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MP3tunes Offers Music Service Without DRM 399

ThinSkin writes "Former MP3.com chief and Lindows CEO Michael Robertson will reenter the music world next week with MP3tunes, a service that promises music without DRM restrictions. MP3tunes hopes to attract users who are fed up with restrictions on copying music from sites that use digital-rights-management techniques, such as iTunes."
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MP3tunes Offers Music Service Without DRM

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  • Hooray! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:34PM (#11557239)
    I can't wait to download normal music that normal people actually want from the five major US record labels!

    *Cough*

    Anyone can do music without DRM.

    Can they do music people want?

    Spare me the arguments about how "it's not really what people want" because it's force-fed by Clear Channel, the labels, and a corrupt industry, and people just *think* they want it. Believe it or not, some artists on major labels have talent. Some don't. *Gasp!* Some completely unknown, independent artists may have talent, but might never have that talent shaped as well as it could be in the hands of professionals - and by "professionals", I don't mean music industry shills, I mean people who have done this for ages. Perhaps there are some bands out there who have the musical talent, business prowess, and personal presence to pull it off themselves. And maybe you think Open Source and "music/information wants to be free" socialistic type ideas - not using that in the pejorative sense - is the way to go. Fine. But the fact of the matter is that the MAJOR labels will demand DRM, unless one of them rolls (very unlikely), or a new paradigm takes over. Sure, maybe a DRMless music store will be part of that new paradigm. But at least realize that the vast majority of people won't give a shit about the vast majority of music on a DRMless service.

    Do any of us like or want DRM? Hell no. But some of us realize that it's an extremely imperfect solution to a partly perceived, partly real problem. And, right or wrong, it's frankly their content to protect and do with as they see fit, as recognized under our system of laws as set forth by our elected officials, regardless of whose pockets you think they're in. If you are the ultimate cynic, and think everything is shot as it is, then you'll likely not understand any of this at all, or the fundamental desire of people to protect and secure their property or things they have invested in, no matter how unbalanced YOU might think it seems. But no one is forcing you to buy or listen to major label music. No one is forcing to you buy an iPod or use iTunes. Perhaps some of you put your money where your mouth is, but most of you are hypocrites. And the worst among you are those who think you can steal things who don't belong to you. And yes, it is stealing. An apt excerpt [slashdot.org]:

    [...] different types of stealing are covered by different laws because they differ in the details. Theft through breaking and entering: burglary. Theft from one's employer: embezzlement. Theft by committing fraud through the mail: the aptly named mail fraud. Theft by the unlawful copying of somebody else's property: copyright infringement.

    And the "deprivation" argument is pure shit, so don't even go there.

    I wish them luck. I really do. I'd love to have no DRM on all of my video, television, movies, music, and be able to use things I *bought* any way I see fit on any device at any time. No broadcast flag, no forced no-commercial-skip, no DRM.

    But I'm also practical.

    That, and not a, you know, moron.
    • Re:Hooray! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by soupdevil ( 587476 )
      Most of what you said is quite true. And some of us would exclusively support artists who shunned the DRM system, if it was easy enough to legally find digital music from artists who didn't want to handcuff their customers. Hopefully, mp3tunes.com will be that easy new way.
    • Completely agreed. Which is why I haven't bought major label music since college- and won't.
      • Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

        And that is a perfectly acceptable position.

        And one that is at least logically consistent with your beliefs and ideals.
      • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sonic_ak ( 692982 )
        Can refusing to buy the label's music really change things? I doubt it. I agree with the first poster saying that the format under which music is released is not a very good indicator of quality. Although I don't like how the major labels do business, me not buying a CD, or even thousands of people like me not buying their CDs will not change things. They have a financial incentive to screw over the artists and the consumers, thus, I believe, degrading the music that they are related with. Until that f
      • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Insightful)

        Which is why I haven't bought major label music since college

        Okay, after reading this sentence for years, in one form or another, I call bullshit.

        I mean, how do you constitute major label? Granted, we all know the big ones. But do you actually keep track of the gazillions of record labels, big and small, who gets bought out by who etc.?

        Seriously. Let's say there's a small indie label who put out a couple of artists you like. How do you know if they get bought out? And if they do, do you immediat

        • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Interesting)

          I mean, how do you constitute major label? Granted, we all know the big ones. But do you actually keep track of the gazillions of record labels, big and small, who gets bought out by who etc.?

          Simple- I never buy CD's at all. I long ago finished collecting all the old music I'll ever need for my life. Small artists who I support, also support their fans- by making money off of their CONCERTS instead of their RECORDINGS, and by releasing lower quality, but still good, recordings for free on the web themse
    • Re:Hooray! (Score:2, Offtopic)

      But if I do as you say, I will no longer be 1337 in my circle.
    • Re:Hooray! (Score:5, Funny)

      by mboverload ( 657893 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:10PM (#11557560) Journal
      You should probably read this then:

      http://www.downhillbattle.org/itunes/ [downhillbattle.org]

      • Brilliant site (Score:3, Informative)

        by Zhe Mappel ( 607548 )
        Downhillbattle.org makes the case quite well: iTunes is a GUI for the music industry, which didn't become any less corrupt simply because Apple digitally harnessed it.

        Now, we all love our iPods, etc. etc. But keep this in mind:

        Apple says iTunes is "better than free" because it's "fair to the artists and record labels." That's simply not true. First of all, Apple gets 3 times as much money as musicians from each sale. Apple takes a 35% cut from every song and every album sold, a huge amount considering h

    • Re:Hooray! (Score:2, Funny)

      by mboverload ( 657893 )
      "With iTunes I don't feel guilty when I download music - Apple and the record labels do the screwjob for me."

      iTune Music Store: Facelift for a corrupt industry.

    • I agree with pretty much everything you've just said.

      The only credit I give to this project is the credit that Michael Robertson can cause a big enough stir to give it a chance of being noticed.

      You're right about the labels demanding DRM. I think the only true way to escape it is to get the artists to migrate away from the labels.

      They can obviously have more freedom without them. The only obstacles are exposure and money. Those are pretty much intertwined. Get those up to par and it will work.
      • I gotta say I agree with you, too.

        But even in a DRMless world, there are going to be some "fat cats", as it were. Even if the labels are toppled, in a manner of speaking, there will still be some groups that are the "best" to be associated with - for exposure and money. The people who have the best connections, the biggest website, the hottest PR folks (anything that penetrates the mainstream will have amazing PR). And all over again, it repeats: it won't be an even playing field, and never will be. And on
    • That, and not a, you know, moron.

      No, just a cynic.

      And just because you add copyright infringement at the end of a list of other types of thievery does not by fiat make it a form of thievery. That's just rhetorical parallelism. And calling an argument "shit" to short circuit its use also does not, in fact, actually render it shit.

      Copyright infringement is exactly what it says: Infringing on somebody's exclusive right to distribute something, namely by distributing it for them. Even under the most cons
      • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:52PM (#11557883)
        steal:

        1 a : to take or appropriate without right or leave and with intent to keep or make use of wrongfully b : to take away by force or unjust means c : to take surreptitiously or without permission d : to appropriate to oneself or beyond one's proper share

        Copyright infringement is copyright infringement. More broadly, and correctly, in my personal opinion, it is also stealing. Just like embezzlement is embezzlement. But in a more generic sense, it's also "stealing". I'm not talking statutes here. I'm talking ethics and morals. And by my understanding of the English language and the meanings of words, copyright infringement is a form of "stealing".

        It amazes me how people always want pre-existing laws and legal principles to apply to the internet, or technology, or information if it is in their own favor or somehow benefits them, and then go out of their way to make crazy rationalizations about how downloading things that don't belong to you and that you didn't pay for isn't "stealing", it's "copyright infringement" simply because it's been duplicated, with complete ignorance of the ease that one work can be distributed globally in literally hours with virtually no work by any interim party, and no considerations for the owner's rights, not to mention what a horribly pathetic and downright destructive ethic that is encouraged by taking things without permission simply because YOU think they're too expensive or YOU don't agree with how business X has done Y or Z; and since copyright = bad or favors the corrupt and powerful, you personally find it invalid, and therefore, it's "okay" to infringe against copyrights owned by big, evil, blood-sucking, money-grubbing corporations.

        Do I have that about right?
        • by NoData ( 9132 ) <_NoData_NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:19PM (#11558088)
          Do I have that about right?

          Not in my estimation, no. Let me dispense with something immediately: I don't think copying is OK because *I* think something is too expensive, or *I* am morally offended by corporate practices, or any other rationale that justifies copying as a form of civil disobedience or protest. These reasons only underscore my thinking, but are not the basis for it.

          crazy rationalizations about how downloading things that don't belong to you and that you didn't pay for isn't "stealing"

          These things don't belong to me, true, but they do belong (in my book of ethics) to the person providing them (the file sharer). And the file sharer is providing them freely, and, I would argue, ought to be able to. I am receiving what they are offering.

          I am not sneaking into their computer, or making an image surrepitiously--I am making an image of an image they are freely providing. And they, in turn, HAVE paid a consideration to the original creators by buying the thing from a retailer. Or if not them, then the person who freely provided THEM with the image may have, or the one before them, or whoever. The point is that the work was not swiped from the artist (in this example), but purchased, or bartered, or obtained by whatever agreement the two parties entered into. If the store says to have this CD you need to fork over $15, then fine, those are the terms, and to take it otherwise IS stealing. But notice that, likewise, at every point down the file sharing chain, the file sharer and file seeker are similarly freely entering into an agreement of transaction regarding something the sharer now controls.

          I have no moral qualms with this arrangement whatsover. I know it's illegal, but not, in my book, immoral.

          The key here is control. The artist surrenders control to the publisher. The publisher surrenders control, partially, to the consumer. The part they do not surrender is, at least according to the law, the right to distribute. But ought they be able to withhold that right? What does the consumer's consideration actually buy them? A license? (..and all attendant complications with that?) And why does the publisher's right of control trump the consumer's rights of control? And what happens when the publishers, in their efforts to retain control inadvertantly, impact other consumer rights, weakly called "fair use," but more broadly, what ought to be my right as a consumer to manipulate, transform, transfer or otherwise with something I bought?

          None of this even touches the problems a sibling poster notes about the artificial creation of scarcity copyright protection produces, given that, yes, reproduction of information has vanishing marginal cost, and, shitty as it may be to you, there is not material deprivation of the producer (sorry, but it's true).

          This is simply about control. Control of the product by the seller or buyer after a sale.
          • I have no moral qualms with this arrangement whatsover. I know it's illegal, but not, in my book, immoral.

            I can't really get past this...so you're saying that because it has been obtained once somewhere along the line legally, that any "sharing" from then on is absolutely justified, no matter how many times removed, and no matter how widely it is "shared"? How can you make that logical jump? That if any sharing is ok, it ALL is ok? That if "fair use" allows for sharing a couple copies of something with fa
            • by rpdillon ( 715137 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @12:53AM (#11559519) Homepage
              What NoData is alluding to, but not outright saying, is that he believes fundementally in the pubic good as a goal above and beyond pure profit.

              You have bought into the idea that copyright is for-profit, inherently, and primarily. This is a relatively new notion, really. In fact, if you go back and read the prime mover behind copyright in the first place, it was all about something I mentioned above: the public good. Profit was strictly a secondary concern. Specifically, the primary concern was to incentivize artists to release their work so the public could enjoy it.

              Many people know this in their heart, but haven't heard it expressed or read the relevant laws. But in essence what everyone wants is for the artists to make a living, and for tons of people to enjoy their music however they like. But somehow, we've moved past that into this realm where we want to defend an artist making a living, a middleman making millions of dollars, and limiting our audience to the music as much as possible (yes, I consider selling a $0.10 CD in a store for $18 a crime).

              Essentially, my position (I won't speak for NoData anymore) boils down to the argument that the artists has every right to make a living. But if the artist makes a living (even a modest one), the public should be able to enjoy the artist's work. For those that cannot afford the $18, there is no case of a lost sale, there is no money lost, there is only gain.

              This is the system that should exist. The real querstion is: how do we get there from here? There may be no way, but one thing is certain in my mind: things are not OK the way they are. We live in a time where there are plenty of us to pay for CDs, and those that cannot can still enjoy the music.

              Rush might have put it best:

              Begin the day
              With a friendly voice
              A companion, unobtrusive
              Plays that song that's so elusive
              And the magic music makes your morning mood

              Off on your way
              Hit the open road
              There is magic at your fingers
              For the spirit ever lingers
              Undemanding contact
              In your happy solitude

              Invisible airwaves
              Crackle with life
              Bright antennae bristle
              With the energy
              Emotional feedback
              On a timeless wavelength
              Bearing a gift beyond price ---
              Almost free...

              All this machinery
              Making modern music
              Can still be open-hearted
              Not so coldly charted
              It's really just a question
              Of your honesty

              One likes to believe
              In the freedom of music
              But glittering prizes
              And endless compromises
              Shatter the illusion
              Of integrity

              For the words of the profits
              Are written on the studio wall,
              Concert hall ---
              Echoes with the sounds...
              Of salesmen.

              This was written in 1980, long before MP3's, the internet, or P2P. But all the ideas are there, and more. In fact, Neil even alludes to the two freedoms that we commonly mention in regards to free software; he talks of both free in price, but also freedom to be artistic in your music without "selling out". But his final stab, after verses about comprimising to make a buck, is that the whole industry, from the studios to the concert halls, is not about the artist, and it's not about the audience. It's all about the salesman.

              Defend the system all you want, but it's broken, and it's been broken for 25 years, at least. It's time to move on and get something better, not take the latest crop of problems and blame them on peer to peer file sharing.

    • And the "deprivation" argument is pure shit, so don't even go there.

      For such a shit argument, I haven't seen any good refutations. Frankly I think those who try to increase their profits by creating artifical scarcity are the ones who are guilty of stealing.
    • I will pay Apple $2.00 a song to get non-DRM'ed music. Think they will go for it?
    • Those of us with a more eclectic taste in music enjoy downloading albums from BLEEP. They serve up content in decent bitrate MP3, no DRM. You can pay with PayPal.

      I really don't have much ethical issues with downloading bootlegged music, however, $10 is well worth it for instant-gratification. I don't have to search P2P networks, wait in queues, etc. I just find something I like, and grab the whole album at high speed.
    • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Insightful)

      But the fact of the matter is that the MAJOR labels will demand DRM, unless one of them rolls (very unlikely), or a new paradigm takes over. Sure, maybe a DRMless music store will be part of that new paradigm. But at least realize that the vast majority of people won't give a shit about the vast majority of music on a DRMless service.

      Every revolution has to contend with two powerful forces: those currently in power who resist it the revolution for their own gain, and, more importantly, the lazy masses wh
      • Re:Hooray! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by caswelmo ( 739497 )
        Are you seriously equating the King of England, Vietnam, & political revolutions to our so-called battle with the music industry? You need some perspective.
  • by drivinghighway61 ( 812488 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:35PM (#11557248)
    But will they offer OGG/Vorbis downloads? Seriously, I bought the most expensive mp3 player around so I could listen to my extensive, legal music collection in Vorbis. I don't want to spend my time writing a shell script to convert my mp3s to Vorbis, so is there any chance of MP3Tunes offerning OGG downloads? BTW, I had a Vorbis listening party the other night, and I invited all my female friends [robots] to listen. They all noticed the difference between my 128kB/s OGG files and my 64kB/s MP3 files. Up with OGG/Vorbis!
    • I'm not sure what's more sad... the fact that I didn't realize you were joking until the robot part, or the fact that the other replies didn't seem to notice at all.

      Good post, regardless :)
    • Though you joke, I do think that Ogg Vorbis is quite possibly a format they could offer. I mean why not, it is DRM free and popular in the Linux crowd.

      What is more interesting to me is whether they'll offer it in FLAC format. That way you can convert it to any format you want without losing vast amounts of quality. Since they are pushing the fact that being DRM-less allows device portability, why not give format portability too?
  • by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:35PM (#11557250) Homepage
    I, for one, would use this. I hope we can prove that it's a successful idea to have a service which actually puts the trust back in the customer rather than treating them as potential criminals.

    I like many others are happy to pay for music, its just there's no way I can BUY music online that isn't crippled. I'd rather buy a CD and rip it.

    Jolyon
    • by MarkWPiper ( 604760 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:42PM (#11557333) Homepage
      AllOfMP3 [allofmp3.com] uses DRM-free files for all of their content. Moreover, many files support online encoding, in nearly every useful format that exists, at your choice of bitrate.

      I wish more music services would follow this example.

      Of course, I also wish every music site out there used their pay by the megabyte approach, at ridiculously low rates. I actually end up spending much more on music, because I'm not afraid to waste a dollar getting a few new albums. It's proof that cheap, DRM-free online distribution can work.

      • by twigles ( 756194 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:14PM (#11557581)
        Ya know what? Everyone loves to bash allofmp3.com bc it's Russian and shady. Well ... so what. You want shady? The US firms are a legal mafia outfit. Think about it. They control all avenues worth controlling (radio, advertising, production, etc.) and if you start to encroach on them they make you an offer you can't refuse. Either they buy you out, sue you into oblivion, or both (think mp3.com).

        Aside from that I read on their site that some money actually does go to the artist. Not much, and I have no way of verifying that, but take a wild guess how much of that is *my* problem. There are middlemen taking a cut here and in Russia, the difference is here they take a bigger cut and the listener gets screwed worse, whereas the Russians take a smaller cut and the artist gets screwed worse. Take another wild guess why ppl love the Russian site so much.

        So yeah, if I ever meet the guys from Social Distortion (which is very possible since I cruise bars in LA a lot) I'll buy them a beer or 5. But don't you dare expect me to cry for them Argentina. I sitting here with a crappy new haircut in "business casual" looking at an hour+ commute home to an apartment. Let them bear the brunt of the industry's greed.
        • "Either they buy you out, sue you into oblivion, or both (think mp3.com)."

          Being as someone that worked for MP3.com since almost its beginning, I think I'm ok in saying the following:

          1. Beam-it was a legal crapshoot, we knew this, and we lost. The day it was announced at a company meeting almost everyone knew we were going to get the shit sued out of us for doing it. There was a small legal gray area in copyright law Michael Robertson tried to exploit.

          2. If not for losing hundreds of millions of dolla
    • by thryllkill ( 52874 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:08PM (#11557539) Homepage Journal
      Because we all know there are [audiolunchbox.com] no [downloadpunk.com] drm [emusic.com] free music services around that offer legitimate and legal in America music downloads.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:35PM (#11557252)
    Can't this guy name a product without ripping off some other product?
  • this plan may attract a lot of people but can it obtain (and most imporantly: hold on to) enough $$$ to keep it running?
    remember those car insurance companies that used the sales pitch "we will give you our quote and of 3 other competitors" ? yea, it may get you attention, but ultimately, how likely are you to break even?

    not that i'm complaining, i'd love to be able to (somewhat cheaply) buy music and *keep* it.
  • by Stevyn ( 691306 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:37PM (#11557268)
    Since just about every song anybody would want that is available on most pay services is also on P2P networks, what's the harm of removing DRM? People pay these sites for convenience. All these songs are available elsewhere, but it's more difficult to find and download all the songs on an album on edonkey or kazaa. So all they are doing is annoying their customers, since even if these songs did make it on a P2P network, it wouldn't make much of a difference.

    So services like this that sell songs without DRM shouldn't be a threat to the industry.
    • by shark72 ( 702619 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @12:29AM (#11559375)

      "Since just about every song anybody would want that is available on most pay services is also on P2P networks, what's the harm of removing DRM? People pay these sites for convenience. All these songs are available elsewhere, but it's more difficult to find and download all the songs on an album on edonkey or kazaa. So all they are doing is annoying their customers, since even if these songs did make it on a P2P network, it wouldn't make much of a difference."

      A common question, particularly among P2P fans who figure that if they and their friends use P2P, then everybody must use it.

      A similar question is "why inconvenience car buyers with locks that they have to keep locking and unlocking, when breaking into a car is so trivially easy for the pros that if they want your car, they'll take it anyway?"

      Another one is "why do retail stores use obnoxious anti-shoplifting measures, like stopping me at the door to check my receipt, or those annoying electronic tags I have to take off, when the good shoplifters will find a way to take what they want?"

      The point that is vital to understand that the DRM on, say, the iTMS stops the casual pirate, just as the car lock stops the casual car thief and anti-theft measures in stores scare away the kids and the first-time shoplifters. And that's good enough.

      And, although many people reading this will simply not believe this, there are lots of people who've purchased from the iTMS but who have no interest or need to install a P2P app. Just as there are red states and blue states, our society has room for people with different moral compasses as it relates to copying somebody else's work without their permission.

      You're not the first person by far on Slashdot to see this as a binary, either-or solution: "DRM can be cracked and it can annoy paying users, so don't even try." Unfortunately, in the world of DRM, as in the world of auto security or retail, things aren't that simple. When it comes to security and protecting one's bottom line, a little goes a long way. If you're still not sure what I'm talking about, just ask anybody who's worked in retail.

      "So services like this that sell songs without DRM shouldn't be a threat to the industry."

      I agree with you here, but probably not for the same reasons. I think DRM-free sites are a great idea, but notice that they largely cater to the unsigned and fringe acts, the ones who vitally need the exposure (an exception is allofmp3.com, of course, where the DRM-less files are put up without the artists' permission). There's definitely a place in the market for them. But when artists and bands get past that point where they're starving for exposure and it's time to finally make some money to make up for all those years of toiling, they'll head to the big boys. Remember, much if not most of the content on iTMS is non-RIAA -- indie labels are flocking to it, too.

  • OK but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by xCepheus ( 687775 )
    Which recording labels are going to sign on with this service? What good is an online music store going to be if a large percentage of the major record labels decline to participate because of the lack of DRM?
    • What good is an online music store going to be if a large percentage of the major record labels decline to participate because of the lack of DRM?

      It's going to be great for indie labels and experimenting to see if a new model really can work (with lower middleman costs...)
  • This just in... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mg2 ( 823681 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:38PM (#11557281)
    If DRM upsets you that much, you can get a wav/mp3 writer plugin for your audio player and roll your own DRMless copy. If this isn't possible with your media player, I'm sure there are special drivers and tools out there (you know, like Windows Sound Recorder).

    I swear, people are never satisfied. Apple is doing a great thing, but people will always find something to complain about.
    • Re:This just in... (Score:2, Informative)

      by enosys ( 705759 )
      That method sucks. It is slow and labour-intensive and you end up compressing the music for a 2nd time and making the quality worse.
    • Re:This just in... (Score:2, Informative)

      by tepples ( 727027 )

      If DRM upsets you that much, you can get a wav/mp3 writer plugin for your audio player and roll your own DRMless copy. If this isn't possible with your media player

      And it isn't. The Secure Audio Path in Windows ME and Windows XP provides a way for a restrictions-managed WMA stream to play only on drivers signed by Microsoft WHQL, and Microsoft WHQL will sign a driver only if it doesn't mix the Secure Audio Path into cleartext digital outputs. For recordings that require Secure Audio Path, you'll need t

    • by Anonymous Coward
      "I swear, people are never satisfied. Apple is doing a great thing, but people will always find something to complain about."

      Congrats. You've managed to state stupid apple fanboi reason #1 without a hint of irony or sarcasm.

      You're serious.

      Therefore, you win this week's Apple Fanboi of the Week award.

      This entitles you to pick the Powerbook of your choice, pay full price, and then you get to come on /. and tell us that a G4 is fast enough for you.
    • Insightful? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xstonedogx ( 814876 )
      At least my complaints are designed to be productive and effect change. Your complaint seems designed to tell people to shut up and maintain a forcefed status quo.

      DRM does upset me "that much", and my solution is simply to not provide any funding to companies who have anything to do with it. I also talk about it with people who will listen. ("Complain", if you will.)

      Your "solution" won't work. First, the potential legal ramifications are no better than for downloading the file illegally in the first p
      • To specify the problem: We have a right to use and copy this information for our own use as we see fit and this right has been taken away from us by dubious means. An end run has been made around my rights for no reason and I have a problem with it.

        Does that same thought hold true for something licensed under the GPL? Do you really have the right to do whatever you want with it, regardless of what the creater/owner/distributor wishes?

        The letter and spirit of the General Public License is held in high regar

    • Re:This just in... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kemapa ( 733992 ) * on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:06PM (#11557978) Journal
      Apple is doing a great thing

      Actually, Apple is doing a horrible thing, in my opinion. Follow along:

      You see, the record companies / tv stations / movie producers want full DRM to where they can control EXACTLY what you watch, how you watch it, where you watch it, how many times you watch it, etc.

      Many people, myself included, want to be able to do what we want with the movies and music we purchase. This is where Apple comes in.

      You feel that Apple is doing a wonderful thing by coming to a compromise with the music industry to give us mild DRM. It seems fair to everyone, right? For the moment......

      You see, the music industry has been battling piracy for years. They finally found an opportunity to win a small battle, courtesy of Apple. They now have DRM's foot in the door of many homes, with people like you defending it the whole way! What would stop the record companies from later on demanding more restrictive DRM? Apple would have to play along to keep them on board so that they could keep iTunes up and sell more iPods. You are probably saying to yourself that I need my tinfoil hat right about now, but think about how guns have been eliminated in many societies. They start out by 'regulating' who can buy them. Then they move on to 'regulating' who can carry them and when (this would be the equivalent to Apple's DRM). And finally they just outright ban them. Why do they take such baby steps? Think about what would happen if you banned guns outright in America. People would go nuts. But if you do it slowly, people get used to the idea slowly, and you can eventually make your final move. The Apple DRM situation is the same thing. The final move will be made some day. And people like you will have defended and praised Apple for doing such a wonderful thing the whole way through.
  • No DRM... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vought ( 160908 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:38PM (#11557286)
    Honestly, I can't see most people caring enough about DRM to leave one service that uses one application to encompass the buying, listening, streaming and loading experience.

    Sorry. I just don't see it. iTunes is doing better than ever, and may well have reached critical mass by this point. I've never hearde one person complain about the DRM - except here on Slashdot.
    • Re:No DRM... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by iamacat ( 583406 )
      That's just because Apple's DRM can be "officially" bypassed in a way that works for everyone except audiophiles on slashdot. Just burn to CD-RW and rerip to MP3. Nobody would shop on iTMS if it didn't support unrestricted CD burning. Other people like Rhapsody tried before.

      But if there is a service that sells MP3 in the first place, people with non-iPod music players will weigh the inconvinience of re-ripping against any usability or selection problems of the new website or client application. MP3Tunes de
    • Re:No DRM... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cabraverde ( 648652 )
      I've never hearde one person complain about the DRM - except here on Slashdot

      I just spent a couple of hours trying to recover DRM keys for a friend of mine who didn't know enough about digital audio to uncheck the "protect my content" box in the 'rip' dialog of Windows Media Player.

      Over the previous year he'd built up about 20 Gb of ripped WMAs until one day Windows decides that it can't find the licence key for any of his tunes. This wasn't due to a hardware change or even a Windows Update (ironically i
  • by Gob Blesh It ( 847837 ) <gobblesh1t@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:39PM (#11557292)

    Robertson said he's not worried about the record labels and their requirements for rights-management technology. ... "I think the labels are interested in one thing: selling," he said. "If you build the audience they will come.

    I think he's probably right, but I wonder if the bigwigs at the record labels are willing (or even care) to listen to his argument. It's not as if Apple didn't try [rollingstone.com]:

    When we first went to talk to these record companies -- you know, it was a while ago. It took us 18 months. And at first we said: None of this technology that you're talking about's gonna work. We have Ph.D.'s here, that know the stuff cold, and we don't believe it's possible to protect digital content. ...

    And the way we expressed it to them is: Pick one lock -- open every door. It only takes one person to pick a lock. Worst case: Somebody just takes the analog outputs of their CD player and rerecords it -- puts it on the Internet. You'll never stop that. So what you have to do is compete with it.

    At first, they kicked us out. But we kept going back again and again. The first record company to really understand this stuff was Warner. They have some smart people there, and they said: We agree with you. And next was Universal. Then we started making headway. And the reason we did, I think, is because we made predictions.

    I think the general consensus is that even though Jobs and his "Ph.D.s" knew DRM is always crackable [hymn-project.org], Apple still needed to implement some form of DRM in order to convince the record labels to open their catalogs. For the record companies in April of 2003, ever chary of the Internet, DRM was non-negotiable.

    My question is: what's changed since then that would cause them to reconsider? After all, iTunes has shown that a service offering DRM tracks can be wildly successful. So why would the record labels want to open their catalogs to a DRM-free solution from some dude who made his name pawning a Linux desktop?

    Anyway, this is definitely something to watch. I sincerely wish him luck. I just hope he can get the labels to open their catalogs.

  • Is it or isn't it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laughingcoyote ( 762272 ) <barghesthowl.excite@com> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:40PM (#11557305) Journal

    MP3tunes will use a service or tool called "MP3beamer", which Robertson said would reconcile the need to store music in a centralized file store with the ability to play back the music anywhere, on any device. He declined to comment further.

    (From TFA, for those who didn't R it)

    If this service stores music somewhere you must somehow log into, and does not -upload to you- a DRM-free MP3, this service is NOT free of DRM, just using a different version of it.

    • Did you ever use MP3.com back in its heyday? You could put in a CD to validate that you had it and then stream an mp3 to anywhere you were logged in.

      I seem to remember it even had a similar name.
  • Already Available (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:40PM (#11557308)
    This is not a new concept. It's already alive and well over at emusic.com [emusic.com]. The selection is not great, but you get 50 to 80 high-quality MP3's with NO DRM for a flat monthly fee.
  • MP3Beamer? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mopslik ( 688435 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:40PM (#11557313)

    MP3tunes will use a service or tool called "MP3beamer", which Robertson said would reconcile the need to store music in a centralized file store with the ability to play back the music anywhere, on any device.

    Any ideas what this might be? Google isn't very forthcoming, as I suspect there's little info available as yet. If it's a "required" (aka installed) program, will it:

    • run on a Linux box?
    • monitor your music habits?
    • really run on any device?

    Just curious.

    • Re:MP3Beamer? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mboverload ( 657893 )
      Oh crap. Forget about me buying anything from them. I'm not getting scammed into paying for this.

      DAMN, I JUST want a freaking MP3 file! Is that so hard? Back to getting 320kbps quality music for FREE in MP3 format I guess. What a clueless industry.

      • Re:MP3Beamer? (Score:3, Informative)

        by timmyf2371 ( 586051 )
        It's not difficult at all.

        1. Go to local music store or online equivalent
        2. Purchase CD
        3. Convert CD tracks to 320kbps MP3s using your favourite encoder
        4. Listen to said MP3s

        What a clueless industry.

        I would actually say "what a clueless poster" for not realising that you can still get your MP3 file rather easily.

  • Nothing New (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's not as though emusic.com [emusic.com] didn't already do this...
  • ...at 25 cents a track. It's mostly older alternative stuff but I find enough worthwhile tracks a month to make it useful.
  • The question is what record companies and artists are going to allow their catalogues or any part thereof to be distributed through this service. If it's too stunted a catalogue then it's going to fail, but I just can't believe RIAA members are going to let non-DRM files be distributed.
  • Former MP3.com chief and Lindows CEO Michael Robertson reentered the music world last week with MP3tunes, a service that promised music without DRM restrictions.
    While MP3tunes hoped to attract users who were fed up with restrictions on DRM crippled music, it also attracted dozens of lawyers.
    In an unprecedented move, 16 labels sued the company today in court, claiming that the company violated antitrust laws by allowing the distribution of "all music not controled by the label cartel"
    When asked to comment, J
    • In an unprecedented move, 16 labels sued the company today in court, claiming that the company violated antitrust laws by allowing the distribution of "all music not controled by the label cartel"

      Unfortunately, the events of your satiric story are plausible. Instead of the record labels, it would be the music publishers, claiming that independent recordings are unauthorized covers of commercial songs. A music publisher even sued an artist over "subconscious copying" and won [columbia.edu]. In fact, with the finite num [slashdot.org]

  • Seen it, Done it (Score:5, Informative)

    by poptones ( 653660 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @07:57PM (#11557461) Journal
    It's called magnatune [magnatune.com] and I've been shopping there for months.

    How long until Michael offers us "mp3 lockers" so he doesn't even have to pay his own artists for downloads anymore?

  • MP3tunes hopes to attract users who are fed up with restrictions on copying music from sites that use digital-rights-management techniques, such as iTunes.
    Is this the windows portion of iTunes users they are trying to attract? You just know mac users won't drink any other Kool aid? ;)
    Btw, I'm a mac user with a sense of humour.
  • MP3tunes will use a service or tool called "MP3beamer", which Robertson said would reconcile the need to store music in a centralized file store with the ability to play back the music anywhere, on any device. He declined to comment further.

    Is it just me, or does this sound almost exactly like the last thing he tried before he founded Lindows-- remember, my.mp3.com [google.com]? And if I remember correctly, in the end that one shut down because the courts decided that never mind all that stuff we said in the early 20t
  • MP3tunes is a little less "confusingly similar" than it would be if he called it iTones...
  • Well, I know Apple does have DRM but you wouldn't know it.

    Currently my wife (iPod + 20" iMac) and my daughter (Windows + Yep) are both buying music from iTunes and swapping music lists with each other.

    They had one little blip the first time and they figured out how to register it to the other computer in about 20 seconds -- I didn't even get involved!

  • Considering that most major labels are owned by one of four media companies, all which LOVE drm... I doubt MP3Tunes will take off.

    Sure, they might get a real musician or band every once and a while... but I can't see this model becoming successful.

  • Incoming! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mo ( 2873 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:11PM (#11557566)
    Here I am reading an article about my former CEO when I stumble upon this line:

    At the show, two of Robertson's engineers at MP3.com will introduce SwitchVox, which will
    combine PBX features with VOIP...


    Oh crap that's me! Yeah, we have a fancy-pants gui front-end to asterisk. At the risk of further slashdotting ourselves, here's the site: http://www.switchvox.com [switchvox.com].

    Now to go find some bandwidth.
  • by kitzilla ( 266382 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `gorfrepap'> on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @08:32PM (#11557733) Homepage Journal
    Spare me the arguments about how "it's not really what people want" because it's force-fed by Clear Channel ...

    For what's it's worth, most of us Clear Channel programmers would love to have deep, eclectic playlists loaded with interesting songs and artists.

    The problem is that not enough people would listen to our stations for us to keep the lights on.

    We're not force-feeding anything. Our short playlists are dictated by the market, and we spend million each year researching the musical tastes of our various target audiences.

    While people bitch and wail about short playlists, the fact is that when we exercise poor music discipline, our ratings generally decline. Since commercial broadcasting is still predicated on a free radio, advertiser-subsidized model, low rated stations go away pretty quickly. We're a publicly held company, and have to return value to the stockholders (this could mean you).

    We know tight playlists aren't for everyone, but they're for *most* people. Amazing as it may seem, radio listeners actually like hearing their favorites on a regular basis. Adults, in particular, punch out more often than not when something new comes on -- no matter how good it is.

    Real music enthusiasts with well-developed tastes have a lot of options open to them these days, if they don't mind paying for them. Hell, I own an iPod, too. But free radio is still out there, playing the hits, ready whenever you need a pop fix or breaking news.

    Okay, flame away. But that's the deal.

    • I understand the need for ratings, as well as the mentality of radio listeners (precisely why I don't listen to radio). The problem is, they must have heard their favorite songs for the first time somewhere, and generally it's the radio. So, answer me this: When an artist that obviously lacks any talent or musical inspiration, and is quite clearly a manufactured pop star (Ashlee Simpson, Britney Spears, etc.) starts making records, WHY DO YOU PLAY THEM? Once people hear them, they'll want to hear it agai
  • There already is a service that offers DRM-free mp3 music... and it has a pretty extensive catalog... it's emusic [emusic.com]. No freakin' Britney Spears on this service. Although you might not find it up to snuff unless you're heavily into indie and obscure music or if you've got a sense of adventure.
  • Fed up? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Im not really fed up with iTunes. Ive got a lot of high quality music videos i pulled off for free. Some songs that came with a pay pal account. Some that were handed out free each week. Some more I traded for my friends pepsi caps. Ben&Jerry's gave me a few more. I think i also might have bought a song or two at some point. And none of them are DRM'd. Hymn is pretty damn easy to use. Its a lot less trouble than driving to a record store and then having to rip the cd once ive paid for it.

    Hones
  • Since the iTunes music store has a larger collection of songs and I can strip the DRM crap off my purchased songs with JHymn [hymn-project.org], what the point of starting a new service like this? Apple already knows about JHymn and has not done anything about it so far, so it is most likely Apple does not do anything about it in the future either.

    Disclaimer: I don't mind paying money for good songs at all. I use JHymn to play songs on other platforms for which iTunes is not available. JHymn works beautifully for this purpo

  • I want my lunch... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smartsaga ( 804661 )
    Audio Lunch Box Here [audiolunchbox.com]

    MP3 and OGG, NO DRM!!!!!

    It has been out for a while you know.

    Have a good one.
  • by Ghostgate ( 800445 ) on Wednesday February 02, 2005 @09:09PM (#11558003)
    I wish it wasn't Robertson that was at the head of all of this, because I would always like a non-DRM music service to succeed. But Robertson got to where he is (insanely rich) by stepping on everyone else back in the late 90s. For example, he did things like stealing tons of bandwidth from a university FTP search project (which, at the time, was at ftpsearch.ntnu.no) and putting it on his "filez.com" site to sell advertising there, never giving any credit to the people who created the search. He also squatted audiograbber.com (Audiograbber being the name of a now well-known CD ripping program... at the time it was still up and coming) and for a long time refused to sell it to the creator of the software, instead directing it to MP3.com where he was advertising for competing programs. I could go on and on. He's just an ass who exploits people. I ran one of the larger MP3 sites around the time when MP3.com was still new (when it was just a garbage list of software, without any real content of its own), and so I managed to talk to him a few times back then. When I took my site down he was waiting like a vulture to buy it up and forward it to MP3.com, but I wouldn't sell...
  • by Stick_Fig ( 740331 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @01:54AM (#11559796) Homepage
    ...but that's fine, because the labels aren't going to be worried about him.

    The reason why Apple's setup worked so gosh-dern well is that they had all of their ducks in a row, as has every other label-sanctioned music service. The fact that he's going to launch this thing without even talking to them makes the promise of his service sound a little foolhardy. He had this same problem with MP3.com, remember; he had no way to control the quality of the artists.

    Labels, love them or no (I certainly don't), tend to at the very least fliter out the amateurs and guys covering Chic songs with a mandolin and an egg shaker, so that you can actually hear someone with actual (or inflated) talent. The filter usually works as a loss to the customer, because the close-but-no-cigar artists are the ones that get filtered most unfairly. But in this case, the filter's a benefit -- it cuts out the armchair Garageband players.

    I could launch a service like this tomorrow. Just give me MS Frontpage, a couple MP3s from that album Bronson Pinchot did back in 1988 at the height of his "Perfect Strangers" fame years, a streaming shoutcast link and a link to Paypal, and I can also I manage to successfully do everything that Michael Richardson is promising in this article. But do i have any connections? Nope.

    In my scenario, the business plan fails, and pinchotTunes goes kaput in three weeks, but Bronson Pinchot has a second wind of fame as a result.

    You know, if you were coming with your A game, Michael, I'd applaud you, but I keep seeing B- and C+ games out of your various companies.

  • "Fed up"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by renderhead ( 206057 ) on Thursday February 03, 2005 @09:03AM (#11561469)
    MP3tunes hopes to attract users who are fed up with restrictions on copying music from sites that use digital-rights-management techniques, such as iTunes.

    Maybe I don't get out enough, but I don't know anyone who is "fed up" with the DRM on iTunes. To be "fed up" implies that you've used it and dealt with it for long enough that you just can't take it any more. The only people I hear with big gripes about iTunes' DRM are people who never used it in the first place for that reason. They don't count. The people who actually buy music from iTunes are generally satisfied customers, as far as I can tell.

    Maybe they meant "fed up with the fact that they can't find legal music to download without DRM".

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