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Store Says DRM Causes 3 of 4 Support Calls 155

Posted by kdawson
from the cost-shifting dept.
Carter writes "Ars Technica is reporting that Musicload, one of Europe's largest movie stores, has found that 75% of its customer support problems are caused by DRM. Users have frequent problems using the music that they have purchased, which has led Musicload to try selling independent label music without DRM. Artists choosing to abandon DRM in favor of good old-fashioned MP3 have seen 40% growth in sales since December. Good to see someone in the business both 'gets it' and is willing to do something about it."
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Store Says DRM Causes 3 of 4 Support Calls

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:09PM (#18418081) Journal
    Curiously, the article doesn't mention any specific problems. I'm racking my tiny brain right now to think of some problem that isn't desired by the RIAA.

    I submit to you the anecdotal evidence of my sister's "iPod." She purchased songs through iTMS and attempted to move the DRM'd files onto her SanDisk MP3 Player. Then she wondered why it didn't work. It didn't work because the files have digital rights management & only brand specific players will play it--and vice versa.

    You know, right now iPods are probably the most popular portable music device. But I don't know of any other music download DRM services that they work with. So if some third party download service called Musicload is reporting that 75% of problem calls are DRM related, I'm going to wager that every single call went a little something like "Do you have an iPod?" "No." "I'm sorry, iPod doesn't support our DRM." (or the German equivalent). In fact, on their site, I don't see an iPod [musicload.de] as being supported.

    I think a DRM standard that everyone adopts would avoid these issues but I don't forsee that happening in the future. It benefits Apple somewhat because they can have a great service or a great player and reap the market. I don't blame them, however, because they do a fine job on both ends. I am concerned about any sort of free market existing here.

    In the end, the RIAA wants these problems. They don't want you docking a player with many computers and soaking up the files. They want one player associated with one computer associated with one account and any attempt to anything else should wipe everything off the face of the planet. Why? Money. Somehow the consumer no longer has a voice.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:34PM (#18418503) Journal

      In fact, on their site, I don't see an iPod as being supported.


      From the Musicload site:

      TIPPS
      Kein WMA mit iPod!
      Kein WMA mit iPod!
      Der iPod unterstützt leider nicht das populäre Windows Media Audio (WMA) Format von Microsoft. Musicload empfiehlt deshalb Mobile Player zu kaufen, die WMA und MP3 Formate abspielen können.


      Auf Englisch (my translation):

      IPod unfortunately does not support Microsoft's popular format, Windows Media Audio (WMA). Therefore, Musicload recommends that you buy a Mobile Player which can play WMA and MP3 formats.

      Specifically, Musicload's offerings are in WMA unless they fall in the subset of non-DRM'd media now available -- so no iPods is right on the mark.
    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by danpsmith (922127)

      I think a DRM standard that everyone adopts would avoid these issues but I don't forsee that happening in the future. It benefits Apple somewhat because they can have a great service or a great player and reap the market. I don't blame them, however, because they do a fine job on both ends. I am concerned about any sort of free market existing here.

      Don't worry, a free market for this otherwise DRM'd material already exists. And they are selling their "warez" at bottom barrel prices!

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      There are services such as eMusic.com that sell music without DRM. This gets rid of the whole problem with music not playing on one player or the other, because MP3 plays on just about everything, even the iPod.
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Unfortunately is doesn't get rid of the problem of eMusic having a VERY limited selection.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          It has a better selection than most brick and mortar music stores. Oh wait, you want to listen to Britney Spears and other top 40 bands. Sorry they don't have that, but they do have a very good selection never the less.
          • by elrous0 (869638) *
            Well you'll get no argument from me that top 40 is crap. But the truth of the matter is that is what the vast majority of people actually listen to and want to buy.
    • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:55PM (#18418771)
      I don't buy CDs anymore, unless they are to support a band I'm interested in and it is the only way I can purchase them. First thing I'll do is run home and rip them so I can add them to my digital collection, which is how I listen to 100% of my music.

      I don't buy anything with DRM. If there is DRM, I'm more likely to just get it from bit torrent or a Russian site. It will have much higher quality, too.

      However, if you have good music and the money is going to you and I can get it simply via digital download, I'm all over that. I won't pay a dollar a song on iTunes and have never used that. For a buck a song, I might as well just go buy the CD and rip them myself so I don't have any DRM restrictions in the first place! But if you have unrestricted, quality MP3s available for a simple download (like Anders Manga, The Low, etc) I will gladly pay $10 or $12 an album and - quite recently - have a number of times.

      I think this goes to support the growing swell of "I'm willing to pay if you're willing to give me what I want".
      • I think this goes to support the growing swell of "I'm willing to pay if you're willing to give me what I want".
        I couldn't quite tell from your post -- does this mean you're willing to steal if not? Or just that you will do without? (Hopefully the latter, as a significant number people choosing to do that and /not/ stealing is the only way to really show the industry that they're wrong.)
      • by dr.badass (25287)
        I think this goes to support the growing swell of "I'm willing to pay if you're willing to give me what I want"

        I'm pretty sure that's how the free market has always worked. It is not a new thing.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        Great, now all you have to do is convince the other 300 million people in the US to do the exact same thing you do!

        Why do people post stuff like this? Does it advance the discussion? Sure, you have a great attitude towards DRM and happy happy, but how does that solve anything *for the general population?*
    • by HunterZ (20035) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:10PM (#18418953) Journal
      Hence the phrase "defective by design"

      http://defectivebydesign.org/ [defectivebydesign.org]
      • by geekoid (135745)
        You know, I went there and then went and looked at there letter.

        It really shows how ignorant they are. I wonder if the people who crafted that letter have even read the DMCA?

        Point 1 and 2 ignore the fact that if they don't DRM content, the provider will just say No. They won't even consider it until they have a sizable revenue history to look at the loss they wuld aquire if Apple stopped selling music and movies.

        Point 3 would be bad becasue the safe harbor provision would go away, making ISP's liable for an
    • Curiously, the article doesn't mention any specific problems. I'm racking my tiny brain right now to think of some problem that isn't desired by the RIAA.

      The support phone call. Each and every one of them is like tick after tick after depressing tick of red ink.

      C//
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nushio (951488)
      "Somehow the consumer no longer has a voice. "

      We still do. We speak in the only language they understand. Money.

      Speak with your wallets, not your voice.
    • I submit to you the anecdotal evidence of my sister's "iPod." She purchased songs through iTMS and attempted to move the DRM'd files onto her SanDisk MP3 Player. Then she wondered why it didn't work. It didn't work because the files have digital rights management & only brand specific players will play it--and vice versa.

      That's exactly why I haven't ever bought something from iTMS and won't buy DRM encumbered files. I still own the first CD I bought. It's a Herbie Hancock album that I bought over 21

      • by dr.badass (25287)
        I still own the first CD I bought. It's a Herbie Hancock album that I bought over 21 years ago. It still plays in any CD player without problems. If I buy a song or album off of iTMS, how do I know that I'll still be able to play it 10 or 20 years from now?

        The truth is that the vast majority of music purchases don't last ten or twenty years. How did you know that CD would last so long? Nor do most people buy it with the expectation that they will even want to listen to it decades later. So, to be fair,
        • by iamacat (583406)
          Backup to CD option allows you to treat iTMS tracks as either low-quality (if you recompress) or space consuming DRM-free music. The same can not be said about iTunes movies. Not only you are unable to make a backup, but you may not be able to play them NOW on a new computer without Internet connection. Effectively you are paying for a product with no guaranteed useful lifetime.
          • by dr.badass (25287)
            Backup to CD option allows you to treat iTMS tracks as either low-quality (if you recompress) or space consuming DRM-free music.

            We're talking about keeping the music in a playable form for decades. "Space-consuming" is meaningless in that context. At the very least, it's less meaningful than what "space-consuming" means in the context of any physical media. Furthermore, my post was mostly about why you probably won't need to do this at all.

            Not only you are unable to make a backup, but you may not be able
            • by iamacat (583406)
              You may not be able to play a CD now without a CD player. So what? Get a CD player.

              True, but after you borrowed your friend's CD player for an hour, you can easily play music on a tape or MD. If I can borrow my friend's computer with iTunes and transfer the movie to tape or DVD, this will solve all my problems.

              Most products you buy do not have a guaranteed useful lifetime.

              Don't know, most of mine come with a 3 year warranty. And after that, if they break down, I have an option to repair it myself or bring i
        • How did you know that CD would last so long?
          I didn't know, but I fully expected it to. This was reinforced by the care and handling instructions in the CD insert, like most from that era, which listed the proper care and handling of the CD and ensured that it was last for a lifetime if handled properly.
    • by Darby (84953)
      Somehow the consumer no longer has a voice.

      The "consumer" has never had a voice, since they are just things whose job it is to consume whatever shit is getting pumped out.

      Back when people were customers or, heaven forbid, *citizens* they did.

      Hell, you even refer to yourself as a consumer. That's how far downhill we've come just in my lifetime. When I was a kid, I don't remember any business having the audacity and contempt to refer to the people whose custom their business depends on by such a derogatory te
  • by brian.gunderson (1012885) * on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:09PM (#18418083) Journal
    I personally don't understand why everybody hates DRM [wikipedia.org] so much. Let's consider the needs of the handicaped for once.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Sheesh.. you don't have the slightest idea what people mean when they talk about DRM [wikipedia.org].

      See? It's already in the Linux kernel!
  • Four? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Das Auge (597142) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:10PM (#18418101)
    Four support calls isn't really that bad...
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:12PM (#18418137) Journal
    This store is taking a realistic look at their support costs, and has determined that a particular "feature" is costing them a lot of money.

    Woohoo. Great. Little happy dance. Big fucking deal.

    They aren't the ones who are pushing DRM. They ahve it because without it they wouldn't get the major label tracks which (I presume) form the bulk of their income. This isn't hurting the labels who are requiring the DRM, its simply sqishing the middle players. Now, this is certainly better than just squishing the consumer, but it's still a far cry from leverage to affect change where the change can actually occur.
    • by croddy (659025) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:14PM (#18419019)
      The stores that are pushing the DRM-encumbered media are complicit in pushing DRM. They've chosen willingly to push this technology, and that doesn't make them the victims. They're merely the little dog, racing around the bigger one as it rips at the consumer's jugular.
    • the label can talk all they want, but the bottom line is: "If the labels customers(retailers) don't buy their product, they go out of business.

      • That's very true. The retailers want it both ways, too. They want unencumbered product to reduce costs, but they also want the product the big labels market because that's where the money is.

        Thing is, they don't really have that much leverage against the labels because the labels have a monopoly on their products. You can't just go somewhere else and pay for the latest Beyonce hit like you can go buy corn or beef. Right now the retailers would prefer no DRM, because they think that would make them the most
  • by Intron (870560) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:14PM (#18418201)
    Odd name for a movie store.

    Anyway, I've returned a DVD because it wouldn't play on my computer. Not surprisingly, it was due to DRM. If the stores lose money trying to sell it, then they will stop carrying it.
    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      It used to be worse. Their original slogan was "Let us shoot a Musicload right into your ear!"

      It sounded a lot better in the original German.

  • by giorgiofr (887762) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:15PM (#18418207)
    Simply put, the user is too dumb to realize they even have a problem, let alone link it to DRM. Nobody knows what DRM even is, there is no awareness at all. 'nuff said.
    As a side note: why don't the famous musicians dump their majors and start selling mp3s independently? I would suppose they'd earn much more.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tomstdenis (446163)
      Might work if you own the studio and what not. But if you have no money and need access to a quarter of a million dollars worth of recording gear ... what are you going to do? The problem is they don't break away from the recording companies soon enough...

      As for people not knowing what DRM is ... I'd say that's a bit reaching. Most people who have used itunes or DVDs are at least aware of "something" which makes it harder to use things as you'd think you could (re: skip the ads at the start, or copy the
    • by peragrin (659227)
      Artists can't dump their labels. Once you sign a contract with a label your pretty signed your life to that label for life. There isn't much you can do to get out of working for them.

      A label can dumb an artist. However how many bands do you know have switched labels?

      none that I know of maybe someone else knows where to look.

      The only thing left to do is to make DRM look bad. Which isn't that hard. heck just look at all the problems they are having trying to get HDCP to work properly.
      • What? You can leave a label, but only after the term is up. If you sign up for 4 albums, your next 4 albums belong to them. At the end of that time you don't have to re-sign. Most probably don't switch labels because things are working out [re: cocaine supply is steady].

        The problem is the bar to get into the field is high. Not only do you [normally] need talent, but you also need gear and people who know how to use the gear. unless you're sitting at a piano or playing an accoustic on your own it's fai
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I don't think it would really cost that much to make an album. Most people wouldn't care about the quality if the music is good. Studio time is expensive, but if you priced your music cheaper according to the quality, you should be able to make pretty good money at it. Let's say you sell an albums worth of songs for $5. And lets say you sell them on the internet. Let's say you sell them online in MP3 format. Assuming you sell 10,000 copies, that's $50,000 in your pocket. Minus expenses, which if you
      • However how many bands do you know have switched labels? none that I know of maybe someone else knows where to look.

        Never heard of Paul McCartney? [dailymail.co.uk] While I may not like her work, I've heard of Jessica Simpson. [billboard.com]

        These examples were found within 2 minutes of looking. Try checking a little more closely next time before you post.

      • Plenty of artists have switched labels. Frank Zappa, John Fogerty, John Lennon and Paul McCartney all come to mind. If you switch before you've delivered your contractual obligation, you may be sued, or at the very least forfeit some monetary amount. Labels usually dump artists simply because they aren't selling enough records to meet contractual obligations.

        I'm not defending record companies here. They're crooks through and through, and have been for decades. They'll lie, steal and cheat at the drop o
      • by croddy (659025) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:58PM (#18418815)

        As Dick Dale said:

        Don't sign with a label; don't sign with a record company, because the minute you sign your name, you will lose all the rights to your music, and you will never see a dime. So what you should do is build up your following by continuously playing. Save up your money and record your own stuff and your own CDs, and then learn to market yourself. Sell your own CD's right out of your vehicle, right out of your show, just like Johnny Cash sold his records right out of the trunk of his car. ... If you sign with a label, the label will take it all, and you won't see one nickel. And that's the reason why labels will give you a million dollars up front... they'll invest four million into you and they'll take about fourteen million making that kind of money off of you and you'll end up owning them two million. So you'll never see a dime of anything that you do. And when you start to make money for the company they make you record another song, so that you will go back in the hole again, the company does. So that's the reason why you'll never see a dime in royalties. You'll be lucky if they even give you thirty-five cents a record. Whereas if you make and sell your own CD, whatever it costs you to make the CD, above and beyond that you'll put in your own pocket.

        This is a guy that's survived a shark bite, beaten cancer, and has been supporting himself playing music since the early 60's. Anyone who tells you that you need a major label to promote your work is either ignorant or actively trying to defraud you.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I doubt most people will know it's the DRM, but the support people will and that's where they'll get the statistics from.

      Customer: "The song i downloaded doesn't work on my MP3 player!"
      Support Person: (Thinking) "DRM again..."
    • by toadlife (301863) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:03PM (#18418873) Journal
      If they go independant

      * Their music will *never* be played on mainstream radio ("payola [wikipedia.org]", though in more subtle forms, is very much alive today)
      * Their videos will never be played on Music Channels like mTV
      * Their CDs will never be sold in major music stores, or sold on major online retailers.
      * As a result of the aforementioned, they will never be able to to gain much exposure, and thus never be able to sell many concert tickets, which is the biggest revenue stream for most musicians.

      In short, going independent is a sure way to not make much money.

      The entire music industry is a cartel, much like the DeBeers diamond cartel. Like DeBeers has with diamonds, they have near complete control over the production and distribution of their product. This allows them to manipulate both supply and demand, which in turn, allows them to sell their product for more than it would be worth in a truly open market. Because of the control they have over every aspect of music production and distribution, third parties are not able to make much money selling music unless they join the cartel.

      Currently the music industry is trying to further limit distribution of their product via DRM. This further increases the profit margins because consumers cannot resell their DRM locked music, like they can used tapes or CDs. DeBeers has done a similar thing - though by different means [theatlantic.com] (obviously you can't put DRM on a diamond), and been very successful at it over the last century.

      I know the DeBeers/Music Industry analogy isn't perfect, by DeBeers is the most successful cartel ever so I imagine every cartel looks to it for "inspiration".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrBdan (987477)
        If they go independant
        ...


        I would agree with everything that you said if you change the word "go" to "start". As people have already stated it is very difficult for a new band to get access to equipment, recording time, media exposure etc without the help of a label. That is a large part of why new bands usually jump at the chance to join a label.

        On the other hand there are a number of large bands that could potentially go independent now and do just fine. A prime example is Radiohead, who are in f
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by toadlife (301863)
          An established artist going independent still entails a certain risk. Why go independent when you have the leverage to sign contracts that are more favorable to you, and still get all the benefits of belonging the cartel?
      • by hazem (472289)
        Like DeBeers has with diamonds, they have near complete control over the production and distribution of their product. This allows them to manipulate both supply and demand,

        I definitely agree that their control over production and distribution allows them to manipulate supply. But I'm not sure I see it on the demand side. Sure, they can make ads to try and get people interested in diamonds, but I don't see how they have any more control over demand than a non-cartel.

        Am I missing something?
        • by toadlife (301863)
          Marketing is a powerful tool for manipulating demand. DeBeers did it by convincing people that diamonds were rare (they are not) and that "Diamonds are forever", i.e. you shouldn't resell a diamond. The music industry does it via their stranglehold on distribution and marketing channels. In the case of music for most people, the vast majority, if not all music that they want it fed to them via traditional marketing channels like radio stations and music channels. Really shitty music can become popular if
      • by PitaBred (632671)
        Seems a number of local bands I know are making a decent living, but it's not quite Gene Simmons type stuff. The difference is that the system you support has a few HUGE stars, and no one actually works for a living. The one I'm a fan of has musicians actually playing music to make money, just like all of us having to work to make money, day in and day out. You do your job well, entertain people, and they will reward you. If not, learn how long to leave the fries in before they burn. It's a self-adjust
        • by unitron (5733)

          If not, learn how long to leave the fries in before they burn. It's a self-adjusting system, and works pretty well on the whole.

          Then why are french fries served underdone almost everywhere?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sique (173459)

      Simply put, the user is too dumb to realize they even have a problem, let alone link it to DRM. Nobody knows what DRM even is, there is no awareness at all. 'nuff said.

      Do you actually think the customers call support and tell them: "I have an incompatibility between the used DRM on file ABC and player XYZ, because the used DRM Coding BlaFasel v1.04.02 is not recognized by the player firmware 2.42!" If they had a clue like this they wouldn't call support in the first place.

      No. The statistics come from the resolution put into the support ticket. And those resolution was found by the support people probably after lengthy discussions with the customer to find out what actual

    • by Reziac (43301) *
      It's not that the users goes "The DRM won't let me play it!" As you say, most have no idea that DRM is involved at all.

      Rather, the average user goes "Why won't your fucking file work on my computer? What's wrong with you people? What a ripoff!" And then tech support gets to waste time and money trying to help them work around the problem.

      I vaugely recall reading that the average tech support call costs the average company a total of around $2/minute (most of which is infrastructure and overhead, not the te
  • by thewils (463314) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:27PM (#18418389) Journal
    Phone for support, act dumb. Drive that 75% up to 95%. If the cost of providing support exceeds revenue, maybe DRM will be dropped.
    • by cliffski (65094)
      If the RIAA stooped to such stupid tactics, it would be slashdot front page news OMG LOOK AT TEH MAFIAAAAAAAA for the next 6 months.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Americano (920576)

      Phone for support, act dumb. Drive that 75% up to 95%. If the cost of providing support exceeds revenue, maybe DRM will be dropped.

      How is this informative? If you want to succeed in driving online music sales out of existence, which will in turn cause the RIAA to scream even more about piracy, and start slapping even more people with lawsuits, then great.

      How about, if you don't like DRM, you don't purchase music from artists & labels which support DRM? Shift that money to indie labels & inde

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jtheletter (686279)
        Except that the labels will see lower sales (from people buying indie labels/bands) and still scream "piracy is eating our profits!", so there needs to be an added step of not buying DRM'd music and telling the RIAA labels at the same time so they know WHY they lost a sale. Plus it's a non-solution for people who actually like a particular artist. Yes, a lot of mainstream RIAA-label music is pop crap, but some of the artists are worth listening to, so what do you do if you still want music from $ARTIST but
        • by Americano (920576)

          Except that the labels will see lower sales (from people buying indie labels/bands) and still scream "piracy is eating our profits!"

          Which they still have to prove to sue people. If you have no music from the artists on that label on your computer, that's going to be pretty hard. Not to mention the fact that other indie labels reporting record profits will make it pretty hard to convince anybody with half a brain that piracy is rampant, and is destroying the entire recording industry. But even in spite

          • by Weedlekin (836313)
            "Which they still have to prove to sue people"

            They have to prove it to _win_ a lawsuit, not to file one, and in civil suits, "proof" is simply a preponderance of evidence, not the "beyond reasonable doubt" of criminal law. If your main goal is intimidating people, then the act of filing a lawsuit may be more than sufficient, especially if their lawyer tells them that it will cost significantly more to fight the case than accept the proffered settlement.
          • Before I get into this response I should preface this all with the fact that I don't buy any music unless it's from a band at their concert, and even that is a rarity these days as I'm so busy. I haven't bought a CD from a store since about 2001, and I get most of my new music from indie artists on the Web like MC Frontalot and the occassional track from songfight.com. And while I loathe DRM and its negative consumer effects, and the general anti-consumer and monopolistic practices of the RIAA labels, I'm
        • If the RIAA listens to ANYONE, it will be to their retail distributors. And from what I know of the local-retail-music business, that's damn little already, tho still more than they listen to end users. And the RIAA can't very well accuse their retail outlets of being dirty internet pirates.

          So... If local retailers stop carrying RIAA/DRM'd music, that sends a much louder message than anything that consumers, even collectively, could manage. And local retailers DO listen to their customers, because otherwise
  • Apple iTunes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by interiot (50685) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:30PM (#18418439) Homepage
    So why doesn't Apple do this? They talk the talk, saying they think DRM is harmful, yet all of their music is DRM'd, even from artists who don't want their music to be. And the article also says Musicload did this specifically because it's in heavy competition with iTunes, and thought it would give them an advantage (which it has). So when will Apple step up and allow specific artists to go DRM-free too?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by robinsonne (952701)
      So when will Apple step up and allow specific artists to go DRM-free too?

      Right after Apple allows interoperability between their other products and other manufacturers'.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by interiot (50685)

        Setting up the technical and support structures for interoperability is a huge deal though, and it's not the sort of thing you can try on a limited basis, or back out of shortly after, without pissing off a lot of people and organizations who have put a lot of effort into setting up new code and new organizational structures.

        On the other hand, allowing selected tracks to go DRM-free is less of a big deal. It probably requires some code changes to iTunes, and requires some legal discussions with the speci

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by geekoid (135745)
          or maybe they just don't want to breach there contract and have the labels pull all the music?

          naw, must be some huge conspiracy.

          If you note, the article says are pulling DRM from indie music. Apple wants to sell popular music. Two different beasts.

          Steve Jobs had no reason to say he wants to get rid of DRM if it wasn't true.

          I would also like to point out that any company that includes IN THE PRODUCT a way to bypass DRM really isn't a fan of DRM.
          • by interiot (50685)

            From TFA:

            iTunes Store does not offer DRM-free music despite the fact that many artists have requested it

            iTunes does carry indie music, so Apple does have lots of people they can negotiate with without the major labels getting in the way. For instance, all of CDBaby's catalog is available on iTunes. [1] [musicbizacademy.com] [2] [blogs.com]

            • by dr.badass (25287)
              Apple does have lots of people they can negotiate with

              Apple doesn't "negotiate" with indie labels. There is one deal, take it or leave it. That deal is largely defined by what Apple negotiated with the majors. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, that deal includes DRM.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Builder (103701)
            Steve Jobs LIED in that article. He sells music today WITH DRM that the artists are quite happy to have sold without DRM (as evidenced by sales elsewhere).

            Steve Jobs has a very good reason to say that he wants to get rid of DRM... multiple european countries considering sanctioning his products here.

            The guy is a major part of Disney now, and Pixar before that. He's been massively into DRM for a lot longer than just the iTunes store lifetime.
    • by dr.badass (25287)
      So when will Apple step up and allow specific artists to go DRM-free too?

      When the major labels cease to require it. Until then, those artists and labels are free to sell DRM-free elsewhere. In fact, it's rather hypocritical to continue selling through iTunes if you're opposed to DRM on your music, but people do it. Without the major labels, Apple doesn't have much reason to expend the effort to segregate their sales.
    • Re:Apple iTunes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Stinking Pig (45860) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @12:00AM (#18424945) Homepage
      Because, in the immortal words of Al Franken, they're lying liars who lie. They're getting called out for their monopolistic behavior in the EU, and they're pointing the finger at someone else while they squeeze another few years of lock-in out of the folks who buy in to the system. DRM will be removed from iTunes when an external force makes it happen, and then Steve Jobs or his replacement will play the saint and parade his "great achievement" all over the news.
  • by asphaltjesus (978804) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:34PM (#18418497)
    And stating this isn't directly the entertainment conglomerates fault. It's a disingenuous game for sure.

    I think the Entertainment conglomerates can plausibly claim at the PHB level, "there's no DRM standard and that's not our fault." This way they can maintain chaos and gain total control of the digital distribution channel when they pick a winner.

    It also means that whoever is making these DRM schemes has to do a really good job creating code that has _lots_ of error condition controls. Which I just don't see anyone doing.

    The end game is the media conglomerates to win unless the copyright law is meaningfully overhauled.
    • by geekoid (135745)
      End Game media conglamorates loose.

      No DRM can be effective. So they acn pick a 'winner', but then an hour later it will be cracked.

      Copyright is changing. The laws aren't changing, but less and less people put up with it. You can have all the copyright laws in the world, if enough of the people break them, then it is, in effect, gone.

      The new defacto copyright will be all about whats worth the bother to put on line.

  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:37PM (#18418529)
    I have given up on downloaded music these days, if I really like a band I'll buy a new or used CD, and definitely never use iTunes.

    Next thing you know, we'll be getting out the microphone and rip a song right from the loudspeakers - oldskool.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:41PM (#18418581) Journal
    Musicload is owned by Deutsche Telekom, who also own T-Mobile USA.

    T-Mobile USA won't support non-DRM'd media out of the box (for ringtones!). I think a couple executives (and a few board members) are going to have to have a conference call and try to figure out DT's position on DRM.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dog-Cow (21281)
      Leaving aside the idea that different companies, even when owned by the same parent, may have different views, there is no contradiction here at all. For T-Mobile, DRM is making them money. For Musicload, it costs them money. You are thinking in terms of whether DRM itself is bad or good. Businesses don't. All they care about is how DRM affects *their* bottom line.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Red Flayer (890720)

        All they care about is how DRM affects *their* bottom line.

        Right. And parent companies have to consider whether their subsidiaries' activities negatively impact other units' profitability.

        T-Mobile not supporting non-DRM'd music may increase support expenses at Musicload, as customers try to buy newly available non-DRM'd music at Musicload and experience problems. A CBA would determine if the support for those customers is cheaper than the increased profits from sales of DRM'd music; if not, then these su

    • by RingDev (879105)
      And hopefully in response to any attempt to force DRMs on their sales DT will spam David Hasselhoff's latest album to all of their voice mail boxes.

      -Rick
  • by gelfling (6534) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @02:42PM (#18418607) Homepage Journal
    Make the media more expensive. Drive out your own customers. Complain there aren't enough people in the known world to sue. Lather rinse repeat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      This really should be modded insightful instead of funny. It appears to be the actual business plan of a lot of these companies.
  • By all accounts I really should have some sort of semen related "Music Load" joke, but I can't think of one at the moment.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday March 20, 2007 @03:53PM (#18419735)
    I am often surprised at how few people realize their DVD player's "problems" are, more often than not, related to Macrovision's content protection. I suppose technically it is an issue with the DVD player, since it's not handling the Macrovision stuff gracefully; but by and large the general public just seems to think that DVD players suck - and they blame the hardware manufacturer rather than the MPAA.

    DRM needs to die. Its only real-world impact is to inconvenience those of us who try to do things legally - certainly the pirates aren't being overly inhibited.
    • by Von Rex (114907) on Wednesday March 21, 2007 @11:26AM (#18429361)
      Not only are the pirates proceeding full speed, the pirated media is superior to the original and hence more valuable. Examples:

      Music -- No DRM, can play anywhere, any number of times, no restrictions.

      Movies -- You can copy only the main movie so it starts up immediately without the need to even touch any controls. No menus, no half a dozen previews, no FBI or MPAA warnings. And absolutely nothing, anywhere, that is "unskippable".

      Games -- No CD checks. No hunting through your house to find a CD just so you can play an old game that's already fully installed. No losing your purchase because the disk is damaged.

      So, the current option offered to people who want to be legit is to buy overpriced stuff that's a pain in the ass to use and isn't as functional as the free pirate versions. What a surprise that so many people opt out of that deal.
  • Think of all of those (foreign) Customer Support personnel who will be thrown out of work when their company drops DRM. If it wasn't for DRM they'd be begging on the streets for the money to buy supper (not to mention music CDs).

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