Ben Laurie thinks I was damning digital rights technology when I complained about not being being able to burn some of the Modern Times songs I had paid for and downloaded. He writes:
“Perhaps a better target for his vitriol would be his own companyâ€™s DRM, which will not only prevent you from burning stuff to CD, itâ€™ll even remove your right to play it after youâ€™ve purchased it.”
Why? The parties to a transaction may feel fine about a contract limiting the number of times content can be burned or played. I have nothing against that. Let a thousand flowers bloom. I'm not against technological capabilities, if they are reliable and people want to use them.
But I went to iTunes for two reasons. First, it had the album that I wanted to burn to CD. Second, its policy said you can burn your downloaded songs onto CD seven times.
If iTunes had announced more draconian rules, I just wouldn't have gone there.
The problem is that some of the songs were not covered by the announced policy.
Some have argued the tracks in question aren't songs, they are “videos”.
I still think they're songs even though you can see Dylan's mouth moving. At any rate, for four titles – that I also paid for – the sound of Dylan and his band is now caged up inside iTunes’ proprietary environment. I can't burn them. And I can't hear them in my car, on my stereo, or on my television. I have to use the iTunes application.
Selling me songs and then saying they're not songs and that they're bonus items is really the pits. iTunes songs cost $1.00 each. There are 10 songs on the album that can be burned to CD (cost of that is $10.00). But I paid $14.00. So the extra songs are not a bonus – they're charged at the same rate as all the other songs – but can't be burned.
All of this is what leads Cory Doctorow to ask if there is a two-tiered music distribution system emerging, and I think it's a very good question.