DRM actually gets worse

28 Sep

I listened with surprise to the latest This Week in Tech podcast and its news that DRM is getting even crazier and worse.

DRM is technology that ‘wraps” around an digital version of a song or book or movie and keeps you from copying it or playing it on any device you want – the most prominent example being songs you buy on the iTunes Store, which can only be played in iTunes or on an iPod.

Apparently when you use the new Microsoft Zune player, you can send a song wirelessly to a friend’s Zune player. Cool! BUT. When you send it, the device adds DRM to the song that wasn’t there before, so that your friend can only play the song three times before it breaks. The problem is that the Zune does this to ALL audio files, not just songs. And many audio files (like the TWiT podcast) are made available under conditions that absolutely forbid this sort of monkeying around.

Meanwhile, the upcoming version of Windows Media Player won’t let you back up the licenses that enable you to play DRM’d media. So if your computer dies, you can’t save your music: Even if you backed up your songs, WMP won’t play them without the accompanying licenses to prove that they’re legit.

Not that Apple is off the hook here. Songs bought at the iTunes Store may only be played on a maximum of five authorized computers. Here’s what “About iTunes Store authorization and deauthorization” says:

Make sure you deauthorize your computer before you upgrade your RAM, hard disk or other system components. If you do not deauthorize your computer before you upgrade these components, one computer may use multiple authorizations. If you find you have reached 5 authorizations due to system upgrades, you can reset your authorization count by clicking Deauthorize All in the Account Information screen. Note: You may only use this feature once per year. The Deauthorize All button will not appear if you have fewer than 5 authorized computers or if you have used this option within the last 12 months.

Emphasis mine. I can only deauthorize all of my authorized computers once a year? I can understand setting up some restrictions so that people don’t cheat the system by rapidly authorizing and deauthorizing all of their friends computers, although it sounds like a lame way to share music. But why not once a week, or month? Bah.

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One Response to “DRM actually gets worse”

  1. Fernando September 28, 2006 at 2:16 pm #

    So you listen to TWiT as well, this DRM stuff has got to go. It really stops you managing your music your way.

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