How I Became A Music Pirate

Does DRM drive even honest well-meaning people to piracy? Yes, of course it does.

Reader and music lover Jarrett tried to send the following “detailed, passionate complaint letter” to Rhino, but their only reply was:

450 Server configuration problem

Good for us, because Jerrett decided to send his letter to us. So, without delay, here is “How I Become A Music Pirate” by Jarrett.

Jarrett writes:

How I Became A Music Pirate

I thought I was the music industry’s dream consumer.

As a 40 year old male with a long-standing passion for “all things music,” I’ve spent a bundle on my collection. In college most of my waking hours were spent wandering around record stores, swap meets and record conventions, much to the dismay of the women I was ostensibly dating. Then again, the fact that I also worked as a DJ at the radio station and hung out with obsessive record collector types probably didn’t help matters in the romance department.

Then while in grad school in the 1990s, I became busy replacing many of my vinyl releases with CD’s. At the same time, entrepreneurial music industry types began to exploit the market for out-of-print recordings by reissuing long out-of-print records on CD formats, which of course I instantly snapped up.

So here I sit circa 2007 with a house filled with over 1000 vinyl records and around 800 CD’s. If you figure about $12 per recording as an accurate average, that’s somewhere around $20,000. Not a bad chunk of change for the music business, I say.

Last week while I was busy importing my CD’s into iTunes so I could listen to them on my iPod (a most tedious task), I hopped on the internet. iTunes was busy importing a Luna CD, one of my favorite bands, so I decided to see what they were up to since they disbanded a few years back. After a few clicks in Google, I found a blog site describing a posthumous, internet-only release of a collection of covers the band had recorded throughout their career. While I already had many of the songs (they were often featured on b-sides and imported singles, etc.), I couldn’t resist tracking down this compilation. As I read further on the blog site I encountered a link to a .zip file containing the entire collection ripped as 128kbps mp3’s.

While I must admit being tempted to simply click away and download the collection, I though to myself, “Well, if I buy the music it’s only $10, and this way I will get high quality .WAV files. Besides, it’s not like Luna were getting rich off of their careers, they could use the money…”

So I headed to Rhino’s online store, purchased the music, and downloaded the files.

A little later that evening, I tried to move the .WMA files into iTunes, when I received an error message telling me that iTunes could not import them because they were copy protected. I downloaded the files again (which took another 12 minutes) and again, the same message.

So I called Rhino customer support and after an 8 minute wait spoke with a representative. She informed me that the files were indeed copy protected so that I could only play them on specific music players, most notably not iTunes.

“You don’t understand,” I said, “These files were not copied or pirated, I actually purchased them.”

“Well” she responded, “You didn’t actually purchase the files, you really purchased a license to listen to the music, and the license is very specific about how they can be played or listened to.”

Now I was baffled. “Records never came with any such restrictions,” I said.

She replied, “Well they were supposed to, but we weren’t able to enforce those licenses back then, and now we can”

She later went on to explain that I could burn the songs to a CD and listen to them in a regular CD player, but I would need an additional Windows based music player to listen to them on my computer. But either way, she suggested there was no way the files could be played on my iPod.

Frustrated, I hung up and began my search for a Windows application to allow me to burn the music to a CD. After downloading Nero and firing it up, imagine my frustration when I receive another error message telling me it cannot locate the licenses for the music I purchased.

I call Rhino again, and this time speak to a young male CSR. He explains that I need updated licenses in order to burn the music and often the problem is that many firewalls will allow the music to pass through the firewall, but not the licenses because of their encryption schemes. Lest you think I am exaggerating, I included below the following text from their website (apparently this is a big enough problem that it warrants mentioning in their FAQ):

1. Temporarily disable all firewall and pop-up blocker software you may be running on your computer.

2. Attempt the download again

If the Licensing portion of the download is still hanging, please update the Digital Rights Management (DRM) component on your computer via the following URL: http://drmlicense.one.microsoft.com/Indivsite/indivit2.htm

The friendly CSR representative then suggests that I try once more to download the files and licenses and if I still have no luck to try accessing the internet from other providers such as a local coffee shop, library, or work computer.

“Basically, just keep downloading the music until you find a gateway that let’s your licenses through without problems”

While I would like to say I responded with something witty, I must admit to being completely flummoxed. There I sat, a loyal music fan who has shelled out actual money to a business that is supposed to be having financial problems, and the best they can do is tell me to wander the streets of Seattle looking for different internet providers who might allow me to download the music that I have already paid for, music that I have spent the better part of three house trying to listen to, and which is still unusable?

How on earth have things come to this?!?!?!

Honestly, if this is the best you can do, you’re business is in really, really serious trouble.

I mean, could you imagine the consumer response if Coke could only be consumed from specific Coke-approved equipment, and then only in the specific ways that the folks at Coke wanted the product to be consumed. “drinking Coke with fast food is no problem, but we must warn you that your license forbids the mixing of Coke with any alcoholic beverages…”

In the end, I never was able to get the music to play on anything–my computer, on a CD or on my iPod. I invested $10, several hours of my time, and my reward was, well, nothing.

I’d like to say I was outraged, but in the end I must admit to feeling remarkably sad and deflated over the whole process. See, the thing is, I was raised on music. I was saved by music. I (used to) live for music. Lester Bangs wasn’t my idol, he was my soul mate (in a matter of speaking).

I’ve devoted a not-inconsequential chunk of my life to collecting music; to tracking down obscure records, cassettes, 8-Tracks and CD’s of all genres and styles. And now apparently that is all but over. Music has somehow evolved from tangible things into amorphous collections of 1’s and 0’s guarded over by interested parties as if they were gold bullion. How so very sad.

I would like to think that someone at a place like Rhino would care enough to not let these kinds of things happen. But alas, my suspicion is that anyone who would have been cool enough to work at Rhino in their heyday some twenty years ago would never be so callous, foolish or shallow to allow these kind of absurdities to occur.

Since I’ve resigned myself not to waste any more time with the music business, I suppose I’ll have to resort to purchasing used CD’s & records, or having my friends occasionally make me a copy of one of their newer CD’s.

Call it piracy. Call it whatever you want. But at least I tried. I gave you several chances and you failed miserably at every level.

Jarrett

Well, it’s a good thing you stopped Jarrett from sharing his files on the internet. Imagine! Losing a good customer! Oh wait. It’s not free music that drives some people to piracy, it’s the lack of a quality product from legitimate music sources. —MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: Burnsland)

Comments

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  1. uhyesiam says:

    God, do I feel that pain. It’s like going into a Verizon store with $300 in cash screaming PLEASE TAKE MY MONEY, and watching the all of the reps fumble over themselves for an hour trying to uncomplicate their system for someone who honestly “just wants what they sell”

    So sad indeed

  2. VG10 says:

    I havn’t bought a CD in years. What the MPAA and RIAA are doing to their industries is sucking them dry until they are no longer needed.

    I don’t mind paying for music, but when I do, it’s mine. I can put it in my house, my car, or my office and zen. I don’t care what you license says, I paid for it, im not giving it away or selling it so get over it. People are sick of being taken advantage of. I just with the federal government would do something to the MPAA/RIAA for suing everyone they can find. Even last week, a woman was sued and she doesn’t even own a computer!

    I have a sirius radio, i get all the music i want from there, no more buying CDs for me.

  3. Slosh says:

    FYI – if you can burn those wma’s to an audio cd, you can use itunes to import the cd into itunes. (of course, you will have to enter the artist and album information yourself)

    it’s funny, but itunes itself has the capacity to break its own DRM.

  4. JohnOB1 says:

    Back in the day, during an interview Prince said what he loved about Napster was that you were able to get music that you would not be able to get anywhere else because that music is considered no longer financially viable.

    For example, a friend was able to download Eddie Hazel’s Games, Dames & Guitar Thangs… this was an album that was not available for many years… yet, he was able to find it on Napster.

    The great thing about finding these tunes online was that you heard the needle drop and the faint scratches of a vinyl record. Someone took great care in recording these tracks.

  5. thejbs says:

    knowledgeable and passionate music lovers are NOT “the music industry’s dream consumer.”

    Their dream consumer is someone who buys James Taylor and Nora Jones CD’s by the fistfull at Starbucks for 18.99 a pop.

    • Ingram81 says:

      @thejbs: I disagree. The music industry’s dream consumer is all Britney Spears and Jonas Brothers @ 20 bucks a CD. It makes much more sense to sell low quality at high price, than high quality at high price.

    • mariospants says:

      @thejbs: and to make matters worse, it sounds like our OP spends the majority of his money on used CDs and albums so I can see how the industry might not take his claim too seriously.

  6. dancemonkey says:

    Same thing happened to me with a purchased CD. Would not play except on Windows-based hardware that could handle the WMA encryption. The solutions was as someone posted above: burn the disc (the encryption allowed that) and then re-encode the files as MP3. Lost a little mojo along the way no doubt, but it worked.

    For the record, that one cd was the only one I have ever encountered with that DRM on it, and that was several years ago.

  7. noneother says:

    i really feel for the guy, and it’s really indicative of how sad the music industry has become. overprotective, alienating, and filled with a kind of “it’s mine and will never be yours” mentality.

  8. loreshdw says:

    This is why I refuse to buy from itunes, and why I rarely buy CD’s anymore. I just don’t want to deal with the hassle of buying something I can’t use because of DRM. I don’t own an iPod or a real stereo, just a junky, out of date 8 yr old laptop, a cruddy radio/cd/tape/record combo player, and whatever I plug my flash drive into. I have to buy music that can play anywhere AND be burned onto cd’s (for in the car). I also want to put in a plug for emusic.com, the only service I use at the moment:

    http://www.emusic.com/about/index.html

    “eMusic caters to music lovers of all types in the underserved 25-54 demographic. It does so by cultivating a vast catalogue from the world’s top independent labels that spans every conceivable musical genre, by offering unrivaled music discovery tools and by providing tracks in a high bit rate (192K VBR) MP3 format with no DRM. It all adds up to a pro-consumer experience that gives subscribers the ultimate in flexibility, and just as importantly, ample opportunities to discover new, exciting music.

    eMusic sells music in the universally compatible MP3 format – the most widely utilized digital music format, used by hundreds of millions of consumers, and the only one that offers all the functions of physical music products such as the CD. The MP3 format allows consumers to play tracks on any device, burn CDs and make as many copies as they like for personal use.”

  9. Panhandler says:

    @thejobs: you’ve hit the nail on the head. I have a wealthy family member; she received a long lecture from another family member last xmas about the supposed evils of DRM, and her response was: “I. DON’T. CARE. This is convenient and I don’t have to think about it. I get what I want for a price I’m willing to pay. In fact, I’ve paid for songs two and three times to put them on my childrens’ iPods. I don’t want to play with computers the way my other siblings do.”

    We computer nerds can hardly understand that people like this exist on the same planet as us, but they are out there as an economic force — a force that has spoken in dramatic fashion with their overwhelming adoption of the iPod and “Starbucks as Music Store.”

    Barf.

  10. HearsMusic says:

    Shawn Fanning and Napster really changed the face of…everything. I remember getting high-speed Internet in late 1998/99 and just going absolutely crazy on Napster. All the songs I ever wanted but couldn’t afford to buy the albums, all right there, almost instantaneously. It was wonderful and exciting, and a completely new way of connecting with other fans.

    The music industry has never stopped overreacting to that “event.” It is sad and deflating, that the unrestrained excitement of music search and discovery has been distilled down to lawsuits against 10-year-olds.

    Sure, I buy from iTunes. I have an iPod. I also use BitTorrent and SoulSeek to check out a lot of bands I’m not going to spend my money on without hearing all I want from them.

  11. @JohnOB1: “Back in the day, during an interview Prince said what he loved about Napster was that you were able to get music that you would not be able to get anywhere else because that music is considered no longer financially viable.”

    This is why copyright is sooooooooo ridiculous today — there is no possible reason on God’s green earth why Britney Spears’s music should be protected for 70 years after her death. The commercial life of 90% of her music is less than 5 years, after which it will languish in obscurity for maybe 130 years, copyright protected, commercially non-viable, and non-listened-to; putting it in the public domain afer five or ten years instead of holding it hostage for 130 would mean that her music would gain renewed relevance, and probably would boost the sale of her other, still-protected works. And releasing her “dead” works into the public domain would mean she’d have more impact on music as a whole (is that a good thing?); otherwise, her work just goes out of circulation.

    If Rosseau’s work were under today’s system, his Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, written in 1754, would have been under copyright until 1848 (70 years after his death in 1778), drastically reducing its distribution both within and outside France, and Rosseau’s impact as a revolutionary thinker would have been tiny. His impact on the French and American revolutions would have been dramatically reduced. His works would have become available to the public at large again in 1848, right about when another wave of revolutions wracked Europe — but would they even have done so had Rosseau been trapped under restrictive copyright of ridiculous length? If there had been no public domain Rosseau UNTIL 1848, could there have been revolutions OF 1848?

    Artists who release their commercially non-viable material into the public domain will have a lot more influence over the next 100ish years as radio stations, television stations, publishers, and internet content providers try to find free content. Artists who refuse will be culturally interesting for five years, then unknown and culturally ignored until 70 years after their death when their non-viable works (and pop music in particular gets less viable with time) re-enter the public domain.

  12. lincolnparadox says:

    Eventually, all of this nonsense will become a good thing. I foresee a future where people are actually afraid of industry music, and look to local bands and venues for their music fix. Since most indie artists don’t use or care about DRM, the music is yours once you take it home. Since you as a consumer actually have a chance to meet these artists, you might even be a bit more respectful with their content.

    I honestly think this whole thing boils down to that: respect. The artists that we “know” and love, we’d never steal music from them…

  13. Rajio says:

    that was painful to read. :(

  14. Skeptic says:

    FYI – if you can burn those wma’s to an audio cd, you can use itunes to import the cd into itunes. (of course, you will have to enter the artist and album information yourself)

    it’s funny, but itunes itself has the capacity to break its own DRM
    It isn’t an accident that iTunes can burn protected ACCs to CD. It is a deliberate, calculated exception negotiated with the record companies.

    Although you can burn the WMA to CD or an iTunes song to CD and re-import it you’ll have to compress the previously compressed file again unless you want to waste a lot of room on your HD. This new file will have been serially degraded by the 2x lossy compression. Bad sounding and Bad deal.

    The ability to burn to CD is not really “breaking” the DRM. Breaking the DRM is the ability to remove the lock and use the WMA or ACC like a regular WMA or ACC using its original compression.

    CDs are still the best format for future proof music. You can always re-rip into a better format as HDs become cheaper and formats become better. DRMd music, not so much.

  15. defectiveburger says:

    i love you jarrett—you are my hero

  16. thisiskspraydad says:

    So…basically he buys an iPod/iTunes combo and then complains to Rhino about WMA and his own inability to use a computer…..WTF?

    Dude..if you’re dumb enough to purchase iTunes/iPod then live with the consequences.

  17. 20k? Shoot. They could make more money off of you by suing you. You are not a profitable customer for the recording industry unless you are downloading music. Why should they care for somebody who spends 20 grand in their lifetime when they can just sue you for much much more?

  18. Jozef says:

    I hate to bring it up, but listening to music is not a basic human right; it’s a privilege. While I can understand that for $10 the author should have gotten a working product, it is between him and the retailer to resolve the issue. This has clearly failed, and the retailer is to blame, but it still doesn’t give the author the license or moral justification to download pirated music. The answer to DRM-protected music is listening to DRM-free music from more user-friendly stores (which usually carry independent artists who need more audience) or not to listen to new music at all, not pirating music.

  19. ryan says:

    @thisiskspraydad:

    Yeah, how dare he be so dumb to get the same brand of mp3 player as 80% of the market.

    The fact of the matter is that a lot of people simply don’t understand the differences between file formats, license restrictions, burning and re-ripping, etc. Nor should they have to! The level of restriction and incompatibility is infuriating.

  20. Justinh6 says:

    Back in the day before computers had broadband internet access, I belonged to a couple music clubs. Anybody remember Columbia House, or BMG? I spent hundreds of dollars on cd’s every year.

    Then in my early college years it hit me. Most of the albums that I had were udder garbage. One or two tracks worth listening to, the rest is rubbish.

    Fast forward to 2007. The only CD’s that I have purchased are ones that I bought at a bands live show. This way I know the money is going directly to them, and not some greedy record company.

  21. Karl says:

    Amusingly enough, Slashdot/Ars Technica just had an article about DRM causing 75% of support problems for a major European store. Independent artists who forgo DRM have seen a 40% increase in sales since December.

  22. thisiskspraydad says:

    @ryan..

    My POINT is that if he is truly was a “40 year old male with a long-standing passion for “all things music” he should have looked into the technology he was buying FIRST instead of bitching about its restrictions AFTER.

    Just because Apple is the market leader doesn’t make the iPod the best solution for someone with a ‘passion for music’.

  23. adamondi says:

    The greatest thing about this letter is that it shows how non-techie people are running into these brick walls now. I was up on this issue and annoyed with DRM several years ago. However, within the last 6 months or so, I have had to explain to my mom, my dad, and my older brother (all of whom are fairly inept around computers) why they couldn’t buy something from iTunes, something else from Rhapsody, and another thing from the Zune store and be able to play all of them using one program on their computer, or one MP3 player. Now they are getting just as ticked off about it as I have been for years.

    Same thing is now happening to guys like Jarrett. If enough non-techie people get pissed off enough about this, then maybe change can take place.

  24. non-meat-stick says:

    is that the Subway guy?

  25. ryan says:

    @thisiskspraydad:

    I get what you’re saying, but given how almost all of these devices are called “digital music players” and not “wma players” or “aac players” etc, I can certainly understand why someone who’s a plain old music fan (and not necessarily a tech savvy person) would never even realize that there’s an issue to look into.

    Caveat emptor and all that, but given the amount of confusion in the market (see Karl’s comment), something needs to be done to help people understand that these issues exist before they buy.

  26. thisiskspraydad says:

    @ryan….

    I liken it (rightly/wrongly?) to game consoles. They are all called game consoles but they use different DRM (programming acts as the DRM in this case) if I want EA NHL 07 (I’m a Canuck don’t ya know) I have to buy one specifically for the system (the DRM scheme) that I own.

    If some other company wants to make a hockey game for only ONE system (Rhino only making file available as .wma) that is THEIR foot that is being shot.

    As a consumer…why should I buy a PS3 (the iPod in this story) and then go out and buy Wii software (the Rhino record) and then complain that it doesn’t work! (though in this case you actually CAN make it work by burning and re ripping).

    The solution for those that don’t want to be ‘stuck’ is to stop buying DRMd music and supporting ecosystems build around DRMd music.

    Here is a neat idea in England:

    AIME St…MP3 music that is free to .98 cents (pounds) depending on popularity…solves another issue about old music that isn’t ‘popular’ still demanding the same $ as new music. Only indie now but it is an interesting concept.

  27. thisiskspraydad says:

    Sorry…here is the link to AMIE St.

    http://amiestreet.com/welcome

  28. RumorsDaily says:

    “Oh wait. It’s not free music that drives some people to piracy, it’s the lack of a quality product from legitimate music sources.”

    Can’t it be both?

  29. *Sigh* I’ve been there too. I once bought an album online by the duo “Deepest Blue”. I chose to download the album from their website because I knew I wouldn’t be able to find their CD anywhere near where I lived, especially because they only had one song that at all popular, and mostly to a particular niche.

    I had the songs and they worked great- only in windows media player though. I put up with that. But later on, I needed to reinstall windows. I made sure to save every song file, and licenses (backups too) to a cd-rom so I wouldn’t lose them. After the reinstall, the mp3’s wouldn’t work. No help from the distributor either.

    Bummer. Damn DRM.

  30. deltasleep says:

    I can really see both sides of the argument about his ipod purchase. On the one hand, if he HAS been so interested in music forever, you’d think that he would have known how encumbered the ipod/itunes is. My wife bought one at my behest, and ended up taking it back because of hassles like this.
    The problem is, ipods have become so pervasive that its hard to believe for the average consumer that any of this is true. I know I have a hard time believing that something like 70-80% of this market has bought into buying a product that regulates how you can use it after you buy it. Some marketing team somewhere is pure evil genius.

    I’d like to think that the music industry is headed somewhere better, but its been 10 long years now, and they seem content to continue making all their money off of a few lawsuits than a lot of records.
    It’s a shame that there is not some kind of federal protection for citizens against being sued by corporations this big, thats an unfair abuse of the court system.

  31. Firstborn Dragon says:

    I love how the CDs I WANT to buy are either impossible to find, or far too expenisve to buy since I need to pay for exchange, shipping, taxes and all that good stuff.

    I love video game soundtracks. Hell I OWN these games for the most part. But to get the damn soundtracks 99% of the time you need to import from Japan! Starting at 30$ a peice, some go for over 1000$.

    Mind you far as I can tell the RIAA isn’t in on these so it’s not anything they care about. Still…

    Not that I don’t want to buy these CDs, but who the hell has all that money to spend? (BTW, I’d be looking at US prices, so I need to convert to Canadian dollars, and shipping can be over 20$ a CD.)

  32. @thisiskspraydad: The glory of music is that it can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. The bands, the fans, and even the record labels want consumers to be able to purchase their favorite music and play them back for their own enjoyment. Consumers should not need to be microsoft certified to listen to their favorite band.

    I’m guessing that most of us reading The Consumerist are fairly technically adept. Our friend Jarrett (and millions of others) may not be. All he wanted was some songs he couldn’t get anywhere else, and wanted to play them back in what he thought was a bona-fide mp3 player. You couldn’t expect him and everyone else to ‘just know’ or even know to do the research regarding DRM licensing just so he can hear a specific song. I’m sure there was no warning label on his download, or his iPod, that said “Warning: May not play back all legally purchased music.”

  33. TheName says:

    The crux is that instead of being able to walk into a music store, plunk down your cash, take the CD home and do what you want with it we are now required to constantly carry a magnifying glass to read the fine print on the license. There is no standard (WAVs on CD = standard) for music anymore and it’s hurting anyone who doesn’t immediately know the difference between WMA and WTF i.e., the vast majority of the music-buying public.

    They’ve already made techies and privacy-philes unhappy, now they’re working on the average consumer.

  34. dohtem says:

    “Well” she responded, “You didn’t actually purchase the files, you really purchased a license to listen to the music, and the license is very specific about how they can be played or listened to.”

    This is bullshit. I have heard this argument used over and over (the MPAA also uses it to defend region encoding). When I go to the store, I don’t see a license displayed for all customers to view, I am not given a contract to agree to.

    These people honestly prey on the ignorance and unawareness of their customers. No one knows this before they purchase their products.

  35. LTS! says:

    What a well written email, too bad it’s absolutely useless. I am sure he feels better for writing it but welcome to the 21st century. It’s a harsh reality out there and if you just now found out that you’ve been taking it long and hard from the RIAA then my sympathy for you does not stem from your inability to burn a CD but rather the complete fog you’ve managed to live in while remaining a fan of music.

    You should have realized long ago that the champion the musical cause should mean a dedicated message of NOT supporting the RIAA or its member organizations. Any medium that pays a license fee to play an artist under the RIAA, any venue who pays the ASCAP fees for music to be played are supporting the RIAA and their restrictive measures.

    But who really cares, this is not about the RIAA for they are nothing more than the pimps to whom the whore musical artists have pledged allegiance to. The artists themselves create the content that the RIAA can protect. The artists should be ostracized from your daily grind. Enlightened consumers should look to truly independent artists for their music. Reject the corporate ideals that tell you the next 42 bands who sound like Dashboard Confessional are great and listen for yourself to the true range of musicianship that exists within this world. Don’t worry, for the 42 bands who were cloned from Dashboard Confessional and actually made the RIAA’s hot list, there are 420 who sound the same and did not. You can still get your music, just do it wisely.

  36. thisiskspraydad says:

    @TheName…

    Just for fun I just went to RHINO and put an song in a basket…and lo and behold, right in the middle of the page and in bright red

    Important Note: WMA files are NOT compatible with your iPod.
    Click here to read the Terms and Conditions and check your Media Player compatibility.
    By clicking on PROCEED TO CHECKOUT you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions and acknowledge that you have a Media Player that can play the file(s) you are attempting to purchase.

    Seems pretty clear to me…and probably to a non techie too…

    http://rhino-expresscheckout.com/store/order.basket.asp?ms

  37. mac-phisto says:

    back in the heyday of napster & before p2p became a honeypot for junkware, i remember saying over & over again that if the industry would simply charge a reasonable amount for their product & make what the consumer wants widely available (instead of spending billions trying to tell the consumer what they want), pirating would not exist. i mean, it’s not like pirating was exactly easy back then. napster was notorious for incomplete files, downloads hanging, mismarked tracks….often times you had to download the same track a half dozen times to get the actual track. it’s just that it didn’t cost $20 to get a single song that you wanted to hear. that made it worth it. plus, there was access to tracks you couldn’t find anywhere else – new music, unreleased bootlegs, live shows, etc.

    fast forward to the advent of itunes, emusic, napster (for a fee), rhapsody, etc. – it’s evident that people don’t mind paying for music, they just don’t want to get hosed. drm is a waste of time, money & aggravation that will cause an already paying market (such as jarrett) to lapse into “piracy”.

    hell, if i were him, i would’ve gone back to that *.zip after i bought the “legal copy”. IANAL, but the courts seem to be enforcing the “as long as it’s one use” idea of digital rights (at least that’s the card i’d play).

  38. JPropaganda says:

    I know the legality of it is somewhat (ahem) questionable, and I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be shut down by now, BUT:

    My favorite service will always be http://www.allofmp3.com

    They charge by the gigabyte download, so each song is about 12 cents.

  39. TinaT says:

    I remember back when I was a teenager and all the music was on cassettes. My tapes wouldn’t play on my friends boombox, because I hadn’t bought an extra license for that. And my aunt got a threatening letter accusing her of dubbing cassettes and offering a settlement amount, which was funny because the only cassettes she owned were those horrible Time-Life compilations they used to sell on tv and ‘Stop Smoking with Hypnosis’.

  40. klondikedog says:

    I too was the ultimate music consumer. I bought everything, sometimes in multiple formats. The only problem was taping records so you could listen to them in your car or the other associated digital hassles. Then Napster magically appeared and everything I ever wanted was there. I could burn a cd of Assfactor 4 songs – I could make a cd of all the Jawbreaker obscure songs. I downloaded fast and furiously. I would have paid for the opportunity, but damn if I hadn’t paid $25 for one song on some bootleg.

    I am a member of emusic, which I enjoy and I download occasionally from Itunes. But, napster changed everything and there is no going back. The music industry didn’t kill the golden goose when they stopped singles or raised prices. Napster was the golden opportunity to make money. One place to get it all…and they kill it.

  41. thisiskspraydad says:

    TinaT…

    Your tape (.wma drm) would play in any other tape player…what it wouldn’t do is play on a 8 Track player (iPod) or record player (Zune). In fact you couldn’t even make an 8 track at home or a record but today you could burn your .wma and change it to the other formats…

  42. JohnMc says:

    An interesting test would be for Jarrett to save his receipt/invoice and crack that file so he can use it. Then run a scam somehow to invite the RIAA to send him one of those cease and desist letters. Invite them into court on it and at the sametime file countersuit and concurrent venue on the case.

    The presentation of the invoice and the fact that the music does not work might make an interesting case on merchantability. The judge might find it midly amusing when Jarrett request that the vendor actually make their product work on any player arrayed on his exhibit table.

  43. Starfury says:

    I have mostly quit buying music not due to the cost but because the quality of what’s being offered is low. I can’t see spending $18 on a CD that only has a few good songs on it. I will not lock myself into DRM downloads because I don’t agree with their policy. If I buy a CD I expect to be able to make copies for my personal use and not have to pay or get permission every time I want to.

  44. @thisiskspraydad: I think that’s exactly the point- her purchased tape (.wma drm) WON’T play in her friend’s tape player, and it WON’T play in the iPod or Zune. But a free, pirated copy of the exact same song WILL play in both.

    The issue hand is usability of a purchased product vs. a pirated equivalent, not one legal format vs. another legal format.

  45. olegna says:

    I found a nice middle-ground by simply browsing the thousands of MP3 blogs on the Internet. You don’t get full albums but it’s a great way to discover new music or add to your collection without resorting to Bitorrent. Some of my favorite MP3 blogs:

    http://diddywah.blogspot.com/

    http://tofuhut.blogspot.com/

    http://www.earfuzz.com/

    http://prewarblues.org/

    http://buscateunnovio.blogspot.com/

    http://bennloxo.com//

    http://aurgasm.us/

    And then there’s the awesome:

    http://www.archive.org/index.php

    Download away maties!

  46. NeoteriX says:

    I too would make it a point to buy CDs and support artists. Then it turns out that two CDs I bought had Sony Rootkits in them and had infected my computers.

    The tools to remove the rootkit took forever to come out and I ended up reformatting my computers just to be safe.

    Fuck you, Sony.

  47. thisiskspraydad says:

    NeoteriX…

    Or…if your going to play CDs on your computer just set them not to AutoPlay when you insert them.

    Done.

  48. NeoteriX says:

    @thisiskspraydad:

    Oh, to be sure, I’ve got Autoplay disabled on all of my computers, and have learned my lesson–I ripped those CDs prior to reformatting my PC and the CDs don’t even leave their cases anymore.

    However, my computers were originally infected just as the rootkit scandal was breaking the ice.

  49. raindog says:

    To a techie, it’s Playsforsure vs. Itunes (let’s forget the Zune, the Sony thing and the other minor players) and it looks a lot like Beta vs. VHS, though in this case Beta (the single-supplier solution) is winning.

    To a non-techie, it looks like “This MP3 I downloaded won’t play in any of my MP3 players.” Yes, many non-techies think they’re downloading mp3’s from iTunes and the pretenders to its throne. Or if they’re even less technical, they just think of them all as something called “songs”.

    If it really did say “Warning: This Will Not Play In Your Ipod” back when he had this experience, well, bummer for him that he can’t read. But normal people don’t think in terms of “an iPod song” or “a Microsoft song” yet. I hope they never do, and that the whole thing falls apart before we get to that stage.

    Won’t affect me either way, since I buy and rip the CD (300 down, 1100 to go.) But if I was after one specific obscure artist and the only legal way to get them was to buy and install Windows, buy a Playsforsure player for the car, and buy the album from one of these WMA-DRM sites — or the equivalent Apple-licking procedure — I’d be firing up Limewire or Soulseek before the “buy now” button even finished loading. I’ve done it before when XMU plays someone’s iTunes-only release, and I’m sure I’ll do it again.

    I don’t think this was a letter of complaint so much as it was a call to action. Stay away from Playsforsure (oh, the irony); stay away from iTunes.

  50. SteveXo says:

    @thisiskspraydad: Your logic here is flawed. You are comparing different technological methods of music playback, not formats. You couldn’t reasonably expect to put an 8-track onto a record player and have it work. But you sure as hell could expect to put an 8-track into various 8-track players and expect it to work. As such, you should be able to take any mp3 and expect it to play on any mp3 player. Of course, you’ll point to the fact that Jarrett wasn’t using mp3, but that just highlights the problem with companies developing their own proprietary formats such as wma or aac, so they can then restrict which formats will work with their hardware/software.

    What most people want is a return to the system we have had since music began being recorded, where hardware was designed to play whatever type of media was available. All record players played records, all CD players played CDs. You didn’t have to worry about what brand of cassette player you bought and whether it would play the cassettes you already owned.

    The most damning part of Jarrett’s letter is that the Rhino CSR admitted that they had always wanted to be able to restrict how people use the music they legally purchased, but only now are they able to do it. They want to force you to use their format, their player, and their music store. It’s greed, plain and simple. Stop trying to defend their predatory practices with your flawed logic.

    I’m as much as a capitalist as anyone I know, but you have to take the good with the bad. If these companies want people to respect their right to make money off the music, then the companies must respect people’s right to seek their music elsewhere. The market will find a way to balance itself. They tried to tip it too far in their own favor, so now people are tipping it back by finding ways to defeat their DRM or by seeking other sources of music. The giant media conglomerates simply believe they are immune to the market. But, we all know how that turns out, just ask Enron.

  51. raindog says:

    Oh yeah, and who on earth decided it would be a good idea to start a music store whose music is incompatible with the players used by three quarters of their target market, anyway?

    I know they’re not the only ones, but geez, I guess you really have to have your head in the clouds to be a middleman in the music wars.

  52. YodaYid says:

    @SteveXo: Bingo. thisiskspraydad – you’re making an argument that the presence of lots of incompatible technologies (tapes, CD’s, vinyl) should be the basis for future development, and that music companies should ARTIFICIALLY continue this using DRM.

    The reason all these all those formats exist is that that is what the options were at the time. Analog formats in particular are tied to their media – that’s why they have become obsolete. That created a system where consumers had to buy more than once if they wanted their media in different formats. It was a result of the limits of technology. New formats brought new benefits (portability, quality, etc), and there was mostly no way to transfer from the old media to the new media without losing some of those benefits, and so people upgraded without too much grumbling.

    With DRM, there are NO benefits to the consumer with these new formats. DRM doesn’t add any new features for the customer. As far as the average consumer is concerned, WMA, MP3, and M4A or whatever are identical – any differences between them are, again, artificial, imposed by the RIAA to maintain the bad old days of analog.

    thisiskspraydad, you seem to be arguing for a giant step backwards towards intentional incompatibility, needless secrecy, and proprietary shackles for their own sake.

    Last point (because this is getting waaay too long ;-) – when artists actually produce music, they use high-quality DRM-free technology to record and mix. They rejoice over and capitalize on open standards like MIDI. Shared, open, convergent technology has revolutionized the way music is made. Why shouldn’t that be true on the consumer end as well?

  53. neutrino15 says:

    Wow, he finally figured out how bad drm is.. Plus, what is an audiophile like him (or her) doing with 128kbps music.. Thats too low for even me! (I can hear it).. While I will admit to not being able ot tell the difference between lossless and LAME V0 VBR, I still hate 128k…

  54. Malician says:

    It is (to me, at least) quite insane, the way the music industry has created a system so expensive, that so imperils its users, that they would, must resort to illegal tactics to circumvent the restrictions of the very groups that should be easing the purchasing process.

    To wit, the music industry could have used their coffers to provide a Napster service before Napster. Higher quality, high efficiency compression system, fast direct download servers, no untoward crippling of the files. This alone would have eased the blow; it would have stemmed the blood loss, and at marginal cost. Filesharing would have still flourished, but at a much smaller scale and without decreasing – or even reversing the new monetary flow of the industry’s online services.

    Another step? The pricing scheme could have been set to artist pay + overhead + RIAA profit. Triple artist pay, add sufficient overhead to record albums and run the service, and add some profit for the Record Industry and you’re still far below the 99 cent price of iTunes.

    The record labels never even considered new pricing; an overpriced media monopoly holds up the entire Hollywood industry, feeding the media elite of our time – that money influx is the reason for the popular culture insanity that pervades our society, and they don’t wish to lose it.

    Even the new record store would have been faster and farther then they wanted to go. They wanted to slowly feed customers new technological capability at a vastly higher premium – dollars a song, heavy restrictions that could be slowly removed for yet another cost.

    Napster coldchecked them. They still don’t know how to respond. They’re still following through with their initial gameplan as best they can. They don’t realize that the public has seen what is possible beyond their veil of “rights management”, beyond their closed world of major label music. The need to break out of these restrictions is so strong that no sane response can curtail it, so the industry has taken to insane ones.

    Lawsuits for several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Forced settlements by children, college students, senior citizens. They say that the law justifies prosecution of illegal behavior; they forget that they have gone far beyond any morally justifiable behavior in their zealous fervor. Supporting, condoning, allowing the actions taken by the recording and motion picture industries is no different from supporting, allowing, condoning forty year jail sentences for a single instance of graffiti.

    It’s not just crazy, it’s very, very wrong.

  55. coolyfooly88 says:

    I haven’t bought a CD in the stores for a while now… and when I feel particularly generous, or I really feel an artist deserves my money, I buy the CD off of eBay used.

  56. scoobydoo says:

    @thisiskspraydad: How is HE dumb? Consumers shouldn’t have to dick around with things like DRM, AAC, WMA, WAV… Like he said; you used to buy a record and it worked. It just worked, and always worked. You didn’t need a special record player to play records from brand B.

    Consumers are at the mercy of 2 parties trying to please the other. On the one side the record companies are treating their content like it’s the cure to all diseases and world problems, and on the other the online content resellers are trying to do everything they can to grab their tiny portion of the market and will do anything the record companies ask them to.

    I’ve had my fair share of iTunes problems, and have around $30 in music that simply vanished and can’t be found anywhere.

    In the end I’ve just settled for being a pirate and get my music from the Russians. I get it in any format I want, with no DRM.

    THAT is going to have to be the way of the future, I don’t mind paying for my music, but I don’t like spending money for a license, if people are going to embrace digital music they’ll need to get the same sense of ownership they did with CD’s.

  57. Bix says:

    Copy protection just needlessly complicates. Look at all of the false copy protection errors on DVD recorders that occur w/ tapes that have picture issues (the Macrovision protection used on VHS was an artificially induced error, thus the recorders mess up).

  58. Malician says:

    It is (to me, at least) quite insane, the way the music industry has created a system so expensive, that so imperils its users, that they would, must resort to illegal tactics to circumvent the restrictions of the very groups that should be easing the purchasing process.

    To wit, the music industry could have used their coffers to provide a Napster service before Napster. Higher quality, high efficiency compression system, fast direct download servers, no untoward crippling of the files. This alone would have eased the blow; it would have stemmed the blood loss, and at marginal cost. Filesharing would have still flourished, but at a much smaller scale and without decreasing – or even reversing the new monetary flow of the industry’s online services.

    Another step? The pricing scheme could have been set to artist pay + overhead + RIAA profit. Triple artist pay, add sufficient overhead to record albums and run the service, and add some profit for the Record Industry and you’re still far below the 99 cent price of iTunes.

    The record labels never even considered new pricing; an overpriced media monopoly holds up the entire Hollywood industry, feeding the media elite of our time – that money influx is the reason for the popular culture insanity that pervades our society, and they don’t wish to lose it.

    Even the new record store would have been faster and farther then they wanted to go. They wanted to slowly feed customers new technological capability at a vastly higher premium – dollars a song, heavy restrictions that could be slowly removed for yet another cost.

    Napster coldchecked them. They still don’t know how to respond. They’re still following through with their initial gameplan as best they can. They don’t realize that the public has seen what is possible beyond their veil of “rights management”, beyond their closed world of major label music. The need to break out of these restrictions is so strong that no sane response can curtail it, so the industry has taken to insane ones.

    Lawsuits for several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Forced settlements by children, college students, senior citizens. They say that the law justifies prosecution of illegal behavior; they forget that they have gone far beyond any morally justifiable behavior in their zealous fervor. Supporting, condoning, allowing the actions taken by the recording and motion picture industries is no different from supporting, allowing, condoning forty year jail sentences for a single instance of graffiti.

    It’s not just crazy, it’s very, very wrong.

  59. cindel says:

    I still buy cds…..overseas! I listen to Jpop, kpop, Cpop etc etc and they are not protected. I can rip using Itunes with no problems.

    The only album worth buying for is the new NIN coming out next month.

    Does anyone remember the time when they used to have singles? I have a box full of them and they were great. They should make a comeback!

  60. MeOhMy says:

    “You didn’t actually purchase the files, you really purchased a license to listen to the music, and the license is very specific about how they can be played or listened to.”

    Now I was baffled. “Records never came with any such restrictions,” I said.


    She replied, “Well they were supposed to, but we weren’t able to enforce those licenses back then, and now we can”

    The best part is – SHE’S RIGHT! Records have come with these restrictions for 100 years.

    I have an Edison Diamond Disc Phonograph that was most likely built during or before 1917. At the time Thomas Edison was locked in a bitter format war with arch rival Victor (SOUND FAMILIAR? It gets better – Edison’s technically superior format lost out!).

    But inside the cabinet of my phonograph is a sticker. Here is a highlight from the text:

    No license whatever is granted to anyone to use this patented Phonograph with any reproducer or recorder or blank or parts not manurfactured by or for us nor with any other records than Edison records and original records made by recording upon Edison blanks ,nor in any altered or changed condition, nor if this label or said name plate or serial number or trademark be removed or defaced or changed in whole or in part.

    In other words, modifying an Edison phonograph to make it play Victrola records or vice versa violated the license agreement. Edison did his best to enforce the license, but couldn’t do too much with WWI-era technology. You can bet he would have done more if he knew how.

    The license agreement also say that I am not licensed to operate my phonograph without paying the current catalog price to a licensed Dealer and that it cannot be resold except by a licensed Dealer. I’m committing an act of piracy just by winding the old thing up!

    Here is an older Edison license from a cylinder record.

    And here is a strikingly timely article from the NYT about Edison’s work in the recording industry.

    That was 90 years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  61. sprezzatura says:

    I’m 58, a computer programmer, and I’ve been an avid music listener since the days of 78’s. I own 450 CDs and countless LPs.

    It puzzles me that anyone would trust their music to a disk drive. Don’t you know that it’s a question of when, not if, your hard drive will fail? What will you do then? Re-download those 5,000 tunes you found on the Internet? Do you remember where they all came from? Will those sites still available?

    If your music is disposable and you don’t care about losing it, this model makes sense. But if you are passionate and knowledgeable about music, doesn’t it make more sense to have it in a format that is durable and permanent? I.e. the Compact Disk.

    Besides, my time is valuable. It is actually more expensive for me to hunt for tunes, download them and burn them to CD. It is cheaper to order the CD or buy it from a store.

    I love my iPod (yes, I know, it has a disk drive). You can’t drag your computer on a walk. The shuffle feature has enabled me to experience my music in a whole new way.

    The music industry is guilty of many errors and abuses. I refuse to buy any CDs with DRM. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be a problem in the genres I favor.

  62. Dashiell says:

    You’re all missing the point, which is that sooner or later, all the Jarretts of the world will figure out what he did and stop buying records, and if the RIAA doesn’t realize that and change their ways, they will die a long-overdue death.

  63. thisiskspraydad says:

    @Yodayid…

    Actually what I am arguing (from earlier in this thread) is
    “The solution for those that don’t want to be ‘stuck’ is to stop buying DRMd music and supporting ecosystems build around DRMd music.” in the mean time it is people like Jarrett’s own fault for not investigating what the heck they are spending money on…

    In the mean time…consumers have to NOT perceive music from a CD or iTunes or Rhapsody as the SAME…the DRM makes them different formats (like records/tapes/8track were all the same music but different formats). If consumers educated themselves as such (or read warnings like Rhino has on its site) we wouldn’t have the bellyaching of Jarret…he would realise his mistake in buying into the DRM ecosystem.

    If I go invest $200 to $400 in a ‘record’ player I would look into it and see if it played 78s/45s/33s etc…what formats did it take. Did it play cassettes as a bonus? Why is the same expectation not made for those plunking down $200 to $400 on a ‘music player’?

  64. AlexDitto says:

    @Troy F.: That’s because Edison was a jerk. He did the same thing against Westinghouse and Tesla, trying to push his Direct Current electricity format, where they were advocating Alternating Current, in what has now become known as the “War of Currents.” Edison was like the RIAA of the 1880’s. (He claimed AC power was dangerous, and used it to electricute countless animals in public displays. He was an ass.)

    thisiskspraydad: The thing is, for most technologically incapable people, these things all look the same. They are a file, and when you double click, it plays a song. That’s it. They don’t know about all these different formats that have been artificially manufactured, nor should they: in the past, during each time period, there was a widely accepted format that everyone used. Vinyls, 8tracks, cassettes, even CDs. They looked different, but if you bought a cassette player, it played cassettes without asking you for a licence agreement.

    Now, you expect people to suddenly become tech-savvy, know about all the different files and what goes with which. So the iPod plays ACC files, right? And MP3s? What if I buy a CD and rip it? Will they play? What if I burn those files onto a CD, then rip it again? What if I did that with WAVs? WMVs? MPEG-4s? OGGs? How is one consumer supposed to know exactly how each of these formats works in each situation? It’s not as if there are “WAV players” being sold. Everything’s an MP3 player, but suddenly none of your music’s an MP3.

    Besides, what’s the point, besides screwing over ignorant people and giving the greedy industry fat cats more cash?

    And it’s still unacceptable that Rhino would expect him to go to a library or a cafe to download a licence for the music he had already purchased, even when he was willing to use it on him Windows machine. Terrible customer service.

  65. digdug says:

    Here is what I am interested in. I want to pay you money, and to be able to download and play the music that I want immediately. I want it to play on my computer and in my iPod. I don’t even care that much about DRM.

    Unfortunately, a lot of the music I happen to want is not available through iTunes. It is probably not even available at all, except maybe as a used CD, let alone a downloadable file that I can play on my computer and my iPod.

    On the other hand, “piracy” offers me a reasonably good chance of the file being good (sometimes there’s a bad rip), and there’s no tangle of albums that are not on the right label, or out of print, or have been pulled due to licensing issues, etc.

    The Internet has created a new way of sharing and listening to music. I couldn’t even imagine this even ten years ago, when my only sources of new music were my friends’ mixtapes, the radio, and whatever the record stores chose to carry.

    The fact is that I can do something I couldn’t do before, and if the record companies can’t offer it to me legally, then I’ll just have to work around it. And I don’t feel guilty for even a second. I still go to concerts, buy T-shirts and CDs, and buy CDs directly from the artist when I can.

    Do I really care about the record companies no longer having the funds to create another Britney Spears?

  66. He wouldn’t have had that problem if he downloaded from iTunes in the first place, no?

  67. digdug says:

    Paul: It sounds like a pretty small label, and chances are that they aren’t available on iTunes. This is exactly the mess I was talking about in the previous post.

  68. Grimjordax says:

    Ok, a little brain injection here…

    1. Don’t buy DRM’d music. Period.
    2. If you were dumb enough to buy DRM’d music then there are 3 options. Yes 3.
    a. Burn to CD and then re-rip incurring the loss of quality due to re-quantization and basically using up a CD (at your cost)
    b. Rip the damn DRM off using a DRM un-wrapper. They aren’t available for all but I have seen them for wma and aac.( This method is prefered if available)
    c. Use Total Recorder to encode the song to WAV and then re-encode at 256 mp3. Total recorder sits in the background and basically intercepts any data being pumped through your sound card (after the DRM decrypt) so it’s like doing real time decryption. And it’s perfectly legal because you are intercepting the audio stream in it’s unencrypted form. And it works on ANYTHING, including games.

    Kirk Out.

  69. Jesse in Japan says:

    If the RIAA had its way, you would have to pay each time you listen to a song on a CD you ostensibly own.

  70. orig_club_soda says:

    This is ignorant. When you buy a book, you dont get free copies of books on tape. That’s because you own the paper its printed on, not the content.

    You cant go to the CD store and trade your vinyl for CDs for free either.

    When you buy a digital file, you are buying the medium, not the content. You are buying the 1s and 0s as they are configured, just as you are buy a book as it is bound. Do you expect a free paper back when you buy a hardbound?

    We need to stop whining like children. If you dont like DRM protected music, dont buy it. Rhino isnt Burger King, they never promised “Have it your way.”

  71. YodaYid says:

    @AlexDitto is exactly right – a three year old could tell that a vinyl record won’t fit in a tape deck, but why would anyone even think that buying a song on itunes won’t play in a non-ipod player? The people posting here are savvy enough to know that, but why would the average person even consider it as a possibility?

  72. orig_club_soda says:

    This guy bought $20000 worth of plastic. (only a fraction going to the music industry, most of it wen t to distributors, etc). If he wants to play it with iTunes, he needs to start ripping. His previous purchase is also irrelevant to his Rhino situation.

  73. YodaYid says:

    @orig_club_soda: You’re confusing physical formats (paper books versus audio recordings of books), which have inherent value and costs, with digital formats, which do not. They’re trying to get something for nothing by artificially restricting what plays on what.

    The reason you don’t get a copy of a book on tape when you pay for a paper book is that there are costs associated with recording the book (including voice talent, studio time) and shipping the tapes. It’s literally and physically a different product.

    But in this case, the RIAA is trying to sell us the same product several times by artificially making them different (i.e. incompatible). A better analogy would be being forced to buy one copy of the book for your home, another for your commute, and another for work.

  74. FLConsumer says:

    Ah, I miss the Napster days.. I loved being able to find some of the arcane & import bands which I love. I also enjoyed being able to hear all sorts of music I normally wouldn’t have found on my own. Believe it or not, I bought more CDs & vinyl when Napster was going than I have since. It’s not that I’m doing any more/less downloading than I have before, but now the true music enthusiasts are too afraid to post interesting files. Now all I see on the P2P networks are the usual bog-standard pop artists.

    What I’m listening to now: Solomon Burke – Nashville
    Last CD purchased: Cowboy Junkies — Trinity Sessions

  75. ZonzoMaster says:

    Well… the music industry is gonna take a while fighting back here in Mexico, it sure is a HUGE loss for musicians, but at least i don’t see companies sueing random people. Altough they do sell every single cd for enormous prices, all variety is pretty much the current popular music market… and i just don’t think it’s worth spending money on it, at least not here.

  76. provoko says:

    the end of music

  77. crankymediaguy says:

    “If Rosseau’s work were under today’s system, his Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, written in 1754, would have been under copyright until 1848 (70 years after his death in 1778), drastically reducing its distribution both within and outside France, and Rosseau’s impact as a revolutionary thinker would have been tiny.”

    Oh man, that dude’s album “Rousseau Comes Alive” KICKED ASS! Everybody I knew had it.

  78. Mr. Gunn says:

    The headline of this story should have been: “DRM found to be especially harmful to the less intelligent.”

    You guys are jumping on kspraydad like he’s supporting DRM or something. You should actually read the comment before dashing off a post yourself. First of all, the guy’s not a non-techie, because he talks about the difference between .WAV and .mp3 in his letter. If it says in big bold type “THIS MUSIC WON’T PLAY ON YOUR IPOD” then even a non-techie should be able to figure out that it won’t play on an ipod.

    I’m glad he decided DRM’d tracks aren’t worth the bother. I hope he becomes the poster boy for ending DRM. But it’s still his own fault for not knowing what he was getting himself into with the whole itunes on windows mess.

  79. @Firstborn Dragon: Exactly!

    I knew I couldn’t be the only person with this problem. Soundtracks to wideo games, anime, old movies, and foreign music in general are hard to find and even harder to buy.

    eMusic would have my business if they had some of this music available. In the meantime there’s what I can find on RadioBlogClub and ocremix.

  80. ctb1010 says:

    I don’t understand the issue with iTunes. I consider myself a music lover as well. I haven’t bought a physical cd in five years. Buy from iTunes, burn the mp3 files to a cd and the encryption is gone, you can then re-import the files in any format you need. Additionally, why use iTunes how about http://www.emusic.com I have an account for $9.99 a month that gets me 40 drm free songs. I searched and they have a number of Luna albums. Maybe you could’ve gotten your songs there and still had downloads left over from your ten bucks.

  81. olegna says:

    >> It puzzles me that anyone would trust their music to a disk drive. Don’t you know that it’s a question of when, not if, your hard drive will fail?

    Memory is so cheap these days that it’s possible to have backup plans that would make the chances of losing your music less than losing your CDs. I have three backups of my vital files, plus a ghost of my backup drive on five DVDs I do every six months. I update one backup daily, one backup about every month and all three are synched about twice a year. My risk of losing my data is comparable to the risk of my CD collection being destroyed in a house fire. I could reduce the chance of losing data further if I kept one of these backups at a separate location.

    >> RE: MP3 quality.

    I agree that sometimes 128 bps is too low, especially for classical music or music with lots of highs and empty space. But I would bet money on the “Pepsi Challenge” that few people if any could distinguish between CD quality and an MP3 saved at a higher bit-rate, like 320. I agree with David Byrne who said at the SXSW that sound quality is often over-rated and rarely significant to the enjoyment of music by the general population. If you think about how most people listen to and enjoy music 128bps is fine.

    Personally, though I love music I find a lot of audiophiles to be boorish snobs. (And aspiring musicians that don’t listen to other people’s music, of which there are many, are just jerks.) I SAY: Let them enjoy their 50’s jazz LPs alone in the privacy of their bedrooms while we dance together to 128bps MP3s cheesy pop tunes in the next room!

    >> The analogy that a different file format is equivalent to an 8-track comared to an LP or CD.

    Somebody mentioned that the different file formats is analogous to the different formats of the past (8-track, cassette, etc.). I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. An MP3 and an M4A are both files comprised of ones and zeros, the difference between the two is programmed in an attempt to force customers to buy their music from the same place they buy their player.

    A more appropriate analogy would be if a company produced CDs that could only be played on a CD players made by that company and not on CD players made by other companies.

    >> Do I really care about the record companies no longer having the funds to create another Britney Spears?

    Bravo! I recall reading that a few years ago Mariah Carey’s most recent album (at the time) wasn’t selling enough to make up for the millions spent marketing her new release. Her contract was cancelled and she was paid a few millions.

    Let me re-iterate that: Mariah Carey was paid millions of dollars for NOT selling enough albums.

    (Since then, she’s rebounded on another label, but still.)

    >> The music industry is gonna take a while fighting back here in Mexico

    No Kidding! I remember walking through Mexico City’s Chopo music market (where almost everything is pirated) and finding a Flaming Lips cassette (in 2000). I don’t even thing the Flaming Lips was releasing albums on cassette. What I find interesting there is that in spite of Mexico’s rampant media piracy, Mexican bands still make it big. I don’t see Los Tigres or Café Tacuba starving and their fans are all probably “stealing” their music. But these bands succeed because they pack stadiums and make millions from tickets and other royalties.

  82. olegna says:

    >> Buy from iTunes, burn the mp3 files to a cd and the encryption is gone, you can then re-import the files in any format you need.

    So each time I buy something from iTunes I should not be bothered by the fact that I have to burn it and rip it to remove the DRM?

    Put it this way: not only have I not purchased a CD in years — I haven’t used a CD in years, either. I don’t even have any blank CDs. I don’t even have a CD player (except the external CD/DVD drive on my computer). In fact, it’s my goal in life to get CDs and DVDs out of my life completely.

  83. Grungydan says:

    “Jozef says:

    I hate to bring it up, but listening to music is not a basic human right; it’s a privilege.”

    What communist overmind controlled hovel did you just crawl out of? “Hey everybody, you don’t have a right to your culture! You have to pay for that particular privilege.”

    Farking troll.

  84. sammy baby says:

    You know, it’s not just that the copy protection is intrusive, obnoxious, and downright broken. It’s not just that the people he talked to at Rhino were incompetent, or even unhelpful.

    It’s just that one gets the feeling that apart from the author, and hopefully the band, you get the feeling that nobody in this story gives a single, solitary shit about music. Even – no, especially – the ones who work for the record label.

    And that’s just sad.

  85. crayonshinobi says:

    @cindel: Actually, in my experience CD’s in Japan have more draconian DRM than in the US. Most of the CD’s sold on Amazon Japan are CCCD, or Copy Control CDs. I’ve been able to rip most to itunes, but some have given me trouble.

    Also, it was DRM(like RCE) and the inability to play CDs/DVD’s that I had legally purchased on a player that I had legally purchased that led me to places like http://www.doom9.org/ My guess is that the absurd piracy statistics quoted by the MPAA/RIAA actually includes the vast majority of legal purchasers like myself who just want to be able to use what they paid for…

  86. crayonshinobi says:

    @cindel: Actually, in my experience CD’s in Japan have more draconian DRM than in the US. Most of the CD’s sold on Amazon Japan are CCCD, or Copy Control CDs. I’ve been able to rip most to itunes, but some have given me trouble.

    Also, it was DRM(like RCE) and the inability to play CDs/DVD’s that I had legally purchased on a player that I had legally purchased that led me to places like http://www.doom9.org/ My guess is that the absurd piracy statistics quoted by the MPAA/RIAA actually includes the vast majority of legal purchasers like Jarrett and myself who just want to be able to use what they paid for…

  87. infinitemonkey says:

    I’m right there with you, Jarrett. Your pain has been felt by all music lovers trying to break into the digital age.

    My situation is actually the reverse of yours – I was a music pirate for many years, but then (out of a combination of guilt and fear of being sued by the RIAA) began buying/trading for all the music I love and deleting all the stuff I can live without. I’ve found ways to do this affordably – mostly buying used from half.com, and trading on lala.com the CDs I no longer listen to for ones that I want.

    All my CDs are immediately ripped to flac and then stuck in a binder and forgotten about. I back up the flacs onto DVD and keep them in my fireproof safe. I have a Squezebox, playing through a Super T-Amp and a decent set of speakers, as my stereo. When I want to put some music on my MP3 player (NOT an iPod), I use MediaCoder to transcode the flacs to 192k MP3s.

    I have a decent setup – similar, I think, to what most technically competent music lovers eventually arrive at (everyone else either sticks with CDs or suffers with the Apple monoculture). I wish I could just buy the flacs directly from an online source and not have to have hundreds of useless plastic discs cluttering my house, but until the recording industry catches up I’ll have to make do.

    Fortunately, it seems that the music industry is ever-so-slowly coming around to the idea that a viable business model can be built around clear (non-DRM’d) content. EMI has alread started experimenting with this (although the upfront fees are way too high for it to be feasible for any retailer short of Apple or Walmart to go this route, and neither of them have any incentive to do so). There are efforts afoot (at least one of which I have a strong feeling will be successful) to break Apple’s monopoly and give labels more incentive to provide a better user experience. I’m hopeful that I’ll see in my lifetime a re-emergence of the goodwill that labels and consumers once felt for each other, as well as a new generation of passionate collectors like Jarrett.

  88. tmarman says:

    There is no doubt that DRM is dying – it has no effect on piracy and, as you can see above, does nothing but piss off legitimate consumers. Sometimes piracy isn’t about getting it for free.

    We’re also seeing a movement toward shame as DRM, which I honestly think is going to be at least as effective in ending piracy and will lead to more sales.

    Certainly they have to do something with music sales down 20% from 2006.

  89. JohnnyComeLatly says:

    thisiskspraydad: The cruicial thing I think that hasn’t been addressed in all the replies to your comments is this – The product never worked. Even when their instructions were followed, it never worked in it’s original native format (meaning, no conversion, ripping, etc). Since others here have used my favorite tool, an analogy, I will do the same. Imagine buying a car from GM. It doesn’t start. You call the dealer, “Well, you need to also get gas”. You ask, “where is the gas?” They say, “Any gas station”. After trying 3 or 4 Exxon and Mobile stations which all have the typical 87/89/91 octane, you call back and they say, “Well, you’ll just have to find the right 87 octane gas, just keep driving…errr..oops…walking.” No matter how much research you do, you’re unlikely to find this out in advance, since no reasonable person would imagine walking the streets with a 5 gallon VP gas jug, looking for the magical gas.

    Also, if he investigated into the format, how many companies would readily make it available that their license often DOESN’T work. You noted the message, “This wont work with iTunes”, but make no mention that you got another one saying, “And…it also won’t work anywhere else, including the computer you’re downloading it onto right now.”

    I’m one of the “stupid ones” (using your reference), and have an iPod Video. I tried the Gigabeat, but the DRM drove me nuts as well as the lack of accessories. I hate all of the players when put on my high-end home audio system, and that’s when I break out the CDs.

    Johnny

  90. DJorn says:

    Late response to digdig’s comment a few days ago:

    Rhino is hardly a small label; it’s owned by Warners and may be the largest archival music label in the world.

    Also, my own band’s music is available on iTunes and our label office is the drummer’s living room.

  91. michaelper22 says:

    What this is descrbing seems to be the problems with DRM today – lack of portability/flexibility. If we were able to use our media as if it were just regular, unprotected MP3s, the amount of piracy would probably fall, since people will feel confident that they can play it anywhere – iPod, other MP3 player, CD, or even another computer in the house.

  92. lululu says:

    Really painful! the same happened to me.Finally, i have to buy another program to convert these protected music to plain one. Thank NoteBurner, it helps me a lot.

  93. BlackBirdTA says:

    Why do they call iPods MP3 players? This is a serious question. I understand it’s like the term Kleenex instead of tissue or “What kind of coke do you want to drink?” But I find it a little missleading.

    A few years ago, before iPods, I downloaded iTunes because they were the only company I could find that had a couple of songs I wanted. But I didn’t want to put my other MP3’s or WMA into iTunes, and I couldn’t get my iTunes songs out. They were embedded in the program somehow and they had an extention of .M4P or something like that. I did actually consided burning them onto CD and then putting them back in MP3 format, but I never took the time.

    Anyway all of this just left a bad impression and I’ve never had any desire to own an iPod for this reason. I’ll just stick to my generic MP3//WMA player and still have most of the songs I want.

  94. Trackback says:

    ConsumeristSince I’ve resigned myself not to waste any more time with the music business, I suppose I’ll have to resort to purchasing used CD’s &amp records, or having my friends occasionally make me a copy of one of their newer CD’s.Call it piracy. Call it whatever you want. But at least I tried.

  95. Trackback says:

    [Jefito’s Note: While the blog gnomes and I scurry behind the scenes to get things back in semi-working order around here, please allow me to present the following missive, penned by a, shall we say, “legally savvy” member of our audience who wishes to remain nameless.

  96. Zmidponk says:

    I feel your pain, but, you are wrong in one thing – you are not the music industry’s dream customer. You are a MUSICIAN’S dream customer, as you like music and are prepared to pay a fair price for the music you like. The music indutry’s dream customer, these days, is someone who mindlessly buys CDs by the dozen simply because the hype/marketing department of their label says they’re good, then goes and buys the same CDs again via digital download to play on their digital player, then buys them a third time on vinyl, then buys the ‘remix’ three times, then the live version three times, then possibly buys all three versions again because they’ve migrated from one type of digital player to another type.

    In short, the industry doesn’t actually give a fuck about the customer any more, or even the music – they just want you to put as much of your money in their pockets as possible. This is why they are very reluctant to give up DRM, even though it has been patently obvious for a long, long time that it does exactly ZILCH to curb piracy – with DRM, they can force you to buy the same thing several times, unless you don’t mind breaking the law.

  97. hipposkin says:

    Radiohead will be one of the bands to make history on this very subject.

    From my perspective, as a musician and having gone to college for Music Industry Studies (that means all the copyright and RIAA understanding) we should:

    Give the music away for free- sell the concerts and memorabilia.

  98. ceokhan says:

    i understand how you feel.. and i agree!
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    KicksOnFire.com – News & Updates on Jordans & Nike SB

  99. edrebber says:

    The burden is on Rhino to ensure all necessary components are transmitted to the buyer of the music. Rhino should not have taken the customer’s money if they could not successfully transmit the associated license.

    The customer should initiate a charge back with their credit card company or reverse the payment with their bank.

  100. spotedcss says:

    I love this post, and I’m a music pirate myself. To be quiet honest, music pirates are the ones that make music pop more. Without us, there would barely be any listeners. Here’s some sick Jordan Heels you can buy your girlfriend while pirating.