Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer

by Volker Weber

P. has been travelling a lot recently. He has shot quite a few photos and wants to show them in a slideshow made with iPhoto on his iMac. Here is what happens when he takes this slideshow to a friend's house:

I first try to play the video by double clicking on the icon: Quicktime starts but also a window pops up, coming from iTunes I guess, asking me to authorize the music relevant to that video with my ID and password.

I am starting to scratch my head but I just happened to remember that I had indeed purchased some music to check out iTMS when it started, so I dutifully typed in my ID and password. I got the "go-ahead" after that but I also got a reminder thanking me and warning me that I had used my music so far on a total of four different computers and one more was left...

Suddenly all your ranting came to my mind and it all started to make sense...

The music I had purchased and paid for, was not mine but still "theirs" and using it for something as innocent as a sound track for a home made slideshow was to be paid for again and again. No one else could benefit from it without one of my own computers.

Of course there are ways around, I know that however, I fully understand now that this is plain ridiculous, and whe are only at the beginning of this problem as the whole idea of DRM is still fairly new. Can you immagine ten years from now?

Well, I thought I just wanted to let you now, it is all starting to make more sense and I will stop supporting iTMS unless something changes in the strategy.

This would not have happened, if he had ripped one of his very own CDs. But by purchasing a track crippled by DRM he clearly received an inferior product. The only person hurt in this process is the paying customer. Whatever is bad for the customer, will be bad for the business. It just takes a while to understand.


Looks like a familiar story, doesn't it? ;-)

Pieter Lansbergen, 2006-04-17 16:04

I made the same sad experience today when I tried to export photos from our easter holidays to quicktime with an underlying song I bought from iTunes :-(

At least I received a warning before I went to my parents with a crippled CD. I had to burn the song on a CD and rip the song with iTunes. All in all it took my additional 20 minutes to leave the house with a working CD.

ciao tpk

Thomas Köster, 2006-04-17 21:16

I strikes me over and over again, how stubbornly the music industry keeps clinging on to their old business model and ignoring the fate that has been brought about with the digitalization of music.

But then I have another question (one only a non-mac user could have, I assume): Does iPhoto offer the same functionality for non-DRMed music which it offers for DRMed music? No lock-in at all to AAC? Surprising but promising...

Ragnar Schierholz, 2006-04-17 21:25

JHymn seems to be dead in the water, with no coders to decode iTunes 6 store bought music, so the only way for the moment to protect your investments seems to be writing to cd and re-ripping it, with quality loss (?).

@Ragnar, yes, iPhoto allows you to use non-drmmed music as well, AFAIR.

@Thomas, you mean that when you wanted to write the cd you were warned that it would contain DRMmed music ?

Alex Boschmans, 2006-04-18 10:07

Strangely iMovie doesn't seem to suffer in the same way. I've recently made a couple of iMovies using music bought from iTMS, and then included them in an iDVD project and there was no issue with playing the movies on a non-authorised PC.

In fact, I think that I also included an iPhoto slideshow in the iDVD project and that was fine too.


Stuart McIntyre, 2006-04-18 10:47

If it lands GWB in trouble with the RIAA, then I am all for it :)

In the video linked below, we see that President Bush's iPod contains songs by the Beatles; since no Beatles songs have been licensed for the iTunes Music Store yet, these must have come from ripped CDs.

Last February, the RIAA told a federal agency that ripping CDs is illegal.
I wonder if they'll bring charges.

Villi Helgason, 2006-04-18 13:11

Well, just compare the number of iPods sold with the number of tracks sold on the iTMS and you will see that the RIAA has lost all contact with reality.

Volker Weber, 2006-04-18 13:18

@Alex, I was warned while exporting to the qt format.

There was a message box telling me that i would only be able to play the slideshow incl. music on authorized machines.

ciao tpk

Thomas Koester, 2006-04-18 13:59

Ah, Steve Jobs himself speaks on iTunes' DRM:

[Journalist:] Do you think that it's fair to the customer that the songs they buy from Apple will only work on iTunes and the iPod?
[Steve Jobs:] Well, they knew that all along.

So, apparantly DRM is something the iTunes customers knew and wanted ...


Sander Jonkers, 2006-10-15 23:05

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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