Psst, Universal Music, The World Is Global Now

from the learn-to-adapt dept

Is Universal Music really that out of touch with how the world works? It's attacking online video sites that promote its music. It's testing DRM-free music in a way that's likely to fail and apparently wants to claim ownership of CDs it gave away. The company is also trying to push makers of music playing devices to pay Universal a cut for no good reason. The latest may be the best yet, however. Not realizing what a global world we have these days and the easy ability for products in one market to be shipped to another, Universal Music released a CD in Europe only, with a plan to release a US version months later. Yes, this was pretty common for years -- but it's ridiculous to do that these days, because people in the US will still hear about the CD and order it as an import. Now, here's where Universal Music gets even more ridiculous: it's threatening the stores that are selling the import. Again, it seems to think it owns something that it really does not own. And, as the link here points out, all this really does is push customers who actually want to buy the CD to go online and download the music from a file sharing site. That takes a special level of incompetence. First, you make a really bad business decision that doesn't reflect the reality of the market, and then to cover it up, you threaten legal action and drive willing customers away to other sources. Nice work.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Jameth, Aug 13th, 2007 @ 10:49pm

    Simply amazing...

     

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  2.  
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    Mark French, Aug 13th, 2007 @ 10:52pm

    Watch out! Do you see what they are doing? They are driving people away from their music so then will use the P2P and then they'll have a basis to destry P2P once and for all! I don't believe such a large corporation would make such terrible moves if there wasn't something in it for them. Just be wary.

     

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  3.  
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    Andy, Aug 13th, 2007 @ 11:06pm

    "I don't believe such a large corporation would make such terrible moves if there wasn't something in it for them."

    Consider SCO.

     

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  4.  
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    JEQP, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 1:25am

    Yay for Parallel Importing

    Several years ago Australia passed a law expressedly allowing stores to import legal items from overseas and resell them. It's about the only good thing the government has done in terms of copyright and digital media recently...

     

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  5.  
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    Shohat, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 1:51am

    Cost VS Benefit

    Certain products ( music, movies, but also the PS3, iPhone and plenty of other things) have to be distributed completely diffently, and promoted differently in different countries/continents.
    So suddenly when a company has to deal with sales of an unpromoted product, which it had no interest to sell in that part of the world, it has to spend some money and effort to block it from causing damage to the official product launch.

     

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  6.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 1:54am

    Ownership

    Mike, I hate to keep locking horns with you, especially since we're in agreement on the big issue, namely that Universal's management are a bunch of myopic idiots, but once again I have to speak up.

    Again, it seems to think it owns something that it really does not own.
    They do own the recordings. See the Berne Convention
    for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of September 9, 1886
    and 17 U.S.C. 1. As copyright assignees they have the rights to distribution and recent court decisions in the US, UK and Canada have all declared grey market imports illegal wherever the manufacturer has complained. Stupid? Yes. Wrong? I believe so. But it's the law, nonetheless, at least as written by bought-off legislators and as interpreted by recent courts.

    Universal is being stupid on so many levels in so many ways, as demonstrated by some of the examples you linked to. An analogy fails me. But legally -- until their shareholders direct otherwise -- they have every right to be this sort of stupid.

     

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  7.  
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    Charles Griswold, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 2:26am

    Re:

    I don't believe such a large corporation would make such terrible moves if there wasn't something in it for them.
    I do. As an ex-IBM employee, I can say with confidence that large corporations are capable of doing extraordinarily stupid things that benefit them not in the least, and without any clever ulterior motive.
    Just be wary.
    Always good advice when dealing with the aforementioned large corporations. It's just as easy to be crushed by their overwhelming stupidities as it is to be crushed by their overwhelming greed.

     

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  8.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 3:10am

    Re: Yay for Parallel Importing

    Unfortunately region coding undoes most of this good work, preventing parallel imports of electronic goods such as games consoles (which are very expensive in Australia compared with Honk Kong), unlkess all the games you want to play are also easily importable.

     

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  9.  
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    Nasty Old Geezer, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 5:06am

    Re: Cost VS Benefit

    I will give you the PS3, iPhone, etc -- hardware or software that may require support of some sort, or that interacts with other systems and must be certified compatible.

    Movies?? Music?? The promotional campaign may be different but there is no real reason to restrict distribution geographically. (Caveat emptor on the region encoding for DVDs.)

    A savvy marketer would actually anticipate that the avant garde set will help pull a release -- exclusivity has usually helped sell things.

     

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  10.  
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    Mike C., Aug 14th, 2007 @ 5:16am

    Left hand.... meet right...

    What I find REALLY funny about all of this is that they are promoting the heck out of their music on YouTube now. I happened to stumble upon a music video from Universal and followed the user link. Turns out they've uploaded almost 5000 of their own videos for people to watch for free...

    You can see for yourself here

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 5:37am

    name change

    Universal is just doing some pre-advertising for it's new name.

    "Stupid Music" by Universal

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 6:15am

    This is probably a well established idea, but I'm new here so bear with me.

    Does it make as little sense to everyone else that you can buy a CD and copy it to your computer or MP3 player (not sure of the legality of that even). Basically you own the CD and the right to use it, in legal ways. However, when you download music, again legally, you can only put it on your computer or in some cases an MP3 player. You don't really have the choice, you have to do what the site that you downloaded it from says. Some of the sites I've seen actually take back the music you legally purchased when and if you cancel your subscription. WTF?! Can they make it any harder to dislike the whole process and remain legit??

    buy CD-use anywhere
    buy song-barely able to use and lose if you cancel subscription.

    WOW this is dumb!

     

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  13.  
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    Aedan, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 6:35am

    My solution is to buy only CDs and mp3s from local artists. I gave up on the corporate music world years ago. All the bands they sign sound like each other, and their primary goal is to screw their customers.
    With local artists, you get fresh, original sounds, and they're so eager to find an audience that they aren't really concerned with how you use their CDs after you buy them.
    With home music studios and CD-burning equipment, even new bands can afford to make their own CDs and mp3s, so there's a LOT of good stuff out there.

     

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  14.  
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    shahasta, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 6:50am

    It sometimes amazes me the negativity in the reporting on this site. "Universal is attacking online video sites that promote its music" - well only to get paid. "It's testing DRM-free music in a way that's likely to fail" - I don't really see compelling reasons why it's likely to fail, but time will tell. "and apparently wants to claim ownership of CDs it gave away" - fair enough really as those CDs are distributed with terms of use which prohibits reselling. "The company is also trying to push makers of music playing devices to pay Universal a cut" - well, that could be viewed as a savvy response to both hard times and new ways of consuming music. In many countries there have been blank media levies for years and times change so here is a new model. If you were in that business you might think it was worth trying it on right? However, on the CD import issue, whilst y9ou are wrong to suggest "it seems to think it owns something that it really does not own" it's less easy to see reason for their decision.

     

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  15.  
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    to # 12, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 7:09am

    to #12

    On the unlimited DL subscription sites you NEVER bought the music you only rented it from them thats why they say its a subscription. They are not like ITMS or emusic in that on those sites you actually BUY the tracks.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 7:21am

    The reporting is only negative because the corporations are acting in a negative manner.

    When they provide music for you to buy, they limit when, where, and how you use the product you purchased.

    When they provide music you can use when, where, and how you want to, they charge an arm and a leg for it.

    Charging makers of music players a, "cut," is like car oil companies charging car manufacturers a, "cut," because they make a product that uses their gas. It's silly. It's also like phone companies charging phone makers because their product uses the phone lines. Again, stupid.

    It is never a sound business practice to over charge for a product, and then make it all but unuseable. Auto makers learned that one the hard way in the 80's by selling expensive cars that were inferior products. Buyers simply went to foreign makers of cheaper, more reliable cars. The music and movie industries are going down the same road. They are making their products less desirable by over charging, and then making it so you can barely use the music/movie. Again, dumb. People are simply leaving the mainstream music and going to indie music and P2P sites. People are fed up with the BS.

    You have to please your customers (read: 'the customer is always right') or you will have no customers. I think the vast majority of folks out there would gladly pay a reasonable price for a reasonable product.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 7:24am

    to # 15.

    I have a question and I'm showing my ignorance here. If you buy a track from emusic or itms, can you burn it to cd and put it on an MP3 player? Do they limit that or is it like a CD where you can play it on both computers and have a mix CD for each car. I don't even know if those things are technically legal or not, but you can do it.

    Educate me, as I've been looking for a good download site where I can play the tracks anywhere, CD OR Mp3 player.

     

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  18.  
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    the infamous Joe, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 7:33am

    Dark side

    Educate me, as I've been looking for a good download site where I can play the tracks anywhere, CD OR Mp3 player.

    The only place you'll find that, with a reasonable price, is 'illegal' p2p sides and newsgroups.

    itunes doesn't have a few DRM free tracks, but at a buck thirty a song, it's not reasonably priced.

     

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  19.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 7:49am

    Re: Dark side

    Except (unless they have changed it from last time I looked) iTunes has a convenient burn function built directly into the program. allowing you to burn the music without purchasing the un-DRM'd music. And I believe that my MP3 player (Sansa express) will play the AAC files directly from iTunes.

    Granted I don't use iTunes I used Napster with a program called Sound Taxi so I never had to think about this.

    PS. To everyone out there, please use the reply to this comment link that is conveniently placed under every post. it makes reading the replies so much easier.

     

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  20.  
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    The infamous Joe, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 7:56am

    Re: Dark side

    does* Damn you n't! Get out of my headn't!!

    PS- Using the reply button (as I just did) changes the format of my page to threaded, which I don't like. Now I'm going to have to set it back. *grumble*

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    Consider SCO.
    SCO was taken over by lawyers who are going to get rich even if they ruin SCO.

     

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  22.  
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    rachel, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 8:39am

    help me i need to get home

    i have no money to get home. I am 16 years old i am stuck in plymouth and live in manchester. I came to visit my cousin but i lost my money, on a fairground for ticket home, and my cousin can not afford my ticket home. I have no family in manchester to rely on to get home because we fell out months ago. I have been currently been satying at a freinds in manchester, she is out of work and can not lend me the money. Please help me this is my last option. I miss home and just want to get back to my hometown. Please.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 8:46am

    Re: Ownership

    They do own the recordings.
    They own the copyrights to the recording and Mike didn't say they didn't, despite your implications. What they don't own is the physical recording itself once they have sold it and neither the Berne Convention nor 17 U.S.C. 1 give them such ownership.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 8:53am

    Re:

    "It sometimes amazes me the negativity in the reporting on this site."
    That's probably because, unlike you, not everyone is a turf-trolling cheerleader for copyright cartel stupidity.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 8:56am

    Re:

    It is never a sound business practice to over charge for a product, and then make it all but unuseable. Auto makers learned that one the hard way in the 80's by selling expensive cars that were inferior products.
    And yet, some continue to do so.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 9:02am

    Re: Re: Dark side

    And I believe that my MP3 player (Sansa express) will play the AAC files directly from iTunes.
    That's because it's not just an MP3 player, it's also an AAC player. Just an MP3 player, like the poster was talking about, won't do that.

     

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  27.  
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    mike allen, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 9:04am

    Re: Ownership

    sorry to disagree they do NOT own the copyright (except in a stupid law) the right should belong to the composers and the artist not the damned record company.

     

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  28.  
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    mike allen, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 9:09am

    Re: Left hand.... meet right...

    ok great when are they going to sue you tube for copyright infringement?

     

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  29.  
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    Sanguine Dream, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 9:14am

    Not the way to go...

    These recording companies are really starting to drive customer away with these vindictive and downright childish acts. Demanding a cut of media player sales? Fine if they get a cut of media player sales then the makers of their sound recording equipment (JVC, Pioneer, Kenwood, whoever...) should get a cut of their sales since Uninversial is using their gear to make their music. And maybe the makers of any software they use in mixing/recording should get a cut of they music sales. See a childish loop of "waaa waaa pay me!!!"

    Seriously. I only buy used CDs of RIAA backed music (but only as a last resort. I'm not very trusting of buying used music online.) and buy new CDs of any act that is not RIAA backed.

    Comment #16: The person who said "the customer is always right" had no way to foresee the audacity of customers these days. I've worked retail and have had customers try to alter price tags in an effort to get an item for cheap. I am all for the customer when the store/company is the one truly at fault but lots of customers today have take that quote way out of context.

     

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  30.  
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    ReallyEvilCanine, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 9:33am

    Re: Ownership

    AC: they own the copyrights and distribution rights. As I pointed out, courts have upheld their right to segment the market (which I find ludicrous). An individual has the Right of First Sale, but distributors in the chain do not.

    mike allen: you're an idiot. No one gives a damn how you think copyrights should work, and I for one am thankful for that; as bad as the system may have been corrupted, it's still at least logical which is more than I'd expect from anything you might devise.

    The "stupid law" is nevertheless the law. Copyright is assignable and transferable. The composers and artists you're bleating about assigned the distribution rights (and in many cases, the copyright) to the record label willingly and voluntarily when they signed their contracts. No one forced them to do so; they did it of their own free will.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re: Ownership

    An individual has the Right of First Sale, but distributors in the chain do not.
    Bzzzt. That legal distinction does not exist. Under US law and pursuant to US Supreme Court rulings, corporations have essentially the same rights as individuals and the right of first sale applies to them as well as it does to individuals. Once a record store has bought a record it may resell it to whomever it pleases regardless of whether that store is owned by an individual, a partnership, or corporation. At least in the absence of any contracts to the contrary. Also, where would such a distinction as you propose leave "individual" "distributors"?

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 10:42am

    Re:

    to #17:

    iTunes, no, although AIUI you can burn it to a cd and then copy it to an mp3 player.

    eMusic, yes, the tracks you get are straight mp3 files with no DRM. You can copy them anywhere, and IIRC the terms of eMusic even say explicitly you can burn them to a cd and copy them to any mp3 player, as long as it's for your own use. (Burning the tracks to cds and handing them out to other people is possible but definitely not kosher.)

    the Infamous Joe's statement to the contrary is just wrong, unless you interpret "reasonable price" as "free" or unless you limit yourself to the big labels. (I'm paying $0.25
    a track at eMusic, although new subscribers will pay a bit more.) There are other sites besides eMusic where you can get non-DRM tracks from independent labels fairly cheap--there are even some you can get for free, absolutely legally.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re:

    iTunes, no, although AIUI you can burn it to a cd and then copy it to an mp3 player.
    That degrades the sound. But if degradation is OK, then my MP3 player even has a built-in microphone and MP3 encoder and technically I can just hold it up to a speaker to make an MP3 from just about anything.

    eMusic, yes, the tracks you get are straight mp3 files with no DRM
    The problem with eMusic is their selection. They never had anything I wanted.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 11:04am

    XFER any and every..

    All music from itunes can be burned to cd after you remove off ipod with utilities such as tinkertool on mac or on pc just show all invisibles and open ipod drive on desktop go to ipod control>music and copy off to folder of desire then create new set in itunes or just copy back to library. This will read all of those cryptic names an "viola" all music is xferable to any and all devices. You people should really do some research before posting stupidity. Have you retards ever heard of google?

    PS: An app called SENUTI on the mac will allow to xfer songs from any ipod to any other ipod connected to your mac, ie; i have 5 and can connect all at once and xfer any song from any to any even if purchased from itunes.

    Guess i better look out for the hit squad for releasing such sensitive info, LOL.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 12:26pm

    Re: XFER any and every..

    All music from itunes can be burned to cd
    Regular CD players will not play data CDs or AACS files.

     

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  36.  
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    The infamous Joe, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    Jump to Conclusions Mat!(c)

    the Infamous Joe's statement to the contrary is just wrong, unless you interpret "reasonable price" as "free" or unless you limit yourself to the big labels.

    Well, to be honest, you've misunderstood. He asked for a *good* site to download from, and I said there weren't any that are reasonably priced. Meaning, the reasonably priced ones aren't carrying a good selection (aka, they're not good) and the ones that do carry a large selection also come with DRM and/or an unreasonable price tag. So, I wouldn't really say I was 'just wrong', however, I can see how I could have been misunderstood. :)

    This will read all of those cryptic names an "viola" all music is xferable to any and all devices. You people should really do some research before posting stupidity. Have you retards ever heard of google?

    Sadly, you're missing the point. We're talking about playing DRM laden songs everywhere. True, DRM notwithstanding, it's fairly simple to get songs from an ipod to a hard drive (I, myself, use Winamp) but until recently, you could not buy a song from itunes and play it in your Zune, or sony mp3 player, or what not. And you could only put it on a set number of computers (3, I think) regardless if you owned 5 computers. DRM is a poor solution to a dying business model that serves only to punish the legit customers and not affect the 'pirates'. So, I think you should be less eager to start calling people names until you're sure you know what we're talking about.

     

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  37.  
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    anonymous coward, Aug 14th, 2007 @ 2:21pm

    never ascribe to intention that which incompetence explains.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 15th, 2007 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: XFER any and every..

    I think what was meant was that you can burn AUDIO cd's from songs purchased from iTunes and encode that cd as you would any normal audio cd. As mentioned, some quality loss is involved but it is a fairly easiy way to un-DRM.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Mark Harrison, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 4:01am

    At last

    As a European, I'm really glad that they're doing this.

    I've been an Amazon (US) customer since 1999, because it was the only way I could get hold of material that hadn't (yet) been released over here in the UK.

    This hasn't gone away - my last purchase from the US was this year - ironically, "Wikinomics".

    Now that Universal are targetting Americans in the same way as they've been targetting the rest of us for years, maybe they'll be enough of an "Internet public outcry".

    What _really_ annoys me is when it's BBC material I can only get in the US (region 1 DVD), mind :-(

     

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


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