18 October 2006

Closed systems leave song buyers out in the cold [USA Today]

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Music sharing
USA Today has done a big piece on the dysfunctional online music business and on the negative consequences this has for the user experience.

According the Guardian’s technology blog, which reports on the piece, “The problem is the popularity of Apple’s closed, proprietary monopoly of the paid-for download business, but the article reckons that Microsoft launching a rival closed, proprietary service — Zune — just adds to the chaos rather than solving it. This gives RealNetworks, San Disk and Best Buy the chance to claim to be the only “open system” with their new Sansa Rhapsody portable player (which is also compatible with other devices and music stores using Microsoft’s Plays For Sure system).”

But the article finally gets on to the real problem:

“The obstacle is copy-protection, or Digital Rights Management (DRM) in industry lingo. Apple, Real, Microsoft and Sony all have competing DRM systems. That’s why a song purchased on Sony’s Connect service won’t transfer to an iPod.”

“DRM was a proposed solution to making sure songs wouldn’t be traded illegally online. The reality is that “DRM has done nothing to stop piracy,” says Yahoo music chief Dave Goldberg.”

“Consumers should be able to do whatever they want with their digital song purchase, just like they can with a CD,” says Goldberg. “We think DRM is bad for consumers and artists.”

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