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EFF’s Guide to DRM

The awesome and formidable Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have put out a webpage guide to help people intelligently swim through the Digital Rights Management (DRM) thicket of online music. DRM is a term that includes any method that digital/electronics sellers use to restrict or control the way people use digital content. You can get into a lot of trouble if what you do normally with your digital content happens to break any imposed DRM (under DMCA law, which was passed without opposition). What’s wrong with DRM? Here is a 5-point writeup. The point of the guide is:

“In other words, in this brave new world of “authorized music services,” law-abiding music fans often get less for their money than they did in the old world of CDs (or at least, the world before record companies started crippling CDs with DRM, too). Unfortunately, in an effort to attract customers, these music services try to obscure the restrictions they impose on you with clever marketing. This guide “translates” the marketing messages by the major services, giving you the real deal rather than spin. “

Knowing whether or not an online music service is good for you and whether or not said music service is an ingredient of healthy music industry politics is half the battle. Knowing about what DRM keeps you from doing before you buy the DRM-enabled thing might make you choose one music store/product over the next. This guide is a first step to revealing DRM’s hidden badness. The more you know about how people are controlling music, the more we can use our consumer/public powers to change the system.

You can read about the intersection of DRM and the following music services in the guide here: iTunes (remember, iTunes is Bogus), Napster, Windows Media, Real Networks. These restrictions and the protection of them is one of the reasons we are going open source all the way and using a video player that plays all video formats with the PCF video player project.

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