oneirophrenia: (Fascist Pink)
Stand up and shout! Or, rather...just don't buy shit from iTunes or any of those other useless "music stores" that chain up your purchases in ridiculous anti-consumer bullshit.

Here are a few resources to help you out:

eMusic. Obviously the place to start. Not only are all the mp3s they sell high-quality and completely DRM-free, they also have the best selection of ANY online music store.

But, eMusic isn't the only place to search for DRM-free music. DRM Free Music Search is another great place to start.

And, finally, if you're still not sure whether this whole Digital Rights Management stuff is worth caring about, take a look here and have a look at how you wasted your money.
oneirophrenia: (Swank Terminator)
Just In Case....If you fear you may be infexted with the XCP2 rootkit or whatever the hell it's being called today, check out this site.

Here you can find convenient instructions on how to identify if your Windows machine is infected with the rootkit. Sorry, Mac, folks--this detection method's for Windows machines only, but as soon as EFF or someone puts up instructions on how to check for yourselves, I'll post that, too. Provided, of course, you haven't found it already yourselves, which is highly likely. :)

I'm a paranoid fuck, and my computer is made by Sony...so, of course, I checked the second I found this page. Clean as a whistle. *Whew*
oneirophrenia: (Cok!)
First, here's a little tip for you Norton Antivirus users out there: Symantec has announced that its antivirus software will detect and identify, but not remove, any instances of Sony Music's asstastic backdoor program. It will instead point you toward a Sony website that offers a download to "uncloak"--but again, not remove--the suspicious malware. But at least you'll know it's there.

On the other hand, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has released a <a href="http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/archives/004144.php>document detailing how the rootkit works AND a list of CDs known to be infected with it</a>. Quite frankly, the only CD on that list <i>I</i> would have any interest in is Neil Young's <i>12 Songs</i>--but I'd never buy it in the first place because it's a Major Label release. Everyone should at least have a look at the list just to be sure. Fortunately, the site also documents tell-tale signs printed on CDs to let you know if they're all filthied up with Sony's most heinous "XCP" technology. Caveat emptor!
oneirophrenia: (Mr. Rogers)
Recently, the news has been seething with information concerning Sony's ridiculous DRM "rootkit" that more or less infects Windows (and now, apparently, Mac OS) computers and basically take control of certain functions on your machine to handle certain "protected" content. If you want all the details, you need merely Google the subject or consult The Register or CNet's New.com for the complete scoop, as it is far too complex to cover here.

Suffice to say, though, this little revelation has only compounded my growing hatred for the music "industry." It's bad enough that many online music stores riddle their mp3s with DRM schemes that more or less chain those purchased files to one or more specific computers and, in many cases, disallow you to properly back up the files to, say, CD-R because that breaks the DRM. It's also bad enough that many DRM schemes can be changed "on the fly" to further restrict the usage of already-purchased materials (Apple's iTunes Music Store did just this a little while ago when it agreed to further limit the number of times one can purchase ITMS playlists to CDs, whether those files were purchased before the new limit went into effect or not). Now Sony is, in effect, infecting certain CDs covered by their "copy protection" scheme with what amounts to a hacker's backdoor tool to let them reach into your machine, in effect, and fiddle around with things. Wow. That scheme isn't so much an implementation of Digital Rights Management as it is a blatant breach of an individual's digital security.

Now, you all know my feelings when it comes to shunning the iTunes Music Store and other such outlets for DRM-encrusted mp3s. The reason I do this is simply because these outlets' DRM schemes completely violate the basic legal principle of fair use and restrict my right to, say, resell or give away do with my purchased material as I so please--a concept known as "first sale" rights, as defined in current copyright law. For instance, I've bought a LOT of CDs in the past--and still do. Once I've paid for those CDs, I now own them, and can supposedly do what I want with them, including making a backup copy, ripping them to mp3s so I can store them and listen to them on my computer (and car stereo or iPod or what-have-you), and giving them away to friends or trading them in at the Exchange. You can't do anything like that with DRMed digital files. That really bugs me.

So, what to do? All the big music labels these days are pushing for greater and greater restrictions--hell, Sony is going so far as to publish CDs with built-in trojans, for all intents and purposes, to compromise your own computer's security. Brilliant. Why would ANYone with an interest in consumer's rights bother to give these companies money? And you know it's got to be bad when these various labels' own artists--like the Dave Matthews Band, and Firehouse--have posted instructions on their own websites informing fans how to get around this crap so you can enjoy their music in any way you like!

The best way to fight these measures is to simply boycott companies and individual CD releases that pull this kind of copy-protection bullshit--which would prettymuch be any "major label" like Sony, Virgin, and so forth. If you knowingly pay for a CD that is laced with software that refuses to let you play it in your computer, say, or rip the contents to mp3 to put on your iPod, then you deserve what you get. But how do you even KNOW? Some of these CDs are barely labelled with the necessary information to tell you what you're getting into! Fortunately, the net is here to help. Here's a list of so-called "corrupt" CDs prepared by the Campaign for Digital Rights and another to let you know what CDs out there have copy-protection schemes that could potentially damage your computer or simply restrict your rights to do with purchased material what you will.

Now, I've seen a few CDs I've purchased on those lists. That scared me. Who knows what malicious software I may have inadvertently installed on my computer just by ripping the goddamned things? I wasn't aware at the time that some of these CDs were "copy-protected," mainly because there are NO INDICATIONS on them that they are copy-protected. I didn't have trouble ripping them, but I assume that's because the handful of copy-protected CDs I own are all fairly old and utilize older, outdated protection schemes that only work when, say, one is trying to duplicate a protected CD in Nero or another disk-duplicating package.

Nonetheless, to protect myself as a consumer, from this day forth, I patently refuse to give any of my money to major labels that in any way employ these kind of devious tricks. Fuck them. I'm aware that not every major-label release is cluttered up with copy-protection schemes at present, but...how can I be sure? Never trust a Big Name Company, people. It's bad enough that Xerox laser printers print weird tracking codes on every sheet of paper that comes through them--who knows WHAT kind of bullshit some of the Big Media companies are willing to try behind consumers' backs?

Now, I'm not about to get all self-righteous and talk shit on people who still want to buy major-label CDs--but please, people, be aware of what you might be setting yourself up for. You, as a consumer in the United States, have a right to know these things, and you should all be educated consumers and check stuff out before you start handing your money over to big businesses.

Feel free to consult
oneirophrenia: (Mr. Rogers)
Looks like Apple Computers is going to build some kind of DRM bullshit directly into the new OS X kernel for Intel processors.

Now, here's my take on that, in a nutshell: I can't stand ANY form of DRM. Period. I use iTunes exclusively to play mp3s, because I really like its simplicity and effectiness...but I've only ever bought four songs from the iTunes Store--one of them the Beck song I'm currently listening to (they were iTunes exclusives, alas). I, of course, re-encoded them seconds after downloading them to strip the DRM shit out of them, and never bought another song from that service.

The thing is, as many of you know, I really like post-2000 Mac machines and software--not as much as [livejournal.com profile] siliconedreamer or Cory Doctorow, but they're really cool and generally work extremely well. In fact, I was pretty excited when I heard Apple was switching to Intel processors because, well, as much as I like Apple hardware, I'm not a big fan of proprietary hardware, which always sort of wrecked the PowerPC core for me. Anyway, that's irrelevant now. Now it seems that Apple is writing DRM functions directly into the OS kernel designed for Intel processors. Yet another reason I say to Apple Computer, "You and Steve Jobs can go fuck yourselves."

Gods know I'm not a GPL freak like many--I have no problem using software that saves data in proprietary formats (such as, for instance, Microsoft Office...although, to be honest, the .doc format has by now become so well-known and -supported by even non-MS apps that it might as well be declared open-source), although I naturally prefer open-source data formats for universal interoperability reasons. Adding some fucking DRM scheme to that equation, however, is a deal-breaker: I am not ABOUT to chain my data to a certain chipset ID or a particular machine or installation of software. That shit can flatout blow me.

Yet another reason I can't stand Apple Computers (the company, not the hardware). I still want, say, a Mac Mini so I can run Mac-only audio software, but I'll probably grab one fairly soon rather than wait for the Intel switchover in order to avoid this DRM shit. Which, mind you, will probably end up being cracked anyway, but still...one less hassle I can avoid.

Don't think I won't say the exact same thing about Microsoft or ANYone else who pulls this DRM bull, either. I recall a while back MS was planning some kind of monitor-based DRM scheme, which of course earned them a big ol' Mister Rogers Middle Finger, as well. But it seems they have backed down from that...and, hell, anything MS writes into their OS can be cracked thirteen seconds after it's released, anyway.

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