Yeah. So it is a well established fact that DRM in general is evil. Not only does it only harm people who try to do the right thing by going out and buying the damaged products, it doesn’t work. It will never work – there is always a way around the stupidity.
Damage my music files that I’m paying to download so they can’t be used without the magical blessing of your licence program? Fine, I’ll play them, catch the audio feed, and save the data into an un-encumbered file. There are programs that you can buy off the shelf at Target that will do this for you. I don’t condone the theft of intellectual property, I’m a bloody paying customer…
For the last few months now, I’ve been a subscriber to Napster’s service. I had registered because I needed to find an individual song for a project I was working on (from the Spongebob Squarepants Movie of all things). Turns out, because of DRM garbage, I had to take an extra hour out of my day, create a perpetual payment agreement to let Napster charge money to my PayPal account, and then transfer them 99¢ in addition to the monthly fee, etc…
Well, my wife and I had fun playing with the whole Napster thing after that. We installed it on her computer (Windows XP MCE) and in so doing augmented the thing’s FM tuner with a much broader selection of music. We downloaded and listened to all sorts of music that we’d never have bothered picking up off of the shelves otherwise. All told, we’ve probably spent $50 or $60 on the service.
Not much later, something came up and I actually wanted to get my hands on that Spongebob song again. After all, I’d paid a buck for it. Turns out, my licence had somehow expired? Or something. I never was able to download the file again – at least, not in anything other than the normal completely crippled format. I shrugged this off and carried on.
About a month ago, Penny was traversing the collected works of Wierd Al, and found two or three songs that she really wanted to share with her brother. So, Napster was installed onto our laptop, with the intent of taking it down with us when we visited. The licence says that you’re allowed to download the files onto three separate computers. Tell that to the program. It turns out that you’re only allowed to download it onto one machine – you then have to use networking or data cd’s or something to import the files across. You can’t even re-stream it on another client if you’ve downloaded it on one elsewhere (this is probably what ate the soul of poor Mr. Squarepants). So… long story short, we weren’t able to share the song with her brother since the computer we’d downloaded the files to was 120 miles away in our bedroom.
Last week, I decided to do something with Napster. I don’t even remember what it was. I think I was just going to create a random playlist of stuff to listen to while I worked on writing the party daemon for the mud or something. It wouldn’t let me listen to anything. And I’m on the machine we’d downloaded the files to in the first place. They force me into downloading a newer client version, fine, no biggie there. So I patch the thing and music still won’t play.
I get complaints that they can’t acquire licences for the songs in question, and advice to log into the client program. It’s the bloody program telling me this error in the first place… I am guessing that a lot of this problem is because they’re trying to do nasty MSIE things to me and I have castrated the stupid program to prevent it from harming my computer any more than it already does.
So, I decide that enough is enough and I want to cancel my account. Turns out, the only way to do so is OVER THE PHONE. Yup, you created your account via the computer and when you finally get fed up of the service, you have to wait until business hours and get put on hold in order to turn the stupid thing off.
I just found the button on PayPal to cancel the billing agreement, so I yanked it and wrote a moderately scathing complaint.
And why am I ranting about this? Because I was reminded of Sony’s recent crimes against humanity by Snarky’s new blog. Beyond the sentiments in my comment on his post…
Breaking standards is a Bad Thing™. The format of CD audio data has been standardized forever. Once we start letting people bully us into accepting damaged goods in the form of CD’s that don’t comply to decades-old standards… we’re opening ourselves up to crap like this. Not only is it now possible to infect your computer with a virus by inserting a Frank Sinatra album, there is every chance that you will have trouble playing the disc in your car, etc…
The mindset behind a company that would flagrantly abuse their market share and compromise the security on hundreds of thousands of their customers’ computers is beyond me. What Sony has done is not only vile and unsavory, it is downright illegal. They installed rootkits on government computers. They deserve the backlash they’re facing – and more.
I am proud of my people for standing up against this stupidity.
There is a war coming. Proprietary file formats are going down… eventually. And there’s no telling how many innocents will die in the conflict. Sigh.