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Chronicling the Failures of DRM 206

Posted by Soulskill
from the customers-don't-like-annoying-products dept.
Barence takes us to PCPro for a look at the failures of DRM and a discussion of its impending death. Quoting: "Luckily, DRM is dying, at least in the download sphere. Napster's Dan Nash believes that DRM-free is 'the general way things are going.' In his opinion, record companies 'have no choice but to adapt;' those that 'stick to DRM on a pay-per-download basis will not remain competitive.' In the US, Napster has joined Amazon in selling DRM-free content in MP3 format from all the major labels. ... Going DRM-free makes sense not just for consumers, but for the industry. Deutche Telekom says three out of four technical support calls its Musicload service had to deal with were the result of DRM. And when it offered a DRM-free option to artists they saw a 40% increase in sales."
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Chronicling the Failures of DRM

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  • by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:01PM (#24804077) Journal
    Yes, we all know DRM sucks. and is broken, and no one wants to accept it (unless it is from iTunes..). Now, this is great for the end user to know - but even better if people in industry would pay attention!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wow, if only someone will listen

      Don't expect the mainstream music industry to listen. Based on what they try to pass off as product, they are quite clearly stone deaf.

      • I guess that goes for hollywood too, eh...
      • by hedwards (940851)

        The problem there isn't that the DRM works, it's that it doesn't work well enough. If it worked better than nobody would have to hear the inane gibberish of whoever the corporate annointed hot thing of the moment is.

    • by symbolset (646467) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:53PM (#24804661) Journal

      - but even better if people in industry would pay attention!

      Of course all those other attempts have failed. It's because they didn't use my super secret (and soon to be patented) method for riskless, full control family friendly DRM 2.0.

      Now shut up until I close the deal with these twits, would ya?

    • Now, this is great for the end user to know - but even better if people in industry would pay attention!

      Your vote counts. The industry will only listen to your votes. How to vote is simple. It's a free market. Vote wisely and the industry has no choice but to follow the money or die. I have been wanting all along for this to happen. I was afraid I was going to be out voted by those who buy DRM anyway, but it is not the case.

      Now if we can only get the closed format of DVD's fixed. That format came wra

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Stormwatch (703920)

        Your vote counts. The industry will only listen to your votes. How to vote is simple. It's a free market. Vote wisely and the industry has no choice but to follow the money or die.

        No, they simply take it as: "Sales are down? Teh evil pirates are stealing from us! Otherwise, the sheeple would be buying a hundred zillion copies of that new single by some vapid ProTools-engineered boyband that we assembled last month. They shouldn't be allowed to use the Interwebs without restrictions. Hurry, let's buy some l

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by 1arkhaine (671283)

        I have a bit of a problem with believing the concept that 'your vote counts' when votes = money.

        If I stop buying, say, Sony albums, what does that tell Sony? What does it tell them of my reasons? Money doesn't leave any clues, and it's not as if they can spot an extra twenty dollars spent on, say, tomatoes and say that that's where my money has gone.

        Anything could have happened to make them 'lose' my twenty dollars. I could have died. I could have bought a different album by another company. I could ha

        • by Technician (215283) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:16AM (#24806759)

          If I stop buying, say, Sony albums, what does that tell Sony? What does it tell them of my reasons? Money doesn't leave any clues, and it's not as if they can spot an extra twenty dollars spent on, say, tomatoes and say that that's where my money has gone.

          They spend lots of money on market research. The watch what each other is doing. They watch P-P to see if piracy is really a problem (it is). They test the market.. Spend a few extra cents on iTunes for DRM free.. Amazon has DRM free for no extra.. Hmm, Amazon suddenly has a lot more sales.. They follow the money. They tried DRM and it failed. They noticed that less than a few single digit percent of songs on an iPod were encumbered by DRM. They noticed the biggest technical problems faced with purchased music was DRM related.

          Sony put out some DVD's with extra DRM. My wife picked up Open Season for the kids and it wouldn't play on my Linux box. They got the message when I called and complained. They sent me a replacement DRM free (standard CSS) replacement free of charge and they know I won't buy any more broken DVD's.

          Stopping purchases is part of the solution. Calling tech support for broken products is the other way to send the message. DRM kills sales and requires tech support is the message sent loud and clear. If my vote didn't count, they would never have made a normal DVD replacement.

    • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Friday August 29, 2008 @08:39PM (#24805059)

      Or maybe iTunes is proof that people will accept DRM so long as it does not interfere with what most would deem "fair-use". I guess I'm a sell out because I'm willing to pay $.99 a song, iTunes is easy to use, works well, and I can burn all the music I buy to CD to listen in my car, stream to other PC's in my house, listen on up to 5 computers, etc..

      I know people on /. will then say, "What about Ogg or Flac", and my response is I don't care. I'm not an audiophile nor is the vast majority of people who listen to music. Ask most people what format iTunes music store uses and they'll just say MP3. MP3 = a digital music file in most people's vocabulary. They don't know the difference between MP3 vs. AAC vs. M4a etc.. Nor do they want to know. All they want is the ability to easily purchase music at a reasonable price and then put on their ipod, CD player or stereo with the least amount of fuss.

      iTunes does exactly that. It works and works well for most people. Is it perfect? Not really. And I'm sure as more and more allow DRM free music, you'll see that more and more on iTunes as well.

      I will say kudos to Apple because they actually got it right in that balance between what the studios wanted and what people could do with their music. Maybe that's why they've been the most successful online music retailer to date.

      • by willy_me (212994) on Friday August 29, 2008 @09:27PM (#24805445)

        What Apple has really done is they have killed DRM. Because they hold such a command on portable players (i.e., ipods) and they are the only ones that can provide legal music for their players, the record labels are forced to negotiate with Apple in order to have online sales. But with Apple it is their way or the highway - the labels don't like this. So in order to undermine Apple, the labels now offer DRM free music to other providers. The hope is that with multiple providers they will not have to worry about Apple forcing upon them term that they don't like.

        It is because of DRM (or more specifically, DRM that they did not control) that the labels were forced to do this. You can bet that if they could do it all over again they would still use DRM, but it would be licensed for use with multiple retailers and devices.

        It's funny - they force Apple to use DRM and now Apple has put them into a position where they have to allow non-DRM sales. Imagine if Microsoft won the format wars with their "plays for sure" format? We would all be stuck with it forever as it allowed for multiple different device manufacturers and music retailers.

        • by dch24 (904899) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:36AM (#24806859) Journal
          I completely agree with your analysis. What if the conclusion is a little more nuanced, though?

          What if Apple understood what the customer wanted well enough to make their DRM unobtrusive enough to be successful enough (compare, say, to PlaysForSure) that the music industry feared them enough that the execs decided they needed to regain their freedom from DRM.

          It's not very often that you see poetic justice like this. Pause for a sec and appreciate the irony: music executives hate Apple DRM because it prevents them from doing something they love. Specifically it prevents them from bilking customers by raising prices on popular tracks while lowering prices on tracks nobody buys.

          And Apple says, no way. Customers don't want complicated variable pricing. And the music execs have to accept Apple's DRM or reduce their sales in the only rapid growth sector to nil (see PlaysForSure).

          If that wasn't ironic enough, the only other option an iPod supports is unencrypted. Yes, it allows a user to move their songs to other players, but the music execs don't want that either! They want to charge once for your PC, once for your iPod, and once each for your Rio, your Nokia, and your next male child.

          Apple didn't kill DRM -- the music execs are so apoplectic that they can't even spit straight -- and customers are killing DRM while the music industry impotently foams at the mouth.

          Or, when is the last time you listened to Napster?
        • by delt0r (999393)
          Well here(Austria) I would say less than half the mp3 players sold are iPods. They have the "cool" factor but even the teens go for something with more bang for the buck. iPods don't get all that much shelf space either. All the music on my daughters and her friends mp3 players are usually from somebody's CD.

          Maybe the iPod is the dominant type where you are, but I think its perhaps limited to the US mainly. They don't have a monopoly on music or online stores. After all the DRM free music should play just
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by xthor (625227)

        Maybe that's why they've been the most successful online music retailer to date.

        It surprises me that more people haven't jumped over to Amazon. Maybe it's because of ignorance, I dunno... but you can get DRM-free MP3s there, encoded at 256kbit. When I use their download manager, and I have iTunes running, the song/album I downloaded automatically gets imported into iTunes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bcrowell (177657)

          It surprises me that more people haven't jumped over to Amazon. Maybe it's because of ignorance, I dunno... but you can get DRM-free MP3s there, encoded at 256kbit. When I use their download manager, and I have iTunes running, the song/album I downloaded automatically gets imported into iTunes.

          Yeah, I don't understand why more people don't know about it. I guess Apple really did a good job of marketing the iPod and iTunes. Linux support on amazon's mp3 service is flaky, but here [ubuntuforums.org] is a howto for linux users

        • Possibly because they're still only in the USA. For those of us in the rest of the world (you know, those markets with higher broadband penetration) iTunes is still often the only option for mainstream music, with places like Magnatune and EMUsic for indie bands. Also, some of us haven't had our hearing deteriorate to quite the point where we can't tell the difference between 256Mb/s MP3 and AAC on half decent equipment (I still occasionally hear artefacts with AAC on tracks where the source sound doesn't
        • by 2nd Post! (213333)

          Maybe because you can also get DRM free AAC encoded at 256kbit at iTunes? Maybe because they like the iTunes shopping experience? Maybe because Amazon doesn't advertise enough?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        The reason itunes' DRM works is that it is completely inefective. If you can burn a cd from the songs, then you can extract the songs losslessly to flac or some similar format. I can take a song from itunes and have a flac to share with all my friends in 5 minutes - hardly a case of apple 'getting it right.'

        I think the point you're missing is that the failure of DRM is not that there's anything morally wrong with it - it just plain doesn't work. Either DRM works like itunes where it doesn't do anything,

        • by hedwards (940851)

          No, they didn't find a model that everybody was happy with. They found a model which allowed them to leverage their anti-competitive practices into a huge degree of control over the digital releases from the music industry.

          Anybody that was not into iPods didn't have an opportunity to buy through the store nor did they have a good alternative besides buying CDs.

          I've dealt with trial memberships on a few music sites and they pretty much all allow for that loophole. You know why? It isn't generosity it's the f

          • by 2nd Post! (213333)

            Um, well, that's why everyone is happy.
            1) Studios were stupid enough to think DRM would work, so they agreed to Apple's DRM.
            2) Consumers found a simple, easy, and affordable store with generous DRM (unlimited iPods, unlimited mix CDs, 5 computers at the same time, streaming over the network to authorized CDs)

            I mean, do the math; 22 tracks per iPod at last measure, so it's not like it's iPod heavy. That the model was good enough for them to leverage works to the CONSUMER's advantage. It means their strangleh

        • by McDutchie (151611)

          I suppose Apple did 'get it right' in one respect: they found a model that satisfies everyone. The record companies are happy, because they're stupid enough to think Apple is defending their interests, and consumers like you are happy because the DRM may as well not be there.

          Exactly, that was their whole idea. Apple didn't want DRM in the first place, and "ineffective" DRM is what they managed to negotiate with the record companies. Not that there is such a thing as actually effective DRM.

          This doesn't strik

      • by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:04PM (#24806193)

        If iTunes lets you burn to a standard audio CD, its effectively letting you strip all the DRM away anyway (at the cost of a CD-R for each ~70 minus of music you want to strip, and your time waiting for it to do so)

        Apple's motiviation, of course, is to make it as easy as possible on *their* platform to part the drooling masses from their money. At .99 per track, you are pay $15-$20 for an 'albums worth' of music anyway, almost as much as a CD. And Apple doesnt have to physically produce anything, or store or transport physical product. In exchange for NOT getting a physical medium, it should cost *less*. In exchange for having to go through hassle to get it in a DRM-free format, it should cost *less*. And Apple should reimburse you for each blank CDR you have to buy. They've got both ends of the long stick, thats for sure - they get people to *pay* for the privilege of being Apple's distribution network.

        "Having to run iTunes" (and having to run one of the two proprietary platforms it supports to do so) is "too much fuss" for me. If I have to pay, I expect to use *my own* software to download it, and I expect to not have to waste a CD-R to get something I can copy to anything I want.

        I don't want 'code (proprietary software)'. I just want 'data (music)'.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Sentry21 (8183)

          At .99 per track, you are pay $15-$20 for an 'albums worth' of music anyway, almost as much as a CD.

          Or, you pay $9.99 for the full album, no matter how many tracks are on it, except for some albums which are cheaper ($7.99, $5.99, etc.)

        • by 2nd Post! (213333)

          But, at $0.99 a track, it does cost less. Because if I have to buy 20 CDs to get 30 tracks, at $12 each that's $240. But if I bought all 30 tracks on iTunes, that's $30, a savings of $210.

          Most people don't want "data", they want "store". iTunes is the store, much like shopping at Target or Walmart or Macy's.

          That you don't like iTunes tells you how far you are from the market. A lot of people actually LIKE iTunes (and the iTunes store)

          • a lot of out of touch people.

            i know very few people who mention the store in a sentence without derisive laughter or utter disgust.

            p.s., I and all my friends.. we are all mac users.

  • Deutche Telekom (Score:5, Informative)

    by neuromanc3r (1119631) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:09PM (#24804159)
    It's spelled Deutsche Telekom, not Deutche.
  • by thermian (1267986) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:09PM (#24804169)

    They pretty much own the audiobook download market, and DRM has been an important part of their strategy from day one.

    I'm pretty certain its what keeps getting them new titles to release. Book publishers aren't exactly keen on digital formats if they aren't protected from instant dissemination.

    As for myself, well blow me if the drm doesn't 'fall off' within ten minutes of my purchases.

    Not that I then share them, in spite of the horror stories spread by the drm producing companies.
    I paid for them, and I don't see why anyone else should have them for nothing, it's just that I don't see why I should keep the drm around, restricting my ability to play them back on any device I choose when I am in all other respects abiding by the end user license.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Check out Baen's online publishing record - a non-DRM based seems to be working out for them. Admittedly, they're in something of a niche market and only cover a small portion of that subset of literature, but it's still interesting to see it works.

    • by bbn (172659) <baldur.norddahl@gmail.com> on Friday August 29, 2008 @08:17PM (#24804877)

      I "own" one or two audible audiobooks. Or used to anyway, I doubt I am still able to listen to them.

      They lost me as customer. I will never buy from them again, unless they offer a DRM free option.

      They _are_ losing business. There _will_ be other outlets that start in the audiobooks marked, and the DRM strategy will allow those other outlets to squeeze in where Audible otherwise hold the marked.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hedwards (940851)

        As long as you still have your log in information, you should still be able to listen. Assuming you've got a computer that can run their program.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      They pretty much own the audiobook download market

      Talk about a market where DRM is going to be the least effective. The analog hole kind of sucks for music, because there is some amount of quality degradation which requires either hi-quality equipment to reduce, or haxor tools to strip the DRM digitally.

      But for the spoken word? Anyone can crack the DRM on an audiobook and get satisfactory results, even a cheap-ass microphone sitting in front of a cheap-ass PC speaker will do fine.

      • by mpe (36238)
        Talk about a market where DRM is going to be the least effective. The analog hole kind of sucks for music, because there is some amount of quality degradation which requires either hi-quality equipment to reduce, or haxor tools to strip the DRM digitally.

        Unless you are talking "audiophiles" any degradation probably isn't an issue. Especially if people are going to be listening through headphones.
    • Who? Never heard of them. BTW, MS had one thing going for them - everyone pirated MS-DOS (and even Windows 3.x), so everyone had heard of them. Even now its trivial for people to pass around copies of XP or 2000. MS pays token attention to it, but underneath it all they dont really care - it come them the near-monopoly they have today, and they are guaranteed enough money from Dell and HP and Lenovo and all the rest, that they just don't care. (I also guarantee that OEM's are *not* reimbursed by MS for the

  • Newsflash: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lowlymarine (1172723) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:12PM (#24804197)
    People want to actually OWN what they pay for! Film at 11!

    But before I get modded down as a troll, it's true: DRM turns your purchases into glorified (read: overpriced) rentals since the companies that so graciously allowed you to pay them to use their product can STOP you from using it any time, for little or no real reason (see: Mass Effect and BioShock's DRMs, Steam, the Yahoo! Music store debacle, Zune not "PlayingForSure" after all, etc.) And consumers may finally be getting fed up with be treated like the criminals - especially when the DRM-free pirated versions are vastly superior to our legitimate ones.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:52PM (#24804641)

      So why cant we pay for DRM-encumbered media with rental money? We should have the same rights as them, to allow them the use of our money for certain very limited purposes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tchuladdiass (174342)

      Just out of curiosity, since you mentioned rentals, how would a song rental market work without DRM (such as Rhapsody)? From what I understand, you pay $15 a month to get unlimited music, but it is only playable as long as you keep up your subscription. If you wanted that particular model as an option (i.e., you normally get tired of songs a few months after purchasing them), how can a company sell you that model without DRM?

      • by Tweenk (1274968)

        They can't, but the point is not that DRM should be banned, but that there should be a DRM-free option available, and the better model would win. Until recently there were no online music stores selling DRM-free music, so nobody really knew which strategy would win.

    • People want to actually OWN what they pay for!

      I'll be sure to tell that to my landlord. ;)

      Seriously though, I, and many, many others here, agree with you. I think, though, DRM has its place in music/movie rentals where it makes the service an unglorified rental, and you genuinely don't own what you pay for. Other than that, yeah, it simply doesn't have a place.

      • no, a streaming server has its place in music/movie rentals, not DRM snaking its way into my machine like the ebola virus.

  • Game publishers haven't figured this out yet. Nothing like a 3 forever use no revoke, DRM key.

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:15PM (#24804237)

    ....is, it's about time.

    The companies that are using DRM are finding concrete, solid evidence that people will pay if they STOP using DRM. The stereotypes of users that they felt were accurate, and reinforced by entities such as the MIAA and such, are, in fact, inaccurate, and now they can start taking that realization to the bank.

    Common sense begins to prevail. Imagine that.

    • MIAA = Conjunction of MPAA(Motion Picture Association of America) and RIAA(Recording Industry Association of America), or, as I put it, Missing In Action Artists.

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        Uhm, what artists, where? Both of these are Industry Associations, not artist associations. Artists are their no. 2 enemy, right behind customers. And their conjunction is already knows as the "Music And Film Industry Association of America".

    • by kesuki (321456) on Friday August 29, 2008 @08:50PM (#24805137) Journal

      in addition, despite the 'death' of HD-dvd format, people simply aren't willing to go to Blu-Ray format, because you have to god forbid pay someone $80 for software(thanks slysoft for breaking BD+) to remove protection from the discs, so you can skip the 16 minutes of unskippable adverts they think you need when you just paid $30-40 for a stupid HD movie. maybe if there were easy to use tools, like a BD shrink, or maybe if BD players could play content without having to put it back in BD+ format... (currently you have to convert to h264, and watch on a ps3 or xbox 360)

      dvd decryption software starts at 'free' and moves on up to $50, and dvd shrink is hugely popular even though it hasn't been developed in 2+ years (just check it on softpedia!)

      yeah content 'owners' just don't get it, every insanely encumbered digital technology has failed, with the exception of DVD-roms, which have minimal, weak protection, that was easily cracked. Divx failed, HD dvd lost the support of studios when it's protection was cracked, but consumers didn't switch to blu-ray, and BD+ was cracked months later... and people still aren't switching (imo partially from the fact that BD+ while cracked, doesn't give end users a 'single click' method of burning it to a BD-r.)

      people do pirate content, yeah it really happens,
      it's been spiraling out of control since the 70's, when copyright became possible without 'submitting' the material to the library of congress. just as prohibition created the mafia, copyright extension created the 'modern pirate.'

      the media companies have created multi-billion dollar industries distributing ideas, and they're complaining, because what people once got for nothing, they now steal because they have no money to pay for it.

      you can't simply print wealth on a piece of paper, and give it out to everyone, if you try, you wind up with the situation that Zimbabwe is in now with 'hyper inflation.'

  • One Down, Two to Go (Score:5, Informative)

    by fyoder (857358) * on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:15PM (#24804253) Homepage Journal

    There are three things I want from an online music store.

    1. Reasonable prices (a buck a song isn't even reasonable when you're getting physical media and packaging as with a CD).
    2. Choice of format/quality (oggs at quality 9, please).
    3. NO DRM

    So far the only store to do that was allofmp3.com, now mp3sparks.com. Sadly even when mp3sparks.com is up you have to travel some strange paths to fund your account. Magnatune.com has the right idea as well, but their catalogue is much more limited.

    • Worrying about the size of an audio file is soooo 1990s'.

      How about they give me it in a lossless format and I get to decide how to compress it.

    • Have you considered that it may not be possible to provide reasonable prices (whatever that means), choice of format, and decent range, and decent music (whatever that means) all at the same time? Sure it's all well and good for consumers to demand something, but the reason why things are the way they are is often because it's cheap. If you want some change, you may have to be prepared to pay for it.

      Then again, perhaps not. Perhaps one day you'll find a (legal) store that fits all those criteria, and whiche

  • Napster?!?! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Wow, what a blast from the past.

    There's someone who knows something about dying.

  • Generations from now, when 3-D printers allow us to fabricate whatever objects we have the basic atoms to create, and virtual technology allows us to experience whatever reality we have the blueprints for, issues like this will be felt through time like a tidal wave. Look at how the fundamental Christian values of early America have shaped everything we believe and experience today (regarding modesty, entertainment, science, etc.)

    If companies are allowed to hold a vice-iron grip on every thin slice of en
  • by houbou (1097327) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:27PM (#24804373) Journal

    It's about the cost. Most people would pay for legitimate music. But then again, when you have to pay for gas, rent, food, etc..., entertainment is way low in one's list of priorities.

    If music was made more affordable and/or reasonable, it wouldn't be much of an issue, most people would pay, I'm sure of that.

    The problem started off as "Music was too expensive" CDs where like up to 30$ a CD at one time during the peek years.

    When the internet kicked in and the MP3 format was created, eventually download sites and peer-to-peer was the way to go for cheap (and free) music, so, obviously, the music industry lost revenues.

    Instead of understanding and adapting their price model, they used DRM, and it made things worse.

    So, it's coming full circle, they don't have much choice anyways. If they want to have a music industry, they have to work with the system and they need to adapt their pricing.

    Basically, this is what's I've always understood about protection schemes in computing: It's made by man, it can be broken by man.

    Copy protection and DRM will never work in the long run, there is always someone out there who can figure out how it is done and break it.

    • by Tweenk (1274968)

      Basically, this is what's I've always understood about protection schemes in computing: It's made by man, it can be broken by man.

      It's more than that. In order to listen to DRM music it must be decrypted somewhere along the way. Therefore all DRM schemes are just security through obscurity. This is also the reason why open-source DRM schemes do not exist - they would be trivially breakable.

  • Recently... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Naurgrim (516378) <naurgrim@karn.org> on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:33PM (#24804463) Homepage

    ...as a matter of fact, this week.

    Had a customer come in with a problem. His old computer was dying (hardware, bad capacitors on the MB), we copied his data to a new PC he purchased, set him up and out the door...

    Boomeranged. seems he had audio files, some purchased, some of his own creation, in ATRAC format. Of course, he could not play them on his new PC. Seems that Sony recently dropped ATRAC and shut down their licensing servers, too.

    Fortunately, we were able to resurrect his old PC, which was still in our boneyard, and run it long enough to export his DRM'ed files to WAV. Lost his meta-data, cost him a couple hundred $ in labor, but we got his stuff. He left happy, and we talked with him about DRM and how it hosed him.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sdguero (1112795)
      Fortunately, we were able to resurrect his old PC, which was still in our boneyard, and run it long enough to export his DRM'ed files to WAV.

      How long does customer data typically sit in your store's boneyard?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Naurgrim (516378)

        It doesn't. We normally pull the hard drive and give it to the customer. We don't like to have customer data sitting around. In this case, the customer had the old hard drive in hand and we had the rest of the PC.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:34PM (#24804481)
    If a bad market and poor long-term profits ruled, then spammers would be out of business, too. As it is, far too many companies and business models rely on it. Hampered or not, failures or not, the practice will continue much like the use of social security numbers as a citizen ID number continues: because people have learned to expect it.
  • BD+ (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Paradigm_Complex (968558) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:38PM (#24804523)
    Has BD+ been cracked yet? I've heard tons about it early on (especially on slashdot), but nothing at all in the last few months. Is it possible to play a Blu-ray disk on Linux?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kesuki (321456)

      slysoft cracked it on easter. iirc, or maybe it was after that, but they charge you like $80 for their hd tools on a download only basis... physical media, costs more, of course.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:45PM (#24804589) Homepage

    The thing I find most galling about DRM is that we've already been through the same thing, in the early 1980s, with the software "copy protection" wars.

    Vendors of copy protection systems would sell their snake oil to software companies, the new uncrackable copy protection would get cracked within months of release, everyone who wanted warez could get copies, but the idealistic suckers who paid for theirs clogged support lines with problems, when the not-quite-standard disk formats turned out to be not-quite-compatible with many diskette drives.

    On August 19, 1986, The New York Times reported that "At best, copy protection does nothing good for legitimate users and only annoys software pirates. At worst, it makes it difficult to install software onto a hard disk and to make backup copies that are vital if the original is lost or destroyed. It slows the performance of some programs and causes snarls in others. It can be a pain for networks of PC's hooked together to share data and peripherals. And, worst of all, there have been reports that some ''killer'' protection schemes have destroyed hard disk files, inadvertently or otherwise.... Software makers who have abandoned copy protection this year seem to be avoiding bankruptcy, and they have certainly gained goodwill. When the goodwill comes from big corporate buyers (including the Federal Government, which has refused to buy copy-protected software), it is likely that the losses from pirated software can be offset."

    By the end of 1986, all major software publishers had abandoned copy protection, including the longest holdout, Lotus... but not before the failure of Lotus Jazz, a Mac program, which, according to John Dvorak, failed in part because its copy protection was too hard to break.

    Why do we need to go through all this again? As the saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Um, you thought it stopped with Lotus Jazz? Ever try to install Microsoft Office without the license key? How about getting updates for a recent version of Office or Windows without activation?

      Have you played PC game titles recently? Last I checked, they have been using DRM copy deterrent schemes like Starforce and SecuROM as recently as this year. It's gotten to the point where if you don't crack the game, you have to buy a new disc/license if the key disc used in authenticating your install is damaged bey

  • MP3 is hardly open (Score:3, Interesting)

    by blitzkrieg3 (995849) on Friday August 29, 2008 @07:54PM (#24804669)
    From TFA, "The online music industry has evolved so that, while there are open file format standards - notably MP3 - the major companies have so far preferred proprietary or licensed file formats protected by DRM systems."

    The problem with that statement is MP3 has never been an open format. It too requires a license to use. The difference is that the spec is public, so anyone can license the technology.

    For an actual open format with freely available source code, check out ogg [vorbis.com].
    • Thanks for the plug. I had no idea ogg existed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tweenk (1274968)

      1. This is only relevant in software patent countries, so for Europe it is an open format (for now).
      2. FOSS developers don't have to license anything due to explicit statements from patent holders.

      While legally MP3 is not open, it's "free enough" that few people actually care.

  • Fear Drives It (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trojan35 (910785) on Friday August 29, 2008 @08:26PM (#24804961)

    In regards to Software Protection, fear drives it.

    The fear that if you're the only software without copy protection, everyone will pirate it. Then, your company's revenue tanks for the next 18-24 months until you get a new version. Without revenue, you can't fund R&D for the new version. Meaning you, Mr. CEO, is out of a job. Most likely many of your employees too.

    So, in the face of this possibility, many companies are willing to put up with losing a couple sales by inconveniencing customers and paying tons more in support costs to ensure their only revenue stream continues to flow.

    In regards to DRM for music/movies:
    It's kinda the same thing. But I don't understand why music/movie companies are so risk adverse since they have such large revenue streams outside of online distribution. They'd be wise to try it now, while the online distrubtion industry is still small, and then switch to DRM if they run into problems. It's much riskier to switch later once the industry is huge. That applies to movies. DRM on music is just silly.

  • by viking80 (697716) on Friday August 29, 2008 @08:39PM (#24805057) Journal

    Most problems with MS windows are amplified by DRM. I have had system crashes at multiple occasions, and when trying to reinstall XP on a new HDD I run into issues like this:

    - The version of XP you have is upgrade only, and can not be used on a clean HDD.

    When trying to recover by installing from CD:
    - The version of XP you are trying to install is older than what is on the PC (upgraded with service packs). This is for upgrade only.

    I also have a test machine with multiple languages and test with different HW configurations. After using it for a few years, now, every time XP is reinstalled, I have to call MS to get the license key.

    I agree with TFA: DRM'ed products will fail.

    What a breeze to install Ubuntu.

  • Honestly, no one would give a shit about DRM if it didn't interfere with normal music listening activities. If the end user were not inconvenienced by DRM, no one would give a hoot about it. The problem isn't DRM, it's greed. Consider this scenario: a fan purchases a song from an online store. That song can be authorized on any number of devices with nothing more than a password. The playing device never has to phone to a server. There are no limits to the number of copies that can be made, nor the number
  • The last part of the article:

    That said, the future still isn't entirely DRM-free. "For rental, or subscription, or whatever the model is that develops, there needs to be some sort of DRM to track usage," said Wheeler. Dan Nash agrees. That's hardly unreasonable; you can't expect to copy tracks willy-nilly when they're being rented. What you can and should expect is that DRM won't get in the way of you doing what you've paid to do - enjoy the music you love.

    Because after all, you can't possibly do this when you physically rent a disc! Why is it so hard to accept that if you can 'access' something there is no reason you can't also 'store' it, and that there shouldnt be, either. For instance, youtube is great if you have a highspeed net connection, but useless if you want to take some of those videos to watch somewhere there is no Internet (Well, at least the way its designed, I'm aware there are, cough, 'workarounds'.)

    Accepting any

    • by Sentry21 (8183)

      First, planning so far ahead as to take neural cybernetic implants into account seems impractical in this day and age.

      Also, thousands of years ago it was certainly possible to write things down, as often happened. Yes, there was also the oral tradition, but the important things were written and stored so that we in the future could benefit from their knowledge.

  • DRM on audio is going away, partly thanks to Apple forcing the labels to release DRM-free music to compete with the iTunes store.

    However, people have accepted rights management on video storage and playback for over a quarter century now, and there's no evidence that they will stop. Sure, most of the schemes have been broken, but they still technically are protected.

    First, there was the VHS tape. Then came VHS tape with Macrovision, analog rights management (by screwing with the signal on the tape). People

  • But it doesn't.

    Heck, I can download lots of DRM'd songs easily and apparently legally off of Youtube for free. Anyone can buy a single CD or record off of the radio or off of an internet stream and then there is a free, easy to use copy in the wild.

    In today's age, you can get a song in seconds-- it used to take a lot of effort.

    So DRM only punishes the customers who would pay you for a *fairly* priced service (and hint-- putting 13 40 year old songs on a DVD that could hold 2000 songs in mp3 format and char

  • by dave420 (699308)
    I don't get the problem with DRM. The choice is not "DRM" or "No DRM" but "DRM'd content" and "No content". I'd rather have DRM'd content than not have the content in the first place. Obviously having that content without DRM would be ideal, but then that's not a problem with DRM but with the content owners not wanting to share.
  • They started out this way. I guess they've come full circle!

  • Let's look at the demographics of "people who buy stuff online" and "people who know about DRM". Could it be that the intersection is pretty large?

    My dad doesn't know jack about DRM. But he also won't ever buy a song or movie online. His idea of music is that he has some kind of flat, round thing in his hand that he puts in some machine and presses a button and there be sound. Until not so long ago, his idea of a movie was some square thingie called VHS tape being pushed into some other machine and with two

  • First for the Apple ][ when it was done with ill-formatted disks, then for CP/M and DOS via dongles, and finally for DVDs with frivolously bad software. --dave
  • iTunes will indeed convert a WMA into it's AAC format.

    And it will import MP3 files to it's library just like that. Not only that, drag those files into a playlist and burn a perfect audio cd.

    Apple winks at DRM. Come on, even when the 8GB iPod Nano stores 1,200 songs who is going to spend $1,200 to buy their music over again in digital format? If you scale up to the 60GB models you're looking at about $9K just to fill the thing with music.
    • With all due respect, what iTunes makes of a DRM locked song when it writes to CD is a bit like going from DAB stereo to mono playback of a 78rpm record using a rusty bent nail as needle.

      And they got the naming wrong. iTunes should be iTunes minus, and iTunes plus should be iTunes.

      I now have a list of about 300 records I would have bought on the fly if they had been availeble in unlocked format - so the loss for them is mounting up. Hell, I may even go back to CDs, at least it gives me something to throw

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