A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

31 October 2006

A Slurry of Suits?

What would one call the flurry of digital rights management cases taking place right now?

The US Patent Office is being pressed to make significant changes to copyright law. As is the Australian government. Even the Boy Scouts of America (who already front for the American Taliban) are getting into the act in L.A.. (BoingBoing).

All of these acts are of course funded by the "consumer-friendly" industry groups who want to ensure that they will control exactly when, where, and how we are permitted to "consume" music.

As a customer (not a "consumer") I am sick to death of companies increasingly curtailing my right to do as I wish with property for which I have paid. The small print increasingly says "We will force this agreement on you will-ye or nill-ye. We will determine how you may use our product, despite the fact that we won't support it. We will reserve the right to stop you using it in any way we haven't been smart enough to think of, too."

Increasingly, such maneuvers and legalese have less to do with "copyright protection" (the thinnest remaining legitimate shred of an excuse to penalize your customers) and more to do with inflicting proprietary technology on us.

iTunes is a perfect example. But it's not alone. The SO recently activated a 3-month Napster membership.

The Napster membership card cost $30 for three months, and claimed "unlimited FREE downloads". Presumably they'll refund me the 30 bucks when the subscription runs out? Otherwise it isn't free, is it?

It turned out that Napster has only partial catalogues of most of the music I wanted to hear. Presumably I could have previewed their content to find that out? But in a music store, I'd just search until I found the album I wanted, or go to a different store, or order the item in. Having paid for this crap, I'm kind of stuck. My own fault--caveat emptor.

But Napster takes that saying to ridiculous heights. You can only download music to the computer that you "register" with the network. I can only assume this means some sort of spyware is glued into your computer. And of course they never abuse that to spy on you, to spam you, or to otherwise break privacy law, I'm sure.

Of course I have to take their word for that, not being myself a computer security expert.

But I also can't take my Napster music with me--not without "registering" my ancient Samsung Yepp digital music player.

So I can't quite get the music I want. I can take it anywhere (assuming I don't mind adding spyware to my mobile device), or play it at my convenience (assuming it's convenient to sit at my computer whenever I want music).

And all for "free" (plus $30).

I suppose I could use software to screw with their digital rights-removal tools and copy my music as I wish. But as I'm sure the new, nice, Napster would point out: that would be wrong. And they oughta know.

Besides, why bother when I can dowload fully portable files that I want for free?

So of course the companies involved will sue my server, the creators of "KazaaToo" (not what I use, but why make it easy for the twerps?), and perhaps eventually me, in order to force me to buy their proprietary files.

And we supposedly live in a "consumer"-driven, choice-oriented society?

In good news for the piratocracy, Apple users can liberate your iTunes using iMovie (via BoingBoing)


At 7:31 p.m., Blogger Lori said...

I cancelled the Napster account, and in the exit survey (the "why are you dissatisfied with our service) there's an option that says "subscription service is too much like renting the music" -- Uh. Yeah. Thanks for clarifying. I was wondering what was bothering me about it.

Don't suck in to Napster. Go back to borrowing CDs from friends, buy music directly from the artists you like, and stay away from the companies that 1) put sneaky software on their CDs (Sony, right?), and 2) sue their customers for enjoying the music.


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