Friday, May 19, 2006

A good example of what is not freedom

I love the spirit of freedom that comes with Open Source - that's one important thing that I like about MySQL. This is about an extreme example of the opposite.

I like the US band called Live (for those who don't know, that's really the name of the band - very disadvantageous if you try to google for that band) - they make great Rock music. I had the opportunity to see this band live in 1999 and I have several CDs from the band.

Recently they have issued a new CD called "Songs From Black Mountain" which comes in a normal CD edition and a DualDisc Edition, which is double sided - on one side a CD and on the other side a DVD with videos from the songs. I pre-listened the songs in iTunes, liked them and decided to buy the DualDisc from Amazon.

Fine - you probably might already guess what's the issue. The CD is copy protected and not only that - if I play the CD on my PC, there are several short interruptions in the songs and the sound quality is extremely bad. Also the DVD is copy protected, but at least it's possible to play the songs in good quality from the DVD. I didn't find any indication on Amazon's product page about the copy protection, which should actually enable me to return the disk.

Why does the copy protection bother me? Very simple - I used to make MP3 files out of my CDs to play them on my PC without the need to insert the disk, copy them to my iPod, create CDs for my car - all reasonable things that I think I should be allowed to do with a CD that I bought for good money.

I'm not really sure about what I will do with the disk. Should I return it? If I return it, should I buy the songs from iTunes, burn them on CD and rip the CD to get MP3 files out of it? That's another barrier, because files from iTunes are not compatible with many devices and applications. Should I return the disk and protest against all this stupidity by not buying the disk (although I like the music)? Should I keep the CD and try to crack the songs (and waste precious time that I could spend doing useful things like writing blog articles ;-))? Is it at all legal? Nobody's sure about that, because on one hand there's the right to create backup copies, on the other hand it's illegal to skip copy protection ... that's absolutely ambiguous. Will I end up in jail for just wanting to listen to a few songs? Can you really be sure that this is as ridiculous as it sounds?

It's extremely annoying that the music industry punishes honest customers - and makes people who would legally buy stuff (if it came without the limitations) get the songs from illegal sources. I don't mind to pay money for good music - that's just fair. I also think that there's nothing bad about sharing songs with friends (even though I don't think that's legal). But I think that most people would spend a reasonable amount of money for good music - and private sharing certainly helps to learn about new music and if those people who like the songs go out and buy the CD and visit concerts, it will be no harm to anybody (my personal opinion, obviously not the opinion of the music industry). How about those who share this material in a commercial and criminal way? They won't be stopped by copy protection anyway.

This all really looks to me like the maximum amount of possible stupidity!

Let's get one stop further ... can I be sued for using the word stupidity in the same context as "music industry" in a public article?

Will the click on the Submit button mean the end of my life in freedom?

Am I a criminal for having thoughts like that?

Is that Freedom?

3 comments:

Martijn Tonies said...

It's extremely annoying that the music industry punishes honest customers

Nail, head, etc...

I had the same with a CD from the Beastie Boys. When I read it had copy protection, I decided against buying it.

It's easier to download the MP3s of the net (which is still legal here) than going through the hassle myself. Given the time I spend behind the PC, I usually have all sorts of songs in a (mp3) playlist and I just don't want to listen to a single CD.

Nope, no copy/play/whatever protected CDs for me. Bah.

Markus Popp said...

Well, I decided to send the CD back and get the song from iTunes.

So I have the albums as MP3s now, but didn't support imposing copy protection on CDs by buying one.

jgraf said...

Leaving the legal/not legal argument aside, it's interesting to note that it's a technology give and take. Back in the day - my day - if I wanted to copy an album (vinyl!) to listen to it in the car (cassette!), I played the album and put audio out into the cassette recorder's audio in.

Then along came CDs, ripping software, mp3 conversion, etc, and copy protection.

But no matter how far down the pipe you are able to send the encryption, that is from CD, into the amplifier, down the speaker wires, at some point the signal has to drive the speakers. Maybe in the future (I almost said 'far future'!), there will be only completely incased playing systems that can't be gotten at. But until then, the end of the speaker wire that plugs into the speaker is really just 'audio out'.

Thankfully, technology is still with us. 'Total Recorder' from http://www.highcriteria.com/ is my favorite for recording audio out.

I've used it for converting iTunes to mp3, but converting to mp4 to wav to mp3 is good enough for my ears, despite the loss.

Hey, it's not as simple as a straight rip from cd, but it beats the heck out of a record player and a cassette recorder, trust me on this. god, it's all coming back to me. If you wanted to change the play list, you would have to pick up the needle and set it down in the space between the tracks, unpause the cassette recorder...

Back to the legal/not legal, those greedy bastards discussion.

jim