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Yahoo! Music Going Dark, Taking Keys With It 396

Posted by timothy
from the myopia-!utopia dept.
iminplaya writes with a link to an excellent article at Ars Technica, extracting from it a few choice nuggets: "The bad dream of DRM continues. Yahoo e-mailed its Yahoo! Music Store customers yesterday, telling them it will be closing for good — and the company will take its DRM license key servers offline on September 30, 2008. Sure, it's bad news and yet another example of the sheer lobotomized brain-deadness that has characterized music DRM, but the reaction of most music fans will be: 'Yahoo had an online music store?'... DRM makes things harder for legal users; it creates hassles that illegal users won't deal with; it (often) prevents cross-platform compatibility and movement between devices. In what possible world was that a good strategy for building up the nascent digital download market? The only possible rationales could be 1) to control piracy (which, obviously, it has had no effect on, thanks to the CD and the fact that most DRM is broken) or 2) to nickel-and-dime consumers into accepting a new pay-for-use regime that sees moving tracks from CD to computer to MP3 player as a 'privilege' to be monetized."
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Yahoo! Music Going Dark, Taking Keys With It

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  • but the reaction of most music fans will be: 'Yahoo had an online music store?'

    Unbelievably, the follow up to that from many slashdotters will be: "My music store will never go offline." Unbelievably, people are still buying (and defending) DRMd music.

    If this story (and the MS one before) doesn't alert you to the sad fact that you don't own any DRMd music you've bought, nothing will.

    • by somersault (912633) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:42AM (#24332055) Homepage Journal

      Are you kidding? I wouldn't have thought that slashdotters would go for DRMed music. I did buy a couple of albums from iTunes as a test, one ended up being DRMed and the other wasn't - I just burned it to CD and ripped it again. I know I'll have lost some quality, but if I ever use iTunes again I'm going to make sure the songs are 'iTunes plus'.

      most DRM is broken

      s/most/all/

      If you can listen to it, you can record it. That will always be true. DRM for music and video is a completely broken concept.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:51AM (#24332457)

        s/most/all/

        If you can listen to it, you can record it. That will always be true. DRM for music and video is a completely broken concept.

        DRM for Video makes sense, especially in a "rental" situation.

        If you "rent" a film, tv show or the like, DRM makes perfect sense. Let the renter watch it, set the DRM to expire after 3 days, then bam, it's gone. Useless. Saves having to go to the store, grab a DVD then return it after.

        But yes, DRM on things you buy rather than rent is retarded.

        • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:58AM (#24332505) Homepage

          In my opinion not there either because really, why does it matter if you keep the copy and can watch it forever or can only see it one time? Where is the lost? Heck, I even own regular DVDs I bought like 5 years ago which I still haven't watched .. What says people would see their rented movies multiple times anyway?

          Just sell the shit cheap and shoot for volume instead, no protection needed, especially if the consumers actually think the product is worth the price and prefer to buy it.

          I don't get renting either, how much goes back to the company which produced the movie? Do they really earn much on a rented copy? Or are you mostly paying to the person renting you the movie? In that case why is that so important? Why does renting even exist? If the companies only get a very small amount of money for rented copies but people still rent because it's cheaper and one only watch most stuff one time anyway they should hate it.

          • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:54AM (#24333031)

            In my opinion not there either because really, why does it matter if you keep the copy and can watch it forever or can only see it one time? Where is the lost?

            One obvious loss is that you are over-ruling market forces, in the sense that a company might want to offer consumers a choice between paying full-price for a permanent copy of a work and paying a reduced fee for a one-off use (the rental model). This worked well for a long time with physical media, and may be in a consumer's interest. However, if you prohibit the use of DRM under any circumstances, the supplier's only option is to price on the assumption that every copy is a permanent one.

            I don't get renting either, how much goes back to the company which produced the movie? Do they really earn much on a rented copy?

            Yes, a DVD sold to a rental company (with suitable accompanying rights) normally costs a lot more than the ones you buy in the shops that are labelled "not for rental". I don't have any recent figures, but a few years ago the difference was roughly an order of magnitude, depending on the product.

            Given the two points above, it is pretty clear that a rental model may be in the interests of both the consumer (who pays less if they only want to view something once anyway) and the producer (who gains access to a consumer market that might not be willing to pay full price for a permanent copy but would still like to watch the film).

          • by TagrenHawk (19856) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:45AM (#24333895) Homepage

            I used to work at a video rental store and saw the catalogs for the movies that were coming available. The cost for a movie that was not a headliner was $90. Headliner movies sometimes worked themselves up into the $125 and higher range. The point of renting a movie was that the video store had to recoup their costs by renting the movie multiple times. The appeal for the customer was that they could spend $3 for a rental and not have to pay upwards of $20 to see a movie they may only watch one more time.

            Granted, this was back in the early 90s when the rental business model may have been different. It used to be that the studios would release the movies in this order: theater, rental, pay-per-view, pay channels, consumer purchase. Now movies are released for rental the same day they are available at Walmart for $14.

            I will still keep my Netflix account active, and use it frequently because I may only want to watch a movie one time. With kids I don't get out to the theater that often any more unless it is a family friendly movie. With Netflix I can watch movies at home without having to pay the babysitter $60 on top of the $20+ it costs me and my wife to purchase theater tickets. As long as there are situations like mine out there, video rental businesses will make money on us.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

              It is different today, so called "rental-pricing" never made the leap from vhs to dvd.

              At first the rental places were paying wholesale, just like wal-mart. Now there are revenue-sharing agreements such that they pay next to nothing for the physical discs in return for sending some percentage of rental revenue back to the studio... In some cases this also kills the used market - part of the agreements are to send back 'a lot' of the physical discs (for destruction) once rental rates on a title drop below a

          • Just sell the shit cheap and shoot for volume instead, no protection needed, especially if the consumers actually think the product is worth the price and prefer to buy it.

            That is a perfectly valid theory, that I pretty much think would turn out to work great. However, the simple truth is that you don't know how that would actually work in the real world. I don't, either; nobody does.

            They've been running their business a certain way for a long time, and making a killing. Now we're in the digital age, and the context is different and changing rapidly. Expecting them to one day up and use a totally different pricing model than they've been making a killing with up to this point is silly. Of course they're going to try and do things the exact same way as they always have.

            And they've got people assuring them it's possible. These companies that are making the DRM 'software' are also making a killing, and it's mostly because the media people believe what they're selling, which is the ability to keep doing things the way they always have, in this new and scary age. I have no idea if the DRM companies know what they're doing in futile or not; that depends on how cynical you are.

            That's all I got.

            Doug

        • by sm62704 (957197) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:26AM (#24333527) Journal

          If you "rent" a film, tv show or the like, DRM makes perfect sense. Let the renter watch it, set the DRM to expire after 3 days, then bam, it's gone.

          I hope you're referring to downloads rather than the DVDs that stop working after one play (there was a /. story about their return not long ago). It takes oil to make DVDs and having them wind up in a landfill is sociopathic.

          You say "But yes, DRM on things you buy rather than rent is retarded", well what's retarded is thinking you bought a DRMed item in the first place. If it has DRM, you rented it no matter what you think.

          DRM itself is retarded. It is completely ineffective against piracy; you can get torrents of the new Batman move and you can get illegal downloads of every song in the top 40 Billboard list. All it does is inconvience honest, paying customers, and that is past retarded and nearing brain dead.

          Anyone who sells DRM is a thief who is playing on the media companies' fears.

        • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:30AM (#24333609)
          Anything with DRM on it is just a rental. You don't own it, you're just renting it until the company you downloaded it from goes out of business or stops supporting it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Linux is illegal! You are breaking the law, and hurting yourself and your family with your ILLEGAL SOFTWARE. Your ip has been noted and is being forwarded to the SPA with a reccomendation that they investigate your CRIMINAL ACTIVITY. Please destroy all your unpatriotic linux software before the government finally cracks down on you people and you all end up as lampshades or soap.

      • by Panaqqa (927615) * on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:30AM (#24332335) Homepage
        /. - Don't be in such a hurry to mod this "Funny". If the so called "Trusted Computing Initiative" goes through as planned, then indeed your Linux distro may well turn out to be illegal, especially if you have added or removed stuff and recompiled. In these cases, it will not be "approved" software as the hash will have changed.

        All DRM is almost as completely screwed up as the laws that purport to deal with it. My personal favorite silly DRM law is the one which sets out massive penalties for circumventing a DRM mechanism - making anyone who holds the shift key while loading a CD into Windoze box a felon.
        • by jimicus (737525) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:07AM (#24332553)

          /. - Don't be in such a hurry to mod this "Funny". If the so called "Trusted Computing Initiative" goes through as planned, then indeed your Linux distro may well turn out to be illegal, especially if you have added or removed stuff and recompiled. In these cases, it will not be "approved" software as the hash will have changed.

          Just to pre-empt the inevitable shower of folk who have neither glanced at nor fully understood the implications of Trusted Computing saying "It's my computer, how will they stop me?"

          In answer to those people, "Very simple. Your computer will no longer be a general purpose computer, it'll be a device like your Tivo or your DVD player. And, like your Tivo, it'll be more or less impossible to change the software on. Or, if you do, you'll create as many problems as you solve because online banking, shopping and even Internet access can and quite possibly will demand that your 'computer' prove it's fully "Trusted" before they have anything to do with it."

          The technology has all been thought through very carefully and virtually every counter-argument (particularly the "it'll never work" arguments) has been dealt with in hardware. AFAICT, the only way you'll break it wholesale is by infiltrating a chip fab and maintaining the breakage for so long that it's not practical for the manufacturer to revoke all the compromised keys.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SCHecklerX (229973)

            So open hardware will become more prevalent. There's obviously demand for unrestricted hardware, so somebody will make it.

            • by jimicus (737525) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:56AM (#24334091)

              So open hardware will become more prevalent. There's obviously demand for unrestricted hardware, so somebody will make it.

              Ahem:

              Or, if you do, you'll create as many problems as you solve because online banking, shopping and even Internet access can and quite possibly will demand that your 'computer' prove it's fully "Trusted" before they have anything to do with it."

              Nothing closed about TPM apart from the encryption keys themselves. You just can't claim to be "Trusted" without it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by mrchaotica (681592) *

              So? What good will your un-Trusted hardware do, when all ISPs (by law) refuse to allow it to connect to the Internet? I have no doubt whatsoever that that law will come, unless we fight vigorously against it. Not all problems have a technological solution!

      • I don't know which will be the year of linux on the desktop, but the next will be the year of linuxers on the courtrooms
      • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:34AM (#24333691)
        Don't be silly, we're not going to arrest you. We're throwing a party for you! There will be cake and you will be the guest of honor. Now, just stay there and a party associate will arrive shortly to collect you for your party.
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:47AM (#24332083) Journal

      There's nothing wrong with buying DRM'd goods. It's no worse than buying that great deal at the market with 'sold as seen' written on it. Sure, it may not work when you get it home, and it may not continue to work beyond the first time, but if you're happy to accept that risk then you might get a really good deal.

      Of course, if you buy DRM'd music for more than a fraction of the price of DRM-free music then you are as stupid as someone who pays 90% of RRP for something on eBay that probably doesn't work.

    • by thermian (1267986) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:50AM (#24332099)

      I buy drm protected audiobooks from Audible, and intend to continue doing so, because their service is excellent. Their catalogue of audiobooks is the best I've found.

      They actually provide a rip to cd thing with their software, so you can go direct to unprotected mp3. A lot of people miss this point.

      I prefer to use goldwave to convert the files to mp3 as soon as I download them, mp3 album maker to join them into one big file, then audiobookcutter to split into ten minute chunks. All in all about ten minutes work. Certainly its equivilent to the time it takes to rip a bunch of cd's

      That way I get the immense convenience of downloading my two audiobook fixes a month, and avoid most of the problems caused by drm.

      I'm not sure that they approve of customers using goldwave. Ok, I know they don't, but they still get my money each month, and will continue to do so as long as they keep getting in books I want.

      • by Rogerborg (306625)
        Serious question: why do you rip to mp3 instead of to wma or ogg or some other more efficient format? mp3s are stone age; their only remaining use, so far as I can see, is as a common format of exchange on p2p.
        • by thermian (1267986)

          the iPod doesn't use Ogg, and I see no advantage to using wma.

          Besides, audiobooks are voice only, 32bit is more then adequate, and mp3 is fine.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by EdgeyEdgey (1172665)
        How much more would you pay to be able to directly download the whole book pre-split into 10 minute chunks?

        You can work it out. Take how much you get paid an hour, divide it by 6. That's the going rate for 10 minutes of your life.
    • by Chrismith (911614) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:52AM (#24332109)
      If you RTFA, you'll see that no one is losing access to their music, they just won't be able to transfer them to another computer without a workaround such as burning them to a CD. Annoying, yes, but not the end of the world.

      Not that I'm all for DRM, this just isn't as big of a deal as the article makes it sound. This won't be the wake-up call that makes the average user see the evils of DRM, because most of them won't even notice.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jambox (1015589)
        I've got perfectly legit CDs that I've had to re-rip recently because the DRM on them - I forgot to uncheck the box in media player :( - don't know why that happened but the wma's (I know, I know, I just assumed it would do them in mp3) simply won't play any more.
      • by dwandy (907337) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:27AM (#24332313) Homepage Journal

        they just won't be able to transfer them to another computer without a workaround such as burning them to a CD. Annoying, yes, but not the end of the world.

        There is a loss of quality and meta-data when you do this. Of course it's not actually the end of the "world" but it is the end of the music (at specified quality & features) that you paid for. So pretty much it is the end of the world (for your purchase).

        This won't be the wake-up call that makes the average user see the evils of DRM, because most of them won't even notice.

        This is only true because on the Dark Day it's unlikely that even an insignificant number of the customer will want to move their music to a new computer. There won't be a wake-up call, because it will only be as people replace their old computers or want to move it to another device that they will realise they've been screwed. That doesn't make Digital Restrictions Management any less evil.

        On the other hand, there was enough backlash to make MS decide to leave their servers on ... so who knows? I think that what is true, is that the more this happens, the more people will realise they don't want DRM on their media. Like Linux adoption, there may never be a "Year Of The Anti-DRM": it may just be a slow awakening.

        • by msauve (701917) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:59AM (#24332511)

          There is a loss of quality and meta-data when you do this. Of course it's not actually the end of the "world" but it is the end of the music (at specified quality & features) that you paid for. So pretty much it is the end of the world (for your purchase).

          If you bought, then the limitations of DRM were also a part of the purchase, and should have been factored into the purchase decision. No one has suggested that by discontinuing the service, Yahoo has in any way broken their side of the contract by discontinuing the service. So, yes, you do still have exactly what you paid for.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by dwandy (907337)

            If you bought, then the limitations of DRM were also a part of the purchase, and should have been factored into the purchase decision.

            I guess consumer protection acts have to exist precisely because of people who think like this. You make some pretty big (and imho incorrect) assumptions about the general buying public.

            No one has suggested that by discontinuing the service, Yahoo has in any way broken their side of the contract by discontinuing the service.

            I'm sure they covered their legal ass on this, and

        • by aliquis (678370)

          If I'd bought a lot of music I doubt I would just let it get removed forever when I switched computer.

          But I'd probably exist the seller to also let me redownload the same music to my new machine. Just log in and download the music I have registered as bought.

      • by v1 (525388) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:37AM (#24332393) Homepage Journal

        The exact mistake you just made will start biting people in the not-so-distant future.

        OK I can convert my collection of music to MP3, good and fine, no rush right? I'll do that next week.

        Meanwhile, the servers go offline. Then Murphy stops by. HD crash. Glad I have a backup. Restore backup. "Change in hardware configuration detected, contacting authentication servers to renew license.... Error, unable to contact servers. Please call Yahoo Music Store support for assistance."

        You lose.

        The only way to avoid this is to get a law passed that requires DRM manufacturers to put DRM unlockers in escrow somewhere and in the event that they close shop, go out of business, their servers burn down, etc, the public is given the keys so they can unlock and strip the DRM from their purchases.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dossen (306388)
          Or how about this - if you release your copyrighted work in DRMed format, without a realistic and working solution for the continued access by your customers in the event of the company ending or the work going out of copyright (for any reason), all copyright protection of that work is revoked (including DMCA etc.) A law like that would effectively make it a choice between DRM and copyright - thereby returning the balance between the protection offered by society via copyright and the gain for society of wo
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by S-100 (1295224)
        Um, not being able to transfer your music to another computer IS losing access to your music. It should just be a matter of hours before the first class-action suit is filed.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 8tim8 (623968)

        >If you RTFA, you'll see that no one is losing access to their music, they just won't be able to transfer them to another computer without a workaround such as burning them to a CD. Annoying, yes, but not the end of the world.

        What if their hard drive crashed and they're trying to load their backed-up songs onto a new computer? In that case they are screwed. Part of the issue here is that there's a problem but the users don't *realize* there's a problem until it's too late to do something. Yes, you rea

    • by Tim C (15259) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:57AM (#24332133)

      Well, iTMS can go offline and it won't affect my ability to play the 6 or so songs I've bought from there.

      I dislike DRM as much as the next slashbot, but some implementations are less bad than others. (You'll note however that I have only bought half a dozen or so songs, so I'm clearly still not that comfortable with it...)

    • Unbelievably, the follow up to that from many slashdotters will be: "My music store will never go offline." Unbelievably, people are still buying (and defending) DRMd music.

      If this story (and the MS one before) doesn't alert you to the sad fact that you don't own any DRMd music you've bought, nothing will.

      I agree wholeheartedly. I don't buy any DRM'd music, preferring to deal as directly with the artist as possible, through places like CD Baby [cdbaby.com], which eschew DRM in favor of straight MP3 downloads once you have purchased an album.

    • by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:37AM (#24333763) Homepage Journal
      The article doesn't mention this- but Yahoo is migrating their users to Rhapsody. This includes their library. You will still have access to your songs, just through a different service. Not sure what will happen to purchased tracks- but I suspect they'll allow you to re-download through rhapsody.

      Certainly not fixing the DRM issue, but, still an important detail.
  • Haha? (Score:5, Funny)

    by fluch (126140) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:35AM (#24332011)

    Come on, guys, what does it take so long to tag this story with the 'haha' tag??? Are you all asleep?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sm62704 (957197)

      Come on, guys, what does it take so long to tag this story with the 'haha' tag??? Are you all asleep?

      Posted by timothy on Friday July 25, @06:31AM

      Yes.

  • Insanity... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bobbocanfly (1061244) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:35AM (#24332013)
    This is exactly the reason music piracy is so rampant at the moment. Companies need to learn: DRM doesnt stop Pirates, it encourages them.

    When was the last time you downloaded something from bit-torrent and six months later you couldnt play it because of the company going down?
  • the real criminals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pimpimpim (811140) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:36AM (#24332019)
    Will they be fined for fraud? they charged their costumers not so much less as the price of a track on a CD for mp3s with an amazingly limited lifespan. For ripping of their costumers they risk what? Nothing. Whereas people getting their music from other online sources are being threatened with jailtime and god-knows-what. Russia was more or less not allowed to join Nato because the perfectly legal and costumer-friendly allofmp3.com.
  • This is just more ammunition for when someone asks me why I care about DRM.

    Thanks, Yahoo!, though to be honest I didn't know they had a music store either.

  • Excellent news! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:39AM (#24332035) Journal

    While I feel sorry for the people who have lost their music as a result of this, it has two excellent outcomes

    The first is that it gives a great example of why the analogy that I've been using for DRM'd goods for a while is accurate. When I'm explaining DRM'd products to non-technical people, I tell them that they are equivalent to things labelled 'sold as seen' at a jumble sale. You get them home and they may work, and they may continue to work. If they do, you might have got a good deal, but there is absolutely no guarantee that they will work, nor that they will continue to work in the future. In contrast, DRM-free goods are guaranteed to work for as long as you want them to.

    The second is that it gives a perfect case study for persuading legislators that DRM should not be legal (or, as I usually argue, that technical and legal protections on creative works should be mutually exclusive - you can have whichever you prefer, but you can only pick one). There is no possible way in which allowing an organisation a government-granted monopoly to sell products and then remotely disable them fording you to buy them again from one of their other resellers can be good for the economy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by purpledinoz (573045)
      I bet their customers aren't chanting "Yahoo!" over this.
      • by fluch (126140)

        Or maybe their customers are actually chanting "Yahoo!" over it. Maybe just with a different meaning to it... like in "D'oh!".

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by CastrTroy (595695)
          Or maybe they are chanting Yahoo! at the people running Yahoo, signifying that they are a bunch of Yahoos. In the sense of Gulliver's Travels that is.
  • Well duh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:40AM (#24332047)

    This is what happens when you're essentially *renting* your music or movies. It's just a matter of when they're going to stop letting you use it. This will surely happen to those who bought songs from the itunes store (DRM'ed ones), it's really just a matter of when.

    The same applies to some software even. Imagine what will happen to Windows XP-style activated apps if the company goes out of business, or just plain decides to stop activating it (could perhaps be legal, using clauses in the purchase agreement or whatever, or not so legal...)

    • Re:Well duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DarkOx (621550) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:59AM (#24332145) Journal

      Thats a good point IT WILL HAPPEN. Itunes might be arround for 20 years but some day it will be closed. I think the longevity might be the sadest part of all. Unless Apple in the end pushes some automajic code in a later release that strips the DRM from any protected files it finds most people won't ever be bothered to do it, and won't be thinking about it when ITMS shuts down.

      Children won't be rediscovering momy and daddys 20 year old records in the future. DRM could cause an entire generations music to be lost.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Children won't be rediscovering momy and daddys 20 year old records in the future. DRM could cause an entire generations music to be lost.

        Let's rephrase that. Children of today will have to repurchase mom and dad's music collection at some point in the future.

        There will be no albums to browse in garage sales, there'll be no CDs to lend out or sell. All the noise the record companies make and their apparent dislike for digital music is a ruse. They love it! There are no resales of digital purchases. As more

      • by TomRK1089 (1270906) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:56AM (#24332497)

        "Children won't be rediscovering momy and daddys 20 year old records in the future. DRM could cause an entire generations music to be lost."

        Oh no! How will our descendants survive without being able to appreciate the lyrical genius of K-Fed, NSYNC, and My Chemical Romance? It really is the end of the world!

  • Question! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:45AM (#24332067)

    I am not a Lawyer (And I refuse to say IANAL - it took me 3 months to figure out what that meant), so I'm curious as to what the legal implications are for downloading DRM free versions of songs you LEGALLY own (in one form or another)?
    I know that in the case of software, it's perfectly legal to download pirated versions providing you legitimately own it (ROMs in particular are a good example of this), but what about media?

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:49AM (#24332095) Homepage
    The music industry's inability to conceive of a good reason for why people would need to break DRM for a good purpose has just helped Apple once more. Yes, their stuff is protected by DRM, but it can also be burned to a CD as audio tracks. No one in their right mind will buy music this way again except through Apple until someone comes out with a system that is as laissez faire as Apple's.
    • by peragrin (659227)

      right thought wrong reason.

      Yahoo was mainly a subscription site, as most windows media sites are. once the servers stop you lose your subscriptions. They may rig the setup to keep playing for a year instead of a month, but sometime soon all that music you spent money on is gone.

      Apple sells DRm, and DRM free tracks, you keep it working even if apple goes boom.

  • by Jellybob (597204) on Friday July 25, 2008 @06:51AM (#24332105) Journal

    I may be entirely wrong, but I thought that Yahoo Music worked on a rental basis, where you could listen to as much music as liked so long you kept paying the service fee, so this isn't quite as bad as the OP made it sound.

    People havn't *bought* the music, so they havn't lost something that they paid money for, expecting it to continue being available for the rest of time.

  • Isn't it ironic... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Solo-Malee (618168) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:02AM (#24332163)
    ...that this story follows that in the UK where six ISPs have now agreed a deal that will see hundreds of thousands of letters sent to net users suspected of illegally sharing music. Now I suppose there'll be a few more trying to get replacements for tracks that yesterday they were able to listen to and today they can't.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7522334.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    I just hope that the BBC picks up this latest music industry/tech fiasco and asks the question...

    "Who is looking after the consumer?"

    Me, I'll always be buying the original CD (preferably from an indie artist!)
    • by Yer Mum (570034)

      So first the servers you check your DRM'd music against are taken down then you receive nasty letters/a reduction in service from your ISP/your ISP stops providing you a service/a possible fine if the law changes/etc... when you try and download songs you already own through eMule or BitTorrent so you end up buying the CD if you really care about the music.

      It's genius, I never knew there were so many ways to pay for the same thing.

  • by Kingston (1256054) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:07AM (#24332193)
    There is a good article here [guardian.co.uk] covering DRM issues and the decision, since revoked, to shut down the MSN music store licence server. It boils down to:

    So the trail leads back to the licence server - which Microsoft is turning off for its customers. Why is it doing that? According to Rob Bennett, who wrote the shock email, it was too complicated to support. "Every time there is an OS upgrade, you saw support issues. People would call in because they couldn't download licences. We had to write new code, new configurations each time,"

    So it was too much hassle to support, and as for the customers who had purchased music, they thought forever - they could take a running jump.

  • I buy several albums from iTunes a year (probably 20+ albums). Since I have a Mac, and an iPod, and I burn the music to CD to play in the car during my lengthy commute -- Apple's DRM doesn't really bother me. When possible, I buy their DRM-less albums, and I have occasionally used the "convert to MP3" feature so I could make an MP3 CD... but so far, Apple's DRM has not interfered with my music listening.

    Maybe if I wanted/needed a different music player, or I cared about saving a few pennies and buying mu

  • long live Amazon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by misanthrope101 (253915) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:15AM (#24332259)
    Amazon has gotten more of my money for DRM-free music than I had previously spent on music my entire life. I'm not even that big on music, but somehow I ended up with about 25 Nina Simone albums, about the same number of Billie Hoiday, 15 CDs or so of Dinah Washington, and who knows what else. Never would've bought this stuff if they'd DRM'd it.
    • Re:long live Amazon (Score:5, Informative)

      by MtViewGuy (197597) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:35AM (#24332379)

      Thank you very much for mentioning the Amazon MP3 store! :-)

      In short, Amazon's MP3 store is the first truly viable alternative the iTunes Music Store for these these reasons:

      1) The cost in many cases is much lower than iTMS on a per-song and per-album basis.

      2) Amazon encodes their MP3's using the LAME 3.97 encoder with 256 kbps variable bit rate encoding, which results in excellent sound quality that is almost the same as the uncompressed CD original.

      3) Because the MP3 files have no DRM restrictions, that means no hassles copying the music with third-party programs to your portable music player.

      4) Amazon's MP3 downloader program automatically puts the playlist into either Windows Media Player 11.0 or iTunes, which means easy syncing with your favorite portable music player that uses these programs to copy music to your player.

      It's small wonder why I've bought several albums through the Amazon MP3 store and are searching for more albums to download. That explains why older music stores that use DRM restrictions are rapidly falling by the wayside.

      • by Plantain (1207762) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:08AM (#24332559)

        5) Not available outside of the US

        Even with a fake name and address, they go to extreme measures to stop the poor Aussies from getting their music :'(

        Back to the iTunes monopoly I go!

        (if you != fed; do s/iTunes/bittorrent/)

      • Re:long live Amazon (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MasterOfMagic (151058) on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:26AM (#24333529) Journal

        I go with AllOfMP3, now under a new name (that we dare not speak!). They offer all music in MP3 format using LAME or bladeenc in CBR or VBR modes. They offer a lot of music (I'd say about 35-40% on average for the stuff I listen to and 100% of the new stuff they add) in FLAC, Monkey's Audio, MPC, WMA, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, raw WAV, and probably a few formats that I'm forgetting. It's all DRM free, and $0.02/MB for downloading. Oh, and it works on any OS with a web browser that accepts cookies, and works outside of the United States. (Pair Firefox with DownThemAll for the downloads page and you've got your music downloading app.)

        IANAL, but from what I've read they're legal in the US (they pay their licensing body fees). They're good, and the content industry hates them. They tried to pay the artists, but the body representing the artists rejected it.

  • And that is why (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:20AM (#24332289)

    And that is why I only buy non-DRMed "plus" songs from iTunes. While I trust Apple, and love their products, I think putting trust into DRM is asking for just a weeeee bit too much.

  • please send $5 to my pay pal account to read my comment

    (oh man, i'm going to be a millionaire! it works for the music industry!)

  • by dyfet (154716) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:32AM (#24332359) Homepage

    I am surprised the author missed an important reason for DRM, being able to track and form marketing "profiles" of captive "consumers" based on their listening habits. By it's very nature, DRM schemes have to validate what music one has, and collect statistics while it is being played, and all tied to user identities. Rather convenient, eh?

    Of course, the closed source "legally protected" tamper-free DRM client (and associated licensing server) may do more than just keep track of what your listening to and when. Like other source-secret client applications (such as Skype), it can also snoop on registry keys, or other information, perhaps to further expand the potential for target marketing. Even homeland security can get into this act. Imagine, listen to too much pink floyd, and get on the early list for the new FEMA camps ;).

  • by Dan East (318230) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:32AM (#24332361) Homepage Journal

    I know video can go dark, but shouldn't music go quiet?

    • by hansraj (458504) *

      I was about to call you a grammar nazi, but then I thought that maybe you prefer being called a semantics nazi.

  • Customers who have purchased music from Microsoft's now-defunct MSN Music store are now facing a decision they never anticipated making: commit to which computers (and OS) they want to authorize forever, or give up access to the music they paid for. Why? Because Microsoft has decided that it's done supporting the service and will be turning off the MSN Music license servers by the end of this summer.

    article link [arstechnica.com]

  • If you want to save your Yahoo! music, you can re-record it using two S/PDIF interfaces without losing any quality. There are no D/A conversions involved. You just need some decent recording software. Just tell Windows to use the S/PDIF as the default audio output device.

    On Linux, I recommend Ardour for recording. www.ardour.org

    On Windows, Audacity does a nice job.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      the S/PDIF output of such compressed audio file has already the audio artifacts from that compression (excluding "lossless" compression formats)

      Converting this raw output back to a compressed file format will introduce artifacts AGAIN to the resulting wave (double compression), sounding awful enough.

    • by Mascot (120795) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:12AM (#24332585)

      If you want to save your Yahoo! music, you can re-record it using two S/PDIF interfaces without losing any quality.

      This is not something I have researched, so I'm making a good number of assumptions and qualified guesses here. I'm sure someone will set me straight if I'm way off.

      I may be missing something, but unless you can manage to get Windows to output the raw unencrypted data stream, I don't see how this would help any.

      In my experience Windows will take the audio and make a PCM stream out of it if you tell it to use S/PDIF as default device. Which means you end up with much the same as you would if you burned to CD and used that as a source for further processing. Either way, you end up having to add a lossy step somewhere along the way to make it practically useful.

  • by v1 (525388) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:39AM (#24332403) Homepage Journal

    Is anyone keeping a list somewhere of all the places that have folded or closed a service and have as a result left people with unusable content? This is at least the third story I've read on /. about this sort of stunt, and we've also read where DRM supporters are always saying this sort of thing never happens, I'd love to see that list stuffed in their mouth.

  • by kaos07 (1113443) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:40AM (#24332411)

    Whenever I do buy songs online, I buy them a store that sells them at 320kbps in .mp3 form with no restrictions whatsoever.

    I really don't like DRM. I've been bitten by it in the past with iTunes locking me out after too many computers were authorised to play tracks I legally purchased. Anyway. The argument coming from this story against DRM doesn't make much sense to me. "The validation servers are offline". All that's showing is that the one possible benefit that can come out of DRM is no longer there. And in this specific area it's at the same level as non-DRM music. That's a tad confusing so I'll explain further.

    The only positive I can ever see coming out of DRM systems is the fact that once you've "bought" something, you can download it again and again. Say if you reformatted or something. This is obviously negated by limitations such as the above iTunes example. However other DRM services like Steam pull this off brilliantly. I've downloaded my Steam games several times after formats and computer changes, and they work fine. Now while this is a limited concept in most DRM systems, it's non existant in non-DRM online stores. I don't know any online store without any kind of DRM that allows you to download a song or an album and infinite number of times once you've purchased it.

    So tying this back to the story, the validation servers going off-line simply means that if you lose a song, you can't re-download it. Just like if you bought a CD, or downloaded from another music store without DRM.

  • Well that sucks... (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Dancing Panda (1321121) on Friday July 25, 2008 @07:57AM (#24332501)
    But it's not really as bad as slashdot would have you believe. Yahoo music is a subscription service, mostly, so unless Yahoo plans to continually take your money after the servers are shut down, this is no problem. Sure, the people using it will be slightly inconvenienced, but there are other subscription services. No one on a subscription service should think they have any right to that music once they cancel the subscription, just as I don't have a right to the Howard Stern show after I cancel Sirius.

    Furthermore, Yahoo Music's 0.99c songs are all, as far as I know, Non-drm'd MP3's. People that bought the songs should have no problem listening to them. DRM is really a non-issue here, as it doesn't affect anyone in a manner that they wouldn't expect.
  • by Fuzzzy (967665)
    You bought a CD. You have the right to use it. You have the right to play it using another CD player.
    You bought a song. You have the right to hear it. You have the right to transfer it to another playing device (i.e., computer).
    Your CD is a property. The right to hear a licensed song is a property too, despite what the license may claim.

    Now, the second party pulls the license away. It renders your property nontransferable, hence eliminating some of your property rights. The court may monetize the lost r
  • The background story (Score:4, Informative)

    by LabRat007 (765435) on Friday July 25, 2008 @08:27AM (#24332725) Homepage
    I believe it all started as music match long long ago. A great service. Yahoo! purchased it and started messing around with the service making it a pile O' poo (breaking features for instance and not repairing them). The person(s) responsible for Music Match started another service: www.slacker.com which is quite nice, at least the web radio bit. I have yet to make use of any of their pay services.

    Just a little FYI.

    If anyone remembers this more clearly, please let me know.
  • by bihoy (100694) * on Friday July 25, 2008 @09:27AM (#24333551)

    I have no interest in buying music to download and I don't use their software to rip my CD's.

    While I am no fan of DRM I actually like having unlimited streaming music that I can play on both my laptop and my music player.

    To me these services are only useful as an online music source that I can customize. I can listen to exactly what I want. I like creating my own playlists as well having them auto created according to what I listen to. This, to me, is the only real value in these services.

    I have Yahoo Music (which was acquired from MusicMatch when they went under) and have now converted it to a Rhapsody account (who aquired my Yahoo Music account. I only hope that Rhapsody stays afloat before my 1 year subscription expires.

    So far I am very pleased with Rhapsody. Much more so than with Yahoo Music and Music Match. Mostly because the player actually works all of the time (crossing fingers). The only downside that I have noted is that some of the tracks (about 15%) that I had from Yahoo are not available in Rhapsody. Most of them I do not care about. Those that I really like I will buy the CD and rip.

    Just my two cents.

  • by Qwavel (733416) on Friday July 25, 2008 @10:35AM (#24334807)

    I am/was a subscriber to the Yahoo Music Service. I loved it. I had extremely convenient access to almost everything. I no longer worried about what I owned and just focused on rating stuff.

    I believe that the value for my money that I got for this service - even if it dies today - is much greater then with buying CD's or buying individual tracks from iTunes. I paid a reasonable amount of money ( $10 a month) for a great music experience.

    Let's face it, all of this music is pretty crappy sound quality, so I don't want to buy tracks at $1 a pop that will be obsolete in 5 years when higher quality multi-track formats become available. The stuff from Yahoo is 192Kbps WMA which is reasonably good by today's standards but still pretty crappy.

    And now that the service is going dark, everything is transferred to Rhapsody. I have 8 months remaining on my Yahoo account and they are transferring that 8 months to rhapsody, along with my music collection (if I want). So I do not loose the music as others seem to be implying. As before, I have to keep paying to keep my collection alive - that is the deal that I have agreed to.

    BUT now the negative.

    From the FAQ it appears that Yahoo is not going to transfer my music rating to the Rhapsody service. The music rating ARE my collection, so this really screws me up. If someone wrote an app that culled my rating from the Yahoo Music service I would be thrilled.

    Rhapsody is Real. That sucks. I'm scared to install their application on my computer.

    Rhapsody is only available in the US. Yahoo Music was available in other countries. What are the users in other countries supposed to do?

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