Saturday, April 18, 2009

DRM's Ugly Head Rears Again

Image by via Flickr
Average people just don't seem to learn when DRM shows how awful it can be. Yahoo!'s and 's music services were cancelled and their authorization servers were planned to be taken off-line. The suggested workaround? Burn the tracks to CD and rip them to a non-DRM format, losing cash, time, and a serious amount of fidelity in the process.

The biggest complaint I hear about moving to Gnome right now is that the person's iPod and previous iTunes purchases won't work. The iPod's DMCA-assured secret hasing and iTune's limit on moving older music purchases share a common trait: that's DRM locking you in. But that's all old news, isn't it?

The new news is not about music: it's about e-books. Same old nasty tasting poison -- different wrapper. controls how long you can read your books for. The details of the case in the link above aren't important. The banned customer may have abused a policy or he may not have. The result is the same: he not only loses his right to the returned books, but to all the books he legally purchased and didn't return. The message from Amazon is clear.

"All your book are belong to us." You don't own the books your bought, and Amazon can take them away time they are dissatisfied with you. You have no recourse.

Do yourself and the world a favor. Support open formats. Refuse to buy products which contain DRM. Let the vendors know they lost your sale. Use the non-DRMed products legally and within fair use guidelines.


Anonymous said...

DRM on e-books is definitely the new front.

The problem seems to have been highlighted by the actions of the Authors Guild and I hope that their small minded attempt to protect the audio book market from the currently illogical bogeyman of text to speech in the Kindle helps bring DRM down.

I think we need more articles like this, more from RMS, and more from the old school media on the problems of DRM.

Every person with the slighest interest in literature should be appalled by the concept of buy a license to use a book on a single device until that device croaks.

You might have to buy a book twice if a friend borrows it and doesn't return it or if you treat it badly but those are choices you make with your property. The current e-book system makes the books and the device they run on someone else's property, to do with what they will.

I buy music without DRM, games that do not have DRM (some of them not even Linux games) and I would buy books in copious amounts if they were sold in a format that I knew I could rely on being able to read in 20 years time because it is not DRM encumbered.


Thanks for the support. I actually do most of my music listening on Jamendo these days, so there's no worry about DRM or even loaning to my buddy. I don't really do the e-book thing yet, so that's not an issue for me.

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