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DRM: The Music Industry's Dirty Secret

To anyone that stays current with the latest technology news, DRM is nothing new. It's hated by everyone except the record labels, and certain countries even have strict laws preventing people from circumventing it. It's a constant battle between fair use and preventing piracy, but the battle seems to be swaying far, far away from fair use. Sometimes being so close to the technology industry obscures how good a job the music industry has done at keeping DRM a secret. Ask anyone in I.T. what DRM is and they'll shake their fist at it. Ask anyone else and you might just get a blank stare. My parents, for example, are not computer savvy people and have no clue what DRM is. All they know about DRM is that if they buy their music online they can never buy another brand of MP3 player or use a different music program. After I released iTunes Sync I was given a glimpse into just how secret DRM really is. Here is an actual email that I received from someone quite recently.

I have a Samsung Sansa e260R that was given to me to replace an iPod Shuffle that broke. I used your software to sync my iTunes which included both songs copied from my CDs and songs purchased via iTunes. Your software worked great, except it would not copy purchased songs. It said it was copying all the files and that all files were copied, but when I look in my mp3 player, only those tunes that I did not purchase appear. Is there anything I can do to use these song I paid for? Thank you for your work! Sherry

Sherry has no idea what is going on with her music, and no idea why she can't listen to her music on her new MP3 player. She thinks that she is doing something wrong. Apple never warned her that her music was forever locked to iTunes and her iPod, so now she is out of luck. Here's another email.

Dear Sir, I'm trying to move my iTunes library to my new AT&T Samsung Sync phone. It has a microSD card, I need help moving this. I'm not a good computer person, but I know that I should be able to put my music I paid for on what I want. Thanks, Joe

Joe has just discovered the wonderful world of DRM for the first time, and only now he realizes how badly he has been scammed by Apple and the music industry as a whole. What can we do to prevent these emails in the future? Eliminating DRM would be nice, and some pioneering record labels are experimenting with this, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. What we really need is less-restrictive legislation when it comes to circumventing or removing the DRM. The DMCA in the United States gives far too much power to the record labels and no power to the people. Unfortunately the Canadian government has been under pressure lately to implement something similar. How can we stop laws like this from robbing people of their right to fair use? We need to spread the word. Tell your mom. Tell your aunt that is thinking about buying an MP3 player. Tell your cousin who just installed iTunes for the first time. Everyone needs to know this dirty secret, not just the tech crowd.

Dec 5, 2007  • #1
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SockitSolutions
3 discussion posts
You should roll in some FreePlay or whatever the current FairPlay-circumventing piece of software is. Automatically encode it as an MP3 and then sit by your window waiting for the police to show up.
Dec 5, 2007  • #2
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