I have written about DRM many times previously and what an evil, anti-consumer, scum-sucking device it is. Many of the comments on these posts disagreed with my position.
I really began to doubt my thinking on DRM though when Bill Gates, speaking about DRM seemed to agree with me!:
People should just buy a cd and rip it
However, overnight Steve Jobs has come out with an open letter pleading for music companies to let him sell DRM-free music!
the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.
Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries. Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies towards persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free. For Europeans, two and a half of the big four music companies are located right in their backyard. The largest, Universal, is 100% owned by Vivendi, a French company. EMI is a British company, and Sony BMG is 50% owned by Bertelsmann, a German company. Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.
Here is the largest seller of music online telling his customers (us) to hassle his suppliers (the music companies) into allowing him to sell DRM-free music. Brilliant!
Maybe there’s hope for a DRM-free world after all.
For more, see the biggest discussion on techmeme I think I have ever seen.
There is a fascinating interview with muslix64 today on the Slyck.com site.
muslix64 is the guy who cracked HD DVD DRM when he released the open source application BackupHDDDVD just before Christmas. HD DVD is one of a pair of new formats of High Definition DVDs (the other format is called Blu-ray).
muslix64’s application will allow people to bypass the DRM on DVDs and access the HD DVD’s movie content directly.
As the proud possessor of several DVDs which were bought in the US and won’t play on my DVD player in Ireland because of the regionalisation built into DVDs, I’m delighted this has happened.
The sooner the movie studios realise that all the money they are pouring into DRM is wasted because 1) they are annoying their customers and 2) people will find a way around it anyway, the better.
As muslix64 said:
The reaction time of the community will be way faster than the reaction time of the industry.
The Zune has hardly been launched a wet week when an article has appeared on Gizmodo detailing how to share music over wifi without the Zune applying its DRM to the shared music.
The hack involves a little bit of work and I wonder just how much longer it will be until someone releases a script to automate this. Either that or people who want to share music will revert to the more traditional burn to CD route.
It just goes to show, though, silly DRM like this will be cracked.
According to an article on CNN Money, Jon Johansen, the hacker who cracked the DVD encryption, (aka DVD Jon) has now broken the ironically named FairPlay. FairPlay is the Digital Rights Management (DRM) software which Apple puts on songs sold through its iTunes store – this DRM stops songs bought through iTunes playing on devices other than an iPod.
DRM is an evil, market restricting, anti-consumer device (why shouldn’t I be able to play DVDs bought in the US on my DVD player in Ireland?).
Any and all cracking of DRM should be applauded.
Way to go Jon.
Microsoft is to launch the Zune on November 14th according to its PR site.
This date is just in time for the American holiday of Thanksgiving. What is not clear from the site is if this is an American launch date of a global launch date.
I wrote, in not too glowing terms previously about the Zune. One criticism I missed at that time is that if someone shares one of my podcasts over wifi on the Zune, the Zune adds on its own DRM to my podcast, in direct contravention to my podcast’s Creative Commons Licence causing the podcast to self-destruct in three days or after three plays.
Can someone in Microsoft explain the legality of that to me please? ‘Cos to me, that’s just plain illegal.
According to CNet, it appears that the French have backed down on passing legislation which would have forced Apple to open its DRM if it wanted to continue selling music online in France.
The background to this is that all the music which Apple sells online through its iTunes stores has Apple DRM software applied to it stopping the music from being played on any device other than an iPod. France proposed to pass a law recently which would have outlawed the use of DRM to restrict the playing of music to specific devices. As the market leader, this would have hit Apple hardest but other online music vendors were also in the firing line.
On hearing of the law, Apple commented that this was state sponsored piracy! There was talk that Apple would close down its iTunes store in France. Indeed, it may have been forced to as Apple has more than likely signed deals with the music publishers which only allows it to distribute music with DRM.
Now, however, it appears that the law has been considerably watered down by the French senate. According to Ars Technica:
Most of the consumer-friendly provisions in the legislation have since been removed or rewritten. To see how this worked, consider the following examples:
- Previously, “information needed for interoperability” covered “technical documentation and programming interfaces needed to obtain a copy in an open standard of the copyrighted work, along with its legal information.” Now this has been changed to “technical documentation and programming interfaces needed to obtain a protected copy of a copyrighted work.” But a “protected” version of the work can’t be played back in a different player, which means interoperability won’t be attained with this clause.
- Previously, the only condition for receiving information needed for interoperability was to meet the cost of logistics of delivering the information. Now, anyone wanting to build a player will have to take a license on “reasonable and non discriminatory conditions, and an appropriate fee.” When using information attained under such a license, you will have to “respect the efficiency and integrity of the technical measure.”
- DRM publishers can demand the retraction of publication of the source-code for interoperable, independent software, if it can prove that the source-code is “harmful to the security and the efficiency of the DRM.”
Plus Ã§a change, eh?
I was interviewed this afternoon by Matt Cooper of Today FM’s The Last Word in a follow-up piece to the Irish Blog Awards.
Matt raised the recent proposal in France to make it legal to crack DRM – this was reported by Reuters yesterday:
France is pushing through a law that would force Apple Computer Inc to open its iTunes online music store and enable consumers to download songs onto devices other than the computer maker’s popular iPod player.
Under a draft law expected to be voted in parliament on Thursday, consumers would be able to legally use software that converts digital content into any format.
It would no longer be illegal to crack digital rights management — the codes that protect music, films and other content — if it is to enable to the conversion from one format to another, said Christian Vanneste, Rapporteur, a senior parliamentarian who helps guide law in France.
“It will force some proprietary systems to be opened up … You have to be able to download content and play it on any device,” Vanneste told Reuters in a telephone interview on Monday.
What I should have said in the interview is that Apple may be forced to close the iTunes Store if this law is passed. My understanding is that Apple are required by their agreements with the recording industry to put DRM on the music. Of course if they did have to close their store, I imagine the sales of music for allofmp3.com in France would soar!
I muddled through the interview but if any of you want to hear what I sound like when the interview mike is pointed the other direction (it isn’t pretty!) – I’ll be on sometime between 6pm and 6:30pm I was told.