December 29, 2005

DRM sucks!!!

I bought a USB hard drive with the money I got for Christmas (and Best Buy gift cards.) For the past 2 or 3 nights I've been trying to figure out the best way to get music that I want onto this portable drive so that I can play it:
1) On all 4 computers in my house, Win 2000/Linux/XP Home and XP Pro all included
2) In my CAR, which plays MP3's off CD, and regular CDs
3) In all 3 MP3 players owned by various family members.

Boy, what a bunch of bullshit these 2 days have been. The RIAA sucks as far as I'm concerned. And those of you who contribute to their fantasy dreams by buying DRM-protected content can all go to hell too. This is a capitalist society, and you're ENABLING them buy buying their DRM bullshit. STOP DOING IT!

1. You have a choice. You can listen to content on the radio, and you have a right to record the radio to any device capable, for your own private time-shifting use. This includes Internet radio (since they're paying the same fees broadcast radio is paying now!). There's a fairly famous judge's ruling that pretty much validates this right with respect to audio/video recordings (Betamax/VHS ruling.)

2. By enabling them, you're giving your rights away. You're demonstrating both that they have the right to charge you to make copies of what you already have the right to listen to on your own schedule, and you're showing through 'common-practice' that they can do what they're doing.

3. Unbeknownst to you, your DRM content will eventually break down. Don't believe me? I've had several different DRM's break on me in the past year. Does anyone remember downloading movie content from on the Internet? You have the movie file, but you can't play it - why not? Because it can't call home. How about the software product that no longer has a support web page to get its temporarily running license because they went out of business? History teaches us about the future; we have only to listen. DRM will break down when it is no longer supported by the infrastructure. Some DRM has to phone home. Try doing that with your laptop in an airplane at 25,000 feet with no Internet. Some DRM needs software LOADED ON YOUR MACHINE!!!! to run (Hello Napster, you bunch of hucksters!). What happens when you want to listen to your content on an unsupported OS? OOoops, too bad...What, you upgraded to IE 7? Are you SURE that web-based DRM form will continue to work? What, they put in a firewall at work and you can't get your license file any more? Too bad, no refunds forthcoming from Napster, I'll bet...

If there's anything we should have learned from software in the 1980s it's that SOFTWARE PROTECTION DOESN'T WORK. DRM is SOFTWARE PROTECTION. It's broke out of the box.

4. You can buy what you want elsewhere. Legality of sites such as and other Russian-owned sites are still up in the air. Wikipedia articles and web sites argue over and over about whether these sites have the right to continue. AllofMP3 has been running over a year and haven't been shut down by the Russian government yet. Do you have the right to import purchased content from other countries? From what I have read, you have the right to transfer in personal use items, and the onus seems to be on the content owner to restrict you from that right if they choose to reserve it.

5. You can buy what you want HERE, in THIS country. Visited a pawn shop lately? I'll bet that CD of your favorite 80s hair-band is sitting there on a shelf, just waiting for you to buy it for $1 and go home and rip it. Granted, it'll take a bit of know-how, but you can do it..

Reasons 6-10 - DRM blows and is the brainwashing tool of the RIAA. And remember, they suck - don't bow down.

Back to my own experience? NOBODY can give me what I want. The best I could do would be to pay a service like Rhapsody TWICE for my content. Once - a monthly subscription fee to listen to what I want (program my own radio station) and they a SECOND fee to burn the music to a CD so I can take it with me. And if I prefer a different format for convenience? I'll have to rip it myself from the CD I payed them to let me create. How nice of them.....but 90% of what I want to listen to is already in my home library, on either CD, VHS, cassette or DVD. What good are they doing me with the dumb-ass system?

I've about made up my mind that DRM content is EVIL. I will NEVER buy another DRM track. I bought ONE - from Napster - and paid .99 for it. That's the last dollar the DRM-happy folks will see from me, ever. I'm debating maybe paying Rhapsody or Yahoo, or some other service to play the content that I want (on their subscription/playlist option - $3.99 a month?) and then record it for timeshifting later (with windows recorder?). But splitting up the files is going to be a pain in the butt.

What the RIAA and the content folks need to realize is that I am READY and WILLING to pay $.99 a track - but I want a nice MP3 file I can take to any platform, not the crap they're trying to sell me.


Anonymous said...

First, I don't like acronym "DRM." I prefer "FUR" for "Fair Use Restriction." I think it less obfuscating.

Where can I find legal, downloadable, uncompressed (No MP3) music files unencumbered by FUR?

Rich Gautier said...

Well, Anonymous, if that is your real name......

Check out - A Russian music site that either is or is not legal depending on who you ask. Considering the Russians have not shut them down yet, I would say they're currently legal, if only on the fringe of that word.

The point is that they offer UNCOMPRESSED WMA as a format, along with other formats like Ogg Vorbis, etc.. They offer more than one uncompressed download option, but I'm not sure what the other option(s) are.

For discussions on their legality, check the entry in Wikipedia... ALLOFMP3 - while it's not probably not written by a lawyer, it's an interesting discussion nonetheless.

Rich Gautier said...

Your other option is one I mentioned in the article - check your local pawn shop for used CDs. With a scratch cleaner kit, you should be able to rip anything you find to your computer (barring Sony's little hacked CDs).