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Open Rights Group : 2 years on November 20, 2007

Posted by mark in : Culture, DRM, General, Privacy , add a comment

Today, ORG published a review of activities since it ‘began’ in July 2005. Linked from the ORG site, it’s also covered by Danny O’Brien and Suw Charman on their blogs, and Becky Hogge on the Guardian’s “Comment is free“.

Disclosure : I signed the pledge on 27/7/05, after Tom Coates covered it. And the standing order started 7/2/06 :)

Bill Gates on The Future of DRM December 14, 2006

Posted by mark in : DRM, Music , add a comment

Some notes from a Q&A session with Bill Gates, by Michael Arrington (TechCrunch). Unexpected, because Microsoft is generally considered to be a supporter of DRM.

Gates didn’t get into what could replace DRM, but he did give some reasonably candid insights suggesting that he thinks DRM is as lame as the rest of us.

Gates said that no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which “causes too much pain for legitmate buyers” while trying to distinguish between legal and illegal uses. He says no one has done it right, yet. There are “huge problems” with DRM, he says, and “we need more flexible models, such as the ability to “buy an artist out for life” (not sure what he means). He also criticized DRM schemes that try to install intelligence in each copy so that it is device specific.

His short term advice: “People should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then.”

…Though, of course, in the UK that isn’t legal (yet).

Gowers Review December 6, 2006

Posted by mark in : DRM, Music, Review , add a comment

The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, commissioned by the UK government, published its final report today.

So far I’ve only read the ORG summary, and comments from Lawrence Lessig. The recommendations seem surprisingly sensible, given that recent media coverage of it was ‘music industry’ lobbying to extend copyright (for existing works).

Tom Coates has some initial comments that include DRM and orphaned works, but his preview from yesterday is more interesting :

People in favour of copyright extension argue that it’s necessary to give artists income into their pensionable years, but for the most part artists very rarely make any money at all from recordings that record companies refuse to distribute.

Read the ORG summary.

Digital rights in question as business model October 22, 2006

Posted by mark in : DRM, Music , add a comment

Via DefectiveByDesign.org :

“Last week Billboard (the music industry publication) ran a great article about DRM and the digital music market. The article was picked up by Reuters and ran in many other publications”

The Billboard article says that any DRM scheme is likely to be cracked, and so its use inconveniences people who want to do the right thing, rather than people who want to steal music. And that it isn’t a smart way to treat customers who have a choice.

A recent Newsweek article quotes Steve Jobs saying that customers knew along that iTunes Music Store (iTMS) songs will only play on an iPod; and from the public figures [*] he’ll know that his informed customers fill the majority of their iPods with non-DRM’d songs from elsewhere. However, the sale of iPods is driven by available music, and iTMS (and its Fairplay DRM) could have been ‘merely’ a way for him to make the ‘music industry’ complicit in their sale, preventing lawsuits. The Economist says “Mr Jobs persuaded the record labels (which were panicking about illegal internet downloads) to sell music on iTunes for 99 cents per song, and then used music as a loss leader to make money from his gadgets”.

The Billboard article also says that legal digital downloads have not grown this year, and iTMS is dominant. So, if even a dominant player can only sell 24 DRM’d songs to a device probably containing thousands of non-DRM’d songs, then presumably there’s a customer need to be satisfied. Can you spot one? Thousands of artists on MySpace can.

* In 2004, itunesperipod.com had a data point of 21 iTunes songs per iPod. In 2005, Steve Jobs said “The average iTunes account holder has purchased 60 songs” (so <60 average per iPod). As of early 2006 the figure was an average of 24 tracks per iPod, according to Chris Anderson in his book “The Long Tail” (42 million iPods and 1 billion iTunes tracks over nearly 4 years)

“Downhill Battle” October 22, 2006

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New posts at the Downhill Battle ["Music Activism"] blog restarted recently, after a few months absence, (though the RSS feeds at Bloglines don’t reflect it)

“Down with DRM” October 20, 2006

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FreeCulture.org has announced the winners of its “Down with DRM” video contest …[via Lawrence Lessig]

FairPlay DRM cracked September 4, 2006

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Macworld reports that :

Anti-copy protection activists have released a new solution that breaks Apple’s FairPlay DRM, which secures iTunes-purchased tracks.

The solution, QTFairUse6, comes from the same activists who this week unleashed FairUse4WM, which can strip copy protection from Windows Media files

…[Found via Dave Farber's IP list]

Update: Microsoft has released a ’security patch’ for FairUse4WM