DRM, cracks, and my buying habits

The iPod, WMA, and DRM get Scobleized. The point he makes is that having many players available to you is important because once you commit to buying media locked up via DRM, you are locked in to whatever platforms support the kind of DRM your content uses.

The problem with that argument is that I don’t accept the premise that content I buy should be locked up. I am responsible in the way I use and distribute digital music files. I do not share them more than I shared CD’s when I used to use them. My behavior might not be squeaky clean to the letter of the law, but I’m certain that I am not sharing my digital content more than the industry was able to bear in the early 90’s. But in order to exercise the same rights I used to enjoy with content I bought, I need it to be unlocked.

I bought my first track from iTunes only after I found out that AAC/Fairplay had been cracked. I only felt comfortable putting my money down for locked content once I was sure it could be unlocked if I wanted. When I observed my own behavior related to that purchase, I discovered an underlying personal policy forming: I will not knowingly buy DRM-locked content unless I know that the DRM technology has a readily available crack.

As an aside, it turns out I made a bit of a mistake. QTFairUse is impossible to find on the net, and cracking files from iTunes into unlocked AAC files has not become a simple common task like I expected it to be. It’s not too late for me to reconsider my DRM choice. If someone comes out with a reliable crack for WMA, I’d still be willing to jump the fence and start buying those instead.

Microsoft, if you want to get a jump on the market of people like me, you might consider leaking a crack to the world. Just a thought…

Update (1/28): Cory Doctrow agrees with me. I feel so smart.


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