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Microsoft Media Music

Microsoft Preps 'Janus' Music Copy-Prevention Scheme 466

Posted by michael
from the doomed-warclub-which-no-man-can-own-but-only-rent dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft is expected to unveil copy-protection software this summer that will for the first time give portable digital music players access to rented tunes from all-you-can-eat subscription services -- a development that some industry executives believe will shake up the online music business." Janus is the Roman god of doorways, gates, passages, preventing people from copying music, etc.
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Microsoft Preps 'Janus' Music Copy-Prevention Scheme

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  • Are they kidding? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erick99 (743982) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:43PM (#8749251)
    This will get hacked very quickly by folks who would like access to high-quality downloads and the fast download speeds that commercial sites afford. I am assuming that Microsoft and the record labels know this but figure it will be a small problem? It is a shame that my first response to this is not "how cool is this?" but, rather, "this will be hacked." But, since all of this is in response to piracy, I am surprised that these folks will hang their hats on a software solution. Oh, well.

    Happy Trails!

    Erick

    • Serious question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8749289)
      Has Apple iTunes been hacked yet? As in giving people un-encrypted, un-watermarked AAC files?
      • Re:Serious question (Score:5, Informative)

        by user no. 590291 (590291) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:50PM (#8749350)
        Yes [videolan.org].
        • Re:Serious question (Score:4, Interesting)

          by mdarksbane (587589) on Friday April 02, 2004 @05:49PM (#8750820)
          This isn't really a crack, as you have to have the legal rights to those files to be able to crack them in the first place.

          A useful crack would be to strip the DRM off of someone else's files that you had downloaded. This only allows you to go through a lot of effort in order to distribute the files you obtained legally in the first place. It's not really useful enough to say that iTune's DRM has been "cracked."

          I've got an easier crack; burn the tracks to cd and play those in another computer. Or if you want to get fancy, capture the stream from CoreAudio with something like Audio Hijack. These only lose you quality if you feel like reencoding them in something else lossy.
      • Re:Serious question (Score:5, Informative)

        by b17bmbr (608864) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:54PM (#8749399)
        Has Apple iTunes been hacked yet? As in giving people un-encrypted, un-watermarked AAC files?

        actually, i think someone did. there's also i think a windows/itunes app that captures the stream. but more importantly, the whole drm thing is moot. you can go

        aac -> cd audio (for car, etc.) then go cd -> aac/mp3. the resulting aac/mp3 is drm free. (i kow becasue the mp3's play fine on my linux box as well as my ibook). and i haven't noticed a drop in quality from aac w/drm -> cd -> aac w/o drm. so the whole cracked scheme is not important. all it takes is a $.25 cd and a few minutes.

        note: no, i did md5sum the two aac files, becasue they would of course be different. but, if someone has audio software to measure levels, etc., i'd be curious.
        • by barthrh2 (713909) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:01PM (#8749507)
          Steve Jobs knew this from the outset. Accorting to a Fortune article, he went to the labels and said "Look, we have some really smart people who know this drm stuff down cold, and you can't stop it. What makes it worse, is that once you have the key you can unlock every door". He used this as the justification for an uncomplicated scheme.

          Getting hacked would therefore come as no big surprise to Apple/Jobs. But when you add it up:
          Unlimited burns + no expiration + multiple devices + multiple computers = Not worth the trouble.

          The iTunes model is so open, there is little reason to hack it. Of those who would want to, you then have a subset of those with the skills to do so, and you end up with an insignificant number.

          The new MS model, with an expiration date, screams for a hack. But then again, there are a lot of time limited software demos, and I don't suppose that anyone tries to hack those...
          • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:45PM (#8750049) Homepage
            You raise an interesting point. DRM is always going to be hackable, so let's look at the incentives.

            "Unlimited burns + no expiration + multiple devices + multiple computers = Not worth the trouble"

            As you say, not much incentive to hack if you can do what you want with the downloads. Notice that this supports the theory that hacking DRM has nothing to do with "stealing" music; the real motivation is to defeat the crippling restrictions on usage.

            Microsoft + expiration date + music drm = another hacker victory
          • by Some Bitch (645438) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:51PM (#8750119)
            Of those who would want to, you then have a subset of those with the skills to do so, and you end up with an insignificant number.

            All it takes is one.

    • by mlush (620447) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:50PM (#8749357)
      This will get hacked very quickly

      and the bettings good that the cracking program will be called Hugh allowing one to Hugh .....

      • Bart: Uh, yes I'm looking for a friend of mine. Last name Jass, first name Hugh.
        Moe: Hold on, I'll check (to crowd) Hugh Jass. Hey, I wanna Hugh Jass. Oh, someone check the men's room for a Hugh Jass.
        (A man approaches Moe)
        Hugh: Uh, I'm Hugh Jass
        Moe: Telephone
        (Moe Hands hugh the receiver)
        Hugh: Hello, this is Hugh Jass
        Bart: Uh, hi
        Hugh: Who's this?
        Bart: Bart Simpson
        Hugh: What can I do for you, Bart?
        Bart: Uh, look, I'll level with you, mister. This is a crank call that sorta backfired and I'd like t
    • by dragoncortez (603226) * on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:52PM (#8749377) Journal
      oh come on, the article says, "Janus would add a hacker-resistant clock to portable music players for files encoded in Microsoft's proprietary Windows Media Audio format." We all know that when Microsoft makes something hacker-resistant there's just no way to crack it.
    • Re:Are they kidding? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bl8n8r (649187)
      Think about what is going on here in order to hack it. You would have to reverse engineer the software, bypass the authentication/security mechanism, then connect to a server with your IP address to pilfer music. All the while, M$CO and the RIAA are sitting back with a piracay and DMCA greivance. This would be about as bright robbing a bank naked, in broad daylight, and using your own car as the getaway vehicle.
    • by baudilus (665036) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:55PM (#8749420)
      Step 1) Rent song.
      Step 2) Put rented song on mp3 player.
      Step 3) Go to Radio $hack, buy an adapter cable to connected mp3 output back into PC.
      Step 4) Record song from Sound Card's 'Line In' using a high-quality program like Goldwave [goldwave.com].
      Step 5) Enjoy all the choonz you want for $10 / month.
      • Step 4) Record song from Sound Card's 'Line In' using a high-quality program like Goldwave.

        Yes, and this is where it goes 'wrong': recording a song non-digitally (analoge) isn't really good for the song's quality.
        • recording a song non-digitally (analoge) isn't really good for the song's quality.

          True enough, but it didn't stop generations of people copying vinyl LPs onto tape. The quality doesn't have to be "perfect", just "good enough" for Joe Schmo. It's only those intent on piracy who will be peturbed about the degradation in quality.
        • Yes, and this is where it goes 'wrong': recording a song non-digitally (analoge) isn't really good for the song's quality.


          Neither is encoding a song into mp3 format, or transmitting it over FM radio. The thing is, most people don't care, if they can get it for free. The small percentage of people who do care will either pay the subscription fee, or find a way around the DRM on the digital side.

        • by pyros (61399) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:32PM (#8749885) Journal
          recording a song non-digitally (analoge) isn't really good for the song's quality.

          Right. Because taking discrete samples of an analog wave and interpolating that data to approximate the missing data is always as good as the raw analog data. I'm not saying analog is flat-out superior, but I think it's a mistake to make the blanket statement that digital is better too.

      • by jeffmeden (135043) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:33PM (#8749903) Homepage Journal
        This is exactly what everyone predicted what would happen when VHS was unveiled and coupled with cheap recording devices and rental stores. The ultimate problem is that copying a song analog with no automation at all is a *pain in the ass*. The thing that scares the record companies about CDs and P2P is that Getting songs from the media is extremely fast, popping in a cd and clicking 'go' in your favorite ripper results in a perfectly packaged CD in a few minutes, no errors, no degrading of quality. After that, hundreds of songs or even hundreds of albums can be copied to friends/strangers at once, with the click of a button. Even if there are ways around this, as long as they are cumbersome it will be worth it for the majority to not evade it.
      • This is so friggin backwards.

        Write a fake CD drive that captures data and writes it back to the hard disk in wav format instead of burning it to a CD.

        It would be a *lot* faster.

    • Come on people. Look at your calendar. Today is April...2nd? I guess this is real.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:44PM (#8749255) Homepage Journal

    Pay for time limited, rental media? Has Circuit City's DIVX fiasco taught them nothing?

    If there were a demand for such an item I can see them working on it but the media companies try these silly schemes that have no consumer interest. Naturally they'll end up somehow blaming P2P for this system's inevitable failure.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:48PM (#8749324)
      It should be really interesting to see how quickly this gets adopted. Like you say the model is really similar to DIVX and people in general just do not like rentals.

      TV subscriptions are one thing because most shows are transient, and you can record forever the ones you like. But a music subscription offers no similar benefits, only an ongoing cost and limitations on use (can you burn real CD's with a subscription service?)
      • The thing that ruined divx was that your system called up for authorization every time you played the dvd until you fully unlocked it. Then, the data (as I understand it) is stored in the player, and if the player dies, then you lose your media rights until you can get them back from divx... which went under. Which we all knew would happen EVENTUALLY, though through our determined efforts (us == geekdom) we made people aware of what a breach of privacy it entailed and the system was destroyed.

        Using actual

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm sick of this argument that DIVX failed because of the rental model. DIVX had so many things going against it that most consumers rejected it before they even figured out how the rental model worked:

      + Only available at Circuit City
      + Only on crappy, non-brandname players
      + Smaller movie library
      + All DIVX player play DVD, not all DVD players play DIVX - the standard was obvious.

      In short, it was basically betamaxed out of existence. Besides, just because geeks hate the rental model doesn't mean Joe Sixpack
      • by pyros (61399) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:07PM (#8749578) Journal
        Everyone I know who thought DIVX was a good idea was not aware they had to go to the store and buy a disc they would have to pay for every time you watch it. They thought it was on-demand streaming. The moment I told them they had to go buy a physical disc they agreed it was stupid. The liked the rental model, and didn't care about anything else you mentioned. They just thought it would save a trip to the rental store.
    • by bergeron76 (176351) * on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:05PM (#8749555)
      I think they're trying to duplicate the "NetFlix" phenomenon. You pay a flat rate per month, and you can just listen to any X number of tunes. Once you've reached your "max" number you'll have to either delete some tunes, upgrade your subscription, or "expire / return" some tunes in order to free up some capacity.

      An example would be:
      user pays $20 / month for ANY 20 songs from the library. He picks his favorite 20 songs. A new artist comes out with a PHAT NEW TRACK that he MUST have.

      He can either:
      a) "return" or "expire" one of the tracks that he has oustanding
      or
      b) upgrade his subscription to $25 per month for any 40 songs.

      I think they're trying to lock people into a subscription model because it keeps revenue streams alive (for the company) and it's [relatively] difficult for people to drop subscriptions. For example, if you had to choose between paying your internet bill or buying the latest and greatest X-PS4-Game-Box-Cube; you'll probably be more likely to pay your internet bill (or music bill in this case).

      I'm not certain that's their idea, but it sounds like that's what the business plan is at this point.

      It's kind of brilliant from a business standpoint, but let's just see if the market takes kindly to it.

    • by shatfield (199969) * on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:34PM (#8749912)
      They are creating a solution for THEIR problem, not a problem that anyone in the real world is having. This is catering to a "product" driven marketplace rather than a "market" driven marketplace.

      These situations are almost always bound to fail, because the law of supply and demand is being ignored. If there is no demand for your product (well, except for 5 Record Companies), and there are hundreds of millions of people all the world that want to see your product fail... what does that say?

      It says to me that Microsoft (which isn't a stupid company, no matter what you personally think) is getting paid a LOT of money to give something to the Record Companies that they can stuff down the throats of hundreds of millions of people, whether they like it or not.

      Kinda sounds like the "pop music" concept, doesn't it? This means it may just work...
  • Divx, anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by punkass (70637) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:44PM (#8749261)
    Didn't we already learn that people don't want subscriptions, they want the actual media to keep for posterity?
  • by spoonboy42 (146048) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:44PM (#8749266)
    Lest we forget, Janus is also two-faced.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:44PM (#8749267)

    So to start with, you'll have to get a different player that supports this "secure clock". Then you have these issues:

    Music service executives said they were still in negotiations with record labels over how to treat the new technology. Allowing people to bring thousands of songs at a time to portable players may wind up costing more than the $10 a month that most subscription services charge today, the executives said.

    Well that's certainly going to help - keep up the level of confusuin with different rate plans based on what you might want to do.

    Nevertheless, some music services are eager to drive more consumers to subscription plans, since per-song download stores have tiny or even nonexistent profit margins.

    Because what always excites the consumer is helping a company make more money.

    I would think artists would not be too fond of subscription services - they must get quite a bit less (if anything?) from such services. As someone who wants to help out an artist why would I want to support a subscription services? Seems like just another refined means of ripping off people who make the music.
  • How long before someone figures out how to bypass the restrictions.
  • by enrico_suave (179651) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:45PM (#8749271) Homepage
    what will happen to my music when this little fly by night company "microsoft" goes under?

    =)

    e.

  • How appropriate. So, have the eastern europeans hacked it yet?
  • by axis-techno-geek (70545) <rob@goshkPASCALo.ca minus language> on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8749286) Homepage
    ...what will it take, I'm guessing less than a year before someone figures out how to circumvent this copy protection.

    "Making bits uncopyable is like making water un-wet." -- Bruce S.

  • Copy protection (Score:3, Insightful)

    by October_30th (531777) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8749287) Homepage Journal
    Copy protection?

    Yeah, right.

    I remember those things from the 80s - never stopped C64 game sharing.

  • Janus would add a hacker-resistant clock to portable music players for files encoded in Microsoft's proprietary Windows Media Audio format

    some people never learn

  • Pricing? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by baudilus (665036) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8749290)
    I can't see much good, when you can already buy tunes with iTunes [apple.com] and Napster [napster.com] and the like, for just $.99 per song. Can the price of a rented tune be that much less?

    On a side note, unless they find a way to copy-protect sound waves, they will never be able to defeat copy protections. You can always play the song and record it in real time on an analog source.
    • You can always play the song and record it in real time on an analog source.

      unless you control the bios and have software control of sound cards, etc. what if you make it playable ONLY in players, or only out of certain soundcards, or, you have an adapter, or you have a slightly different earpiece plugin. looking at microsoft's activation schemes in the past ocuple of years, it doesn't sound to far fetched. or, what if you added to the analog source a note beyond human hearing, but noticable by the OS
  • The summary was a little misleading, this is what the article means by 'rented tunes':

    "Fans of portable players could then pay as little as $10 a month for ongoing access to hundreds of thousands of songs, instead of buying song downloads one at a time for about a dollar apiece."
  • Dammit (Score:2, Interesting)

    They are working in the wrong direction. It's not about copy protection anymore - the niche market that the ipod hit is no longer a niche market. The name of the game over the next few years will be make a store with music you can easily put on anything, take anywhere. I predict Apple makes their flavor of CP open.
  • by MrRuslan (767128) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:47PM (#8749301)
    Can you "disable it" by holding the shift key while inserting the cd?
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:47PM (#8749306)
    My gut reaction is this won't fly, because who's gonna be willing to keep forking out money in perpetuity in order to have useable access to their music and/or player? But then again, isn't this similar to the Tivo business model?
  • by airrage (514164) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:47PM (#8749307) Homepage Journal
    I recently tried out the Wal-Mart 99c per song download and found it pretty cool, DRM and all. I was able to download to my work computer and then copy to my home computer (with the license). So both are viable in both locations.

    The only downer is the fact that if you lose the licenses you're screwed.

    Also worked on my MP3-player so I can take the song running.

    The interesting note is I charged the song. So it ended up being 99c. This was the only charge for the month on my credit card. However, my balance for the month was zero! Wal-Mart had given me a 'Small Balance Credit' which I assume is that it's probably less of a loss (99c) then some transaction fee (several dollors) from the credit card company.

    So I guess you get twelve free songs a year if you handle this correctly!

    I don't want to rent...I want to OWN.
  • by sTalking_Goat (670565) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:47PM (#8749308) Homepage
    Janus is the Roman god of doorways, gates, passages, preventing people from copying music, etc.

    Society of Janus is a San Francisco based BDSM education/support group...

    know what it is exactly you're consenting to when you click accept on EULA.

  • Janus? (Score:5, Funny)

    by arevos (659374) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:47PM (#8749313) Homepage
    Sounds more like a name of some diabolical, secret plot to rule the world.

    "Launch project Janus!"
    "You'll never get away with this!"
    "I already have, Bond! Within minutes, the world will have no choice but to bow to my demands... or face the consequences."
    "You fiend!" ...Maybe I've had too much caffeine recently.
    • Sounds more like a name of some diabolical, secret plot to rule the world.

      Actually, it's a diabolical secret plot to genetically engineer the perfect Judge. [imdb.com] That Janus project failed when it produced Sylvester Stallone and Armand Assante. If only Microsoft's effort would meet the same fate, with Rob Schnieder as a sidekick.

  • So a copy protection standard gets the name of a Mutual fund company whose investments in I've been questioning, I guess it's time to liquidate my shares in that fund completely now...
  • Perfect. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tm2b (42473) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:48PM (#8749323) Journal
    A two-faced god [pantheon.org] that claims to stand between the primitive and civilization, but is in fact just a product of the primitive superstition of a decrepit culture.

    Perfect.
  • What the hell... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Azureflare (645778) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:49PM (#8749336)
    What the hell is "rented music"??

    Sure, I can see rented videos...But rented music? Who the heck rents music?

    Little digital audio player with Microsoft 'Janus' technology.... Meet my digital-in connector =D

    (or if they don't have digital out (which sucks and I wouldn't buy it anyway) then analog-in works fine too...)

    Hundreds of thousands of songs! For 10$! Can't beat the price. W00t!

    These guys are REALLY really dumb.

  • by kulakovich (580584)
    "a hacker-resistant clock"

    Like that water-resistant watch I used to have.

    It wasn't water-proof

    kulakovich
  • "Janus head is a popular phrase for deception, that is, when action does not match speech."

    So says Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] ..or perhaps a very appropriate one?

  • Is that Janus, as in the two-faced?
    What an interesting choice of names. I don't know what aspect of the project they are refering to though. Two-faced because they pretend to help customers while back-stabbing their fair-use?

    Two-faced because they will sell this to media providers and then act suprised when it is hacked?

    Or two-faced just because of the company it came out of?

    Maybe all three? Time will tell.
  • by dslpwr (636101) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:52PM (#8749383)
    I read the article this morning, and sent to some friends. I have multiple problems with it.

    1) I don't want to "rent" my music. I want to buy.

    2) I don't want my music in crappy WMA format.

    3) The tinfoil hat wearer in me sees this as a way for the music/software industries to indoctrinate the next generation of consumers with the idea that you don't "own" anything.

    As the sidebar in the article says "If fans of iPod-like devices can be convinced to drop the idea of owning song files, they could shift to paying a subscription fee for ongoing access ..."

    Pass.
    • As the sidebar in the article says "If fans of iPod-like devices can be convinced to drop the idea of owning song files, they could shift to paying a subscription fee for ongoing access ..."

      iPod owners don't rent their music. Once you purchase a song from the iTMS you own that track and can listen to it forever on up to three PC's and an unlimited number of iPods. If Microsoft is looking to the success of iTunes and the iTMS as justification for their DRM rental scheme they are going to be sorely dissapo

    • by jimsum (587942) on Friday April 02, 2004 @05:27PM (#8750549)
      I want them to let me download music from their out-of-print CDs at a reasonable price, like $5 per disk; I'll pay for the production of the CD. I want the uncompressed CD image naturally; you can keep your crappy compressed music, actual CDs (state of the art 15 years ago!) are barely adequate.

      The record companies are sitting on a goldmine that they don't even recognize. For example, I have spent 15 years looking for a CD of Camel's album, the Snow Goose. I had a cassette copy from a used record I borrowed from a friend; I finally found my used CD copy a few months ago. How on earth does it help the RIAA that I had to search for 15 years to get a legal copy of this album? And I was lucky I found it used for $9 (Canadian) rather than a new $40 import.

      These record companies have already spent the money to record and master these CD; why should it ever go out of print? Surely making $5 is better than nothing; or do they really think I'll buy the latest American Idol CD they are expensively promoting instead?
  • by SuperChuck69 (702300) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:52PM (#8749385)
    It's kind of a naive question, perhaps, but is the cost of creating strong copy protection worth the savings in pirated items?

    Before MP3s were Satan, I had a stereo system (hi-fi for us old folks) that could easily "rip" CDs, records, or tapes to cheap portable media (blank tapes). It didn't seem to be an issue then...

    I would actually be very interested in an all-you-can-eat music subscription, provided it gave me files in the MP3 format. I have an MP3 player in my house, office, car, and person, but I don't have a Janus player anywhere!

    Stop spending all your money trying to stop me from sharing stuff, just sell me stuff I want.

    • It's kind of a naive question, perhaps, but is the cost of creating strong copy protection worth the savings in pirated items?

      Never. It's mathematically certain that any copy-protection scheme can be hacked. As soon as it is worth the money to hack it, it will be. And if it isn't worth the money to hack it, it wasn't worth the money to develop it in the first place. So in the end, you save nothing on pirated items.

  • by da3dAlus (20553)
    I wonder what Janus Capital Group [janus.com] will have to say about the use of their name? ...
    Oh c'mon, I'm sure that if Pheo-Firebi-Firefox gets a request to change their name due to previous claim, why not MS? Oh, right.
  • As a Canadian... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:54PM (#8749411) Journal
    I can see no reason to buy a player that restricts my ability to play music. Sorry, I'm still all a flutter with the news yesterday about downloads.
  • Come on, people. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NaugaHunter (639364) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:54PM (#8749415)
    Unless they've already developed a new, proprietary headphone, a high quality 1/8" to RCA cord already circumvents this. Or -hello- get it from the CD. This 'prevention' will only matter if they can actually get exclusive content that people want, and anything that can be listened to can be copied.

    File this under "Too little; too late". If this was here 10 years ago it would have ruled the market, even 2 years ago before iPod/iTunes made legitimate music buying easy* it would have had a chance. Now it's just another unwanted product; at best a footnote in a future history book.

    * I'm thinking specifically of when the iTunes Music Store came to Windows. To head off the 'no ogg/Linux support, so no business from me!' posts, that most assuredly applies to this new product as well and is pointless in a comparison.
  • Project Hades?

    Or maybe project Zeus, with lightning being the metaphor to the elapsed time between the release of software supporting Janus and a hack/crack.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:57PM (#8749441)
    Given that the system relies on a "secure clock" - it must be some kind of chip set with a time and then sealed with a battery. Otherwise, how can it continue to keep time independant of that player loosing battery power or knowledge of time?

    So then - what happens when the power for this embedded secure-clock runs out? Your player needs to go in for repair, as I doubt the "secure clock" is user-servicable.

    Or, perahps the chip just counts up as long as it has power. So if you only use it now and then you might be able to keep the song-embers alive for years as you slow time to the device.

    I guess it won't matter since the system will be cracked before it becomes an issue, but it's kind of like buying a car with a pre-wired explosive charge under the hood set to go off in severeal years. "Not to worry!" the salesman says, "You'll have a different car in seven years anyway!".
  • Fits MS perfectly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bendebecker (633126) on Friday April 02, 2004 @03:57PM (#8749452) Journal
    Janus, the two faced god. They claim to help the users and then stab them in the back for the sake of the corporations.
  • I've been working for a year in a project to analyze legacy databases from my university and make predictions from them. I tought a good name was Janus, the two-faced god who looks to the past and to the future simultaneously.

    /me hates namespace pollution.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:00PM (#8749487) Homepage Journal
    I would never get a subscription to view TV.. err... Ok i would never get a subscription to listen to satellite radio.. ummmmm

    well id never get a subscription to drive my errr ummm car.... or live in my apartment..

    The general public is used to subscriptions ...its all around them.... i doubt they will balk about this..

    *we* may refuse .. but the general public is used to not being able to own anything anymore, to them its just one more monthly fee to 'get stuff'......
    • by twofidyKidd (615722) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:31PM (#8749865)
      Fuck that shit, I OWN my car, my house, the movies that I have on DVD that I watch because I never watch TV, my iPod with all the music I can fit on it... Sure, people may be USED to that sort of thing, but does anyone really strive to see how much stuff they can rent? Yeah I have magazine subscriptions...but those magazines are mine when they come in the mail, I'm not sending them back so I can receive a new issue. Incidentally, I also own the computer along with all the audio equipment attached to it that would allow me to easily record via analog anything that is played from my computer. Bring on this so called "subscription." I'll OWN every last song I can play for $9.99 a month.
  • How about Janis? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Washizu (220337) <bengarveyNO@SPAMcomcast.net> on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:08PM (#8749593) Homepage
    I'd prefer the Janis Protection Scheme [janisian.com]
    I've found that to be true myself; every time we make a few songs available on my website, sales of all the CDs go up. A lot. - Janis Ian


  • by TwinkieStix (571736) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:14PM (#8749676) Homepage
    So, is there any reason that this can't lead to "digital music libraries" where the songs are "checked out". This could make legal downloads nearly costless (like checking a book out from the public library). The only hurdle is to keep people from checking out copies for super-extended periods of time such that nobody else can check that copy out.
  • a telling quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X_Bones (93097) <danorz13@@@yahoo...com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:18PM (#8749729) Homepage Journal
    "To us, Janus finally provides the platform on which we can build a new type of experience for the consumer," said Zack Zalon, president of Virgin Digital, the British conglomerate's new online-music division. "We believe this is it. This is what consumers are going to want. We want to be big participant in changing consumers' attitude towards what music really is."

    This is why online music purchasing is in such a sad state: it's because of people like this guy. He and others believe they can tell consumers (not "customers," not even "people," but "consumers") that the DRM widget du jour really is what they want when they look to buy music online. Screw what their customers actually ask for, and never mind that positive shopping experiences and word-of-mouth advertising are every bit as important as the profit made on any one purchase; it's obviously far better to license some new technology almost guaranteed to be broken within three months, shove it down the throats of unwilling customers, and pass on the costs.

    Guess what, pal. We don't want a "new type of experience," or people "changing attitudes towards what music really is" (whatever that even means). Just offer us unencumbered MP3s at a buck a song, and watch people flock to your service. Is that so hard to understand?
  • by chhamilton (264664) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:27PM (#8749823)
    IMHO, the best online store out there is www.allofmp3.com [allofmp3.com]. This company is Russian based, and because of their somewhat lax copyright laws and much more lenient recording industry, they offer non-encumbered downloads at cheap prices. Basically, the site is pay-for-bandwidth. If you download a song at 128kbps MP3, you essentially pay a penny per minute of audio.

    The other awesome thing about that site is the ability to selecte your download format from WMA, MP3, OGG, FLAC, etc, plus the particular quality settings. For most downloads the audio is converted on the fly from a high quality archive (~400kbps), and for others it is actually converted directly from the CD-DA source. In "Advanced Mode", it's almost equivalent to selecting your command-line switches for the transcoder of your choice!

    I'm in no way affiliated with these guys, but I love their service. It's actually faster and more reliable for me to download music from these guys than it is to try and venture out onto the P2P networks. Heck, for quality 7 OGG music, I'm paying roughly $0.02 CAD/minute. Plus, they let you pay with PayPal, so it's not like your sending your credit card info to some random Russians.
    • This site looks awesome, but...

      Its a russian website, leveraging questionable copyright principles, with no legal presence in north america.

      I'm sorry to say that I would never trust them with my credit card, and I'd be worried about any time of persistent connection between my computer and their website. I hope I'm wrong and its a legitimate attempt at a new online business model, but I've seen enough SPAM and ebay and paypal scams to be very nervous about this proposition.
  • by banzai51 (140396) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:32PM (#8749881) Journal
    ...a record company exec: "Pay per play is comming. Get used to it." That was 1996. And the MP3 played on...
  • by JBG667 (690404) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:34PM (#8749915)

    ...and "J" was added, after marketing determined that it would divert the focus from the real purpose of the project...which is railing consumers up the rear end...

  • by Didion Sprague (615213) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:37PM (#8749955)
    I'm surprised no one is mentioned that 100% uncrackable DRM: refusal to release.

    If more record companies would simply *NOT RELEASE* music, there would be nothing to crack. In fact, I'd urge record companies to examine this carefully. Take Janet Jackson, for example. If they *refused to release* 'Damita Jo' -- or, better yet, refused to record it -- there would be nothing to crack, nothing to leak, and no filesharing problem.

    The fact that record companies have recorded Damita Jo and actually released it indicates (to me, at least) that the record companies are as complicit in the problem as anyone else.

    My two cents.
  • by DroopyStonx (683090) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:38PM (#8749963)
    ...people have to actually WANT to use these services. You can't just release something and expect people to use it and make it the next standard.

    Most won't use this.. and I'd be surprised at those who do. Who in their right mind wants to be restricted like this?
  • by Jtheletter (686279) on Friday April 02, 2004 @04:58PM (#8750191)
    Nevertheless, some music services are eager to drive more consumers to subscription plans, since per-song download stores have tiny or even nonexistent profit margins.

    Just another work-around that ignores the underlying problem! The reason why these stores have nonexistent profit margins is because the Music Labels are taking 99% - 100% of the song price. And, as we all know, it's not because most of it is going to the artist.

    The issues of song pricing and profit margin on a pay-per-download scheme is never going to be resolved in a way that benefits consumer and provider (i.e. music download service) until the greedy middleman of the RIAA is taken out of the picture.

    Even if you agree with the "plight" of the music industry and the fact that they do make upfront expenditures on artists and need to reclaim those funds plus return on investment (hey this is still America, no one is investing money with no expectation of something in return) - there comes a point when enough is enough. Just because they took a chance and invested $2M in Britney Spears to start her career hardly justifies taking in 75% of her music profits until the end of time. (note: figures are made up, but you get the picture, I'm just too lazy to find the real numbers)

    Even the problem of recovering upfront investments (much of which is lost on artists who do not take off) would be moot if the music industry would stop the practice of paying these fledgling artists millions upfront and just provide them the tools to get their careers started, laying the burden of success on the would-be artists, and then if they fail the company is out a couple dozen thousand instead of half a million.

    Forcing end-users into subscription service plans creates waste and bloated pricing (just look at the cable industry's package plans) and is a finger-in-the-dyke solution, when really the problem is miles upstream.

  • by fname (199759) on Friday April 02, 2004 @05:03PM (#8750256) Journal
    I'm reading the responses here, and I'm a bit apalled (sp?) at the number of people complaining that this won't work/is evil/ shouldn't be used.

    Are you kidding me? You're going to give me anytime, anywhere access to over 400,000 songs for $10/month, and you complain? Man, I wish Apple would do this, because I would certainly pay for the service to use with my iPod. These subscriptions are marginally useful to a small group of people in their current form (work on CPU only). Give me a $10 subscription that I can use on my iPod, and I'll sign up tomorrow.

    Who cares if it's DRM. It's a great value, and the type of service we've all been anticipating for many years. I hope Apple beats 'em to the punch!
  • by bmarklein (24314) on Friday April 02, 2004 @06:02PM (#8750941)
    I've been eagerly anticipating this for a while. Think about this - $10 a month for access to approximately all music ever recorded, as much as you want, wherever you want. Download every new release as it comes out - why not, it's free!

    The rent vs. buy stuff seems like BS to me. It's like saying that HBO is worthless because you don't get access forever. Or people won't be willing to watch movies in a theater, because they don't actually end up owning anything. How many of you who are scoffing at this idea are Netflix subscribers?

    I'll bet that the majority of CDs are listed to for a short time, and then filed away. So why clutter up your life with CDs that you won't listen to? And of course buying and renting music are not mutually exclusive, just as you can (gasp) rent DVDs and also buy them. Subscribing to a rental service doesn't prohibit you from also buying anything you want to listen to long-term.

    OK Slashdotters, bring it on :-)

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