Yahoo Dips Another Toe In DRM-Free Waters

from the step-by-step dept

Of the major internet media companies, Yahoo has been the most vocal in suggesting that selling DRM'd music wasn't wise from a business standpoint. But, since the company has to bow to the content owners, it hasn't been able to go very far with this idea. In July, it somehow convinced one label to sell a single DRM-free Jessica Simpson track at a high price. But it was at least a start. Now Yahoo is taking yet another baby step (via PaidContent), as it partners with Disney to sell one album at regular price in mp3 format. The move is seen as a trial, though it's not clear what they want to see happen. Will there be piracy? Yes. Would there have be just as much piracy if the album had been released in a different format? Definitely. While these are definitely small moves, it's good to see Yahoo pushing the industry in this direction. And it makes others in the industry look even more foolish for thinking that the way forward is to mimic Apple's closed system approach.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Grandfather Time, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 10:52am

    Get used to it.....

    Piracy is not going anywhere. Stop trying to find ways to defeat something that is stronger than several industries working in media........ we are not going anywhere...

     

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  2.  
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    Pirate of the Carribean, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:00am

    well...yes...

    But considering the type of music coming out these days, who the heck would want to listen to them anyway? I spend my time in movie piracy...and if a game that's worth downloading comes out, then i may do that too...

    anyway, I stand beside Grandfather Time here when he says, "We are not going anywhere." mainly because...we ain't goin' nowhere...it's as simple as that...

     

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  3.  
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    jsnbase, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:01am

    Re: Get used to it.....

    I didn't realize the Borg were into media piracy.

    Nobody needs to get used to anything; piracy (including media piracy) has been around longer than most of us. Stronger? They still make their money, they just want more.

    Like anything else in a more-or-less free market, it'll be solved by financial equilibrium long before the moral/political arguments get sorted out.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:07am

    Re: Get used to it.....

    Did you even read the post?

    What in the world did your stupid self-proclamation of criminal acts have to do with the fact that Yahoo is trying to fight back against against the DRM movement by protecting consumers with non-drm content?

     

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  5.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:16am

    it'll be a sad day

    when the CEO of yahoo gets assassinated. i rather liked his cautious, but still free, thinking.

     

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  6.  
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    James, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:22am

    Re: Get used to it.....

    Actually... Grandfather Time makes a very valid point, some people will always pirate music, games, etc. drm restricted or no. Regardless, every pirated copy is not a lost sale, only some of them.

    The real point is if these media companies will get a clue and stop treating EVERYONE, especially folks with money who would be willing buy their content, like criminals, then they would very likely make more moeny in the digitial download arena than they do now.

    I won't hold my breathe that they will do this, but its nice to see some inkling of it.

     

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  7.  
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    anonymous coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:22am

    DRM for music will stay on life support until

    1.) a major artist or two (probably online savvy artists like Bare Naked Ladies or Beck) sell a new full release online without DRM to huge sales numbers.

    2.) Apple screws over its user base like M$ is doing with PlayForSure causing a huge backlash against DRM.

    3.) Customers slowly realize that any DRM (even Apple's) eventually causes them more headaches than its worth and iTMS sales start to slow.

    My guess is a mix of all three. The only question is how long it will take...

     

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  8.  
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    Unique exactly the same as you, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:35am

    Piracy

    Maybe I'm unique... but I still stand for piracy is a crime- regardless of whether the music industry is shooting itself in the foot or not.

    Those that commit crimes are criminals.

    Therefore I don't steal music. Sure, I'll copy my own CDs to the PC- and make backups- but those backups stay with me.


    The reason I've never purchased an I-pod, Zune, or any of that crap is because of the DRMs on music- I'm not going to pay for music that I won't be able to use if I change device or subscription service.


    So I vote with my pocketbook- I don't buy them.


    What I don't do is steal music because I don't like DRM.

    If someone wants to hack the DRM for their own use- fine... but do it and distribute is a no-no. Piracy is theft plain and simple.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:43am

    Re: Piracy

    While I definitely share your mindset about not buying drm'd media, I would like to point out that "technically" you can't "steal" music. You can steal the physical copy of copy-protected works and you can commit an act of copyright infringement, but "illegal" downloading of music is neither of those.

    You commit an act of piracy when you "distribute" the copyrighted work wihtout permission, not when you consumer it and defintely not when you download it.

    I realize that is a technical differentiation only, but I'll take a civil offense over a criminal theft charge anyday. It might not be much differnce to you, but to our legal system, its the biggest difference in the world.


    As for my stance, I don't do either. I don't purchase drm-laden media, and I don't steal it. I don't even consume advertisement funded media either (except this here intarweb thingy).

     

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  10.  
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    AJ, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:43am

    DRM

    My argument is, if i purchased an album in any format, and I decide to then download it, is it really stealing? If I'm buying the right to listen to the music, and not the music itself, it shouldnt matter what format i listen to it on, or where I get it. I shouldnt be forced to buy the same piece of media over and over in different formats because the format changes, its still the same damn album.

    If I buy a song off itunes or yahoo, then i decide to download it so i can copy it to any device i want is that stealing? I bet the music industry thinks so.

     

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  11.  
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    Neumann, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:47am

    Re: Piracy

    To call piracy "theft plain and simple" is an over-simplification. Digital goods are not the same as physical goods; remember the analogy of the stolen bike. I do agree with you that piracy is still a crime but it's not theft. And last I checked, ownership of an iPod does not require that the user purchase music from iTMS. My iPod has only 2 purchased albums on it, rest are ones that I bought from a brick & mortar store and ripped. I would also like to point out that, at least with iTMS, you can burn a copy of your purchased music and then rip that copy into MP3, FLAC, or whatever format suits you, completely free of DRM.

     

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  12.  
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    jsnbase, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:48am

    Re: Piracy

    "If someone wants to hack the DRM for their own use- fine... but do it and distribute is a no-no. Piracy is theft plain and simple."

    I think you illustrate a lot of the problems with the issue in these sentences (whether or not, and to what extent, I agree with you is irrelevant.)

    You've spelled out your specific opinion on what is OK and what isn't, but according to a good chuck of US law on the matter, even the part that you think is fine is illegal - and is seems like everybody has different view on what's ethical and what should be legal.

    There's more going on than simply 'is piracy good or bad?'

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:56am

    Re: DRM

    if i purchased an album in any format, and I decide to then download it, is it really stealing?

    No, its not. You have not committed an act of theft (as there is no physical copy that belonged to anyone being stolen), nor have you violated copyright laws (as you would have to distribute the content for that to kick in).

    Where you would be guilty of a (FELONY) crime is if you removed the drm from a legally purchased song so you could listen to it on a platform other than that which supports the drm scheme in place protecting the media. Thank you DMCA for making the ONLY lawful way to platform shift your legally purchased media an act of piracy.

    However, the person who made that album/song available to you IS guilty of copyright infringement, as they did not have a license to distribute that media.

     

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  14.  
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    Kilroy, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 11:58am

    The solution...

    There will always be piracy, there always was. The problem that this digital media creates is that it is still more convienent (and cheap) for the average person to just pirate the files than to pay for them.

    So, there becomes two real options for the creators of digital media: make it easily purchasable so that more people buy it, and/or make it harder/less convienent to pirate by cracking down on the worst offenders. Just because piracy is popular doesn't make it right.

    A good step in the right direction is to expand the convienence factor while allowing individuals the freedom to do what they wish with the media...ie, burn a cd, put it on an ipod, etc.

    Cheers to Yahoo!

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:04pm

    actually, by making the backups, you are breaking the law and being a criminal.

    afaik, circumventing any DRM/copyprotection is illegal. that stemd from the drmc where it stated that any copying of cr material is illegal, even if for a personal archival purpose. so don't preach a high and mighty value, when you may very well be breaking the law.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:10pm

    usually when you "buy" a cd/cassette/33 or 45, you are actually buying the "right" to "listen" to that "music" from that "medium" i.e. you can't download a "remastered" song from the net because you owned the "original" 8track/45.

    now, what i don't get is how if you have songs download to your compy, which you never purchased, what are they? are they stolen? are they a violation of copyright? what? because you didn't "steal" anything. you made a bunch of electrons align a certain way, that once a process reviews the alignment soundwaves may travel toyour ears. the space is on your hard drive, the speakers are yours, the electricty used, you purchased. hell you even purchased the privlidge to access a large network, the internet.

    so what is it?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    actually, by making the backups, you are breaking the law and being a criminal.
    No, he's not breaking a law, and if he was committing an act of copyright infringement, it would be a civil offense, and he would be classified a wrongdoer not a criminal.

    afaik, circumventing any DRM/copyprotection is illegal.
    Correct. But he never said he was doing that, you only assumed that he was.

    that stemd from the drmc where it stated that any copying of cr material is illegal

    Its the DMCA, and the clause you are trying to refer to is the anti-circumvention clause which does NOT say it is illegal to copy. It says it is illegal (FELONY) to circumvent the copy-protection. You can still archive/backup your drm'd files too. Just just have to leave the drm in place.

    so don't preach a high and mighty value

    Sigh. Why don't you go learn something before trolling next time so as to prevent yourself from looking like a...

    Sigh.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:21pm

    DRM Free Content for a reasonible price = me buying it.

    DRM filled content = me not really owning the product, so no sense in paying money for it.

    Kudos Yahoo! Keep it up

     

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  19.  
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    just ®idiculous, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:22pm

    rhetorical question

    Is the Secretary of Defense the only one who can ask rhetorical questions? Not at all.
    Does he do it well? You bet.
    Did Joe's rhetorical questions make a point in an awkward fashion? Absolutely.
    Could he have asked better questions? Naturally.
    Does this mean he suffers from intellectual confusion and should be silenced? Perhaps.
    Am I surprised that more people don't ask rhetorical questions? Of course.
    Is this joke getting old? It's like getting bogged down in a quagmire.
    Am I going to stop now? God I hope so.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:23pm

    Re:

    now, what i don't get is how if you have songs download to your compy, which you never purchased, what are they? are they stolen? are they a violation of copyright? what?

    They are conisdered unauthorized copies. Being in possession of an unauthorized copy is not itself a crime. Playing said files is not a crime either.

    The law covering that aspect is VERY grey. And to the best of my knowledge, has never been tested in any court, let alone the supreme court.

    Neither the RIAA nor the MPAA have EVER sued someone for being in posession. It is ALWAYS for distribution.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    DRM Free Content for a reasonible price = me buying it.

    Whoa, an on-topic post, I almost didnt recognize it!

    I agree that both DRM free and reasonable price are required to get my business. Yahoo has managed to achieve ONE HALF of that requirement.

    If its still rediculously (sp?) overpriced, it will still be pirated more than it is legally purchased. And I still won't buy OR pirate it.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:36pm

    an idea, make it drm free and charge 50 cents instead of a dollar

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:38pm

    This tread is dull... I'm going back to listening to 60GB iPod full of music I didn't pay for.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re:

    actually, by making the backups, you are breaking the law and being a criminal.
    No, he's not breaking a law, and if he was committing an act of copyright infringement, it would be a civil offense, and he would be classified a wrongdoer not a criminal.

    afaik, circumventing any DRM/copyprotection is illegal.
    Correct. But he never said he was doing that, you only assumed that he was.

    that stemd from the drmc where it stated that any copying of cr material is illegal

    Its the DMCA, and the clause you are trying to refer to is the anti-circumvention clause which does NOT say it is illegal to copy. It says it is illegal (FELONY) to circumvent the copy-protection. You can still archive/backup your drm'd files too. Just just have to leave the drm in place.

    so don't preach a high and mighty value

    Sigh. Why don't you go learn something before trolling next time so as to prevent yourself from looking like a...

    Sigh.


    the op and the reply are actually both mine. i just wanted my second post to seem "smarter" i just troll like everyone else.

     

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  25.  
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    jsnbase, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:42pm

    Re: No. 22

    Why not just give it away for free and throw in a puppy?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Piracy

    ..but you could take your legally acquired music with you if you bought one of those "crap" devices. They don't force you into buying DRMd music...?

     

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  27.  
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    chris (profile), Sep 19th, 2006 @ 1:16pm

    no. 26

    They don't force you into buying DRMd music...?

    no, they suckered you. if you were forced, you would have a legal recourse. you have little or no legal recourse if you were suckered. DRM is for suckers.

     

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  28.  
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    Rational Beaver, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 1:29pm

    It's About Time!

    I've heard this somewhere before...From the article:

    "We're trying to be realistic," said Ken Bunt, senior VP of marketing at Hollywood Records. "Jesse's single is already online and we haven't put it out. Piracy happens regardless of what we do. So we're going to see how Jesse's album goes (as an MP3) and then decide on others going forward."

    Looks like someone's been reading TechDirt!

     

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  29.  
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    Grandfather Time, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 4:30pm

    ....

    i didn't read every single post that has been made since the one i made, i feel my point is valid, to the basher up there towards the top somewhere, whom i have no feelings of hatred for, nor am i arguing your point..........

    i simply, in smaller, more easy to read terms, ( and please dismiss and foul use of grammar as my idiotic nature to fumble things.....thank you) im not going to stop paying for ctap that isnt worth paying for, and if corporations want to create little tricks to stop things from being pirated, or do certain things to promote the unecessary spending of what little money i have left after the government garnishes my wages, then i myself, choose to look the other way, and find, in my own time, ways around this..............

    im not saying, PIRATE EVERYTHING FTW!!!!!1!!1!!1!

    im simply stating, to the media giants, who are already millionaires and complaining about losing money, when there is evidence that piracy helps them as far as sales and things of that nature goes, stop wasting money on something like this,.........stop releasing garbage that we are not willing to pay for, and then we will spend again,.......

    besides, why should we do something nice for them? its not like i ever got a thank you for feeding some corporate mogul's son with the 19 bucks i spent on Master of Puppets when it first came out..........

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Eric, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 5:38pm

    Re: Re: Piracy

    Which is exactly why the RIAA isn't about to give up on DRM.

    When you bought a new cassette player, you had to buy cassettes for it; all the albums you had on Vinyl no longer played, there was no (easy) way to format shift them. So consumers wound up repurchasing a lot of the same music they already owned on the new format.

    When you bought a new CD player, you had to buy CD's for it; all the albums you had on casette no longer played, there was no (easy) way to format shift them. So consumers wound up repurchasing a lot of the same music they already owned on the new format.

    But here's where the RIAA really gets pissed off: when you bought that shiny new iPod, you simply took all the music you already owned on CD and format shifted it to the new medium. The RIAA didn't get it's big windfall from you re-purchasing all those albums yet again.

    Now, pretend something comes along that replaces the iPod. Maybe the Zune really does become the next must-have gadget. For the sake of argument, let's pretend you bought all your music for the last year through iTunes. In a world without DRM, you could simply copy those tracks to the new format. In a world of DRM though, you'd have to re-purchase all those albums again for the new player.

    The RIAA doesn't want to be in the business of selling you something just once. They want to sell it again, and again, and again. That became a lot harder once they moved to digital... but DRM artificially forces you into that cycle of re-purchasing music again.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    RevMike, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 6:19pm

    Re: DRM

    My argument is, if i purchased an album in any format, and I decide to then download it, is it really stealing? If I'm buying the right to listen to the music, and not the music itself, it shouldnt matter what format i listen to it on, or where I get it. I shouldnt be forced to buy the same piece of media over and over in different formats because the format changes, its still the same damn album.

    This can be kind of a grey area. It is pretty well established that you can 'go down' in quality, that you can rip an MP3 from a CD or record a Cassette from an LP. So if own a CD and you download an MP3, or you own the LP and download an MP3 of LP quality or less, you are most likely in the clear. However, if you own a cassette and download a near-CD quality MP3, you are really getting a better product than they one you bargained for in the first place. If the music industry chose to pursue it, I'm not sure it would fly.

    If I buy a song off itunes or yahoo, then i decide to download it so i can copy it to any device i want is that stealing? I bet the music industry thinks so.

    The music industry thinks so, but is extremely unlikely to pursue it. As long as the courts haven't ruled on it, the music industry can claim that you don't have the right to do that. Putting that question in front of a court, however, is very scary to them. They might win, in which case they get the opportunity to start thousands of small lawsuits with all the bad press that entails. But they might lose too, and then consumer would have an stablished right to move their music from device to device.

    They're better off with ambiguity than run the risk of losing.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 19th, 2006 @ 8:09pm

    First off.....I'm glad Yahoo is starting to take steps in the right direction by getting rid of the DRM, but there still is a bigger problem.

    Secondly…I’m an insane audiophile, I will never buy a lossy compressed audio file!!!!!!!!! I will also never buy a DRM protected lossless audio file I can’t play where and when I want!!!!!!!

    OK….my theory in a nutshell on the bigger problem…the failure of a Hi-rez audio format…

    The music industry and the consumer electronics industry really screwed the pooch because of their desperate need for plain-and-simple greed and control. The introduction of DVD started the whole decline of the music industry because of the lack of concern over audio quality. This is where lossy compression really took off in the form of Dolby Digital / DTS compression. When every retailer pushed the DVD by showing off the format’s great video and sound (compared to VHS tapes), the general population just accepted the lossy compression of Dolby Digital and DTS as the best sound available because there was really no other competing consumer technology that could show the flaws of those compression techniques. The audio CD still sounded great compared to the majority of the DVD music releases at the time of the DVD-Video launch. (If the music industry and CE companies would have taken advantage of the 24bit / 96k PCM stereo soundtrack option of the DVD-Video spec, the audio CD may have seen a little competition in the audio quality race.)

    While this push for the DVD format to take over the home video market was a huge success, the hi-rez audio market that DVD technology allowed was a disaster. These hi-rez formats never stood a chance of becoming successful because of the lack of support by the music industry due to a format war between SA-CD and DVD-Audio. This war could have been avoided if the DVD spec for Video and Audio were released at the same time (which should have happened but members of the music industry did not like the copy protection) which allowed Sony to try to market its own hi-rez format…oh…..and thanks a lot Sony for the SACD – You killed any hope of a hi-rez audio format success!! You would have thought that Sony would have learned their lesson with format wars with the whole Beta / VHS war and the minidisk / DCC war.

    Because these formats failed, the CD format never died. Killing the CD and replacing it with a hi-rez, simple to play, and file-sharing resistant format would have really curbed piracy. If the only music format available took hours to rip accurately (or took at least real time recording time to get audio onto a hard drive + plus time for editing and compression) people would have been less prone to wanting to “share” the fruits of their labors because of the time invested in creating the files.

    The CD is too easy to rip. DVD-Audio could have been the music industry’s savior if it was rip-able without breaking the law and didn’t require a video screen to be able to navigate (Toshiba and the other members of the DVD Forum really screwed up on that one).

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    The-I-Team, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 3:12am

    At last a major site going the way of the independ

    It's quite refreshing to hear that a major site is taking a leaf out of the independant labels' book. The only legal downloads I have made have been singles from the small record labels (i.e. ninja tune) or websites that offer .mp3 or .wav downloads. I have shared a couple of these files with mates and guess what? They've gone out and bought a copy of the albums for themselves....
    Non-DRM tracks creating more money for the labels and artists? Surely not...

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    eb, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 6:40am

    Re: Piracy

    Unfortunately, if you live in the U.S. you're breaking the law by hacking the DRM even for your own use. I bought my first DVD player because I run linux and couldn't legally watch DVDs I purchased on my PC.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Jens, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 4:28pm

    Wow,
    If I walk into a bookstore and covertly transcribe to my spiral notebook the latest Harry Potter novel, am I stealing anything (according to law)?

    Please think carefully before answering. Being able to answer this question as it pertains to legal status is key. If you answer with the "it's wrong and stealing" then you are incorrect. It is an act of copyright violation.

    Now, the real problem with the ill-conceived DMCA is applied, simply because it defeats and undoes the long standing "fair use" right. This will need to go to the Supreme Court several times before this matter gets settled.

    Oh, and since the MPAA and RIAA have more thumbs up Congressional arse's than any of you, things most likely will not improve.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 20th, 2006 @ 6:36pm

    Re:

    One other thing....I can't wait for the major labels to go belly-up!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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