Apple puts the "Rights" back into Digital Rights Management
Written By: Kai Cherry
I think there is a lot of garbage talk going around with regard to Apple's DRM, dubbed "FairPlay", and DRM in general. The DRM scheme is in place to PREVENT ONLINE SHARING OF THE ORIGINAL PURCHASED TRACKS, which, um, no one is supposed to do anyway.
This very notion seems to escape all the people who are ranting about DRM. The whole *concept* seems to have just been...lost. Apple isn't "taking away" any capabilities that you were supposed to be practicing in the first place.
I've noticed a *whole lotta* comments from folks that haven't even bothered to spend the 99 cents necessary to see if their complaints have any validity whatsoever. Its all very, very knee-jerk. Unless you are deluded or lying to yourself, you will have to agree that music from the iTunes Music Store sounds FANTASTIC. You don't hear any of the garbage aliasing on the highs that drives folks crazy. Its not "crap compressed quality" by any stretch of the imagination. Play the thing in a new iPod. Wow. Sounds even better.
In my household, we have (surprise) 3 computers and 2 iPods. CD Burners. CD players. It all works. The "DRM" is very unobtrusive. Amazingly so.
The only folks its a hassle for are the folks it seems to have been designed to piss off in the first place: file traders.
I noticed in the Register piece that folks were asking "What's the point if it can be "defeated" by reburning, etc?" It makes *sharing* more of a hassle to those that want to do it, squarely putting the problem back where it belongs...in the *behavioral* category. Why folks don't/won't see this for what it is, instead coming up with these lame-ass strawman arguments, wrongheaded notions and overarching conspiracy theories is just...mind-boggling.
Really, if you buy tracks from iTMS and you want to have a physical copy you play in a CD player, just burn them. Just like a CD. You wanna put them on Gnutella? You can. Just like a CD.
You want a plastic case and the booklet? Buy a CD. Get in the car and go get one. Or wait for it to show up in the mail if you order it online. The published lyrics don't match the damned songs anyway, and crap 4-color mega-moired printing ain't "album art" unless you're hitting the pipe hard. Only box sets have anywhere near the "old feel" of an LP in this regard.
When *I* get that "remember that song?" vibe and I look it up, if its there, I've got it and I'm *enjoying* the music in 2 minutes. Not 20. Not hours. Not days.
Now, to be fair, I've been opposed to *previous* DRM schemes because they were WORSE than buying a CD. I mean, streams only? Subscriptions? ONE COMPUTER? I can't burn them? I gotta pay RETAIL?!?! WTF?
The *only* thing you can't do with the .m4p's that ya could with ripped mp3's is play them on 80,000 computers at the same time. Was this a "right" you had in the first place? Is this so "evil"...so "wrong?" Well...is it? Fairplay was designed, quite cleverly I might add, to be *fair* to me, the consumer by allowing for personal copying, while at the same time throwing a monkey-wrench, albeit a small one, into the cycle of "Buy/Rip/Post".
It's designed to inconvenience casual opportunists file traders. The courts are for the hardcore, 20GB+ semi-pros.
Be glad that the RIAA and MicroSoft's crap ass modded "protected" CDs or that stupid DataPlay scheme weren't the last word on the subject. None of those DRM Schemes were even remotely fair or reasonable.
I think the RIAA is a Bad Group of People, mostly because of their severely misguided attempts at managing the digital phenom in the first place. Remember, the software industry has had years and years to deal with the "every customer can be come a competitor/distributor" problem. The recording industry was hit hard and heavy, because they didn't figure out until 2 minutes too late that A) its was gonna be that way, deal with it, and B) this is what people want.
The best idea to hit "the scene" before iTMS was mp3.com's "Instant Listening," at least in principle. It satisfied the promise and need for immediate gratification (I listen now, I get the CD in the mail in a few days). The music biz BLEW THIS BIG TIME because of the fear of the mp3 menace. Instead of embracing this, they killed it, and for me and many others at the time, a lot of sales in the process. I loved the fact that I could keep the CDs, unopened as *backups* instead of the other way around.
iTMS solves these issues on a totally different level; I get the "nowness" of it all, and I can make the CDs into backups again, because like many folks in this day and age, i don't actually listen to CDs anymore. And if I want to listen to my music on the go, its on the iPod. In the car, its on the iPod. In a another room, I can stream it, or just copy the files to that machine.
I am STILL shocked and amazed that the same RIAA that has been fighting Digital Distro tooth and nail went along with this. Well, at first I was...then it dawned on me *why* they would go along with it. They've come to grips with the problem being behavioral instead of technological.
I don't think FairPlay is great because Apple did it. I think its great because its *fair* to me, Mr. Kai. The fact that Apple came up with it is incidental, but not surprising. The scheme was created "backwards" as it looked at what music *buyers* traditionally do and applies that to the DRM model, instead of trying to treat bits of data as a "physical device" which is of course, impossible.
The best part of Apple's little DRM twist, the best part of FairPlay, probably sealed the deal: Your buyer info is your key to redistribution. You cannot share your original purchases without exposing yourself to being ripped off :) Kinda gives you that "walk a mile in my shoes" feeling.
Editor's Note: Kai Cherry has asked that all comments, questions, responses, hate mail, etc. resulting from this article be directed to The moonrockreptiles Forum.
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