Kazaa Returns As Expensive, Crappy DRM'd Music Service

from the good-luck-there... dept

Remember Kazaa? The name was synonymous with file sharing following Napster’s demise. It got shut down by a series of lawsuits a few years ago. Last we heard from the company, it had settled lawsuits with record labels and music publishers and promised to go straight. That was in 2006. Since then… nothing. Until now, when it launched its new “authorized” music service. You might think that, given the four years between it announcing plans for a legit music service and the actual launch, there would be enough time to actually create something new or compelling. Instead, it appears that it’s launching a service that would have been state of the art back in… 2006 when it settled those lawsuits. From Jon Healey’s review:

I haven’t had much time to explore Kazaa, but my first impression is that the Web-based service is miles behind the competition. It’s as if the company locked its technologists in a room four years ago and they’ve just now emerged, having missed the growth of social networks, the explosion in smartphone usage and the death of music DRM. The service costs $15 a month — 50% more than Rdio, MOG or Rhapsody — and doesn’t have a mobile app. Instead, it offers unlimited streams and tethered downloads (that is, songs wrapped in electronic locks to deter copying) that can be played only by Kazaa’s proprietary plugin for Windows Media Player.

It also has only rudimentary social-media features, most notably the ability to play other users’ playlists and to watch a continuously updated list of what other users are playing. And although there are a handful of “editor’s picks,” there’s no preference engine to recommend tracks based on a user’s tastes — a major handicap when it comes to discovering music. Essentially, users are left to search for tracks or artists they already know, or take unguided tours through the library’s eight genres.

Seriously. Windows Media Player DRM. Didn’t that die out years ago?

Healey also notes the amusing fact that Kazaa’s relaunch happened to come the same day that Kazaa’s original founders, Janus Friis with Niklas Zennstrom, launched their latest startup, Rdio, which is also an authorized music streaming service. While I’ve played around with Rdio and find it to be a pretty weak offering — overall, it sounds miles ahead of the “new” Kazaa. It really does make you wonder what Kazaa has been doing for the past four years.

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Companies: brilliant digital, kazaa

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Comments on “Kazaa Returns As Expensive, Crappy DRM'd Music Service”

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Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Whoa Kazaa

I had forgotten about this program for the most part. It had been delegated to the memory banks of the evolution of file sharing only be thought about when people requested such information (which is pretty much never).

And now they’re back. I give them 6 months before they close up shop (and I feel that I am being generous). As stated, they are offering nothing that consumers want. Nothing. Why do the labels and others think stuff like this will work? Consumers have already spoken about what they want, and this is not it.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Throwing money away

If people are happy to throw money away on things that may be non-infringing, but are less useful than the potentially-infringement-facilitating alternative, perhaps they should try throwing money at the more useful alternatives?

Here’s a prototype I made a few years ago: Quidmusic. No DRM. The musician sells their music. Copies are free (in both senses). The fans can share and remix all they want (the artist has been paid).

R. Miles (profile) says:

I'm just speculating here...

…but this was a deliberate release by the recording industry so it gives them power at a later date to tell Congress “But there were many who tried to sell but customers weren’t buying. The stole it instead. Pay us.”

As a programmer, I can almost write out this script:
RICAP*: Well, since we sued your ass out of existence, we own you. Start coding.
Kazaa: With what? You killed our ad revenue.

RICAP: Not our problem. Code, or we’ll sue you again.
Kazaa: Fine. [3 months later, delivers a product]

RICAP: What’s this shit?
Kazaa: Online streaming with DRM.

RICAP: No, it plays in too many players. Restrict it to one.
Kazaa: Which one?

Kazaa: But that’s a dead player?

RICAP: Again, your point?
Kazaa: (sighs) [presents another product]

RICAP: Oh, you have got to be kidding us. What’s with this customized options and flexibility you’re giving to users?
Kazaa: Well, we thought…

RICAP: No. Listen, this is simple: develop a product no one wants using technology we can control in a manner that makes listening to music difficult so they will run to iTunes and buy it for the outrageous price of $0.99. You’re not making a real product, so stop trying.
Kazaa: You know, you’re dicks.
*RICAP is not a real entity. Any similarities and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

I’m also betting Kazaa probably went through quite a few programmers to get the job done.

Way to go, RICAP. Score another victory for your… hold on… gotta move this file so it’s not in the shared folder… asinine attempt at market control.

Crosbie Fitch (profile) says:

Re: I'm just speculating here...

Incisive speculation too.

It can be compared to the speculation that Murdoch has every expectation that paywalls will fail, but he has to try them in order that their inevitable failure can be used to justify collection of a news tax or levy.

RICAP also has to demonstrate that both copyright enforcement and ‘legal’ alternatives fail to deter piracy in order to collect a music tax or levy.

BruceLD says:


Good ole KaZaA. I won’t miss the days when the malware writers devised a system where no matter what scrambled letters and numbers you typed in, it always returned a result where the download tried to scam you.

Anyways…ummm…yep. DRM-riddled WMA will make them rich. Yep…uh huh…that’ll…ummm…work. Yeah…hmmm…it will…umm..for sure.

Okay. I have to go back to my free and unrestricted torrent downloads.

Brandt Morain (user link) says:

Bravo Kazaa!

Hello again everyone.

Bravo to Kazaa for having the guts to stand up against criminal piracy.

As expected, the industry is vindicating Brandt Morain’s Anti-Piracy stance. In the last few months Warner Music, Kazaa, the FBI and ISP’s, and even Prince are following Brandt Morain’s bold move.

These developments, and more, clearly indicate that piracy and copyright infringement are terrible for business and blatantly illegal.

Brandt Morain took a lot of heat originally for refusing to sell their debut CD until piracy is solved. It now appears that the solution may be coming sooner rather than later.

These recent industry moves illustrate that Brandt Morain was WAY ahead of the curve.


Marie Summers
Director of Marketing
Brandt Morain Studios


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