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
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