Everything I had heard so far about Microsoft’s supposed iPod killer was pretty good. They were going to work out some way to reproduce your iTunes collection so you didn’t have to repurchase all those songs (Because Apple sure as hell wasn’t going to let you transfer those songs to a competitor’s product). It really sounded like they were going to try and create a music player that didn’t assume everyone was a criminal.
Unfortunately, things are not what they seemed. If you share a song via the Zune’s wireless sharing, it will apply DRM to the file so that you can only play the song for three days or three times. I assume the intention here is to allow you to share a song with your friend so the friend will go buy his or her own copy. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that - I understand that Microsoft and the record labels are just trying to make a buck, and I really do fully support capitalism. But the article explains how this is a problem. Let’s say I’m an amateur musician. I create a new song on my computer by sampling my cat scratching in her litter box and set it to a beat of me kicking the wall as the Redskins got manhandled by the f'ing Cowboys. I decide to apply a Creative Commons license to my work, because I think it would be cool if someone else sampled my work and used it in their own song, so long as they give me credit. So, I have this song on my new Zune, and I’m playing it at a party. Someone comes up to me and says, “Dude, I love that song!”. He has a Zune, too, so I share the song with him. Oops, Microsoft’s DRM just violated the Creative Commons license. Creative Commons forbids any kind of DRM (Which is a large part of the reason I chose the license).
I haven’t bought a cd in close to a year. The last cd I bought, in April of 2005, was Garbage’s Bleed Like Me. I bought it without hearing it, because I really like Garbage. I put it in my computer so I could rip the MP3’s FOR MY OWN PERSONAL USE (I wanted to make an MP3 cd to use in the car so I don’t scratch up the original, and so I can fit ten albums on one disc), and the cd told me to go jump in a lake. My computer didn’t recognize the cd as an audio cd. It would play it, but it didn’t see any rippable files.
What I really should have done was return the cd as defective. I bought the cd assuming that I could listen to the music however I wanted. Unfortunately, that was not the case. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll buy Garbage’s next cd. Part of me wants to boycott it, but the other part of me knows that will hurt me (as I like the music) more than it hurts the company selling the cd.
The real problem here is that the music industry has made it so hard to buy a song once and use it in whatever legal way I want that I’ve just stopped buying music completely. It sounded like Microsoft was going to help that problem, but apparently that’s not the case. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.