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March 04, 2005

DRM Stupidity

It all began after hearing the brilliant work of musician Jonathan Coulton on the Wizards of Technology podcast. Following the show's conclusion, I jumped onto the WoT website and followed the link trail through the show notes and into the songs section of Jonathan's site. I scrolled down to pleasantly find that, "Ikea," my favorite song of his, was available as a free mp3 download. But wait! I remembered something about his music also being available on the iTunes Music Store, and thought I would go there instead and buy the song so Jonathan would receive his cut of the 99 cents. I liked the song enough I didn't mind paying for it, so I opened iTunes, did a quick search of the Music Store, bought the song I wanted, and seconds later I was hearing about the wonders of Ikea.

So everything is working out great. I've got a new song to enjoy, and the satisfaction that at least some of my 99 cents went to the artist who worked so hard to make it. I am listening to the song, and it suddenly occurs to me that it would be a great addition to the next podcast. I check Jonathan's site and sure enough, he has a Creative Commons license. Wonderful! I quickly connect my two computers in order to transfer the song over to the one I use for recording the show. I drag the song file out of iTunes and onto the desktop and send it through the ethernet cable to the Powermac.

But wait! I notice a small lock in the corner of the file's icon. I open it in Quicktime and sure enough, the song's DRM encryption informs me that it cannot be played on an unauthorized computer.

So let me get this straight. Had I gone ahead and downloaded the song for free, I would have been able to put it on any computer I wanted and it would play perfectly. However, since I shelled out 99 cents for it, I am now unable to exercise my rights to fair use of the song file I have just purchased. So much for getting your money's worth.

Posted by Alan Joyce at March 4, 2005 06:55 PM


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