then I’ve not had to use that service again, it’s in one of the advanced iTunes options so you don’t even need to contact Apple.

    DRM isn’t in itself bad (as long as you know it’s there), it’s just when (e.g. Spore) the pirates have a better copy, I have a Mac and iPod and use iTunes and my experience with the music I have bought is that it is no different to an MP3, plus it never took much imagination to rip them to MP3 anyway.

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  5. mbooth

    > Owen wrote:
    > DRM isn’t in itself bad

    Any time legitimate playback is prevented, DRM has failed. And you describe above how iTunes failed you. As long as legitimate users are harmed more than those who pirate, I cannot see how any form of DRM can be considered unintrusive.

    PS. Why doesn’t this blog have a quote button?

    PPS. Sorry for the comment spam tonight, I’m freaking bored here.

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  6. Neil

    Good info, but I have to say that DRM is always intrusive, and always a waste of time. If I want to put an iTunes track on my phone, I cant. If want to change to another brand of mp3 player, I can’t. I find the inability to format shift without some jiggery-pokery to be a waste of my time, and out of scope for most users.

    Have you tried explaining to your Mum why she can’t play her legally bought iTunes songs on anything except iTunes and her iPod? I have to mine, and she found it to be as absurd as I do. DRM is simply a way of locking down what you can do with digital media ineffectively and it is always broken, so why bother. It’s a matter of democratic computing.

    > mbooth wrote:
    > You say that but MP3 is still a no-go for users of North American based Linux distros

    Good point. I realise that mp3 is not an open format, but it’s probably the most compatible one. If hardware started coming out with FLAC or Ogg support I’d be there, but at the minute most devices will support mp3 natively and without hassle. I think that mp3, sadly, is too entrenched to be shifted; add it to the todo list!

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  7. Owen

    Originally Posted By mbooth> Owen wrote:
    > DRM isnâ??t in itself bad

    Any time legitimate playback is prevented, DRM has failed. And you describe above how iTunes failed you. As long as legitimate users are harmed more than those who pirate, I cannot see how any form of DRM can be considered unintrusive.

    PS. Why doesn’t this blog have a quote button?

    PPS. Sorry for the comment spam tonight, I’m freaking bored here.

    Yes but I would say one flaw in 5 years of use isn’t exactly bad going. Yes for someone less technical the solution is far from ideal, plus I went into buying stuff off iTunes knowing the risks, but as I said apart from one occasion, which took 2 minutes to resolve, I have no even noticed the DRM on iTunes tracks. Take Steam, also riddled with DRM, but no one really notices who uses Steam because they’re pretty clear on the limitations, plus it’s offset by being able to grab your games from any machine anywhere.
    And don’t con yourself every console on the planet is riddled with DRM to prevent copied/pirated software, for the average user you don’t notice it, the pirates suffer the problem of getting their pirated software to work, not the user’s getting their legitimate software to work.

    If the limitations are clear and the DRM unintrusive you can hardly say it’s a problem, it’s when the the DRM cripples you from doing what you are led to assume, take Spore’s seriously dysfunctional DRM which preventing more than one user playing the game, as it was tied to your EA account, or required online activation for an offline game, frankly the same issue that caused so many problems for Half-Life 2, the pirates downloading the game installed and ran it. iTunes is different, if I set up an account and download a track from the it just plays, it’s the same as if I fire up Limewire and grab the MP3, from my perspective as a user, sure if I bought a Zune (lol) I’m out of luck, it wont work, but I’m aware of the risk I’m taking and it’s my decision to take, I doubt I’ll be moving away from iPods any time soon and by the time I do everything will be DRM free anyway.

    The failure of DRM is not the DRM in itself, generally it’s bad, but in places where it’s used well and properly documented it is not an issue, as you don’t notice, the problem is people like Sony/EA etc. keep using DRM that actually makes their software more crippled than the pirated version for the vast majority of users.

    /rambling lunchtime post

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  8. Originally Posted By OwenTake Steam, also riddled with DRM, but no one really notices who uses Steam because they’re pretty clear on the limitations, plus it’s offset by being able to grab your games from any machine anywhere.

    So when Steam’s authentication servers eventually go dark, and all the games I’ve bought don’t work anymore It’s OK because I knew it would happen? What about forced upgrades to b0rked versions?

    Don’t get me started on consoles, DRM prevents unauthorised execution of code so I can’t make apps for a device I legally own. How good is that?

    DRM creates restrictions, and there are always measures in place that will prevent you from using media and devices in innovative and useful ways. All this investment in imaginary property is leading down a slippery slope to total control of digital assets.

    Sure ‘unintrusive DRM’ may seem that way, but what about the extra clock cycles taken authenticating it, the loss of control of your asset and the fact that eventually the server that controls access to your content will be turned off; is it still unintrusive? All DRM has the distinct possiblity of being as broken as that lauded by Angry Internet Men everywhere, because it’s designed that way.

    When we start accepting small infringements on our rights of fair use it paves the way for bigger ones, until we accept the abuse of power. Sure we ‘pay for the convenience’, but what happens when that convenience turns around and bites us on the ass? It’s only too late that we realise we’ve been sold into digital slavery, not sold a product.

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  9. Owen

    Originally Posted By Neil

    Originally Posted By OwenTake Steam, also riddled with DRM, but no one really notices who uses Steam because they’re pretty clear on the limitations, plus it’s offset by being able to grab your games from any machine anywhere.

    So when Steam’s authentication servers eventually go dark, and all the games I’ve bought don’t work anymore It’s OK because I knew it would happen? What about forced upgrades to b0rked versions?

    Don’t get me started on consoles, DRM prevents unauthorised execution of code so I can’t make apps for a device I legally own. How good is that?

    DRM creates restrictions, and there are always measures in place that will prevent you from using media and devices in innovative and useful ways. All this investment in imaginary property is leading down a slippery slope to total control of digital assets.

    Sure ‘unintrusive DRM’ may seem that way, but what about the extra clock cycles taken authenticating it, the loss of control of your asset and the fact that eventually the server that controls access to your content will be turned off; is it still unintrusive? All DRM has the distinct possiblity of being as broken as that lauded by Angry Internet Men everywhere, because it’s designed that way.

    When we start accepting small infringements on our rights of fair use it paves the way for bigger ones, until we accept the abuse of power. Sure we ‘pay for the convenience’, but what happens when that convenience turns around and bites us on the ass? It’s only too late that we realise we’ve been sold into digital slavery, not sold a product.

    Yes when Steam’s servers go dark and you can’t play your games that’s fine, it’s part of the limitations, it’s like saying I bought a petrol car but I can’t put diesel in it I’ve been robbed, or I bought an analogue T.V and when the digital switch over comes it’s basically useless. DRM creates restrictions, but there are already plenty of restrictions, if I say you can Buy A, but it only works with B what right do you have to say but I want to it to work on C therefore I’m being screwed, it simply sounds like you’re QQing.
    If there is a limitation and it is completely 100% advertised and you are informed then you have no right to complain if you should purchase that item, limitations are far from new, the difference comes in when the limitations are hidden, you pick up a CD that looks like any other and it installs a dodgy rootkit that screws over your machine, you buy a piece of software that means only person can create characters, you buy a car that lets only person drive it, things that are different from the norm and hide themselves as the norm are negative, things that say come and buy me, but be aware of X, Y and Z are not.

    As long as you are making an informed choice then it is perfectly acceptable to accept that people have made a rational choice, to say all limitations are bad because they don’t let me do exactly what I want to do is far from a genuine argument, however dressing it up as something else is a different matter. Absolutely everything is capable of being broken, but take my car for example, if I lose my car keys I have to pay Renault an extortionate amount of money to replace them, if they scrap the computers that program the keys, or decide to no longer make the keys that start my car my car becomes a £24k hunk of metal, but while I have my key do I mind that I have to have it on me to get my car to work? No not really, it’s a risk, my key is two things, utter convenience, combined with the fact if I lose them I can’t go to any old lock smith and get a new one cut, I was aware of the risk when I bought the car, when I buy music from iTunes it’s a mixture of utter convenience, it’s just works with my computer and iPod, and the fact I can’t swan off and buy another music player, it ties me closer to Apple, but I know this, I have made my rational choice, based on what I know, yes thousands of things could go wrong in 6/12/24 months time but here and now based on the facts I chose to buy protected music, am I an idiot, of course not, I chose a big (the biggest) supplier, one who makes my computer and music player, one I know will guarantee compatibility, versus what, going out and getting CDs, too expensive, I never buy full albums, or buying from one of the many other sources, the only other one I trust is Amazon, and it simply isn’t as easy as iTunes.

    There is no slippery slope here, it isn’t based upon just accepting limitations, it’s about accepting an element of risk with your purchase, do the pluses outweigh the negatives? In the case of Bioshock and Spore on the PC, no, I am likely to encounter severe problems getting them to work on my boot-camped Mac that I regularly rebuild, buying Fairplay DRM’d music from iTunes, yes, I can get it now, it’s cheap, I only buy what I want, I know it works with my setup, Apple are unlikely to switch off the service, if they do I can always burn them to CD and rip them to MP3.

    Where is the issue with my choice? The fact is a protected AAC track, such as those sold on iTunes, for me is a identical to an MP3 interms of use, sure 5 years down the line they may no longer work, but I have made an informed decision, and iTunes offers that, buying spore from Zaavi does not and that’s the difference, user expectation. If YOU consider the limitations too extreme YOU can find a different approach, in the case of iTunes and Steam I don’t find them excessively limiting, I don’t have an issue about the limitations of consoles, because they’re all clearly defined, you decide what is too much for you and you go no further, to say DRM = Evil, No DRM = Good is too black and white, and frankly unrealistic.

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  10. mbooth

    > Owen wrote:
    > Where is the issue with my choice?

    There isn’t one. Your freedom to make that choice is not what we are discussing.

    The point is that Neil’s mam knows the music she bought 10 years ago still plays today and so expects the music she buys today to still play in ten years time – and quite rightly too, if Sony-BMG go under tomorrow her CDs will continue to work, why should it be any different for electronic music?

    A better car analogy would be if your Rover stopped working when the company ceased trading. (“How unreasonable!,” I hear you cry, but that is what has happened to customers of electronic music distributors [1].) It’s about arbitrarily crippling products that you *own* through no action on your part. Losing your car keys is your own fault, more akin to accidentally deleting an mp3 file.

    If you make the choice to buy into iTunes then bully for you, you know the risk. But Neil’s mam obviously didn’t and I don’t think for a minute many other ‘ordinary’ users do either. They don’t know what DRM is and part of my beef is that no effort is being made to objectively educate them about it. (And don’t cite any iTunes marketing bull-hockey because here’s a hint: If the education is from the vendor it isn’t objective.)

    Oh, and while we’re on a slippery slope: You probably one of those folk that are willing to give away your other freedoms too, to the unprecedented amount of surveillance that goes on in this country [2], for example, because you “don’t have anything to hide.” :-p

    PS. While you’re adding features to ze blog Neil, is a post-preview feature doable? If not, what about making this textarea larger so I can see more of my massive post [3] at once while I’m writing it? 🙂

    [Citations needed] right?

    [1] – http://news.cnet.com/8301-13526_3-9927292-27.html?tag=mncol;txt

    [2] – http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23391081-details/George+Orwell,+Big+Brother+is+watching+your+house/article.do
    I’ll save you trouble of clicking on this one: We have 20% of all the world’s CCTV cameras.

    [2] – I wish this were a euphemism.

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  11. mbooth

    Owen, I mean no disrespect but your whole argument so far seems to be that “I made an informed decision to buy DRM’d products” or “I didn’t want the freedoms that the restrictions curtail anyway” and completely without any cases where DRM is (or can be) used as a force for good.

    I remain unconvinced.

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  12. Owen

    Originally Posted By mboothOwen, I mean no disrespect but your whole argument so far seems to be that “I made an informed decision to buy DRM’d products” or “I didn’t want the freedoms that the restrictions curtail anyway” and completely without any cases where DRM is (or can be) used as a force for good.

    I remain unconvinced.

    Yes and no, the point is a lot of stuff we use every day has limitations to how we can use it, quite a lot by design this is not a problem as long as their are clearly stated. I don’t agree with things like the DMCA that makes it illegal to work around these limitations, but I don’t begrudge any company building limitations into their products, as long as you’re aware that they are doing it and can decide whether or not it is acceptable for you.

    In the same way a lot of arguments against DRM here is that people can’t use X or Y in a way they want, I fail to see this as being a good reason to complain, unless of course the product makes you believe you can. It’s not reasonable to accept you can write your own software on a console, so the DRM there isn’t a problem, it is however perfectly reasonable to think you can buy a CD stick it in your computer and listen to it without installing rootkits and nuking your PC, see the difference?

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  13. Neil

    Originally Posted By OwenIt’s not reasonable to accept you can write your own software on a console, so the DRM there isn’t a problem, it is however perfectly reasonable to think you can buy a CD stick it in your computer and listen to it without installing rootkits and nuking your PC, see the difference?

    Not really. I expect products that I have bought and paid for to be controllable by me, not by some remote company who puts arcane restrictions upon a product. And why shouldn’t we be able to write our own console games? That’s how the videogames industry started.

    Without resorting to redcutio ad absurdum I’m going to leave it here with a quote from the always entertaining Richard M Stallman:

    The motive for DRM schemes is to increase profits for those who impose them, but their profit is a side issue when millions of people’s freedom is at stake; desire for profit, though not wrong in itself, cannot justify denying the public control over its technology. Defending freedom means thwarting DRM.

    Fin.

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  14. Ado

    To be completely honest I can see both sides of the argument here. Long story short DRM ARTIFICIALLY restricts usage of content and I think that is the key argument here. Yes, you may make a decision to purchase something you know is using DRM (as is your right and I don’t think anyone could reasonably say that you don’t have a right to do that), however, it seems an unnecessary road to go down and one which only punishes the legitimate customer.

    If I illegally download load track X or game Y then I can use it however I wish, as many times I wish on anything it can theoretically run on. If I legally purchase these same things the same free usage is not guaranteed. It seems very much like the very pinnacle of cutting your nose off to spite your face and simply serves to alienate the very people supporting the business in the first place.

    Also, I feel that people aren’t saying “DRM is bad so I wont buy anything”, they’re just saying “DRM is bad and I’ll put up with it but the less we have the better”. I think we can all agree that, in an ideal world, there would be no DRM and everyone would pay for the products they use. Problem is this is far from an ideal world, so something must be done, I just don’t see how punishing legitimate customers achieves this.

    It just adds fuel to the fire of illegal sharing, which puts money in the pockets of pirates not produces…

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  15. Owen

    Last post as I don’t think we’re going to pursuade the other side.

    However I do think the difference is in how we view our purchases. The anti-drm, for music and movies stems from the fact that you are buying music, my perspective, which makes unobtrusive drm palatable is that I am not buying the music, I am buying an iPod compatible track, it falls, for me mentally in the hddvd and bluray spectrum, ultimately I can buy the movie for both formats, they are the same, but I wouldn’t expect my hddvds to work in my ps3 and my blurays in my xbox, I treat my music purchases in the same way. I don’t see myself as having purchased a piece of music, but a track compatible with setup de jour, if I can do other things with it, then cool, if not it still does what I bought it for.

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  16. Ado

    My view stems from actual copyright law which states I have purchased this piece of music or this film and not the medium it is presented in. Once I have paid for that copyright this content is mine, irrespective of medium. However, if the supplier of that content seeks to artificially restrict my usage of it, I feel that is a gross abuse of my rights as a copyright owner.

    This is not the case if you buy a VHS then demand that it works in a DVD player, as the supplier has made a product and supplied it to function with a specific hardware and it would take them effort and expense to convert it to the medium you now wish it to be in. The problem is, with DRM, the inverse of this is true, effort has actually be put in to disrupt my use of the content I have paid for.

    I think, without being deliberately condescending here, your concept of copyright law should be revised. As, when purchasing any content that would be classed as Intellectual Property the customer buys a right to use that content and not, as you see it, that content on this hardware/in this system.

    Essentially, if I wish to record all my VHS cassettes to DVDs or DivX files I am perfect within my rights to do so. Just as, if I wish to emulate Metal Gear on my PSP and I already own the game on PSX, I am completely within my rights.

    The supplier has no requirement to assist me in transferring my content from one medium to another, but they should not expend effort and resources (effectively spending the money I have paid them for the product) to restrict the usage of my purchased copyright.

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  17. Owen

    Originally Posted By AdoMy view stems from actual copyright law which states I have purchased this piece of music or this film and not the medium it is presented in. Once I have paid for that copyright this content is mine, irrespective of medium. However, if the supplier of that content seeks to artificially restrict my usage of it, I feel that is a gross abuse of my rights as a copyright owner.

    This is not the case if you buy a VHS then demand that it works in a DVD player, as the supplier has made a product and supplied it to function with a specific hardware and it would take them effort and expense to convert it to the medium you now wish it to be in. The problem is, with DRM, the inverse of this is true, effort has actually be put in to disrupt my use of the content I have paid for.

    I think, without being deliberately condescending here, your concept of copyright law should be revised. As, when purchasing any content that would be classed as Intellectual Property the customer buys a right to use that content and not, as you see it, that content on this hardware/in this system.

    Essentially, if I wish to record all my VHS cassettes to DVDs or DivX files I am perfect within my rights to do so. Just as, if I wish to emulate Metal Gear on my PSP and I already own the game on PSX, I am completely within my rights.

    The supplier has no requirement to assist me in transferring my content from one medium to another, but they should not expend effort and resources (effectively spending the money I have paid them for the product) to restrict the usage of my purchased copyright.

    Since I said the previous was my last, and it isn’t (sending me texts is always going to make me respond!)

    The distinction is somewhat minimal, you will notice further up that I do not agree with laws like the DMCA which restrict peoples ability to bypass limitations, by making all attempts illegal, but equally if I produce a product that works only with my music player who are you to say that is wrong? In addition the DRM “free” versions of the music from iTunes will still be in AAC not MP3, as a result there are a lot of music players that will not play it, Protected AAC is simply a different format again. In a digital age where an item can be replicated endlessly, with no cost and be perfect replicas it is also within a companies rights to try and restrict an individuals ability to copy that item.

    There is NO fair-use rights within UK copyright law, transferring from one format to another is currently an infringement of copyright, big content just looks the other way because it’s too much like hardwork to take individuals to court. The closest we have is Fair Dealing, which is incredibly selective on what it allows and does not. So when you buy a CD, you buy a CD, you don’t buy the music on the CD and the ability to convert it into any format you see fit. So no you do not have the rights to record your VHS cassettes to DVDs or DivX files, nor can you emulate your copy of Metal Gear on your PSP, the fact you can and no one explicitly stops doesn’t make it legal.

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  18. Ado

    I believe (but will obviously now double check) that fair usage rights are actually enshined in EU law.

    Also, I think the fact that iTunes it’s self expressly allows you to copy every CD you own into a format palyable on your iPod, as does an X-Box for playing during your games, would help you see that it is the content you are paying for and not the format. Otherwise Apple and Microsoft would find themselves in court immediately for enabling, if not encouraging, copyright theft. However, this is not the case as you have purchased that copyright when buying the CD.

    This is also the reason that people are allowed to make perfectly legal back-up copies of any content they own.

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  19. Owen

    @Ado – unfortunately not, confusion has been created by US law allowing fair use and since most debates tend to be, or were US centric, at least in the early days so there is misinformation, also the fact people have been copying for years made people think it was legal rather than not enforced.

    Enabling is not illegal as you have to prove intent to create a system that explicitly is designed for copyright infringement, not an accidental by-product, hence mod chips are legal, until you stick copied games on them. iTunes/media player allow you to rip CDs because there are perfectly legal CDs you can rip (your own music for example) a by-product is you can rip cd bought in hmv, which in the uk happens to be copyright infringement..

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  20. mbooth

    Originally Posted By Neil
    Without resorting to redcutio ad absurdum I’m going to leave it here with a quote from the always entertaining Richard M Stallman:

    Finally something close to resembling a reason for DRM to even exist in the first place. Revenue protection! Though I expected it to come in the classic form of “think of the starving artists” before I saw a Stallman quote. 🙂 It’s still a bit tenuous though since this besides the fact that DRM doesn’t stop pirates anyway, it’s not a direct consumer benefit. For us obedient consumers, in all cases discussed so far, DRM has only negative effects on our experience or at best, very very few negatives effects. What I’m trying to get out of Owen is this: Where’s the benefit?

    Originally Posted By Owen
    It’s not reasonable to accept you can write your own software on a console, so the DRM there isn’t a problem…

    Woah there Nelly, of course DRM is a problem for consoles! Ever tried playing imported games?

    But don’t worry, there is in fact already legal precedent in the UK regarding the use of mod-chips effectively saying that the modification of something you own is not illegal. [1] In the case of games or hardware bought abroad this ruling actually legalises (of all things) playing legitimate games on legitimate hardware (!!!) where console implemented DRM prevented that. As an aside, I’ve never understood why they didn’t want to sell games in as many territories as possible.

    Originally Posted By Owen
    … it falls, for me mentally in the hddvd and bluray spectrum, ultimately I can buy the movie for both formats, they are the same…

    I can’t believe I have to even point out the madness of making your customers buy the same thing twice! I already own the content because I paid for it once and like you say it costs effectively nothing to produce more perfect replicas so it’s just wallet-gouging for the sake of it, isn’t it? I don’t want to have to buy Star Wars every time someone decides to arbitrarily change the format that movies are distributed on. I’ve bought it on VHS and DVD already; fortunately I have the ability to backup DVDs to my computer and shift it to the format du jour from there.

    Originally Posted By Ado
    My view stems from actual copyright law which states I have purchased this piece of music or this film and not the medium it is presented in. Once I have paid for that copyright this content is mine, irrespective of medium. However, if the supplier of that content seeks to artificially restrict my usage of it, I feel that is a gross abuse of my rights as a copyright owner.

    By copyright owner, Ado means he’s the licence holder. That’s how copyright works: The creator (copyright holder) grants you permission to use the work he created via a licence. In the case of music and music this licence is usually transmitted on a shiny, flat disc, but in the spirit of copyright law that shouldn’t matter.

    Originally Posted By Owen

    So when you buy a CD, you buy a CD, you don’t buy the music on the CD and the ability to convert it into any format you see fit.

    No, I bought the *licence* to *play* that music. If I can’t play it because they ceased manufacture of CD players (like they have done now with VHS players) I still have the *licence* to play that content. Which, if format-shifting is illegal, is how we infer our rights are being stomped on.

    [1] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20080612/0055131385.shtml

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  21. Owen

    “No, I bought the *licence* to *play* that music. If I can’t play it because they ceased manufacture of CD players (like they have done now with VHS players) I still have the *licence* to play that content. Which, if format-shifting is illegal, is how we infer our rights are being stomped on.”

    I’m not saying it’s fair, or reasonable, the simple matter of fact is, under UK law at the moment it is illegal to format shift your music/videos etc to other formats, everyone does it, no one enforces it, however it is still illegal.

    Lord Triesman introduced a proposal early last year, is still at the consultation stage to allow format shifting, within reason for personal use, after all if you can’t effectively police a law it’s nonsense.

    So under UK law you bought a license for private playing of your music on that CD, not just private play of that music and it happens to come on a CD. It’s just how it is, you backing up of Star Wars onto your computer is illegal, because under UK law your license for that episode of Star Wars is tied to that DVD, not to the DivX copy you have loaded on your laptop.

    To clarify my point on it’s not reasonable to expect to be able to write your own games on a console it is because they are sold as closed systems, of course you are entitled to do what ever you want to the machine once you’ve got it home, install whatever mod chips and changes you want, it’s your machine then, but out of the box no. The same thing, if I buy a tune from iTunes for my iPod I can’t expect it to work on another player, on the other hand I’ll fight any proposal to make illegal that I can’t alter it to work in any format I wish.

    I don’t feel that any company should be compelled to sell me an item that is convenient to format shift (in my case of fairplay DRM encrypted tracks) as long as I am aware of the risks of purchasing them, I should, however then be entitled to mess around with it in any way I see fit, which is currently illegal due to the nature of UK copyright law.

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  22. Nothing really to add to this conversation, but damn, I love reading Neil’s posts and I can practically hear my own voice saying the words. Good job that man!

    FWIW, as a couple of examples, I still haven’t played Half Life 2 because of Steam, and cancelled my Red Alert 3 pre-order once I found out about the DRM. I spent the money on Sins of a Solar Empire instead, which is really quite good, actually. A shame they’ve moved to DRM-esque locking of the the updates to an account, but I simply stopped downloading the updates. I can reinstall the game any time I want, no need to ask permission to play. That’s not so much a win in my book, as not an instant epic fail.

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