Tag Archives: Copyright

News: The Future of Music and DRM

 For those of you interested in the debate about copyright protection for music (digital rights management, or DRM, as it’s called) here’s an interesting article from the industry point of view — and a lively discussion on the lively Slashdot forum (some contributions are more, er, erudite than others).
 
Something I think hasn’t been thought through by either side on the debate is that once a product ceases to be purely the property of the holder — like a CD — then problems will occur. What happens if I want to sell the music I’ve downloaded via an online service using DRM? What happens when I want to sell software I’ve bought that uses an activation feature? In the old days I could just sell my CDs, or CD-ROMs, out of the trunk of my car.

News: Copyright? What Is That Again?

 Are we all outlaws, or what? A study by Pew Internet & American Life Project from surveys fielded during March – May of 2003 (i.e. before the RIAA started sending out subpoenas) shows that 67% of Internet users who download music say they do not care about whether the music they have downloaded is copyrighted, an increase from a July-August 2000 survey which indicated 61% — of a smaller number of downloaders — said they didn?t care about the copyright status of their music files.
 
 
What does this say? Well on the surface it looks bad — although not particularly newsworthy. But on closer inspection, two things strike me:
  • Of course, these folk who are already downloading music are unlikely to come out and say they consider themselves felons. If they did care about copyright, then what are they doing downloading music? So I think the figures are a bit misleading.
  • I suspect that, all the bluster aside, the number of people downloading music is going to drop off dramatically now the RIAA is getting heavy. Not the result I think should happen, but it’s inevitable. The Net is a mysterious place and most folk (including me) don’t really know what information can be gleaned about their browsing habits, so better safe than sorry. Whether that’s going to have the intended effect of shuffling everyone off to the mall to stock up on CDs is another matter. One likely outcome is small localized clusters of CD-MP3 sharers along the lines of old mixtapes and CD-borrowing. Not that I’m condoning piracy, oh no sireee. But, now the party’s over, who’s going to go back to buying overpriced CDs just for a couple of songs you like? Share your thoughts.

Update: Cracking the code

Microsoft Reader: a clarification
 
 
 Further to my note about successful efforts to crack the new code protecting the copyright of Microsoft Reader ebooks, here’s a clarification from Dan Jackson, who keeps a copy of the software which can circumvent the code on his website:
 
I noticed you have an article concerning the new version of Convert LIT 1.4. Just thought I’d straighten a few things out. Due to a miscommunication between myself and the author, a few copies were indeed sent out anonymously, but the program and its source code are now freely available from the Dan Jackson Software website at http://members.lycos.co.uk/hostintheshell/ – this is the official site for Convert LIT and all binaries residing on there have been fully tested and virus scanned.
Like yourself, I do not condone the use of this tool for copyright violation, and the technical limits of the program help to curb that to some extent (owner-exclusive DRM5 eBooks can still only be converted on the machine on which the activated copy of Reader which was used to purchase them is installed). The primary intention of the program is to allow other platforms or devices to be able to access Microsoft Reader format files. Hope this information is of use, Dan Jackson.
 
Thanks, Dan. Of course none of this detracts from the fact that the code has been broken, and quickly too. Microsoft, your move.