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Music DRM in Critical Condition? 377

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the can't-happen-soon-enough dept.
ianare writes "Universal Music Group, the largest music company on the planet, has announced that the company is going to sell DRM-free music. The test will see UMG offering a portion of its catalog — primarily its most popular content — sold without DRM between August 21 and January 31 of next year. The format will be MP3, and songs will sell for 99 each, with the bitrate to be determined by the stores in question. RealNetwork's Rhapsody service will offer 256kbps tracks, the company said in a separate statement. January 31 is likely more of a fire escape than an end date. If UMG doesn't like what they're seeing, they'll pull the plug. UMG says that it wants to watch how DRM-free music affects piracy rates."
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Music DRM in Critical Condition?

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  • Silly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:18AM (#20179705)

    UMG says that it wants to watch how DRM-free music affects piracy rates.

    Well they should look back over the last few decades then. They've been selling DRM-free digital music ever since CDs were invented.

    • Re:Silly (Score:5, Funny)

      by swokm (1140623) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:24AM (#20179743)
      And apparently regretted it ever since.
    • Re:Silly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ResidntGeek (772730) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:14AM (#20179971) Journal
      I'd think you were joking, since there are so obviously other factors to be taken into consideration over that time period, but you're at +5 insightful. So, I feel I must point out: over those same decades Internet and computer adoption went up just a wee bit. Probably throws off the analysis slightly.
      • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday August 10, 2007 @05:18AM (#20180289) Journal
        It's not that new, though:

        1. CD burners have existed for ages.

        2. The possibility to just copy music to cassette or movies to VHS has existed for ages, and that existed even before CDs gained much adoption. Heck, in the 90's even half the portable stereos, and every self-respecting cassette deck, had room for _two_ cassettes at the same time and a button to copy from one to the other.

        3. If you think people had to wait for the Internet to swap music or movies or programs, I dare say you don't remember high school that well.

        4. Before mass Internet access, there were BBSs. Frankly, now that was a bigger pirate haven than the Internet... or than the Carribeans back in the 1600's ;)

        5. Internet access isn't _that_ new and unlike everything before. Sure, only now it may have reached the grandmas or finally gotten very high speeds, but I don't think those were ever the biggest pirates anyway. If grandma wants to listen to folk songs from the 50's or for some good ol' fashioned symphonic music, she can get those for pence legally. Plus she already has her cassette and vinyl collection.

        The biggest problems are teens who (A) are driven by peer pressure, and have to listen, watch, wear and say exactly what their peers appreciate. Even if he goes for the rebellious punk image, the average teenager won't actually be rebellious at all, he'll be a clone of whatever punk image is currently fashionable among his peers. And (B) face high prices for that image. And (C) don't have that much disposable income. So the pressure was always there to copy the latest fashionable album.

        And those already had modems, virtually all universities had Interent as early as the early 90's, and most had access to a hi-fi where they could copy a cassette.

        Plus, music companies have been complaining about Napster since the 90's, so at least at that point the world was already connected enough to make a difference, according to those music companies.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by JayAEU (33022)

          Heck, in the 90's even half the portable stereos, and every self-respecting cassette deck, had room for _two_ cassettes at the same time and a button to copy from one to the other.


          Indeed, and they even had a feature called "high-speed dubbing", which allowed for copies to be made twice as fast.
      • by Jugalator (259273)
        DRM-free CD's are being sold to this day. It's not like CD's were only sold in the early days of baby Internet. They're being sold concurrently with protected music. So let's take the past 3-5 years or so (a few years after iTunes appeared, after Napster, after Kazaa, after BitTorrent) and why not try compare during this time period?
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:19AM (#20179717) Homepage
    If record companies want me to stop downloading music from P2P networks, they need to offer a better-quality product than that available for free. I can get all the 256kbps MP3s I want on P2P. The only way to make me even consider actually paying for a mere audio file (as opposed to a CD which has liner notes etc.) is to offer FLAC.
    • by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:32AM (#20179769)
      256kbps is good enough for me, though I'd really only buy if the price point was closer to 10 cents. Lots of reasons for this, though the main one is simply that I live in Asia, piracy is common. Like it or not, that's what they have to compete with. 10 cents per song is about double the profit margin over pirated CD's, though if I can reliably go to an online store from the comfort of my home, then that's where I'd rather be.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)
        10 cents to a song means that to get an average US/European wage, each artist would have to sell 350,000+ songs per year. At least half a million if you include a marginal cost in servers/bandwidth/adminitration. Throw in some more to pay for instruments, studio time, sound engineers and other production costs and you're probably closing in on a million. Multiply that number with the number of band members that need to get paid. How many bands sell millions of songs per year? Almost none, unless they've als
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Solra Bizna (716281)

      And if they do, you'll demand that they give you uncompressed 24-bit recordings as a justification for your continued piracy.

      -:sigma.SB

      • by strider44 (650833)
        Oh get off your high horse. He's probably just sensitive to those sorts of things. The main reason why I tend to buy CDs over shopping at iTunes or a similar store is quality - I simply can't stand 128kbps recordings. They simply sound weak and fuzzy. Most other people are fine with it though, it's just that I'm very sensitive to quality of sound, maybe because I played instruments as a child and had musical training. But I almost always can't tell the difference between 256kbps MP3 and CD quality, so
      • by Jugalator (259273)
        No need for such ridiculous hyperbole. What your parent is saying is just that they're arbitrarily lowering the quality of sold music online, when it was all about FLAC equivalent on CD's. It's not trying to invent reasons to pirate, it's trying to justify purchasing online music in the first place. Why would you willingly pay for online music that sounds worse in a pair of high quality headphones?

        It's not even just about piracy, it's about bringing music on par with their current CD offers.
      • by goldcd (587052)
        Well thinking about it.
        Storage and bandwidth are cheap.
        A decent soundcard/audio player can play quality in excess of 'CD quality'.
        Record company have access to source material (often) at a quality higher than 'CD Quality'
        If they're trying to come up with reasons to increase the value of a download over that of a physical CD, then why on earth not just offer it at a higher qaulity than CD?
        They convinced people to rebuy their vinyl on CD with the promise of higher quality, why not try to get us to rebuy
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:46AM (#20179841) Homepage Journal
      Better than CD quality damn you. Oh, and a pony, I want a pony!

    • Be sensible!

      99cent isn't asking too much for a good song without limitations. I do accept the "right to exist" for the music industry, even after what they've done. And if 99cents is the only difference between legal and illegal (compared to "99cents and being allowed what they deem approprate" as it is now), I'll buy.
      • by jez9999 (618189) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:47AM (#20180127) Homepage Journal
        I do accept the "right to exist" for the music industry

        Why?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        99cent isn't asking too much for a good song without limitations.

        Yes it is.

        In the open market, music is much cheaper than that. Many talented bands are giving their music away because they can't get distribution, while record companies charge that flat 99c per track for their overmarketed hype-driven pop. Meanwhile, pirates are setting a zero price point for the pop as well.

        What's needed is an open market where music producers and music consumers can reach a negotiated price, the same way any other co

        • The laws of the free market also say something else: If someone cannot regenerate his cost by the sale of his product, he has to cease to produce. And content has in this context a very special property: It can be reproduced infinitly, without a loss of quality. So you have a theoretically unlimited supply, with a demand that's limited by definition. Even if every person on the planet wants the song, he only needs it once.

          Unlimited supply, and that's another law of free market, in turn means by the nature o
    • If record companies want me to stop downloading music from P2P networks, they need to offer a better-quality product than that available for free. I can get all the 256kbps MP3s I want on P2P. The only way to make me even consider actually paying for a mere audio file (as opposed to a CD which has liner notes etc.) is to offer FLAC.

      So lets see... you want them to offer a better product than you can steal for free
      before you will consider buying their product.
      (yeah I know... it's technically not theft, it's c

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by phalse phace (454635)

      If record companies want me to stop downloading music from P2P networks, they need to offer a better-quality product than that available for free. I can get all the 256kbps MP3s I want on P2P. The only way to make me even consider actually paying for a mere audio file (as opposed to a CD which has liner notes etc.) is to offer FLAC.

      What a load of crock. Even if they offered the audio file in FLAC, I'm willing to bet you'd still illegally download the music via P2P. I can't believe you're trying to justify y

  • finally... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by thej1nx (763573)
    R.I.P RIAA!!!
  • No Pirates (Score:5, Funny)

    by biocute (936687) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:21AM (#20179723) Homepage
    Everyone should make a mental note to not download anything illegal until end of Jan 2008, or at least don't get caught doing so.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:32AM (#20179767)

      Everyone should make a mental note to not download anything illegal until end of Jan 2008, or at least don't get caught doing so.
      Well, shoot. I was planning on getting caught somewhere in the Xmas timeframe, but I suppose I could put it off for a little bit longer....
  • nope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l3v1 (787564) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:21AM (#20179727)
    UMG says that it wants to watch how DRM-free music affects piracy rates.

    Bollocks. I mean look up every "piracy" "statistics", they always talk about this and that much gazillions of good old bucks being lost because of piracy, yet no living human being has ever managed to give a reasonable and acceptable explanation about how those numbers make sense. Now they say they want to see how those numbers change if they sell non-drm-encumbered music ? Well, flip a coin, that'd make more sense to decide to continue or not. A better way would be to actually listen to what those pesky customers want.
     
    • My thoughts exactly. To look at how it affects piracy rates, you need some way of measuring piracy. AFAIK they have nothing other than RSITDANTMUFG* numbers for what piracy levels may be. Come on, how can you ever hope to count downloads on the many P2P networks when the whole point of them is that they're decentralised?

      * RSITDANTMUFG = Random Stab In The Dark At Number That Make Us Feel Good
      • by swokm (1140623) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:43AM (#20179835)

        My thoughts exactly. To look at how it affects piracy rates, you need some way of measuring piracy. AFAIK they have nothing other than RSITDANTMUFG* numbers for what piracy levels may be. Come on, how can you ever hope to count downloads on the many P2P networks when the whole point of them is that they're decentralised?
        * RSITDANTMUFG = Random Stab In The Dark At Number That Make Us Feel Good
        Normally I'd agree completely, but aren't you starting to get the feeling that the people that run these giant media conglomerates just have a huge cigarbox in the boardroom for their cash? As in:

        Suit 1: (opens box) "Hey, there used to be more cash in here! I want more!"
        Suit 2: "Oh noes! Why did the box stop making cash?!"
        Suit 1: "Maybe someone TOOK OUR CASH!"
        Suit 2: "Took... you mean, like... pirates?"
        Suit 1: (gasp) "Pirates! Yes, must be pirates! We must kill the pirates!"
        Janitor: "Hey, don't you guys actually make money from helping new artists distribute their music to a wider audience?"
        Suit 1: "Huh? Who are you? Someone throw him out... Now, let's vote, who wants to kill pirates and so the box makes more cash?"
        Suits 2,3: "Yay! More cash!"
        • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday August 10, 2007 @05:33AM (#20180363)

          Normally I'd agree completely, but aren't you starting to get the feeling that the people that run these giant media conglomerates just have a huge cigarbox in the boardroom for their cash? As in:

          Suit 1: (opens box) "Hey, there used to be more cash in here! I want more!"
          Suit 2: "Oh noes! Why did the box stop making cash?!"
          Suit 1: "Maybe someone TOOK OUR CASH!"
          Suit 2: "Took... you mean, like... pirates?"
          Suit 1: (gasp) "Pirates! Yes, must be pirates! We must kill the pirates!"
          Janitor: "Hey, don't you guys actually make money from helping new artists distribute their music to a wider audience?"
          Suit 1: "Huh? Who are you? Someone throw him out... Now, let's vote, who wants to kill pirates and so the box makes more cash?"
          Suits 2,3: "Yay! More cash!"
          ...and there it lay, the prize they sought. A financial district swollen with multinationals, conglomerates and fat, bloated, merchant-banks.

          Did something like this happen next?
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iakR7sB0skw [youtube.com]
      • by 91degrees (207121) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:58AM (#20180189) Journal
        But surely that's the wrong figure. If sales double why does it matter if piracy triples?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digitalchinky (650880)
      Piracy stats are one thing when said in public, behind closed doors I'm sure the rhetoric is toned down a tad and they do actually have a good handle on the real story. Looks to me like they are doing what their customers are calling out for - DRM free music - we see this desire spelled out every other day on slashdot.

    • by E++99 (880734)

      Bollocks. I mean look up every "piracy" "statistics", they always talk about this and that much gazillions of good old bucks being lost because of piracy, yet no living human being has ever managed to give a reasonable and acceptable explanation about how those numbers make sense. Now they say they want to see how those numbers change if they sell non-drm-encumbered music ? Well, flip a coin, that'd make more sense to decide to continue or not. A better way would be to actually listen to what those pesky cu

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by swokm (1140623)

        What these guys are doing is the only sensible way to test the claims on both sides about DRM.

        Meh. Actually I think it was less time, but that really doesn't matter. Before the internet there were mixed tapes of CD or vinyl. Sneaker net is slower, but a million first generation cassette tapes of a CD still sounded just fine, and were just as legal/illegal as a million mp3s. Probably more damaging, really, as the music market was much smaller, and everyone thought making tapes for your friends was "awesome" (or perhaps "radical"). Anyone know how many 60 and 90 minute cassette tapes have been sold i

        • by E++99 (880734)
          Sure, a lot of people used to make copies of tapes, and tapes of CDs. But for the most part, it was just to make mixed tapes, or else put the CD on a tape so you could play it in your car. For one thing, if there's some music you really like, you want it to sound as good as possible, and a tape of a tape or a tape of a CD sounds noticeably worse than the original. And of course, making a copy of a copy of a copy, would be out of the question. For another thing, at least in my experience, instances where
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Unfortunately, someone has to get paid for making the product
        Think of the levels of assumptions that go into that statement: "Someone.Has.To.Get.Paid."

        I wonder...
        • by E++99 (880734)
          Yes, someone has to get paid. If we didn't have the possibility of people making a living with their music, do you really think we'd have ever gotten a Beethoven or a Mozart or Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin?

          We'd have gotten none of those (except maybe a couple years of Floyd making LSD music -- but they'd have had to go get jobs sometime before they really got their act together 7 years later with Dark Side of the Moon).
  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:22AM (#20179729) Journal
    Music companies have really just started waking up to why DRM is really bad, and it's nothing to do with their customers.

    It has finally dawned on them that DRM - far from protecting them - will take control away from them and hand it to companies like Apple and Microsoft, who become the new gatekeepers since they own the DRM technologies that are popular. It's now dawned on the music companies that it won't be long before the likes of Apple and Microsoft get big enough in the music business to simply cut out the record companies and sign bands directly.

    _That's_ why they are starting to drop DRM - they have finally come to the realisation that DRM is the trojan horse that will destroy them. Not piracy.
    • by Flying pig (925874) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:39AM (#20179811)
      In fact, it's what "entrepreneur" means. That's a word whose original meaning is not so muchy lost as deliberately concealed. An entrepreneur is someone who tries to insert himself in a flow - of cash, a commodity or other resource - and then act as the gatekeeper, thus making money. Because it means "taker in the middle".

      The recording industry themselves are entrepreneurs, and now they realise that the software companies are not just another mechanism to enforce their intermediation, but an attempt to introduce a new, and harder to evade, middleman.

      All entrepreneurs seek to enforce their control, either legally or through other means (such as owning the channels of distribution, or by monopoly patents.)

      Entrepreneurs have a part to play when a resource does not have a market, but they find it very hard to lie down and die when the market is established. We don't yet know who will win this battle for control over the electronic music market, but improved search engines and technology availability could disintermediate the market in a different way - e.g. by sites aggregating direct sales by many small bands, cooperatively owned.

      • In fact, it's what "entrepreneur" means. That's a word whose original meaning is not so muchy lost as deliberately concealed. An entrepreneur is someone who tries to insert himself in a flow - of cash, a commodity or other resource - and then act as the gatekeeper, thus making money. Because it means "taker in the middle".

        No, that's not what entrepreneur means. It's derrived from the same french word enterprise in derrived from - entreprendre, to undertake.

        See the Online etymology dictioanry [etymonline.com].
        • by Flying pig (925874) on Friday August 10, 2007 @05:59AM (#20180475)
          Latin, inter (between or among) and prehensus, to grasp or to take. To be fair, the French term "entreprise" goes back, in its meaning of a business undertaking, almost to feudal times. But what sort of undertaking in those times consituted business?

          The concept of the manufacturing enterprise is largely an artefact of the Industrial Revolution (OK, everybody cites the Arsenal, but it's an exception.)The concept of the enterprise as trade (i.e. middleman) is pretty consistent. (The British Empire in India started from a trading monopoly that accidentally had to go to war to protect its interests.) From the 1300s on, any French person using the term "entreprise" would know exactly what the two root words meant, and clearly had no quarrel with that meaning. j'entre, et alors je prise, je suis entrepreneur.

        • In fact, it's what "entrepreneur" means [...] "taker in the middle".
          that's not what entrepreneur means. It's derrived from the same french word enterprise in derrived from - entreprendre, to undertake.
          Which in turn comes from Latin interprendere: inter between + prehendere to take. But take this how you will [wikipedia.org].
  • yet another "we gave it a shot and it didn't work" plan before it's even out the door.

    i really hope no one actually uses real rhapsody anymore..
  • by swokm (1140623) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:22AM (#20179733)
    That is hilarious. Universal refuses to sign a contract, and will do business with Apple strictly "at will".

    Oh the irony! The music giant that doesn't believe it should have to sign a contract just to get distributed.
  • by toQDuj (806112) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:33AM (#20179775) Homepage Journal
    It seems like they're about to distort their own stats, by leaving iTunes out of the deal, FTA:

    "One reason would be that Universal doesn't like Apple. UMG is the largest music company on the planet, which helps explain why they are trying to ruffle Steve Jobs' feathers. At issue are contract lengths and just who gets to determine pricing. Universal would clearly like to have more control over pricing than Apple is comfortable with. The company has also said that it would like a cut of every iPod sold, similar to a deal they have with Microsoft for the Zune."

    So basically, they still want money. They'll try and fail to sell a substantial amount of DRM free music on rhapsody, call it a failure, publish the results and push congress more. just an 0.05 dollar prediction.

    B.
    • by grrrl (110084)
      The thing they don't get by leaving iTunesMS out of the deal is that you can still use iTunes (the program) once you have bought the DRM-free tracks (assuming they are mp3s or AAC) and load them on your pod and really, most people would be happy to do this.

      Apple still has the best user experience in terms of storing, sorting and listening to your music. Sure it's more conveienient to buy songs in the iTunes program from the iTMS, but once extra step isn't going to kill iPods. I'm sure Apple would rather peo
  • by AkumaReloaded (1139807) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:35AM (#20179791) Journal
    Watch the evil companies, dont trust them. They will put tracking software in those non drm songs. Once they are shared on a p2p net, they will track every ip adres and every user. The p2p community will be doomed. Mwhoehahaha.... oh wait I am on the good side of this, so I should be crying.
  • 99 each? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:43AM (#20179831)
    Look, I'm sure the summary meant 99 cents each, but knowing you guys would have international readers all over the world, would it kill you to add a five-letter word just to clarify things?
  • by Rebelgecko (893016) on Friday August 10, 2007 @03:57AM (#20179899)
    Surprisingly, Universal won't have DRM free music on iTunes [daringfireball.net]
  • by CmdrGravy (645153) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:02AM (#20179915) Homepage
    If I was the music company I'd place some kind of signature in my files and keep a watch on how many of them later appeared on common piracy sites. It would be interesting to see how many, or few, of them leaked out.
  • by grrrl (110084) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:04AM (#20179931)
    So people will now just buy their music through these online stores other than iTMS, transfer the mp3 to iTunes and then onto their iPod.

    It's not going to hurt Apple, it is gonig to hurt consumers. I doubt the user experience of the other stores will compare, though I don't have a problem with every store doing it's best and at least if they are mp3s it solves the 'wont load on my ipod' problem.

    I think they will still do quite well, IF people ever hear of them and have a good experience when they DO try to buy something.
  • Everyone on slashdot has been whinging about DRM for years now. UMG is offering to sell you music without DRM, so buy it. Sales are what they want to see, not piracy rates, but whether it increases sales. The presume that DRM saves them money, and if sales don't change then they'll keep it, if they sell 30-40% more without DRM they'll keep not using it.
    • by gsslay (807818)

      UMG is offering to sell you music without DRM, so buy it.
      You misunderstand. Now is the time to invent new things to whine about.

      So UMG doesn't really want it to work, they're doing it so that it can fail, they're not doing it at a high enough quality for our sensitive ears, they're only doing it to annoy Apple.

      So it's OK to continue p2p downloading.
  • by Rexdude (747457) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:16AM (#20179987)
    6 months back, he himself spoke against [apple.com] the negative effects of DRM and how Apple was implementing DRM only to comply with the wishes of the recording industry. Now fear of an Apple monopoly on DRM has finally forced Universal (for starters) to think about selling unencumbered music. So we have him to thank for scaring the recording companies into removing DRM! (hoping that they eventually will)
  • First step, done (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:29AM (#20180053)
    I've always said, if there's a music store that sells good music without limitations, that's the place where I'll buy. Ok. The limitation part is gone. Now, let's talk about "good music"...

    I predict there will be little if any change. We will certainly not see more piracy. Simple reason: DRM has not and will not stop someone from copying, so whoever wanted to copy already did and probably will continue to do so. An increase, because there is no DRM, makes no sense.

    We might see more songs sold, though, since some people (like me) will turn to buying music online when there is no restriction on it anymore that limits my use in various devices of my choice. Goods I cannot use in the way I deem necessary have no value to me. If I cannot use it in my car CD player or on my MP3 player, the item is not what I want, and what I do not want I do not buy. This, though, the music without restriction, is what I want. So I will buy now when (and here's the catch) I find music that I would like to listen to. Sorry, but I don't buy the latest American Idol hypecrap just because I can media shift it.
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:42AM (#20180109)

    Does the current trend towards less DRM means the end of motherboards with built-in TPM chips in the future?

  • by viking2000 (954894) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:55AM (#20180177)
    $.99 is just wrong. I have mp3 music on a dvd. At 5MB/song, I can fit 9.6GB/5MB ~=2000 songs. I would be happy to pay $25 for disks like this, but no way I pay alomst $2k for a disk.

    I notice also that in markets that sells pirated music they come as MP3 on CD's and contain over 100 songs for $1. The lagal CDs next to them costs $10, and contains 10 songs.

    The legal product is certainly inferior. Unless the music industry can deliver a superior product, they can not win this.
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:57AM (#20180187) Homepage Journal
    It's not DRM that's on life support, it's Universal (and the rest of the "music industry"). Their sales and profits have been declining for a few years - now they're getting worried. They can see the end of the gravy train staring them in the face and there's no relief in sight.

    They're still holding tightly to their fantasy about P2P downloaders costing them millions and billions - but they have noticed that their introduction of DRM technologies has received an almost totally negative response from their former customers. So they'll back off on this a little and "see if the piracy rate goes up". That's not what they'll be looking at at all, that's just some spin for the media. What they're looking for is some kind of upward bump to their profits; when they added DRM their income went down - so let's remove the DRM and see if our income goes back up.

    What they still can't see through their pride is that DRM doesn't reduce piracy in any meaningful way; all it does is cause inconvenience to their paying customers. It's driven more than a few customers away; buy one CD that won't play in your player and it's quite natural to avoid any CDs from that company in the future. What they also can't see is that those lost customers won't be coming back just because of some mealy-mouthed PR statement about removing DRM from some music for a short period - they've been fooled once already.

    "Piracy" (copyright infringement) is an interesting thing - it only happens with items that can be duplicated and sold at a price substantially below the price of the original product. If the record companies sold CDs for 69 cents each then the "pirates" wouldn't bother with music CDs. The record companies would never willingly reveal their cost of production - but you can safely assume that it's much less than a dollar. When they over-price the finished product at 20 dollars they create their own piracy problem.

    Will they ever see this simple truth? "Pirates" are a fact of life; eliminate one or a dozen and a hundred more will take their place. As long as there's easy money to be made then people will be lined up to get their share. There is nothing that the music companies, their lobbying lapdogs, the government, the courts, or anyone else can do to prevent it. As long as the product is priced far in excess of its production cost, there's going to be a "piracy" problem.

    Even the folks who just "want to get it for free" would become paying customers if the price was RIGHT. But the music industry keeps turning out formula junk with one or two good tunes per CD and then asking 20 bucks for it - and then they wonder why people aren't buying it. This is the root cause of their decline - expecting top dollar for bargain basement material.

    But they weren't satisfied with shooting themselves in that foot - they decided to start up their "legal" extortion racket and run people over the coals for thousands of dollars - for downloading a song that has a market value of less than a dollar. They even decided to sue some dead people, children, disabled seniors, etc. just to make sure that they offended everyone. This bone-headed plan is pure public relations poison - but they just can't stop. This turns a bunch more customers into former customers and the sales drop off even faster.

    Having shot themselves in both feet, they turned to their kneecaps with DRM and rootkits. While it's tempting, I won't belabor the point about what a bad idea this was. Now they suggest that they'll remove the DRM from a subset of their catalog - provisionally, for a short period of time. It almost sounds as if they believe they're dealing from a position of strength.

    What a bunch of closed-minded fools. Their doom is upon them and they act as if they're in control of the situation...

  • by MostAwesomeDude (980382) on Friday August 10, 2007 @04:58AM (#20180193) Homepage
    ...and I'll say it until I stop getting modded Insightful/Informative/Funny for it. Piracy is an economic indicator that you are not letting the market balance itself. Specifically, piracy is caused by artificially fixing prices too high. People refuse to buy the good since it is too expensive, but still demand the good, so they steal/copy it in order to obtain it. The only way to discourage piracy is to lower your price to the point that people would rather buy "the real deal" than a cheap knockoff. Perhaps if CDs were not pegged at $20 each, and were sold at the more reasonable $5 each, the public would find it more preferable to go to the music store instead of the torrent search engine.
  • Uh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Friday August 10, 2007 @05:02AM (#20180213) Journal
    UMG says that it wants to watch how DRM-free music affects piracy rates.

    Whats piracy rates to them? They should look at their sales, nothing else. If they sell three times as much, but the piracy rate (whatever is that, anyway) multiply by ten, why should they care? Should they suppose that they are losing that sales, even if the sales data tells them that they would never have done a but a third of them in the DRM-way? That would be really short-sight... oops, music-industry executives you said?. Then forget it all, short-sightedness is a part of the required CV there, to all external appearances.

  • Bleep [bleep.com] seems to have got the mix right, they have FLAC and MP3, the prices are good, and just happens to fit my music tastes (Indie UK music, ala Aphex twin, UNKLE, Squarepusher, Autechre etc etc. Nice web design with free inline demos of the tracks.

    (I am nothing to do with bleep I just like their spin on selling music so I recommend them where I can.).
  • by maillemaker (924053) on Friday August 10, 2007 @07:22AM (#20180821)
    Free will trump anything else every time.

    Sure, there will be a few crusaders who want to "support the artists".

    Sure, there will be a few people who can't figure out how to make bittorrent work who prefer the convenience of a one-stop download site for a fee.

    But the majority of the users who have already drunk from the fountain of free music will continue to do so.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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