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All posts tagged "DRM"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Rise And Fall Of The Music Industry

Posted by Ed Hansberry in "Pocket PC News" @ 07:00 PM


Yesterday on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" program, Terry Gross interviewed Steve Knopper, a Rolling Stone contributing editor, on the history of the recording industry from the end of the vinyl era to the future. Of course, DRM and content protection are discussed at length, but are not the sole topic. Also discussed are the differences in the market caused by the advent of the CD, home computers, DAT, CD burner, MP3 player and on to the future where the CD may cease to exist and the music industry itself may struggle for relevance. Anyone that has ever downloaded a song illegally or has done so legally and then fought with DRM issues with their device(s) will enjoy this show. It lasts roughly 30 minutes. The main article link takes you to the RSS feed that you can copy and paste into your favorite podcasting software. It aired yesterday, but the RSS feed is showing it as a January 15 show. You'll know right away if you have the wrong one because it starts right into the story. Alternatively, you can download the MP3 file directly or use the WMA stream to whatever device or desktop you have.

Be sure to listen to the show before disputing anything. You may be surprised at some of the conclusions presented by Mr. Knopper.

Tags: DRM

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zune Pass Now Offers 10 Tracks Per Month to Keep

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune News" @ 10:12 PM


"The week just keep getting better for Zune owners: today we're announcing some amazing enhancements for Zune Pass. Starting today at about 11:00PM pacific time, everyone with a Zune Pass gets to keep 10 tracks from Zune Marketplace each month. These 10 tracks will be yours to keep, forever. Each month that you keep your Zune Pass current, you'll get another 10 tracks credited to your account. All this for the same price as your Zune Pass today: 14.99/month, or about the price of one CD per month. So each month as you discover and download new music in Zune Marketplace, you'll be able to keep 10 of your favorite tracks. One quick note: there is no roll-over, so make sure you collect your 10 tracks each month."

The blog post goes on to say that approximately 90% of the 4 million tracks in the Zune Marketplace are available in MP3 format. I don't know if that's something that has just changed tonight though, because the last time I checked I had a really hard time finding MP3s in the songs that I wanted - and that's why I purchase most of my digital music from Amazon's MP3 store. Still, I'm all for DRM-free music, so it's great to see them focusing hard on getting more MP3s into their catalog.

Back to the big news though: getting to keep approximately $10 worth of music per month, and getting rented access to a huge collection of music, all for $15 per month, is compelling. What I'm not sure about is what format the 10 tracks you get are - I suspect their in WMA format and DRM-laden, which makes them less interesting, but I suppose it's better than nothing. The Zune team isn't the first I've heard offering a subscription service with tracks to keep (check out what Nokia is doing), but I think it's a first out of the major players in the subscription industry - which I guess really only consists of Rhapsody and Napster at this point with pretty much every other player dying off.

So what do you think? Is this enough to make you want to sign up for a Zune Pass if you've been resisting up until now?

Tags: DRM, Zune Pass

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Online Music Ripoff

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Digital Home Talk" @ 02:00 AM


"Why is DRM so contentious? Surely it's designed to protect the rights of artists and record companies in a climate where, as one international music industry body claims, illegal downloads swamp legitimate music store downloads by a ratio of 20 to 1? The problem is DRM doesn't affect the pirates, who upload and download DRM-free files often ripped directly from CD. Instead, it affects legitimate buyers in a range of deeply irritating ways. The first roadblock comes down to Gates' talk of "simplicity" and "interoperability", or rather the lack of both"

I think most people who know anything about DRM hate it. They hate dealing with the limitations of the technology, both intentionally built-in or as a direct result of poor technical planning/implementation. Unlike a good protection scheme which is invisible to the end user, DRM is too limiting to the average customer, and does nothing to stop hardcore music pirates. Plus, when a store goes down and its licenses stop renewing, the customer is the real loser. Sure you can burn your songs to a CD and re-rip them (or do it virtually), but the process is time-consuming and you lose audio fidelity. Another option is to free your purchased music using tools like FairUse4WM (above) or Hymn, or just buy DRM-free in the first place. Check out the article if you need yet another reason to hate DRM.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Zune Pass: A Sheep In Wolves' Clothing

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Media" @ 01:30 PM


"Here's the hypothesis: once a household has a single Zune with a Zune Pass... it becomes a great motivator for other household members to choose Zune players over any other player. The reasoning, of course, is that by "going Zune", those follow-on household members not only get a great little media player, they get unlimited music to load on that player."

Zune Journey's opening screen (captured by Harvey from Zunerama)

Harvey from Zunerama raises an interesting point. Families that purchase a Zune and a Zune Pass are more likely to be repeat/multiple buyers, simply because of the convenience, the familiar experience, and, oh, the vendor lock-in. Now where have we heard that argument before?

It's really a shame to have to think of it that way, but it's true. Microsoft's announcement that the new Marketplace will up the number of authorized Zunes per Pass from 2 to 3 is undoubtedly a good thing. Families can save money by a) using the subscription and avoiding a la carte services and b) reducing the number of subscription-enabled accounts, but do you really want your dad's bluegrass collection (or your son's latest "Soulja Boy" track) to show up on your perfectly primmed Social page? This'll be especially true when Microsoft follows Napster/Rhapsody in allowing you to access your library from anywhere via the web.

Even when sharing an account, converting your family and friends to the Social is completely in Microsoft's interest. The money they lose through familial account sharing is more than made up through extra device sales and repeat business. One of the key draws of Zune is of course its wireless sharing ability. This feature is completely useless without another Zune owner with whom I can share*, and thus it's in my interest to get my friends to buy Zunes so I can swap songs with them. Also, I'm all but guaranteed to make my next purchase a Zune if the aforesaid conditions are met and I have a significant stake in my Marketplace-acquired content. Sure, tracks downloaded from the Marketplace will work on PlaysForSure devices (at least for now...who knows what DRM the new ecosystem will use), but P4S is a dying breed, and I highly doubt we'll be seeing a surge of new P4S players anytime soon.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Microsoft Breaks FairUse4WM (Again)

Posted by Adam Krebs in "Zune Software" @ 08:00 PM


Remember that program that promised to rid you of all the Microsoft DRM on your purchased media? I guess someone at Microsoft decided they liked keeping their job, and fixed the problem. To be honest, I'm surprised it took this long—two months is a while in the world of DRM. Who wants to take bets on how long it'll be before it's broken again (or "John Doe" gets sued)?

For all you tech heads out there, your DRM-removal is safe as long as you have an ibx (the decryption file store) version 11.0.6000.6324 or below (not version 11.0.6000.7000.) Note that your Windows Media Player version may not necessarily correlate with the ibx version number, you'll have to run FU4WM to find out for sure.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Does Your Zune Skip? Read This

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Hardware" @ 03:47 PM


"A few folks have expressed concern over skipping (Cesar looks at Sportsunit), so I wanted to address that here. If you have a Zune that isn’t skipping (which, truth be told, is the majority of owners), move along, nothing to see here, move along. But if the content from ZMP is skipping on your device, I want to tell you that the team is aware, and is working on it. Overall, the comments on this blog help the Zune team get a feel for what’s really happening out there among Zune users. We’re a new player on the scene, and I think it’s important for the team to stay connected – so, thanks for leaving comments and for the great discussion that goes on here."

Cesar Menendez did up a quick post about the skipping problem - so it seems that the Zune team knows about the problem, but there are no official details from the team as to why it happens. From what I've read in our forums and on other sites, the skipping seems to be linked to Zune Marketplace content, which is why people have wondered about DRM and CPU load being the culprit. Have you had the skipping problem? If so, have you "fixed" it or nailed down what causes it? I've heard bizarre things like it won't skip if you set the back light to always stay on. I wonder how/when the Zune team will address this problem?

Tags: DRM, skipping

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Michael Robertson: Diet Soda and Your Music Going Flat

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 11:33 PM


"My wife got me hooked on diet soda. Each morning I'll grab a Diet Dr. Pepper, Diet Pepsi or Diet Vanilla Coke. They stopped making Diet Vanilla Coke which was my favorite so I bought a big stockpile when I heard the announcement. Unfortunately, I learned that diet drinks go bad fairly quickly. Unlike their sugar laden counterparts which last a long time, the Aspartame in modern diet sodas has a short shelf life. I learned to look at the date on the bottom of the can to avoid a mouthful of brown soda water. Unfortunately, for some music lovers their music library could go flat as quickly as a soda. In 2004, Coke launched an online music store called mycokemusic. They quickly became the #1 online music store in the UK. Well, a lot changes in a couple of years on the net and what was once a shining success is now a distant player behind iTunes UK. So, Coke has decided to shutter the service by the end of July."

This article is a few months old, but it resonated with me: this is the singular fear I have with DRM, and why I have absolutely no trust in it. What's interesting is that subscription music models are a great solution to this: there's no illusion of ownership, you understand that you're renting your music just like you rent your cable service. So the Zune plan for $14.99 a month might be compelling to people for this very reason. Myself, I still prefer to purchase CDs - I have 737 CDs now (there's a reason I know the exact number, I'll tell you why another day) and I really enjoy the physical ownership of the CDs and cover art. Has anyone been burnt like this? Invested in DRM'd music and had it "go flat"? I think we'll see much more of this in the next five years.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

MP3.com's Micheal Robertson Says the Zune Will Flop

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Zune Talk" @ 06:10 PM


"Every week at MP3tunes we hear from people who have lost all or a portion of their iTunes music (it's often motivation to get 'music insurance' and open a $40 locker with unlimited storage). While we're happy to have a new customer, it's sad when someone loses their personal possessions. Their loss is often tied to a DRM (digital restricted music) problem. Music wrapped with restrictions like songs from iTunes aren't really a purchase, but rather a rental. Like all rentals they come to an end and you're out on the street with nothing. It's just a matter of time before one of the following happens: Technology company changes rules, technology or strategy. See: Your Music Goes Flat. A hard disk crashes. Computer is stolen, broken or upgraded. Exceed number of allowed devices (usually some are lost, stolen or broken). I've been looking for a good verb to describe losing all of your music to DRM because it's increasingly common and I think I have one: zune. Sample usage: He had an extensive classic rock collection that got zuned."

Never short on opinion, Robertson is "old" money in the Internet timeline, having made his fame and fortune on mostly defunct Web properties. Does anyone use MP3.com for anything other than looking up artist information anymore? Regardless, Robertson does make some valid points about the evils of DRM and the limitations of the first generation Zune product. I found the survey interesting - the sampling of 1500 or so people shows that 86% of them agree with the blog entry by Robertson. Now, it's not granular enough to determine if those 86% of people think the Zune will be a flop, or if those 86% think that DRM itself is the problem regardless of who's DRM it is. You won't find any argument from me - I really dislike DRM and routinely burn and re-rip songs to bypass it. No DRM tracks get played day to day in my home, though I do keep the DRM'd tracks as a backup copy just in case. Do you agree with Robertson regarding the success or failure of the Zune?

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