Thursday, March 24, 2005

Digital Rights Management

Anil had a post yesterday about DVD Jon, the guy who circumvented iTunes' DRM. DRM is something I am very frustrated by. As Anil's post indicates, it's really crazy to keep trying to enforce DRM. There are always going to be hackers out there who will crack the code. Meanwhile, the people who are really hurt by it are average citizens, those who don't even know that tools exist to circumvent the problem. The people who might actually be pirating music or movies will always find a way to do it.

DRM is especially damaging to education. Yes, there's fair use, but if a DVD is protected, try getting a 3-minute clip for your conference presentation. Soon computers themselves will be hardwired to protect content, just making it harder to use your content legally.

I love my iPod, but one of the things I find frustrating is that you can't transfer music via your iPod from one computer to another. Granted, I circumvented this, but many people I know haven't. It's my music. If I want to have it on my home computer and on my office computer, I should be able to. Here's the relevent clauses in Apple's Terms of Service:
You shall be authorized to use the Products only for personal, noncommercial use.

You shall be authorized to use the Products on five Apple-authorized devices at any time.

You shall be entitled to export, burn or copy Products solely for personal, noncommercial use.

You shall be authorized to burn a playlist up to seven times.

You shall be able to store Products from up to five different Accounts on certain devices, such as an iPod and iPod mini, at a time.

However, they make it difficult to do what you've been authorized to do. I know that much of this comes from pressure from the movie and recording industry.

Some DRM-free stores are popping up--one is, which charges only 88 cents/song. Granted, you might not find exactly what you want, but at least the music is yours.

DRM is a good argument for continued P2P sharing of music, however illegal that might be.

You should also see Clancy's post about Lessig's talk at the 4C's.