March 20, 2007

iTunes and copywrite protection

Posted in Customer Lack of Service, Music at 2:05 pm by loolar

Mike Torres talks about this in much greater depth and with much more authority than I can muster (here is just one example).

So I am a fan of a now defunct band Ednaswap. One of their more recent incarnations is the band AnneTenna (read about them here and on wikipedia). At any rate, back when I could find it, I was able to download their album for free (for whatever reasons, Capitol Records has shelved it).

Last weekend, one of the other 13 surviving Ednaswap fans and I got together to do a road trip to Santa Barbara. He was keenly interested in hearing the album, and lacks the computer that could have obtained it when such a thing was possible. So we loaded up the iPod to the monster FM transmitter cord, dialed up the band, and – wait a minute. Where is it?

Not there.

The album has never synced to my iPod. I just tried manually. Nope. Won’t take it. No explanation, nothing. I can only assume some arcane copywrite protection software gremlin is in the works, cackling with glee and rubbing its hands.

Why? Let’s leave aside the obvious complaint – that the album was available for free, so who on earth cares if you share it with reckless abandon? Oh my god, people might actually discover the band.
But what about law-abiding, regular folks? The arcane method through which you have authorize machines, and the limited number of authorizations – what does it really accomplish, besides ill-will and annoyance aimed at recording companies (although hey, they deserve all they can get), artists, and computer companies (in this case, Apple)?

Copywrite protection is like gun control – it works wonderfully if your goal is to annoy the people that are already obeying the law. I am a high school teacher, and very one of my Title I (government assistance), inner-city students has the computer savvy of Matthew Broderick in WARGAMES. Do you really think stuff like this stops them? Nope, but it annoys the hell out of me.

Understand, I love my Mac (have an iBook and an iMac) and my iPod. But stuff like this – like most idiocy in the world – is politically motivated.

It’s time to switch to a Canadian style system – a subsidy to recording companies is included as a tariff on any device or media that may be used to copy and distribute copywritten material. They understand that people may decide to use that blank CD and computer to – gasp – burn music. So give the recording companies their pound of flesh up front, and be done with it. Don’t create a system that demotivates consumers and requires involuntary consumer participation. It will never work. It doesn’t work.


  1. msr said,

    Hey, I’m an Ednaswap fan too. Any chance you could send me over a little Annetenna? I’ve been looking for that album everywhere- eBay, LimeWire, but could only find the song on the Chumscrubber.

    I mean, I’d pay for that! Why isn’t Columbia willing to take my freaking money!?

    And sadly, the Ednaswap/AnneTennA fan site is down. Hopefully not permanently, because there’s NOWHERE else to find their live stuff. I just wish I could find more.

  2. msr said,

    Oh, and sorry for the double post, but I agree. Copy protection is unbelievably annoying. It almost seems like the record labels are trying to run their businesses aground as fast as they possibly can. I’m thinking (and hoping too) that the major record labels will soon be dead, and the independents will rule. I mean, do you really think Britney Spears and her ilk are able to promote themselves? The only reason they’re famous is because millions were poured into getting them under the radar of 8 million screaming blonde morons.

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