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Old 10-30-2006, 10:00 PM
Jason Dunn
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Default Zune and DRM


"For starters, Digital Rights Management, commonly known as DRM, is any technology that is put in place by content holders to control access or usage of digital content (in this case digital music). Most content providers in the industry, mainly the major record companies, believe that it is necessary to maintain control over the distribution, and replication of content, and the ability to assign limited control over content. Their main concern hinges on the illegal spread of content over the internet, and loss of sales. For many people and organizations, DRM is not only a hassle, but also something that must be destroyed at all costs. Their belief is that DRM allows content holders to write their own rules and have them backed by the DMCA, that it erodes pervious capabilities, stifles creativity, innovation, and competition…as well as being a royal pain in the ass."

Charlie over at Zune Corps has written up a piece on DRM and how it will impact the Zune. When it comes to buying songs from the Zune Marketplace, the Zune is really no better or worse than the iPod. One could argue that's a problem, because if it's no better, then that's not going to be a factor to lure iPod users. On the other hand, with the Zune Marketplace subscription, as long as you keep paying the $14.99 USD a month, you don't have to think about DRM, because everything you can see in the Marketplace you can download.

My main concern with DRM on the Zune is the 3 day/3 play is applied to every single song you share from the Zune - I don't think it's Microsoft's place to police content on my Zune. If I want to share a ripped CD with a friend who has a Zune, the ethical and legal ramifications of that should be on my shoulders - Microsoft shouldn't be stepping in the middle. By the same token, if I load up some podcasts or original songs I put together and I want to give that content away for others to keep, why shouldn't I be able to? It doesn't matter that the DRM is part of the hardware and not applied to the song itself, the end result is still the same. Forcing people to have to go back to their computers to re-download the audio file so they can keep it is inane, and nullifies some of the utility that the Zune's WiFi sharing has. I don't know how much of the 3 day/3 day DRM came from music studio pressure, and how much of it was from the Zune team themselves, but no matter how you slice it, it's a bad idea that's going to hurt the adoption of the player.
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