City of Sound is about cities, design, architecture, music, media, politics and more. Written by Dan Hill since 2001.

Digital bitstreams and DRM

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In the interests of balance, having linked to Cory Doctorow’s "DRM will not work…" speech, here’s John Naughton on the iTunes Music Store UK:

"(T)he DRM scheme strikes a balance between giving customers reasonable freedoms to make personal copies and protecting the intellectual property rights of artists and record labels. A mark of all great ideas is that they seem natural and obvious once they are articulated or implemented. But the irony is that the big idea underpinning iTunes is actually quite ancient. It’s been obvious for over a decade that the internet was the perfect way to distribute digital content. If your product took the form of a bitstream, then it was a no-brainer that it should be shipped over the net. But the music industry wilfully refused to see this, and instead wasted 10 years in futile, expensive, Canute-like denial. The result is that when – finally – music files are being legally shipped over the internet, it’s being done by a computer company, not a record label. Other content industries take note."

… and Gareth Klose on why DRM has a role to play given the way things are.

For my part, I’m still looking at the 3 tracks I’ve bought from iTMS out of the corner of my eye. They feel different to the other 18000+ tracks in my library. They sound just fine, but I know they have slightly different capabilities. Hmmm.


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