Breaking Down The Problems Of DRM For Everyday Users

from the it-won't-work dept

We’ve discussed the pitfalls of DRM and copy protection many times, generally from the angle of the problems it creates for businesses, and how it does nothing to stop piracy, but just creates hassles for users and ultimately harms content companies by holding down sales. Many of these issues are easily lost on a lot of consumers, who tend to not really care, as long as their stuff works. However, the mainstream media is starting to pay closer attention to these issues, and the New York Times today uses the launch of the Microsoft Zune to explain to the average person what DRM means to them: that music they’ve bought from one service that works with one device may not work if they get a different brand of device. This sort of lock-in ultimately holds back the market by distorting competition: if users can’t switch brands of music players without losing access to music they’ve purchased, they’re much less likely to switch. This is why iTunes as a loss leader works for Apple — every song a user buys from the iTunes Music Store is another reason for them not to switch away from the iPod. This really isn’t good for anybody other than Apple. It certainly doesn’t do anything to help users, and it does little for record labels, either. Their continued insistence on using pointless, ineffective copy protection and DRM continues to shoot themselves in the foot by holding back the market. Perhaps as more members of the general public understand how copy protection impacts them, they’ll begin voting with their wallets and affecting some change.

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Comments on “Breaking Down The Problems Of DRM For Everyday Users”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

For one, Democrats wanted justice for 9/11 as well. Difference they want(ed), and some Republicans as well, to get the RIGHT GUYS instead of dicking around in a country that at best was just where Al Quedia had a few guys hiding. Sadaam didn’t have ties to Al Quedia, he was just a dick warlord who was glad someone attacked America. Going to war in Iraq didn’t get ANY of the people responsible for 9/11. The people from Al Quedia that WERE there didn’t even know how to use AK47’s (look at the tapes where the ‘Al Quedia leader in Iraq’ is being shown how, and where his aide grabs the barrel and burns his hand after its been fired).

Second you ignorant sap, this is tottaly off topic. DRM sucks and it’ll be a while before its gone cause about the only way is to NOT buy it and well people will put up with a lot of bs.

uhh... says:

Republicans? Politics? Here?

Yes, I agree with DC. This seems very relevant. Republicans and DRM. Yep.


For the love of god this site is starting to get more and more like /. or digg.

Anyhow, I brought this up in my world history class, and literally all but 3 people went “huh? what the hell are you talking about?” Once I enlightened them on what it was, they all said “that doesn’t seem that bad”. When I told them why it was bad, they still looked clueless. I believe that if someone (better at explaining then I am) in the news or even in some other random publically easy to see or read place could tell more people about this, DRM would be abolished…eventually…as people stopped buying music online. (or as more people learned the hard way).

Ok, i’ll shut up now.

Bill W says:

Re: Stop buying? I doubt it.

Well, I don’t think we’re likely to stop buying, just check my AMEX/iTunes bill. I don’t download pirate music and I’m pretty picky about what I do buy. For the moment, DRM (as in Apple’s version) isn’t affecting any sales as far as I’m concerned so I’m unlikely to to object. What it might take is the true “iPod killer” (sorry, M$, Zune just ain’t it!) that will make me/us yearn for DRM freedom.

It’ll come, when is another question.

Bill W

Rick says:

Fair Use implies I am allowed to break the DRm to transfer music I bought at iTunes to a new MP3 player from a competitor. I’ll do it if I choose and nobody can stop me from doing so either.

I’m sure people will argue the DMCA prohibits such action, but I’d like someone to point to a case where this action has been successfully prosecuted. What would they do erase my music?

Shemnon says:

Re: Re:

Fair Use laws do give you rights to make backup copies and copies for digital storage of your legally purchased titles however if you must circumvent a DRM scheme to do it then it becomes illegal. “The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law passed unanimously on May 14, 1998, that criminalizes the production and dissemination of technology that allows users to circumvent copyright protection methods, rendering all forms of DRM-stripping and circumvention software illegal.” (See:

Now days ALL movies have DRM, as do songs purchased thru Itunes or other legal sites, and breaking or disabling that copy protection is what is illegal, not backing up your music or movies, that’s fine. You just aren’t allowed to break the copy protections that stop you from using your rights provided under the Fair Use laws.

well DRM on iTunes says:

DRM ???

recently gotmy handson someiTunesboughtmusicand guess what is Mpeg4, so no mp3 player can play-it, so i did what, took a little program converter (Switch in my case) and converted files to mp3, copyed them on mp3 player(asimple toy, nothing fancy) andguess what, it works 🙂

so ,build DRM, do whatever to original files, that DRM fails to protect anyway against file conversion :))

Foo Yuck says:

the best way to “get back” for killing 3000 americans? kill another 3000 americans while attempting to find those terrorists. yeah that’s working.

why not have a shock and awe? we have the bombs. level iraq and afganastan. just do it. who’s going to attak us? oh yeah, n. korea, pakistan, china…a number of middle eastern countries.


oh yeah, i’m gay

Want To See Something Really Scarey? (user link) says:

I explain this more in my blog...

Ok. Let’s all get our stories straight and not change the rationale for DRM to suit our particular gripe of the day.

The record industry is served perfectly well by DRM. It isn’t an attempt to curb theft. We all know that’s just as much a ruse as the notion that Apple is trying to make money with its iTunes music store by selling music. It’s all just LEVERAGE for other purposes.

Also… the record industry isn’t attempting to call its customers “criminals”. That’s just it’s meaningless rationalization for the model it seeks to perpetuate. It’s not the end goal. If they could change the argument and serve the same end, they would do it.

With the popularization of DIGITAL CONTENT… the main product of the entertainment industry is quickly closing in on being un-resellable from the publishing level. DRM is simply another artificially induced method for making content resellable, and expiring rights with an individual, virtually eliminating the “Used Media” marketplace that has become so bothersome.

The current trend of consumers feeling suspicious when a popular movie is released with one DVD is well justified. Eventually an “enhanced” version of that same product is released, simply to be repurchased. Meanwhile, Apple lobbies to let consumers buy single songs, and then have that single song purchase counted towards a latter purchase of an entire album later if that customer returns. This also is counter to what the recording industry wants, and we all know it.

Let’s make up our mind and keep our eyes on the ball. There’s a reason behind the expiring nature of all things. There’s a reason why we don’t have freely broadcasted renewable energy.

Let’s do our job, and vote with our dollars, while we pay close attention to lobbying our senators to make sure our rights aren’t taken away on the legal level. As long as fair-use isn’t being willfully abused… like by those selling “additional” versions of a product as part of some nebulous “service”… we have a shot at an ever expanding future of options by innovative, forward thinking companies like Apple who focus on consumer “choice”. Backwards thinking companies like Microsoft focus on removing choice and dumping their ill-concieved products on the market until their competitors dissolve away (if you’re looking for the recording industry whore, look no further).

The moment our “enemies” begin changing as often as our moods, and consumer CHOICE… as evident in the popularity of services like iTunes… is somehow pissed upon in a misguided attempt to find an opponent… we’re sunk.

Apple is finding a way for you to use the same content in every room of your house (iTV, iTunes), and to carry it with you (iPod). The recording industry would love us to kick iTunes and act as if they’re doing us a disservice. Personally? I’d rather use devices like iRecord or software like Audacity to “free” my music or movies of DRM via the analog-hole, than to have the music industry think they need to work harder to restrict our content because the Russians are out of control, the hackers are going to town, and illegal filesharing is going crazy. Screw that. My opinion? Know the enemy. Know its methods. Support the artists. Support good services. Stop complaining about DRM. It’s ALWAYS been here. It never left.

–But that’s just me.

dudude (user link) says:

As the music in iTunes is encrypted with DRM, you cannot directly put it on any non-Apple MP3 player. The easiest way is:

1. Insert a CD-R or CD-RW disc into your CD-ROM drive.
2. Burn your playlist to make an audio CD.
3. After the audio CD is successfully burned, insert the disc into your CD-ROM drive again. Then you can use iTunes to import the music tracks on the burned disc as MP3 files.

Or you can get some software to help you. I use TuneClone M4P Converter ( ) to do this. Though not free, it is very well worth a try. It generates a virtual CD drive to help to remove DRM from iTunes.

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