The End of DRM: The problem with Abandonware

The eventual closing of the MSN Music store sheds light on one of the biggest potential problems facing the DRM-ing of digitally distributed music:

When the store closes, when the publisher dies or when it is no longer economically feasible to continue support for these DRM schemes, all of the people who bought and paid for that music (or rather the rights to listen to that music) are going to be up the creek without a paddle. Some future MS operating system will no longer support the files, they won’t be able to copy them to the devices they want or they may even be rendered unplayable.

Historically, the solution to this would be what people have been doing with out-of-print computer games for years- building communities, emulators and the like around the joy of using this old tech. Unfortunately for us, when it comes to unlocking your old MSN Music files, or your old Protected AAC, you will be breaking the law.

What then are your options? Of course people will likely break the encryption anyway, as they already have. But the fact remains that unless the laws are changed they will not be able to legally access music that they paid for due to nothing less than the inevitability of progress.

House passes DOPA.

By a 410-15 vote on Thursday July 27, the House of Representatives has passed the DOPA (Delete Online Predators Act), an extension of the Communications Act. This bill seeks to cut the use of social networks in schools and libraries in order to stop online predators. However, the phrasing of the bill is such that any commercial website that provides blogs, user profiles, chat or other online discussion is included! This potentially means that not only MySpace but Blogger, LiveJournal, the Wikipedia, and thousands of other commercial websites with bulletin boards or user accounts will be blocked by schools and libraries lest they risk the loss of Federal E-Rate Funding.

Great article by Declan McCCullagh here, discussing the politics that got this bill passed, as well as its ramifications.

Battle Royale (with cheese)

Kevin is scared.

Jason is desperate.

I’m not sure which is worse. Ultimately I think Calacanis is right- there is plenty of room for both sites. They serve very disparate audiences and despite Digg’s attempts at branch out (Sports section anyone?), they will probably always been known as a tech news site frequented by tech news fans. With that said, paying contributors is a desperate act, and it remains to be seen whether social news will be suited to it. Personally I think its a great idea as long as it doesn’t slowly revert to a site where users can only vote on articles an elite group of writers contribute.

This may well end up in the destruction of social news. Especially if the other sites start taking the paid contributor bait.

The great corrupting force of evil

Microsoft acquires Winternals and Sysinternals

What a complete and total bummer. I’ve been using sysinternals tools for all sorts of things. Pstools, rootkitrevealer, process explorer, newsid, bginfo– all these tools are well made, easy to use and best of all they’re free. Hopefully Microsoft won’t change them too much. I’d like to see them distributed as a new set of PowerToys, if nothing else.


After using the Vista beta on one of my work desktop’s for the last few weeks. I have no problem saying that it is half broken, out of control and despite being little more than a graphical upgrade to Windows, is made even more complex to the average user. I honestly feel like its a big mistake and they are going to pay for it.

Anti-Trust Apple

Few thoughts regarding apple:

Like Leo said in this week’s TwiM, Apple is headed for anti-trust problems in the not-too distant future. They simply control too much of the online music market in a way that does not allow competition- for manufacturers, software companies or even record labels. With that said, the seamless integration of the iPod and the iTMS is of course a beautiful thing, and the DRM that Apple has tied to it is sadly part of that equation. In a perfect world we would be buying DRM-free tracks from all of the music stores and using them where we want them and when we want them. This will never happen on a larger scale than what e-music and companies like it are doing now.

So say a *more* level playing field is inevitable. How does Apple stay on top? Mark my words: Apple is waiting for the fast few seconds before the anti-trust shit hits the fan and then they’re going to start licensing their Fairplay DRM to one and all. They’ll still have iPods, they’ll still have the iTMS, but now they’ll have real comptetitors in Real, Napster and the like. But how is it fair if they are charging for a license? Well, it isn’t but the only reason Microsoft is giving away (for all intents and purposes) their own Windows Media DRM is because they can afford to due to their continuing monopoly on OS and Office software. Once Fairplay is being licensed, the ball could well be in Apple’s court as Microsoft will be acting downright anticompetetive with their giving away technology it cost them millions to develop. Then we can see whether or not the “cool” factor really is what sells iPods. (It is.)

Which brings me to a future blog post: Why is Microsoft going the exact same route with Virtualization that they did with Netscape? VMWare is countering them for now, but how can they last on free software alone?


Blip Then v Blip Now

What a difference some coverage makes:
Email about terms of service prior to BLIP TV HAVING ANY:

Hey Luke,
>> It’s embarrassing, but we don’t have a ToS or EULA right now! What I
>> can tell you, though, is that there’s a very simple one sentence
>> release in the file upload form saying that you agree to give us the
>> right to distribute your video, because without that blip wouldn’t
>> work. You retain all ownership and copyright to the video, you’re
>> just giving us the right to distribute it.

>> I can also personally promise you that if you e-mail advice at
>> and ask that your video be removed from our servers, we’ll do that.
>> We absolutely, positively, 100% believe that your video is yours, and
>> we’ll do what you want us to with it and no more.
>> Does that help?
>> Yours,
>> Mike

The Terms of Service as they Read Now


When you upload or post content to, that content become public content and will be searchable by and available to anyone who visits the site. does not claim ownership of the materials you post, upload, input or submit to the site. However, by posting, uploading, inputting, providing or submitting your content to, you are granting, its affiliated companies and partners, a worldwide, irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sublicensable license to use, reproduce, create derivative works of, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, transfer, transmit, distribute and publish that content for the purposes of displaying that content on or for any other non-commercial use of that content.

and also:

The content on the site, including without limitation, the text, software, graphics, photos, and videos, is owned by or licensed to, subject to copyright and other intellectual property rights under United States Copyright Act and trademark laws, foreign laws, and international conventions. reserves all rights not expressly granted in and to the website and said content. Other than as expressly permitted, you may not engage in the unauthorized use, copying, or distribution of any of said content.

Granting that I own the copyright of my published work, and if I’ve cc licensed it there is an expression of ownership, they have the right to do whatever they want with your video, without your permission.

Circumventing lawsuits by writing the law

So while listening to today’s Buzz Out Loud, it occurred to me that not only is the tiered internet in place (to a degree), but the push for tiered internet law is not so they can implement it. Its so they don’t get sued for doing it. Because they already are. Duh.

By the by, I quite enjoy Buzz Out Loud and and the Buzz Report- the hosts are a little less out of touch than the T.W.I.T crowd, which I really hate to say, but its just true. Leo and co don’t know what’s going on half the time and the other half they’re talking down the rest of the cast. Molly Wood has guested on TWIT a few times and she generally runs with them pretty well, but a lot of times Dvorak and Leo just talk over her. Like they do with everyone I guess. So annoying. The show would be better if she were a permanent host. And if Leo could figure out a business plan instead of crossing his fingers and hoping for a pimp to come along.

The French Connection

So after the initial news regarding the French law that would require vendors of DRM’d music to open up their protection to other vendors for use in their online music stores, I was initially pretty positive about it. Apple does in fact too tightly control the FairPlay DRM and even outside of this law they are at a point where they would do well to begin licensing it to other vendors. This would allow them to a) short-circuit monopoly charges, b) establish a royalty-based de facto standard that would benefit them financially and c) give consumers their choice of music stores and players.

However, I have a hunch- and I have absolutely nothing to back this up, that Apple licenses Fairplay technology from another patent holder. Just a hunch.

While I was going over these copyright articles, something else hit me: Would this law place the burden on Microsoft, Sony, Napster, Real, Walmart and the many other online music vendors to begin releasing software for Apple computers? To my knowledge iTunes is the only music store that allows you to download and burn DRM’d music that works on both Windows and OSX. If this law becomes reality, perhaps the other vendors will balk at it as well, or perhaps Apple will use their non-compliance as leverage. I can’t find the text of the law anywhere, but I wouldn’t be suprised if it was vague enough to include this possibility.

Update: Turns out Apple has patented some kind of DRM Solution, though someone is looking to cash in.

Google as Dissenting Patriot

While I certainly admire Google’s willingness to stand up to the man, it is important to note that confirming any fears that google is in league with big brother is the one thing that could truly ruin them. It’s no surprise they’re fighting against turning over search records, with all the controversy over the information they are sucking up about not just the internet but users as well, succumbing to a government request for information is basically making all those fears real.

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iTunes Video Sharing Update

OK. So I updated to 6.0.2 at home and whaddya know? iTunes Music Store purchased video (in this case the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica) is available over the network to my laptop. Why not the other episode? Why not my copy of “Lazy Sunday”? I’m really not sure, but there it is:

Just for kicks, here’s my Video playlist displayed through my Xbox Media Center. Granted, I can’t play the video for some reason (though I can through SMB- sadly not the DRM’d content).

Update: A discussion on the apple support forums suggests that only videos purchased after the upgrade to 6.0.2 are sharable. Bummer.

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Stupid Apple

I was so excited about Photocasting with iPhoto ’06 until I tried it. Whatever apple put inside its RSS feed happens not to work with Firefox, Thunderbird and Bloglines- the only three programs I really utilize RSS within. I’ll have to look around and see what it does work with, besides iPhoto and Safari of course. It doesn’t even work with iBlog! I was hoping to begin using photocasts as an alternative to iBlog but it is not to be.

Check it:


Should you want to give it a try (and get back to me about whether or not it worked), here’s the feed:

Perhaps Jobs should have considered the phrase “Industry Standard RSS” a bit more carefully. Its one thing to give your tiny percentage of .mac subscribers the opportunity to publish their pictures, but something entirely else when you ask the rest of the world to change their way of doing things for those million or so users.

The new Garageband, with its foley sounds and ability to compose music to iMovies is pretty sweet. I shall attempt an enhanced AAC version of my next podcast, whenever that may be.

iTunes Video Sharing?

The updated iTunes apparently supports video sharing in some circumstances. I have a number of videos in my itunes library- mostly vlogs and purchased TV shows. One video- the latest episode of in .m4v format (which I believe is some kind of non-h.264 mpeg4 compression in this case) is currently visible to other devices through my shared library. The other videos- all quicktime encoded mpeg 4 or 3ivx variants that are ipod compatible (indeed trying to encode them for ipod says that they are already compatible) are not visible ot the other devices. When I launch the video it buffers and then begins playing as though it were playing in my local itunes.

Ok, so today Rocketboom shows up in my shared playlist, but I can’t play it. However, DL.TV is still there, and I can stream it. Remember that despite the number of video files (including purchased iTunes Music Store videos) on my shared library, these are the only two that display.

This does not work in my home network. I thought perhaps it was because I had password protected my library on the machine I took the following pictures on. Not so. Have a look:

Notice the (remote) designation. Click through the image to see the full itunes window.

Here is an image of theDL.TV file streaming to my ibook. Click through it to see the full itunes window.

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