[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[FYI] Can Universal's Digital-Music Enforcer Beat Back the Anarchists?

Can Universal's Digital-Music Enforcer Beat Back the Anarchists?

By Jon O'Hara 

                     Friday , August 04 12:59 p.m. 

Think of it as the electric music acid test. After a prolonged period
of buildup and testing that has earned them a reputation in online
circles as slowpoke Luddites who don't ''get it,'' the major labels are
finally giving the public a peek at their elusive ''legitimate
alternative'' to Napster's free-for-all -- secure, downloadable music
from known artists. And if you thought the debate over security
and digital rights management was loud before, you'd better get out
the earplugs.

Over the past couple of months, Sony Music Entertainment has
trickled out a small selection of digital singles using its own
proprietary OpenMG security system, and EMI Music followed suit
with its multiple format/multiple service provider trial. Now comes
the behemoth of the music market, Universal Music Group, with
its beta run, dubbed ''bluematter.'' And Universal comes to the party
with a big, bad bodyguard in tow, the Mr. T of DRM platforms:
Intertrust Technologies. 


Apart from having a rather expensive, legitimately downloaded song
file rendered unrecognizable by the legitimately downloaded
software player, additionally off-putting were the 30-odd screens of
terms and conditions that must be agreed to before using the
Intertrust/Magex software. Perhaps more troubling is the ooky
feeling one gets after reading the following notification in the Magex
installation program. And I quote: ''The software we provide to you
will record details of the content you obtain from content providers
using our service. The details recorded include the type of content
consumed, the content provider you obtained it from, the price you
paid for the content and the use you make of it. This transactional
information is automatically transferred to us when you connect to
our Web site.'' While such background intelligence gathering is
understandable in terms of the rights management system and
perhaps even desirable for the sake of convenience, it's hard to
escape the feeling that you've let Big Brother in the front door and
invited him to look around. 


Janko Roettgers - roettgers@devcon.net - http://www.devcon.net/~roettgers/