Friday, August 17, 2007

Digitial Music Files

I have spent every spare minute this week converting wmas to mp3s in preparation for my permanent Ubuntu install. As part of this I’ve discovered a few things:

1) WMA files are huge! Mp3 conversion has freed up a good bit of my HD and I’m only a few hundred songs in.

2) I’ve decided there’s no way in hell I’m paying Napster $275 dollars MIN to keep “my” god-damn-DRM protected songs. I’ve saved a list of them and I’ll be re-acquiring these tunes elsewhere.

3) Windows has the exact same problem as Ubuntu for ripping CDs to mp3s. I attempted to rip a recently bought CD with Windows Media Player and got a similar error message to my SoundJuicer attempt “Mp3 codex unavailable”. Ubuntu’s correction to rip & play mp3s requires an install via Synaptic (which I haven’t completed yet). Windows method is to charge you $10 for the MP3 ripping ability or this "helpful" page from Microsoft.

4) This is not so much a discovery as a realization and a decision. Explained beneath the cut.

At UT-Engineering, the lectures for your senior design project are about general ideas in engineering that could effect product development. During the discussion of intellectual property, my professor emphasized several times software should be patentable and copyright protected because it should be treated the same way as concrete goods. I didn’t & don’t really have a problem with that.

BUT, current software licensing acts in a way totally counter or acceptable for concrete goods. EULA’s get around the end user loophole in commercial law. Meaning no matter how much you paid for any piece of software under an EULA, it’s NEVER your property. Consider a situation where you have purchased* a car, computer or television, etc. Now imagine GM, Dell or Sony telling their customers “After one year your purchase of this product is revoked.” And in order to regain “your” property, you have to pay for your goods twice, thrice or more. Concrete goods are not treated in this manner (see First Sale Doctrine).

DRM-protected music files are no better than EULAs. As the recent Google Video fiasco proves, no matter what you paid for digital media, it’s never yours. This flies in the face of any reasonable expectation of ownership. If I own a CD when buying it in a bricks-and-mortar store, then I also should own a CD purchased in an on-line store. PERIOD. If the entertainment companies want to keep up this DRM BS, then they should be forced to change their services' descriptions from "Purchases" to “Rent to Use”. This of course will never happen because apparently the very last thing big entertainment wants is to be honest with their customers.

As of now, I don’t plan to ever use a DRM-protected music store again. And I don;t have to with places like eMusic and AudioLunchbox.

* not rent or lease, that is a transaction defined as different from the get-go

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