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Technology

The beginning of the end of DRM?

I think Big Music is finally starting to gain a shred of sense on how to do business in the digital age, as one of the big labels, EMI, is going to offer DRM-free downloads at iTunes in May. Neowin:

EMI Music today announced that it is launching new premium downloads for retail on a global basis, making all of its digital repertoire available at a much higher sound quality than existing downloads and free of digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.

Eric Nicoli, CEO of EMI Group, said, “By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music.”

The tracks will be priced at $1.29 a song, so about 30 cents more than your traditional DRM-laden iTunes track. The price increase is definitely fair when you consider they double the quality (256 kbps is very, very close to CD quality) and, more importantly, give people the freedom to play the songs on whatever player they choose.

No matter which way you look at it, this is at the very least a minor victory. It’s nice to see a major label FINALLY get the picture and retool itself to the market. Let’s hope the other RIAA labels follow suit and see that DRM slows, not grows, their digital business.

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Technology

Bravo, Mr. Jobs

Steve Jobs’ thoughts on music are…well…music to my ears:

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, 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.

Read the whole thing. It’s among one of the best reads yet on the constant DRM battle, and I hope some record execs take note of this. Steve Jobs and his company have been among the best at knowing what consumers want in the last five years, especially when it comes to music. The RIAA would do well to take note of his thoughts.

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Technology

Microsoft Zune is out

Microsoft’s attempt at an iPod killer, the Zune, has been released today to moderate fanfare. The question is: Can Microsoft unseat the Apple musical juggernaut?

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Technology

DRM = CRAP

ZDNet’s chief editor, David Berlind suggests a new name for Digital Rights Management: Content, Restriction, Annulment, and Protection. C-R-A-P. I love it.

Via Neowin.

Categories
Technology

Starforce DRM is NASTY.

From CD Freaks, as seen on Neowin:

…[T]he anti-piracy system that Starforce is using installs a driver that runs at the highest level of access on the system…[T]his driver runs all the time, regardless of whether or not you are playing a game that used Starforce’s DRM…[I]f the Starforce driver thinks it has detected suspicious activity relating to disc copying the driver will instantly reboot your computer without any notification.

If this software wasn’t under the guise of “digital ‘rights’ management” (more like digital restrictions management), it would probably be classified as a trojan horse. Put another way, if I wrote this software, I’d face prosecution under various laws (including the “Patriot” Act). This kind of vigilante PC policing is nothing short of ridiculous, and does nothing but harm legitimate consumers. Companies used to dissuade people from piracy by letting them know that buying genuine copies of the software would help ensure their safety, as copies from unauthorized sources could be loaded with viruses and other malware. These days, it seems as if the opposite is true. Where companies got the idea of infecting their legitimate customers’ PCs with harmful software is totally beyond me.

It’s times like these where we must take full advantage of the power of the free market. Check out this list of Starforce-infected games and be sure not to buy them, regardless of how good they might be.