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Old 08-20-2010, 09:31 AM   #1
William Campbell
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Reasons to kill DRM

I received an email from Napster this morning:

"We're writing you with an important message about any music downloads you purchased from Napster prior to May 2008. Due to evolving digital music technology and related rights, Napster will no longer be able to provide support for these downloads as of Sept. 1, 2010..."

The message goes on to say that users will not be able to re-download purchased tunes. Fortunately I had not bought much music from Napster and have since switched to Amazon for purchasing DRM-free MP3 downloads. But for those who did purchase a great deal from Napster, where does this leave them? Guard those downloads well, and hope your system doesn't crash. There will be no re-downloading, ever again, after September 1st.

When a similar event happens with an ebook retailer, perhaps more of the proponents of DRM will understand the potential grief it gives paying customers. Pirates are not customers, and should not dictate how ebooks are constructed. Serve the customer, not yourself in a war against an imagined enemy.

Kill all DRM before it's too late.
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:36 AM   #2
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I received an email from Napster this morning:

"We're writing you with an important message about any music downloads you purchased from Napster prior to May 2008. Due to evolving digital music technology and related rights, Napster will no longer be able to provide support for these downloads as of Sept. 1, 2010..."

The message goes on to say that users will not be able to re-download purchased tunes. Fortunately I had not bought much music from Napster and have since switched to Amazon for purchasing DRM-free MP3 downloads. But for those who did purchase a great deal from Napster, where does this leave them? Guard those downloads well, and hope your system doesn't crash. There will be no re-downloading, ever again, after September 1st.

When a similar event happens with an ebook retailer, perhaps more of the proponents of DRM will understand the potential grief it gives paying customers. Pirates are not customers, and should not dictate how ebooks are constructed. Serve the customer, not yourself in a war against an imagined enemy.

Kill all DRM before it's too late.
All this appears to be saying - if I read it correctly - is that you won't be able to re-download your purchases, not that they will stop working. It's your responsibility to keep your data safe, not the retailers. The importance of good backups really cannot be overemphasized.

I'm afraid I don't see what this has to do with DRM? Can you explain?
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:55 AM   #3
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I'm afraid I don't see what this has to do with DRM? Can you explain?
Music downloads protected by DRM will only play on licensed hardware (how it keeps others from stealing it). This licensing (also known as 'activation') occurs when the file is purchased, and is keyed to characteristics of your hardware and system software. Other schemes involve a server on the internet (which will no longer exist), that is polled for verification that you are the owner of the content in question. Ebooks use similar schemes.

The problem is, for one, the servers will no longer exist, but likely as long as nothing else about your system has changed, the music will continue to play. However, if your system crashes and you reinstall the operating system, that is enough to break the scheme. And certainly, buying a new computer (almost a necessity every few years the way things are progressing), the scheme is similarly broken.

For ebooks, perhaps your reader breaks, or you buy a new, improved model. That is a conceivable scenario.

Up until now, when any of these events occurred, one could contact the retailer and "re-verify" your right to own the content, and go on your merry way. Napster is saying they will no longer support those purchases, and that includes any means to re-download or re-activate in the event of a system failure or upgrade. Now paying customers are left out in the cold.

It has everything to do with DRM. Imagine if half your ebooks suddenly became unreadable, and the retailer's response was, "Sorry, we're upgrading our technology and titles purchased before May 2008 are no longer supported. You will have to purchase new editions of those titles."
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:56 AM   #4
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I suspect the 'key phrase' that indicates this applies to DRM is "hope your system doesn't crash". Of course I don't have any music downloaded from Napster (no DRM'd music at all in fact) so can't be sure but, if it's like much eBook DRM the music can only be played on your current system. (Not all DRM works this way, but quite a bit of it does.)
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:59 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by William Campbell View Post
Music downloads protected by DRM will only play on licensed hardware (how it keeps others from stealing it). This licensing (also known as 'activation') occurs when the file is purchased, and is keyed to characteristics of your hardware and system software. Other schemes involve a server on the internet (which will no longer exist), that is polled for verification that you are the owner of the content in question. Ebooks use similar schemes.

The problem is, for one, the servers will no longer exist, but likely as long as nothing else about your system has changed, the music will continue to play. However, if your system crashes and you reinstall the operating system, that is enough to break the scheme. And certainly, buying a new computer (almost a necessity every few years the way things are progressing), the scheme is similarly broken.

For ebooks, perhaps your reader breaks, or you buy a new, improved model. That is a conceivable scenario.

Up until now, when any of these events occurred, one could contact the retailer and "re-verify" your right to own the content, and go on your merry way. Napster is saying they will no longer support those purchases, and that includes any means to re-download or re-activate in the event of a system failure or upgrade. Now paying customers are left out in the cold.

It has everything to do with DRM. Imagine if half your ebooks suddenly became unreadable, and the retailer's response was, "Sorry, we're upgrading our technology and titles purchased before May 2008 are no longer supported. You will have to purchase new editions of those titles."
Yes, I see the problem now; thank you for explaining.

At least with eBooks, all the major DRM methods can be easily circumvented by the legitimate purchaser.
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:59 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by William Campbell View Post

When a similar event happens with an ebook retailer, perhaps more of the proponents of DRM will understand the potential grief it gives paying customers. Pirates are not customers, and should not dictate how ebooks are constructed. Serve the customer, not yourself in a war against an imagined enemy.

very little sign of that happening, at the moment ....
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:10 AM   #7
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Yes, I see the problem now; thank you for explaining.
IMO the strange thing is how few people see the problem when they purchase the song/book. It's starting to affect my belief that there's any significant amount of intelligent life on this planet.
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:11 AM   #8
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IMO the strange thing is how few people see the problem when they purchase the song/book. It's starting to affect my belief that there's any significant amount of intelligent life on this planet.
The sensible thing to do with any eBook is of course to remove the DRM as soon as you buy it.
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:12 AM   #9
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don't you mean how few producers understand the futility of DRM in the modern world populated by a few geeks able and willing to circumvent this affront to our reading.

motto .... buy non DRM books and all will be well ..... [legally]
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:31 AM   #10
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very little sign of that happening, at the moment ....
Those who purchased a great deal from Napster before May 2008 may have been saying the same just yesterday.

Am I being the devil's advocate? Sure. Only because I care about readers and how it could affect them. None of us knows the future. We might have hunches, but can only guess at when they will arrive.

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The sensible thing to do with any eBook is of course to remove the DRM as soon as you buy it.
Indeed. When I say, "Kill all DRM before it's too late," that is not strictly directed at producers of content. That goes out to readers as well.

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motto .... buy non DRM books and all will be well ..... [legally]
The best answer of all. Vote with your dollars.
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:36 AM   #11
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problem is too many less-savvy folk are buying drm'd books without being aware of the consequences ....
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:01 AM   #12
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problem is too many less-savvy folk are buying drm'd books without being aware of the consequences ....
It depends what your reading goals are, of course. If you're the type of reader who buys cheap paperbacks, reads them, and then throws them away, then DRM is very likely not going to be an issue for you. It's an issue for the book collector who wants to buy an e-book and then re-read it 10 years later (or the person who buys an e-book but doesn't get around to reading it for years).
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:21 AM   #13
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To add to the nerd rage, though not quite in the same medium, video game DRM has been fairly ridiculous as well.

Assassin's Creed II, for PC, requires a constant and unyielding internet connection to the publisher's (Ubisoft) servers, or the game will cease to allow play.

Now, this also counts for if the player has a minor hiccup, say, a two second interruption in their connection. This also counts for if these fine and dandy Ubisoft servers are not functioning, which, to my knowledge, seems to happen quite often.

I can strongly recommend, however, back on the subject of music, [deleted]. They have some very low prices (around $1.30 per album), and it is quite legal. I believe they have a 6-month window for downloading/redownloading, but there is no DRM, and it's easy enough to download 4 gigs of music and back it up on a DVD-R.

Last edited by HarryT; 08-24-2010 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:11 PM   #14
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Yes, I see the problem now; thank you for explaining.

At least with eBooks, all the major DRM methods can be easily circumvented by the legitimate purchaser.
2008 isn't that long ago. The likelihood that you'll want to keep listening to tunes purchased before 2008 even after you've upgraded your mp3 playing device several times in the future is pretty high. That's one reason I stayed away from DRM music files since day one.

I'd be a little more forgiving with books, simply because I don't read most books more than once. So having to break the DRM or download a replacement, DRM-free version after something like that is a smaller issue.
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:13 PM   #15
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2008 isn't that long ago. The likelihood that you'll want to keep listening to tunes purchased before 2008 even after you've upgraded your mp3 playing device several times in the future is pretty high. That's one reason I stayed away from DRM music files since day one.
It's also one reason why I continue to buy CDs and rip them myself. The other reason being that, as a fan of classical music and opera, I prefer to rip my music at a much higher bitrate than most downloaded music is sold at.
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