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February 9, 2006

Buying Music Online

-- by Dave Johnson

My wife said this the other day:

"I will never buy another album online again. I feel ripped off. All I got are some lines on my iTunes. When I buy a CD I have the CD and I can do what I want with it. I don't want to look at pictures of albums someone is trying to get me to buy. I don't want anything where people are trying to get me to buy something and I don't want to pay another subscription fee. I want to see and feel the music I have."
That was all BEFORE what happened last night.

My wife is in a belly-dance troupe and they rehearse at our house. Each week she burns a CD of the night's dance music and puts in into the little stereo in the rehearsal room because the speakers are loud enough for the dance practice, and the buttons for replay, advance, etc. are easy to use. But last night the computer refused to make the CD. It said she had already burned seven CDs with a certain tune on them. She had purchased the album containing that tune at iTunes. 'Rented' might be a better term than purchased, I guess. Or maybe I should say that she was alowed to listen to it a few times, for her money.

Do I need to add that now she is even less thrilled with the idea of getting her music online?

Posted by Dave Johnson at February 9, 2006 10:26 AM

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Comments

That is a built in limitation to Apple's DRM, 'Fairplay.' All your wife has to do to get around that is change the order of the tracks in the playlist, or rip one of the audio CD's she already made into MP3's (no more DRM!).

Posted by: Scott McNulty at February 9, 2006 10:57 AM

Scott is right. All she needs to do is swap one single song in the list. For instance, swap song #4 with song #5, and you've got yourself seven more burns. Alternately, she can add just one more song to the end of her list, allowing her to keep the song order she already has. After the next seven burns, simply delete the "extra" song at the end of the playlist, and she's all set. We're now up to 21 burns of the same playlist.

As far as "lines in iTunes," printing CD jewel case inserts is super easy. With your playlist selected on the left hand side of iTunes, select "Print" from the "File" menu. You have several options, but I always opt for "white mosaic." This will print a foldover graphic for your CD, with the album art on the front and song list on the inside. In the case of a mix playlist that draws music from several albums, a montage of album art from all included albums is created. It's really nice.

When she says, "... I don't want to look at pictures of albums someone is trying to get me to buy..." I assume she's talking about the music store? Well, you can't walk into ANY music store (online or in the mall) without seeing pictures of albums they want you to buy.

Anyway, good luck. I hope it works out.

Posted by: Dave at February 9, 2006 11:09 AM

I think the point is about modern corporate business practices, not about the hacking we can do to combat them. It used to be that when you bought something, it was yours. Now you license it, and you have the choice of being ripped off or ripping off the seller. Some great world, huh? (Hey, don't get me wrong. I'm on your side of the war. Hack away!)

Posted by: Anonymous at February 9, 2006 11:17 AM

I join Anonymous: hack away, Sudeep!

Posted by: Helga Fremlin at February 9, 2006 12:38 PM

Dave, this is OLD news. You need to read slashdot.org more.

As for a workaround, if it was burned to a CD then you should be able to copy the CD's PCM data to your hard-drive or 'rip' it an mp3 or OGG file which you should be able to then re-burn / copy etc to wherever without restriction (CD's don't have built in DRM).

Posted by: The Fool at February 9, 2006 3:52 PM

It's amazing how the techboys just don't get it. It's not a question of being hip enough to know how to hack the stuff, it's why you should have to hack the stuff in the first place. Most people (well, apparently excepting techboys) don't buy things so they can spend endless entertaining hours hacking them.

Posted by: Anonymous at February 9, 2006 5:22 PM

1) She is not ripping the album to CDs, it's one of the tunes on the playlist - no matter what order it is in.

2) Some of you made my point. My wife is not a computer science major so she doesn't know what an OGG is. Even if I do, what about other people?

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 9, 2006 5:53 PM

It's amazing how the techboys just don't get it. It's not a question of being hip enough to know how to hack the stuff, it's why you should have to hack the stuff in the first place. Most people (well, apparently excepting techboys) don't buy things so they can spend endless entertaining hours hacking them.

2) Some of you made my point. My wife is not a computer science major so she doesn't know what an OGG is. Even if I do, what about other people?

Actually, I think these statements are missing the point. Frankly, I think you shouldn't mess around with technology if you don't understand it. And if you choose to anyway (which I have on numerous occasions), then you're taking your chances and you shouldn't complain when it doesn't work out the way you intended. Be thankful your wife didn't decide to play with a chainsaw despite the fact that she didn't know how to use it.

On the subject of music ownership, though, you're really missing the point. Buying an album (or a tape or a CD) has NEVER meant that you were buying music. The music has always (or at least about as long as there has been recorded media) belonged to the artist. We, the consumer, have paid for one (that's right, ONE) copy of that music. Within reason, we can legally copy that music (to make a tape or burn a disc to play in the car, for instance), but the artist who actually owns the music has a right to limit our ability to copy their music. To be honest, I think allowing someone to make seven copies of a copy isn't a bad deal, and I have to admit I don't really see what your wife is complaining about.

But if it really bothers her so much, why doesn't she support a local business by going to the neighborhood music store and buying CDs?

Posted by: Terry at February 9, 2006 6:27 PM

"It's amazing how the techboys just don't get it."


Oh I get it. I'v spent a considerable amount of time telling people about the evil of DRM over the past few years. There are worse things coming down the pike. Much worse. Palladium / TCPM. Encrypted Screws. RFID.

The best workaround would probably be to use some kind of encrypted filesharing network which is accessed through some kind of onion-routing program, like TOR. Failing that, there's not much you can do for your already DRMized files short of what I outlined above.

The whole DRM thing isn't really about protecting artists etc. from piracy. The REAL goal is errect insurpassable barriers to entry for the little guy. The Record companies want to create a perfect monopoly that cannot be bypassed. That is what Microsofts Palladium scheme is all about. I suggest you read up on it.

This stupid blog software keeps removing returns inserted to create paragraphs.

Posted by: The Fool at February 10, 2006 12:13 PM

How about these alternatives? They are legal and I have purchased over $75 worth of music at about $1 per album, without any problems.

www.mp3search.ru
www.allofmp3.com

Posted by: Chris Woolery at February 14, 2006 5:49 AM

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