This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry DRM-Mas

From the "didn't care until it happened to me" file comes this story of annoyance, pain, failure, and ultimately, hope:

Our dog got us 7 CD's for Christmas. Don't ask. 6 of these CD's were normal, you know, actual CD's, with music on them and stuff. The other one was different. When I popped it into the old computer, instead of the normal Windows "autoplay" feature, I got a message asking me to either accept or not accept their little EULA*. I clicked on "Do not accept," because it's just a CD, right? I don't need their software or their videos or their advertisements cluttering up my life.

My CD drive popped open. Apparently, "do not accept" means I don't want to play the CD at all. So I haven't really bought a CD, I've purchased a piece of software that's designed to annoy me and keep me from that parts of it that I want. I pushed it back in, determined to get to the bottom of this. I disabled the autoplay thing and explored the CD. There were no CD tracks to be found, there were just some copy-protected .wma files and a bunch of software.

So what did my dog just buy in the CD section of the local Christian mega-mart? It sure looks like a CD, and it sure acts like a CD when I put it in a CD player, but when I try to rip the tracks to my computer using Windows Media Player, it's sure not a CD.

Bottom line: they charged me the same price for less functionality without really letting me know. In fact, if all I had was a computer and an Ipod, the CD would be completely worthless to me. What evil is this? How can Sony/BMG/EMI think that this will drive up CD sales?

For their part, Sony is offering a solution to those consumers who feel bait-and-switched: They have instructions on their site for getting around the DRM program (the thing that prevents you from copying the tracks to an IPod or playing them in Winamp or really do anything with them except play them in Windows Media Player and burn 3 CD's with them)**. So I spent my Christmas Eve ripping the tracks to my computer using their DRM death program, burning them to a CD using the horrible and buggy Windows Media Player, and then re-ripping the now DRM-free tracks to a different folder. Was it complicated? No. Was it time consuming? Yes. I am therefore forced to conclude that the Sony Music corporate strategy for making money is getting out of the CD business entirely by annoying customers. There's really no other explanation. They must be launching a music service or something that charges 99 cents each for DRM-encumbered death tracks that only play in Sony-approved programs.

Do we really still think that piracy is the #1 enemy of music sales? I'm just glad that most of the CD's I like are on indie labels, because I will never ever buy a Sony/BMG/EMI product again without confirming that it is not pre-broken to keep me from copying it.

* EULA = End Use License Agreement, that little thing with legally binding language that you have to click "yes" to before installing any legitimate software program.

** To add more parenthetical explanation: DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, and upwards of 70 Sony/EMI CD's released recently have it built-in. DRM is being pushed mainly by big musicmaker BMG of Germany, because if you think we have a piracy problem, you haven't seen eastern europe. The recently merged Sony and EMI are apparently "testing DRM out," and it was CD's from Sony that were responsible for the rootkit DRM virus that infected 500,000 computers in late 2005. Methinks one of the 10,000 people they downsized in the merger was responsible for DRM quality control, but that's just wild speculation on my part.


  • At 3:40 PM, Blogger Bearded One said…

    Oooh, the dreaded Sony rootkit? Bad stuff, man. (Switchfoot, by the way? They officially apologized for it, on their Sony forum, even. And posted how to disable the nasty driver that it auto-installed.)

    Still, if it was the rootkit, there was some discussion that Sony's rootkit removal still didn't take everything out. May want to do some Googling...


Post a Comment

<< Home