Who owns your computer?

by Volker Weber

You do, right? Well, that's what you believe when you get it at the store and pay with your own money. Not according to the music industry though. When Sony Music was caught installing a root kit into Windows computers, Mac users shrugged and thought they were unaffected. Now RCA has been caught installing kernel extensions (PhoenixNub1.kext and PhoenixNub12.kext) on Macs.

You think they cannot sink further? They can. Just wait for Windows Vista, where they no longer even have to install root kits and kernel extensions. Vista will come with shackles built right in. Mac users unaffected? Dream on. What do you think is the reason that Apple switches to Intel? Faster processors? Dream on.

Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.

Corollary: What's bad for the customer is bad for the industry. Because customers will stop buying. At least this former Apple exec will:

From this day forward I will never spend a another dime on content that I can’t use the way I please. If I can’t copy it to my hard drive and play it using the devices I want, when and where I want, I won’t be buying it. Period.

They can all take their DRM, and their broadcast flags, and their rootkits, and their compact discs that aren’t really Compact Discs and shove them up their bottom-lines.

Amen.

Comments

"DRM is bad for the customer."

should read

"DRM means Digital Restrictions Management, and thus is bad for the customer."

Sander Jonkers, 2005-11-11

I would like to add that, as an audiophile, what really pisses me off is the fact that the "copy-protection" actually completely degrades sound quality. Quality CD players strictly follow the Red Book specification, and sometimes you just get unreadable CDs or snaps and pops. horrible. horrible. The crappy CD players, on the other hand, since they are designed with crap hardwarde (the laser unit) which give crap data to the digital section, use loads of error correction so that they can read even the most destroyed CD. The error correction, though, has an impact on the sound quality, which is why better CD players avoid it.

I am not necessarily convinced that the industry will be unsuccessful, though. I would if you assume that the consumers are making informed, rational buying decisions. If you assume that, then please explain the "DNA-Activated regeneration anti-aging cream" that my girlfriend buys. Or the million different types of shampoo. Call me a hairy male if you want, when I look at the list of ingredients in a shampoo it always reads the same, water, sodium laureth sulfate, etc.

Look also at how music is bought. Most sales are made to people who are not really making an informed choice. In France, 70% of music is sold in supermarkets. To date, the music industry has managed to completely manipulate consumer demand by basically controlling the radios and television. My solution out of this is neither to own a TV or a radio, but I suspect most people would balk at this solution.

Andrew Magerman, 2005-11-11

Check out "Security Now" by Steve Gibson on the iTunes Music Store. He does a great podcast on "root kits". It's free.

Bruce

Bruce Elgort, 2005-11-11

Maybe some progress on this issue;

"Sony has said it will suspend the production of music CDs with anti-piracy technology which can leave computers vulnerable to viruses.

The move came after security firms said hackers were exploiting the software to hide their creations. "


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4430608.stm

Nick Daisley, 2005-11-12

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