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Wednesday, August 22, 2007
A shot to the heart of digital restrictions management
I adore competition.
I ought to have known that the roughly $200 I invested at $0.99/song in downloading pop tunes earlier this summer from Yahoo — supposedly "purchasing" them, ha! — was going to leave me with a "digital
rights restrictions management"-crippled library that I couldn't easily play even on my other networked computers at home. (Yahoo's same-network streaming feature won't work for me at all; when I sought technical assistance, they offered me a "return refund," meaning they would have zapped my ability to listen to what I'd "purchased" anywhere, but zero actual technical help.) But I still felt like a victimized chump when I realized it.
If there's a retail competitor who ought to be able to get Apple's and Yahoo's and others' attention, however, surely it's Wal-Mart:
Wal-Mart, the largest compact disc retailer in the United States, has begun selling some of its digital songs online for 94 cents each, significantly undercutting the iTunes price, the company said yesterday. More importantly, the music will not be fettered by copy restrictions, which means consumers will be free to burn the songs on CDs, play them on almost any device and send them to friends on the Internet.
The other news in that same story, though, still leaves me gritting my teeth:
Also yesterday, Real Networks said it would combine its Rhapsody Internet music player with the pop-culture power of MTV and sell songs over the Verizon Wireless network to mobile phones and other handheld devices.
My cell service is through Verizon, and for the last year I've routinely used my Motorola KRZR K1m cell phone to listen to music while exercising outdoors or waiting in lines. The software package that Verizon obliges Motorola to install on the phone, though, and the version of Motorola's own "Phone Tools" software that's supposed to sync up my cell phone and my PCs' calendars, contacts, and music libraries, are both crippled — part of Verizon's attempt to push its own music sales program down my throat. Cellular providers collectively are still, comparatively, less subject to competitive pressures, but that shouldn't last too much longer.
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(1) gingeroni made the following comment | Aug 27, 2007 12:34:20 PM | Permalink
Walmart's site is crippled. It only allows machines running Windows XP or Vista to get into the music store. They even make a big point of NOT supporting Windows 98, 2000,or NT. Forget about people using Mac or Linux. If it was really DRM free, they wouldn't care.
(2) Pete made the following comment | Aug 28, 2007 8:32:36 AM | Permalink
At least yahoo will allow you to burn the tracks to CD then you can rip them back to MP3 without any restrictions. Of course it's a 2 step process but at least it works.
(3) Robert made the following comment | Aug 29, 2007 12:40:22 AM | Permalink
Beldar, when you say Yahoo!'s streaming service, do you mean LaunchCast? I initially had problems with it, too, most of them having to do with cookie handling and firewall issues (especially with permission-based firewalls) and pop-up blockers, since LaunchCast uses a pop-up window for its interface.
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