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01/31/2006 Archived Entry: "Down with iPods!"

I do not, and will not, own an iPod. I think the Consumer Council of Norway has adequately summarized my reasons (as reported in The Register):

"ITMS [iTunes Music Store] can change the Ts&Cs [terms and conditions] governing music after it has been purchased. That, the CCN said, is 'a violation of basic principles of consumer contract law'.... [C]onsumers are prevented from claiming damages if iTunes should create a breach of security that that could be exploited by hackers or malware... Consumers are forced to play downloaded music on an iPod - attempts to use other portable players require the removal of a song's DRM protection, a process banned by the Ts&Cs. The CCN reckons this runs contrary to copyright law's fair use provision."

I also agree with Simon Phipps' objections to DRM (some overlap with the above). He adds a point I hadn't considered: if widely adopted, Digital Rights Management will condemn us to the slow loss of our culture's music (and film):

Meanwhile, our collective cultural memory gets locked up in instances which become inaccessible the first time one of:
  • The content being 'turned off' by a usage rule
  • The implementation of the restriction mechanism is obsoleted by an "upgrade" of the host system
  • The original medium degrades into uselessness but couldn't be copied
  • A part of the "phone home for authorisation" chain goes out of business
  • The original license is no longer applicable (for example because your children have inherited the media but not the digital key)
Thus your children won't get to play your music, show your favourite films, share your culture, with your grandchildren because they won't inherit anything containing that from you that's usable.

If I ever feel the need for a portable music player, I will only buy an MP3 player. MP3 files can be freely transferred between computer and player, and can be easily converted to other formats. When the day comes that MP3 is obsolete, I'll be able to move my music collection to the new medium (whatever it is).


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