Your Daily Phil

The absolute stupidity of DRM

Posted by lozenp on March 2, 2007

So the people over at Gizmodo have declared a boycott of the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) for the month of March. What does this mean, no buying music the traditional way for the month of March. They have also created a manifesto to go along with their boycott. It’s a great read, I’d highly recommend it.

For those of you who don’t know, the RIAA is the evil group behind DRM, or digital rights management. They are the reason that music you buy from the Itunes store, can only be played on Ipods (sure there are ways around that but for the average user, they’re stuck with Ipod) and they are also the people that have brought lawsuits agains thousands of people across the country for “pirating” music (for the record, I’m against stealing music, but it’s certainly easy to understand why people do it with all the restrictions put on legal purchases).

Here’s the short story: If you buy a CD, you should be able to use it as you like. It’s yours. Short of making hundreds of copies and selling them to people, you should be able to listen to it in your car, on your Ipod, and on your computer. The RIAA wants that to be illegal. If you legally own a DVD, you should be able to make a backup copy of it, play it on your PC, on your DVD player, or put it on your home network for personal use. Not so, says the RIAA’s evil twin the MPAA (Motion Picture Assoc. America). Imagine buying an oven and being told you could only cook pie in it, even though it was a fully functioning oven that could cook any and all foods. Same concept.

Piracy is indeed a problem, but the RIAA really has no one to blame but themselves. Take morals, ethics, legality, etc. out of the picture. If given the choice to own a song either: 1. That is completely free of protection, free for you to use on as many media devices as you own, transfer from PC to PC that you own, play in any car you own, or 2. That same song that you can use on only one of your many media devices, and once you pick that device, that’s all you can use it on, which would you choose. Of course any sane person would say give me the open-ended file. And since the RIAA is so over-the-top with piracy, they’ve locked legal files down to ridiculous levels, essentially punishing the user who does things legally.

Remember taping radio programs back in the day, hoping to hear your favorite song? Illegal, according to the RIAA even though the programming is out on the free, open airwaves. Files you record to your DVR off free tv like ABC, you can’t do anything with them. It’s free TV, you paid your cable bill, you rent the equipment, yet you can’t do anything with those files.

I can’t explain it as well as the links above can, and if you ever get a chance (it’s a long read) take a peek at Courtney Love’s take on the music industry (note it is unedited). It’s eye-popping.

The most shocking thing the RIAA has done recently is this (from Gizmodo):

Recently, the RIAA began looking to streamline the entire lawsuit process by cutting courts, lawyers, and any semblance of due process out altogether. Their new plan is to have ISPs point people to p2plawsuits.com (catchy!) and offer to discount their settlement by $1,000 if they pay up without going to court at all. By avoiding the court system, the RIAA can avoid paying those pesky lawyer’s fees. Even better for them, they plan to require ISPs to retain all of their customer records for at least 180 days in order to be eligible for the $1,000 discount. This would make everyone’s surfing and downloading history available to a non-governmental organization in order to make it easier for them to gather evidence for their intimidation lawsuits.

Basically, the RIAA is attempting to enforce fines on people outside of the legal system, as if I were to send you a fine and tell you to pay my bank account to save time and money. Pure guerrilla tactics, and borderline illegal themselves.

I encourage you to learn more about copyright protection and the idea of Fair Use as it pertains to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You may not know it, but your rights as a consumer are eroding before your very eyes.

More on this as things progress, and as I learn more about it.

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