Warner’s the latest label to lose the DRM entanglements on its music, as Amazon attempts to compete with Apple by supplying Josh Groban tracks. However, the New York Times reports that Warner’s deal with Amazon is not exclusive and they are negotiating with Apple to sell DRM-free music there as well.
Let us forget for a moment that Wal-Mart’s online music store is a joke. When Wal-Mart tells content publishers to jump, they don’t ask how high: they just do it.
The writers are striking, and it’s about YouTube.
Well, actually, it’s not about YouTube exactly, but it’s about writers reminding producers that they, too, are entitled to a cut of what the New York Times is calling "so-called-new-media revenue":
Screenwriters argue that their labors generally create programming that has very high value — value that would seem to multiply as it spread over more platforms.
Media companies have a story to tell as well: If they are about to make jillions on new media, the markets don’t seem to think so….Writers, still smarting from giving away the store in terms of video and DVD before the true value of those businesses became apparent, are not about to cave in. Producers, who have yet to find a revenue model for digital content, do not want to be hamstrung by a costly deal with writers while they try to figure it out.
Wal-Mart will soon be offering DRM-free downloads of recordings from Universal and EMI, says the Wall Street Journal this morning. Unlike EMI, Universal will not make these recordings available to iTunes – meaning Apple is shut out from their distribution.
The Journal observes,
Apple uses its own DRM software, which doesn’t work with services or devices made by competitors, resulting in locking owners of its popular iPod music players into buying the most popular mainstream music Apple’s the iTunes store, and not from its competitors. Record companies have blamed this lock-in for limiting digital-music sales, which account for around 15% of all recorded-music sales in the U.S.
Muze announced yesterday that it’s powering O2’s German arm in its effort to make downloadable music available to O2 customers. Muze’s OMX platform, a digital media distribution system, will be supporting O2’s partnership with MTV, enabling customers to download MTV’s weekly Top Ten tracks to their PCs and mobile devices.
Burger King will be giving away DRM-free MP3s with meals in the UK, reports Tech.co.uk:
Under the campaign, consumers will be able to search for, sample, and download a pre-paid EMI Music track from a specially created microsite after inputting a unique code. Codes are being distributed to Burger King consumers upon purchase, and there will be links from the microsite to an online retailer, allowing consumers to purchase further tracks by EMI artists featured on the microsite.
Yes, the same EMI that is releasing DRM-free music to Apple is also looking for innovative ways to distribute music outside of iTunes, the article says:
TechCrunch reports that the new Harry Potter has been leaked on BitTorrent. In their words: "Simply where there is a fan with a will, there is a way."
I belong to the notorious Park Slope Parents listserv. It’s really not as ridiculous as the press makes it out to be – most of the threads are along the lines of "help, my toddler won’t eat anything but white food" or "looking for a great carseat".
However, there was one really interesting post from a woman who had copied a bunch of CDs into iTunes at her parents’ house, and downloaded them to her iPod; she went home and of course her home-based iTunes is radically different and her iPod wanted to sync up and thus erase all the stuff she’d just downloaded.
I wrote her a note saying she should burn a CD from the iTunes at her parents’ house and duplicate the songs into her iTunes at home. But then came a much better answer from a contributor to the Unofficial Apple Weblog, who also happens to be a Park Slope Parent:
The digital rights management in the iTunes/iPod ecosystem only applies to music that you purchase from the iTunes Music Store (and not even all of that music anymore, as EMI has made its catalog available DRM-free on the iTMS — time to buy Dark Side of the Moon AGAIN! . This DRM means that the tracks you buy online will only play on your computer + 4 additional computers you select, plus on any iPod you sync with your machine. You can generally identify these tracks by the .m4p suffix on their filenames, the ‘p’ standing for ‘Protected.’
Your challenge is that you have music on your iPod that is not DRM-controlled — standard MP3 files ripped from CD, which will play on any computer or any iPod — but you don’t have a handy way to get them back off the iPod and onto your computer, short of going back to your parents’ house and burning them to CD. The iPod stores your music in hidden folders which
are not normally accessible to the Mac Finder or to Windows Explorer. This "feature," while not technically DRM, is intended to frustrate exactly the kind of casual music sharing you’re trying to do, by preventing you from using your iPod as a music conveyor. Fortunately there are a slew of tools to help you work around this problem.
The simplest way to avoid this is to copy the music to your iPod as a disk (enable Disk Mode in iTunes) and then add it to your iTunes library when you get home. In your situation, where you’ve already loaded up the iPod, you need to use a copying utility to get the files from the iPod and into iTunes on your computer.
For the Mac, the most basic (and effective, and free) tool in this family is called Senuti, which is ‘iTunes’ backwards — and that’s exactly what it does:
There’s a couple of other free tools called Floola & Yamipod, which are a bit more complicated but also will get the job done. Both work on Mac or PC.
For $20, there’s a Mac/PC application called iPod Access that will also let you copy music back off:
The ‘grandparent’ tool in this space is Anapod Explorer, a very powerful ($25) tool for Windows that has every bell and whistle you’d want when it comes to managing your iPod data.
I’ll also put in a plug for the iPod/iTunes/iPhone coverage over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (tuaw.com), where I’m a contributor:
The DVD industry, battling its own hacking/DRM issues, has released a new technology for preventing unauthorized copying of Blu-Ray or HD-DVD discs, reports the Wall Street Journal:
[O]nce a password is compromised and posted on the Web, the industry answers by changing the way in which its new DVD titles are made. Anyone who pops one of the new discs into their personal computer without installing a software upgrade will find that it destroys the computer’s ability to play any high-definition DVD at all. To restore the computer’s ability to play them again, the owner is forced to download new software from the Web — software with a new password that hackers haven’t yet discovered. The old password, or key, has been revoked.
This is called "key revocation", and it’s frustrating innocent consumers simply because the moment a hacker uploads a password to the web, ALL users of that DVD are affected and must download new software with the new password in order to play ANY of their DVDs.
Pretty draconian. And a real turn-off.
Robert Martinengo, of the University System of Georgia, has an interesting job. He works on converting textbooks into formats accessible to the disabled. In this day and age, that means a little more than just audiobooks – although audio certainly plays a huge role. It means "assistive technology" – which helps students with cognitive disabilities (as well as the blind and deaf) read differently.
Bob recently gave an address at the O’Reilly TOC conference about the ways assistive technology and developing book technology can work together for consumers as well as the disabled. He brought up an interesting copyright point – that the need for accessible materials for disabled people is so pressing, getting permissions to create these "derivative works" is often an obstacle. He’s proposing a change in copyright law to allow educational institutions to create accessible media for their disabled constituencies, without having to defy copyright law to get these folks the materials they are entitled to.
More info is here.