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Dropping DRM: What the Macworld proclamation means to you

iphoneunlocked.jpg

By Jesse Brown, CBC technology columnist.

Each year Macolytes around the globe breathlessly await the introduction of cool new technology at the Macworld expo. But this year, the coolest news was not the addition of great new tech, but the subtraction of bad old tech. DRM will soon be gone from iTunes, and that’s cause for excitement, whether you use Apple’s music store or not.

Here’s what it means:

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  • The legitimization of unlocked content sales as a viable business.

    The argument that DRM is needed to protect business models is now dead. iTunes is an incredibly lucrative business - it’s America’s biggest music retailer. If digital locks aren’t part of its business plan, then should it be a part of anyone else’s?

  • No more punishing customers.

    The stupidest thing about DRM is that it achieves the opposite of its goal - rather than deter piracy, it encourages it. Given the choice of buying a locked song or pirating an unlocked one, many willing customers have chosen piracy. I know I have.

  • DRM looks lamer than ever.

    “Hi, I’m a Mac. Anything with DRM now looks like a PC.“

  • New anti-circumvention legislation becomes a total anachronism.

    If and when our neurotic government ever get around to forcing its flawed copyright bill down our throats, they may find themselves criminalizing the breaking of digital locks that nobody even uses anymore.

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    Comments

    Jerry

    NWT

    It only makes good sense to me. I prefer not to pirate any software or intelligence property. However, after I spent a significant amount of money buying legitimate DRM music, I lost all of it because I backed up my notebook. Calls the retailer did nothing but discourage me from purchasing legit music. If I can buy DRM free music, then I'll go back to it, otherwise...

    aaaarrrrrrr, matey.

    Posted January 9, 2009 02:10 PM

    thombro

    The funny thing about this is that iTunes will calculate how much you have to pay to unlock all your previously bought songs. But even when you pay to have them unlocked the DRM STILL EXISTS! Thanks for stealing $27.75 from me Apple. Your only reinforcing my disgust towards you!

    Posted January 12, 2009 10:40 AM

    Robert Slaven

    So far, I've refused to buy tunes online from iTunes or anyone, largely because I didn't want to legitimize DRM with my money.

    I might actually pop by iTunes and buy a few songs now, especially with many of them now cut to $0.69 each.

    Posted January 12, 2009 08:09 PM

    Jimmy

    Canada

    Poor Ipod users. Zune is much better.

    Posted January 14, 2009 12:35 AM

    Jimmy

    Canada

    Not sure what exactly all the hype about Itunes and Ipod is. Everything you can get from them you can get better with Zune or a number of other things.

    Posted January 14, 2009 12:36 AM

    Shifty Calhoun

    Umm, given that Apple builds DRM into its software and hardware, how is Mac going DRM free?

    Software: Try transferring the songs from your iPod to a friend's PC. Without purchasing software to do it you can't, as iTunes scrambles all the song info up.

    Hardware: It is my understanding that the output ports on Macbooks are designed to check where the signal is going before allowing passage. Trying to play the digital movies on your Macbook through to your new 50" flatscreen? Good luck, Mac DRM cuts the signal.

    Posted January 14, 2009 09:39 AM

    George

    Hamilton

    "...If and when our neurotic government ever get around to forcing its flawed copyright bill down our throats, they may find themselves criminalizing the breaking of digital locks that nobody even uses anymore."

    Unfortunately, as shown by the creative uses that the DMCA is put to in the US, there are many content publishers still more than willing to put locks on to their content, even if only very basic locks that they then use the DMCA to legally bludgeon their customers with.

    from thombro: "... Thanks for stealing $27.75 from me Apple. Your only reinforcing my disgust towards you!" It has been well documented that DRM was the demand of the content producers (record labels), not of Apple. Your disgust is misplaced.

    Posted January 14, 2009 05:52 PM

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