- Explain this to me...

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So, a lot of people have been talking about the new Windows-only I decided to check it out. While it's certainly kinda sad that it only supports Windows and IE, I was a bit surprised to see this in the usage rules for a particular track:

"No other uses of Digital Downloads are permitted. End User may only use, copy, transfer and display the Digital Downloads as stated in the particular music song or album’s Metadata information. All other rights are reserved."

This particular track allowed for 10 CD burnings.

Now, someone explain this to me. Once I burn it to CD, what is to stop me from turning it back into a 'normal' MP3? In fact, it seems as if even if there isn't a technical reason, there is no legal reason either, since their terms apply to the digital download. It does NOT apply to the CD burned from the digital download. (In fact, wouldn't mind right to make one backup copy automatically overrule them anyway?)

Doesn't this same loophole exist for iTunes, and if so, why in the heck even limit the number of CD burns - or are there really a lot of people who can't figure out how to rip a CD now?

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Nolan posted on 7/29/2003 at 6:51 PM

A few thoughts --

1. You're right, I don't think anything is stopping you from burning it to CD, then making MP3s.

2. The term "digital download" is itself vague. Doesn't "download" basically just mean "copy from one source, to my computer"? In that sense, it could be "copy it from my CD burner, to my hard drive" and they may define that as "1 digital download". Not to sound like Clinton or anything, but it really depends on their definition of "download", doesn't it?

3. CD, digital, MP3, or otherwise...what would you need more than 10 copies of a song for anyway?. 1 for your iPod or NOMAD, 1 on the computer, burn one for the car stereo, maybe a 4th copy on your laptop. Isn't that about all we'd need? 10 sounds like plenty to me.

4. I'm an independent musician. I've released 2 self financed CDs. One has broken even, I think (but we had a VERY small budget for this project). The second has earned back about 1/3 of the money we spent making it. I have no label to help cover these costs, nor do I have band members. Every dime that was spent on promotion, recording, and hiring session players, came out of my pocket. So while it's flattering people think enough of my music to copy it for a friend, I'd really prefer they pay for it so I can get rid of this huge bill I've incurred.


Comment 2 by Steve Ray posted on 7/29/2003 at 9:35 PM

Even after reading the below text, I'm still not sure how limited (if at all) you'll be in terms of making multiple copies.

This site is obviously MS-centric, and uses SDMI to enforce it's content usage rules. I hate the fact that a) I can't use Mozilla and b) I have to be using the latest version of some MS client app. I just don't agree with forcing a particular technology on your users (even if it is easier from a development standpoint).

SDMI watermarks the data somehow, but if the player/burner/whatever you're using doesn't recognize it (or maybe thumbs it's nose at it), then you're in the clear. But if you manage these files through some SDMI-compliant device, it'll limit how many copies you can make.

I'm a musician, too, and am all for getting the artists the royalties they're due. But the recording industry fights all of this stuff (mp3's, webcasting, etc.) not for the musician; all they really care about is the record label. SDMI is just another attempt at protecting the label's ability to make their money. I don't see it affecting the artists much at all. It certainly won't help them.

Comment 3 by Roger Benningfield posted on 7/30/2003 at 5:34 PM

Ray: Going from a compressed format to a CD and back to an MP3 will yield lossy results. I guess they're counting on people valuing quality sound.

Comment 4 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/30/2003 at 5:38 PM

Roger - yes, it is lossy, but if you encode at a high enough bit rate, you won't be able to tell. Or heck, don't rip to MP3, rip to wav or some other format. Point is - once it's on the CD, you own it. If I were to buy a song from these guys, the first thing I'd do is copy to CD, then back into a high quality MP3 so I don't have to worry about DRM. Not that I'd share it - but just so I don't have to worry.

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 7/30/2003 at 6:53 PM