Gates admits flaws with digital music copy protection
Microsoftfounder Bill Gates told a group of technology bloggers that copy protection for digital music is too complex for consumers.
Gates admitted Digital Rights Management is not where it should be, according to Steve Rubel, one of a group of bloggers invited to speak with Gates at Microsoft's Seattle headquarters on Thursday.
DRM technology is designed to prevent people from duplicating music or video and burning it to disc or uploading it to the internet. It's a controversial tool for people who feel it limits what they can do with legally purchased files.
It's also a key technology on Microsoft's Zune media player, which makes Gates's comments all the more peculiar.
Techcrunch.com blogger Michael Arrington said Gates's short-term advice for people wishing to transfer songs from one system to another was to "buy a CD and rip it."
Neither Arrington nor Rubel's blogs claimed to quote Gates exactly, though a number of other bloggers from the engagement reported similar information.
Arrington said Gates was candid in admitting no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which causes pain to consumers in its effort to distinguish between legal and illegal uses of audio and video files.
But Gates defended the idea behind DRM, saying incentive systems make a difference.
Gates's comments come in the same week online music retailer eMusic announced its 100 millionth digital music download roughly three years after the service launched.
The sales total is well behind the one billion tracks sold by industry leader iTunes over the same time period.
But unlike iTunes, which sells its tracks with DRM technology, eMusic sells tracks in MP3 format without playback restrictions.
"Except for iTunes, the only store that is doing well online with downloads is eMusic, and the reason is because they do sell it without [playback restrictions]," said Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media.
With files from the Associated Press