Filesharing and DRM Archives
I can't decide whether the record companies are hiring morons to design their protection schemes, or whether the people they are hiring are so ashamed of their employers they just can't bring themselves to do good work. Ed Felten has a post up about the latest CD "protection" scheme:
This technology is going to end up in the hall of fame beside the previous Sony technology that was famously defeated by drawing on the CD with a felt-tipped pen. This time, the technology can be defeated completely by holding down the computer's Shift key while inserting the CD.
All right, I suppose it's possible that most people will be using Windows, and that most people won't think to disable autorun (temporarily or otherwise) before putting in these CDs, but you can bet that a simple Google search will tell them how to copy those tracks once they realize something is interfering. Making the copy protection this easy to crack is ridiculous. I realize real protection is very difficult (read: impossible, at least as long as DRM isn't built into every layer of every CD-playing box on the planet), but if this is the best the record companies have, they might as well just quit trying.
OpenP2P.com has an article/interview titled Independent Label Go-Kart Records Embraces MP3s which is quite interesting. A quote:
Instead of suing little girls and filing ridiculous lawsuits, we here at Go-Kart have decided to embrace this new MP3 technology, and have unleashed the first commercially sold MP3 CD… We feel that this format is the perfect way to promote bands, rather than take away from them.
They even include instructions on how to burn the mp3s to other CDs. Greg Ross, who runs Go-Kart, seems like an entirely sane person. Along with services like irate radio, CDBaby, and Dell's (hopefully good) upcoming music service, it looks like within a few months you won't need to illegally download songs you want, which is a definite improvement. (As Greg notes in the interview, filesharing services suck for finding what you want anyway, so I'll be happy when there's a good, my-rights friendly service where I don't have to worry about getting 4 minutes of a 20-second loop or digital bleeps and bloops instead of (say) Sheryl Crow's cover of Cat Stevens' First Cut Is The Deepest. Of course whether Dell will be the first big service to sell big-name artists and still manage sane DRM settings is an unfortunately open question.)
There's a good article in Slate called An Offer You Can Refuse which discusses the current state of P2P and the RIAA's utterly BS amnesty. Among other interesting factoids is that even if you take their deal, any other copyright owner can then subpoena the RIAA and use the amnesty information to sue you themselves. Charming, yes?
The really interesting point the author makes is to point out that activity is starting to move off of the current major P2P nets. He mentions EarthStation 5, a Palestine (as in the Middle East) based network that uses anonymization etc to try to hide who's downloading and sharing what. Another trend I've noticed is a move to "semi-private" nets, where a community (online or offline) will provide a secret, password-protected P2P net for its own use. While this does slow down the diffusion of new material, it doesn't do so by a whole lot because of the six-degrees-of-separation problem; many people will belong to multiple nets, and will thus help move material across community boundaries. Several colleges and universities have these kind of nets (both official and unofficial), as do numerous online forums.
A wise man once said that "The Internet views censorship as damage, and routes around it." So far he's right. First noticed this via Instapundit.
There. I posted. Happy? :)
The RIAA's sue 'em all campaign has resulted in a 22% drop in file sharing, but at the same time, CD sales have plummeted by 9.4% and, "Specifically, curtailing file trading may not improve CD sales, but instead may accelerate their decline."
Golly, who'd have thunk that suing your own customers would actually have negative repercussions?
Last year, we went to a Dar Williams concert here in St. Louis. After the concert I was kicking myself for not taking along some sort of digital recorder—a minidisc recorder or some such—because in the course of the concert, Dar sang a pair of tremendous duets with her opening act. Those versions of the song are lost, unless I miraculously find someone who bootlegged the concert.
It seems to me there's a huge opportunity here. If the artist were to have every concert professionally recorded, and the results were burned to CDs and sold at the end of the concert, you could create an entire new revenue stream with a huge bonus: unauthorized bootlegging would virtually vanish (who wouldn't shell out for a high-quality, authorized recording of the concert rather than deal with the hassle and risk of a lower-quality recording they made themselves?). All it would take is some recording equipment and a couple of towers of CD burners.
I stumbled across this interview with general counsel for Verizon about peer to peer, and found it somewhat reassuring. The RIAA/MPAA have pushed so hard for the laws and protections they want (in order to maintain their stranglehold on music and video respectively) that they've started to irritate the big boys of telecom.
Think of it. Every musical experience will be like the first time. Every track will be exciting and new. And you'll never have a song stuck in your head again.
Addendum: Just saw (via Instapundit) this article on LawMeme regarding cheaper, downloadable music. I have to agree with Miller: I think it's inevitable that the music will include some sort of nonportability tech, and that using Liquid is a very obvious tip-off of this. The industry seems to have wised up a hair (if they do in fact sell entire CDs for $9.99, and new CDs instead of just old stock), but them getting entirely clueful all at once is a bit hard to swallow. I hope they surprise me, though.
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