Monday, August 28, 2006

FairUse4WM cracks Microsoft's PlaysForSure DRM

The big news last week was that the Windows Media DRM was cracked. Derek also thinks this isn't entirely a bad thing, and in fact this benefits both the consumers and the online music services. As Grant puts it, "DRM doesn't protect content in any meaningful way. DRM does however present an encumbrance to legal uses of media purchased by legitimate customers." This is, ultimately, the paradox of DRM: it keeps the 'good guys' from using works that would fall under fair use, but doesn't protect against the "bad guys" determined to steal anyways.

Peter Rojas, in an open letter to Microsoft, implores the company not to kill the FairUse4WM project. Rather than being an incentive for people to steal music, he suggests that many friends and readers have actually expressed an interest in signing up for these services. I tend to agree with this assessment. Until iTunes offers a subscription plan, this means that nearly nearly 80% of all digital music players are excluded from subscription service. If I were able to play Yahoo! Music or Napster music on my iPod, I would undoubtedly subscribe, and I'm sure many others are in the same situation.

As Peter puts it, "what keeps them paying is the continuing access to a large, frequently updated catalog of new releases and older tunes", and "DRM makes paying for music less attractive than stealing."

People aren't just downloading music illegally because it's free - they're downloading it because they can't get what they want from a paid service. Simply put, DRM doesn't work.

(Cross-posted to Loosely Coupled)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Net Neutrality Update

FTC Chairman Deborah Majoras announced she will organize an Internet Access Task Force to examine a variety of issues, including Net Neutrality. Her speech here: pdf. [via PK]