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  #1  
Old 11-08-2007, 05:27 PM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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Default The Great DRM Debate

The mistake you're making is that paying for DRM content isn't a purchase, it's a rental. It's clear that when you rent a movie from Blockbuster, making a copy of it is a violation. This same theory applies to DRM music. Even if it's an indefinite rental period, with no end, you still don't own the content.
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2007, 10:21 PM
tacitapproval tacitapproval is offline
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I understand that this is how the DRM issue is often judicially interpreted (not everywhere, though) and certainly how the RIAA would like everyone to think about it, but it is a rather tortured, semantic argument. An "indefinite rental" is an oxymoron in this case. If one exchanges money for recorded audio to use for an unlimited period of time, it is tantamount to a purchase of the right to listen whenever. What difference the medium? The content is the product. If one purchases it, they should have the right to pour it into whatever container they like. Are we as consumers paying for the privilige of self-restricting DRM code? This is absurd logic. Yet that is the only tangible difference between two pieces of recorded audio; one freely copyable, and one DRM encoded.

(I understand that this argument is academic, as the OP was asking about library audiobooks. Nonetheless, the earlier posts assumed a purchase of DRM encoded audio.)
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  #3  
Old 11-09-2007, 12:26 AM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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I can pay money to have a DVD for an indefinite period of time, but if there is no transfer of ownership, and if the contract under which I exchanged the money says they can demand the DVD back at any time, what right to I have to say "I'm keeping it" when they demand it back?

I'm not saying it's RIGHT, but YOU AGREE to such a contract when you buy DRM wrapped music. If you don't like it, DON'T GIVE THEM MONEY. Giving them that money then simply breaching the contract both encourages them by supporting their business plan, and at the same time makes you a liar and/or a hypocrite for claiming you hate their system yet at the same time supporting it.
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  #4  
Old 11-09-2007, 11:35 AM
MDeSade MDeSade is offline
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Well, I for one will not buy seven different versions of the same audio so that I can listen to it on different platforms. That might sound like an exageration, but in a sense, that is exactly what is going on, or what they would like to go on. This not only confines the listener in how they can listen/watch any DRM media, but also forces the user to purchase certain media players. Again, this is why DRM is so detested by most.

As for the purchase/rental arguement, 'Fair Use' has to be considered. To me, purchasing/renting audio/video/software/etc.. legally means that I have the right to that content to be used on one device and one backup in case of destruction of the medium container. As long as Ownership doesn't change this should be considered 'Fair Use'.

An arguement could also be given that if I chose to give away my single and 'only' copy of something audio/video/software/etc.. I have that right as well since it was purchased and still retains single ownership.

As for the blockbuster comment... It has always amazed me that many companies that complain about people making copies of their product are the same companies that make the products that copy them Sony, RCA, and others have their DVD burners with dvd-to-dvd copying, vhs-to-dvd, vhs-to-vhs. Some may even argue that these are just for homebrew discs, or things made by the consumer. That argument really falls flat when one looks at the standard VCR or DVDR that connects directly to a TV. Its sole purpose is to record directly from TV. In effect stealing intelectual property from networks etc.. Basically they just want it both ways so that can make twice the money and then complain about it.

Okay.. steps off his soapbox.. I'm done now
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  #5  
Old 11-09-2007, 11:40 AM
tacitapproval tacitapproval is offline
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I agree that purchasing DRM music encourages the business model, and would not personally do so. I also agree that the solution is ultimately to get enough people to see the wisdom of not supporting this business practice, and thereby make it unprofitable for business to do continue to use DRM (it actually looks like things may be heading this way).

This is not the argument I am making though. The contract in a purchase is not simply the legal language a seller includes on a website or wherever. It is also the implied and reasonable expectations each party has in entering an agreement. There are issues of consideration due to both buyer and seller. In many cases, sellers have implied a purchase in a myriad of ways. Take for instance Sony's rootkit fiasco or iTunes promising consumers that they will "own it forever and a day." There have been many different models of distributing DRM encoded content and many of them have implied purchase of the right to listen to that content, despite what the industry would like to have consumers believe. Just because someone purchased DRM encoded music does not necessarily imply that they consented to give it back. The picture is bigger and more complex than that.
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  #6  
Old 11-09-2007, 12:04 PM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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But that's the thing. You claim "The vendor implies to you that you're making a purchase." But you click on "I Agree" so isn't there an "You imply to the vendor that you're making a rental"?

It sounds like you're claiming they're responsible for their implications, but you're not responsible for your own.

All I'm saying is: Take personal responsibility. It's one thing to say "Many people don't know better, and the company is implying sales." You DO know better, you're admitting it, yet you're sitting here and taking advantage of things? How does this make you any better than them? I'm not saying they're not doing wrong, I'm just saying that to act this way is to also do wrong. You can't claim innocence, and you can't even claim fair use since that applies to owned content, and once you know the terms, you know you don't actually own it.
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  #7  
Old 11-09-2007, 05:01 PM
tacitapproval tacitapproval is offline
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There are a few errors and misunderstandings in your response. First off, I am not taking advantage of anything here, I am making an argument about the premise of your earlier post about "indefinite rentals." I stated that I don't purchase DRM encrypted content, and I am not advising anyone to attempt to overcome such encryption.

"Fair use" is not applicable only to owned content. In fact, "fair use" conceptually implies that one doesn't own something (copyright), but is nonetheless entitled to use it in limited ways for specific purposes. This is variously interpreted throughout the globe and in regards to specific instance and intention.

I said there have been instances where vendors have implied purchase and cited a couple of examples. This does not mean that all cases are the same. Does purchasing one of Sony's rootkit CDs imply that one has consented to the installation of potentially harmful software? This is different than agreeing to the terms of a music subscription service, for instance. Sellers often have in interest in minimizing knowledge of their attempts to limit use of their products. I don't see how highlighting this counterpoint is equivalent to exempting purchasers from responsibility to the terms of a contract. You seem to want to make the issue nice and neat; I am only trying to point out how it is often sticky.
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  #8  
Old 11-09-2007, 07:01 PM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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Sorry, I used the wrong term. I meant the argument that one has a right to make a personal backup (you do not have this with rented content) rather than "Fair Use", since Fair Use applies to any copyright content, owned or unowned, but only applies to using it within very limited contexts.

I think that if you read the license on a rootkit CD and know it contains software BEFORE you purchase it, you have absolutely no ground to stand on when you complain about it, so long as the software on it meets the description on the license you read. In the case of the rootkit, this was absolutely untrue, though. The software contained was not as described in its own license, as well as not providing you the opportunity not to install it (part of the software was installed even if you rejected the license and chose not to use the music with your computer). Misleading licenses are a different situation entirely than licenses that provide full disclosure that the consumer chooses not to read. For example, if one reads most online music store licenses, they will get a full description of the conditions under which they may use the music, completely unlike the license provided for the Rootkit CD.

You're choosing to compare situations in which the vendor chooses not to provide enough information for an informed decision, while I've explicitly said that my problem is with consumers who CAN make an informed decision, and make the same decision as the uninformed consumer who doesn't bother with reading the license.
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  #9  
Old 11-09-2007, 11:54 PM
tacitapproval tacitapproval is offline
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Yes I am "choosing to compare situations in which the vendor chooses not to provide enough information for an informed decision," or provides misleading information because these are examples of precisely the point I am making. You originally assumed that all DRM encrypted media is purchased under an agreement of "indefinite rental" and I am challenging this claim. You can choose to change the terms of this debate to whether or not consumers should be fully informed as to purchase agreements, but this is a shift away from what I have been discussing.

On this point we agree, this should be the case. Yet, both parties must act in the interest of informed consent and this is often not the case, on both sides. Just as many users abuse technology to circumvent fair exchange, content providers often act out of an interest in expanding their claims of ownership beyond what is actually justified, at the same time that they attempt to limit purchasers knowledge of their efforts to act on the same. The mere fact that they seek to establish broad laditude in "protecting" their property does not mean they have free reign to do so.
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  #10  
Old 11-10-2007, 02:02 AM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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But if they make a full license available, and the consumer clicks through it without reading it, who is at fault? The provider who made a fair attempt to *force* the user to read it by perhaps even requiring them to scroll to the end of the license, or the consumer who made false claim that they agreed to it, then proceeded to complain about the terms they had every opportunity to reject?

My point is on DRM purchases, and in very few cases have I seen a digital audio DRM purchase where the license did not include terms that the company later enforced, except when the license explicitly said to expect them to update it (I will never agree to a license that can change on me without my consent).

You brought up rootkits, but the initial conversation was about DRM restricted digital audio. Well, originally it was about audiobooks. But MY original point was about paying for DRM content. You've chosen to counter my argument on that point by attempting to pull it into an argument over a completely different point, which is just silly.

I'm not claiming that the terms of such licenses are anything but unconscionable but at the same time, I really think that consumers need to take responsibility for their actions. If you're given full terms, read them before agreeing to them. If you don't agree with them, don't click that you do. Too often people are suing these companies, and even winning, because they clicked through a license without reading it. This, I think, is ridiculous.

If the license doesn't cover everything, sure, fine, that's foul play on the part of the company. If the license is ridiculous but does cover everything, then it's the consumer's own fault.
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  #11  
Old 11-10-2007, 02:38 AM
MDeSade MDeSade is offline
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My point was fairly simple. If I pay money for a product that I get to keep, I feel I should be able to use that product as I see fit. This means putting a purchased DRM/CD/DVD/Tape/LP/whatever, on any player I want to without being forced to buy a specific player. I have paid for the legal use of this product, changing the format so that I can use it on a different device is not or should not rather be illegal. Altering the format of the media purchased is not changing the intelectual property, just the packaging medium.
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  #12  
Old 11-10-2007, 03:00 AM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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A CD/DVD/Tape/Whatever if a physical purchase, and you aren't presented with a license agreement at any point along the way (at least not traditionally). That's something you clearly own.

A downloaded song requires you to agree to a license for the store before purchasing, and is very clearly a rental if you read the actual conditions of most of them. The fact that you choose to see it another way doesn't magically mean that you didn't lie when you agreed to the terms if you decide to break them later.
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  #13  
Old 11-10-2007, 11:57 AM
tacitapproval tacitapproval is offline
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Bringing up Sony's rootkit cds was not an attempt to derail your point. It was a specific example of deceptive practice on the part of a content provider. It was also an example of DRM encrypted audio (the fact that it was carried on cd seems beside the point, as there was a misleading EULA that required click through when inserted into a pc). This is an example, but my argument does not depend only on this one instance. You assume that contract terms are always easily interpretable to consumers and, moreover, premised on open and justified grounds. I am refuting this claim.

"If the license is ridiculous but does cover everything, then it's the consumer's own fault." This may be your personal belief, but this is not the standard by which contracts are deemed enforceable. Caveat emptor is an important principle, but there are many other factors which go into determining such things.

"Too often people are suing these companies, and even winning, because they clicked through a license without reading it." Despite a few isolated cases to the contrary, the overwhelming balance of legal power has been brought to bear in favor of expansion of ownership "protection." The DMCA in the US being the most obvious example. Saying this, I hope I haven't started a new debate, as I would like to put down my little ball-peen legal hammer.

By the way, my appreciation to you for all your valuable work on Rockbox, which is a wonderful countermodel to the sorts of consumer/corporate releationships we are discussing.
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  #14  
Old 11-10-2007, 04:57 PM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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My point isn't that these contracts aren't misleading. My point is that once a consumer knows the conditions of the contract, I really don't see them as having a ground for future complaint.

People constantly say "I'm going to download this music, then do what I want with it." Which to me is them doing wrong. If they _know_ the terms define it as a glorified rental, then it's not a case of them being confused by a hard to understand contract. It's them taking advantage of the existing situation.

Yes, caveat emptor is not the only factor. But when did it become true that someone could just agree to a contract without reading it, then claim to have "assumed" it meant something later to get out of it?

The license agreements aren't clear, this is true. But isn't there some degree in stupidity to "agreeing" to something you can't understand?

I really don't see how it's not someone's fault that they chose to agree to something they didn't even bother to read in the first place, and then it bit them in the rear.
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  #15  
Old 11-10-2007, 05:59 PM
tacitapproval tacitapproval is offline
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I am not making excuses for duplicity on the part of purchasers, and the question of stupidity is beyond the scope of any argument I wish to make. I think at this point I have made my points fairily clear and I understand the position you are taking and agree with most of it, even if I don't quite share your focus on consumer wrongdoing as being the biggest cause for concern.
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  #16  
Old 11-10-2007, 10:31 PM
MDeSade MDeSade is offline
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Perhaps this debate needs a different topic for others to participate as it has grown beyond the original intent. I still believe that if I purchase a an intelectual property, rental or not, that I am entitled to play it on whichever device I own and not be forced into purchasing something else. It is true there are agreements, but many of the things in some of those agreements are not even valid/legal in certain states/provinces/countries and are thus ignored wholesale. I can 'say' whatever I want in a contract, but if the contract or parts of that contract are not binding legally it matters little if I have signed it or not. Though this point departs from the original even further into contractual obligation. Basically the whole topic is a circular arguement as nobody really knows the laws that can be applied yet as many places don't support it in court and many do. My belief though is still that the consumer has the right to use a DRM song as he sees fit on a product of his/her choice as the DRM is a package for the product, not the product itself. I rent/buy, whatever you want to call it, the song, not the wrapper it comes in.
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  #17  
Old 11-11-2007, 12:41 AM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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Do you think that if you rent a DVD from blockbuster, you have the right to then make a copy of that DVD on a VHS and retain that copy after returning it?

If you agree to a contract saying "I will not make copies of this file", what makes you think that you then have a right to do so? If you owned the file, then yes, you'd have a right to both preserve backups of the file and take steps necessary to convert the file for use when the original method is unavailable.

But where exactly are you getting the impression that exchanging money for the *use* of something is the same as owning that something? I've never felt that I was owner of a DVD I rented, or a movie I watched on Pay Per View (digital and DRM wrapped content) or even a 3-day DRMe'd download from an online rental service.

If they provide you a file, do you automatically own it, or if it's really true that you don't care what form it's in, do you admit that the file can just as easily be rented as the DVD?
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  #18  
Old 11-11-2007, 06:58 AM
chrisjs162216 chrisjs162216 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tacitapproval View Post
You originally assumed that all DRM encrypted media is purchased under an agreement of "indefinite rental" and I am challenging this claim.
Rhapsody:
Quote:
Regardless of the use of the word "purchase," all tracks offered for download or burning are offered for license, not purchase or sale, and are subject to this Agreement and any other license terms and conditions applicable to the track, including limitations imposed by the use of digital rights management technology. All licenses to download or burn tracks are personal to the customer. Your request to "purchase" a track by downloading or burning is personal to you, and the track may not be used, sold, rented, transferred, licensed or otherwise provided to any other user. License to downloaded or burned tracks include only those rights explicitly stated in the Service (typically, the right to play back for your own personal use from your personal computer, CD player, digital player, or other personal consumer electronic device), and, for the avoidance of doubt, do not include the right to create a derivative work, to make copies other than for your own personal use, or to use the track in any commercial manner.
Yahoo:
Quote:
You understand that the Service and software embodied within the Service may include security components that permit digital materials to be protected, and that use of these materials is subject to usage rules set by Yahoo! and/or content providers who provide content to the Service. You may not attempt to override or circumvent any of the usage rules embedded into the Service. Any unauthorized reproduction, publication, further distribution or public exhibition of the materials provided on the Service, in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.
Yahoo didn't seem to come directly out and say it (at least I didn't see it) but Rhapsody clearly says that you are not purchasing the track, (just the right to play it).

I think DRM could be good, depending on how it's used. DRM'ing tracks used for previewing music, and having music available for purchase that is not DRM'd would be fine (IMO). However, restricting how we use the tracks we "purchase" doesn't make sense to me.

In addition, there's been quite a few stories (on Digg) about Microsoft's WGA server going down, and having problems. If that was able to cause some users' computers to think that its copy of Windows wasn't genuine (and therefore prevented you from using Windows) who's to say that the same couldn't happen to music sites? (IIUC) DRM'd music has to get a new license every month from the music provider. If that music provider goes out of business, or that license server goes down, who's to say your music would still be working after that?
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  #19  
Old 11-11-2007, 08:55 AM
tacitapproval tacitapproval is offline
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Rhapsody may state that a purchase is not a purchase, but the misleading nature of their use of this term supports my general point. They clearly want to benefit from consumers' belief that they are buying music by using the term "purchase", at the same time that they claim such exchange is not a purchase. This doesn't necessarily invalidate the contract or remove responsibility from the consumers on the grounds of ignorance, but it does suggest the intentionally confusing nature of sales of DRM media. And, this is coming from a subscription service, which is a business model that is more clearly separable from the purchase of content than an a la carte service or physical purchase.
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  #20  
Old 11-11-2007, 05:48 PM
Llorean Llorean is offline
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You are purchasing something. You're purchasing a license that allows you to use that data for a given period of time. Or, to simplify, you're purchasing time.

I do very, very much agree though that they're unclear, and this is wrong of them.

My point the whole time has pretty much been against the people who _know_ the conditions and actual intent, and feel that it makes it right for them to break the license. I'm very much against the idea that "two wrongs make a right" and the avoidance of personal responsibility by one saying "Their license is misleading and therefor despite the fact that I do know what it means, I feel this gives me the right to break it even though I actually agreed to it with a fair understanding of its intent."
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