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Apple announces all music on iTunes to go DRM-free -- no word on movies, TV shows, games, audiobooks and applications

As you've no doubt heard, Apple, the last major retailer of DRM-encumbered music announced, live at MacWorld, that all iTunes music will be going DRM-free. Today, some 8 million songs and music videos are already available DRM-free, via iTunes Plus.

Day 19 -- iPhone

As a reminder, here are our five reasons to avoid the iPhone 3G:

  • iPhone completely blocks free software. Developers must pay a tax to Apple, who becomes the sole authority over what can and can't be on everyone's phones.

  • iPhone endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology.

  • iPhone exposes your whereabouts and provides ways for others to track you without your knowledge.

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Day 27 -- Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates

Not content with producing a DRM-laden operating system in Vista, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have been hard at work, producing the Zune -- yet another piece of Redmond junk you wouldn't want in a million years. Not only do they seemingly fail to get it, repeatedly, but Microsoft under their leadership continues to produce overly fascist products, such as the Windows Media Center -- implementing the Broadcast Flag at the whim of NBC, one of their media partners.

Day 26 -- ACTA

ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a proposed enforcement treaty between United States, the European Community, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Mexico, with Canada set to join any day now.

Day 24 -- SDMI

SDMI, the Secure Digital Music Initiative was one of the first modern DRM schemes came about ten years ago -- a direct response to the widespread success of the DRM-free MP3 file format.

SDMI would use a watermarking feature and wanted to ensure this could not be detected. As such, they announced a challenge, inviting hackers and crypto experts to remove the watermarking.

Day 23 -- Erik Huggers

The man who took over from Ashley Highfield had a tough job -- it wouldn't be easy filling his shoes. Afterall, Highfield's baby, the iPlayer, was already a failure by the time he arrived, it really had no chance of succeeding, especially for a Microsoft player like Huggers.

As it stands now, Highfield is at Microsoft, presumably working hard to combat all 600 of the GNU/Linux users in the UK, and as such as offer this hastily-drawn and poorly-concieved look into Erik Huggers' first day at the BBC.

Day 22 -- TiVO

When we told you about the iPhone, one of the problems we listed was that iPhone implements what we refer to as 'tivoization' -- that is, refusing to run software that has not been deemed appropriate by the ruling body, even if the software is permitted to be changed, legally, by its developers.

Day 21 -- HD-DVD

Oh nine! F nine! One one Zero. 29D! 74E! Thirty Five! Bee Dee! Eight Four Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty Six. The Sinclair C5. When I'm 63. Oh, to be 56. Two Fat Ladies. Sea? Zero.

Confused holiday ramblings from Defective by Design or the key to something bigger? It's all part of something called the AACS encryption key controversy -- way back in April 2007, the MPAA and its cronies sent takedown notices to websites which dared to feature the magic number.

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Day 20 -- Vista

Here at DefectiveByDesign we have been working towards the goal of making Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) a socially unacceptable technology practice. That message is spreading.

By highlighting the threat DRM posses not just to consumer rights but to our freedom to be in control of our computers and electronic devices, we have been able to gain widespread political support.

Day 17 -- Adobe

Ah yes, Adobe, bastions of the creative world, and pain in the neck to all. Currently, as always, Adobe are up to some pretty dirty tricks. We're already seeing millions of users stuck with their deliberately crippled software -- Adobe Acrobat, Flash Player. Now comes Adobe AIR hand in hand with another sad story about the BBC:

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Day 16: The Kindle Swindle

The Amazon kindle provides convenience, but at the cost of freedom. When you purchase a kindle, you must agree to use the Digital Restriction Management (DRM) system. Since all of the Kindle ebooks you purchase from Amazon are in their proprietary DRM format, you are also promising to not share them with friends. And, because you promise to not circumvent the DRM, there is no way to move them to another device or a computer. You are locked into the Kindle and you are locked into Amazon.

35 Days Against DRM — Day 13: HDTV

Confessions of a HDTV Shop Employee

HDTV is a countdown to obsolete hardware, with the unintended (or maybe just unpublicized) side effect being that viewers have fewer options, since all-digital technology can be more easily restricted. Today, we present an anonymous tale from a shop employee of some of the problems around digital TV -- how consumers are being sold on the idea of HDTV, what that means for censorship and DRM.

Day 12: Grand Fail Auto

Thanks to everyone who's sent in details of PC games. We've already covered Spore and SecuROM -- today we're touching on GTA IV, and offering some free software alternatives.

Act 1 -- Grand Fail Auto

One of the most anticipated games of 2008 has finally been released -- defectively -- by Rockstar Games. Yes, GTA IV is laden with the same DRM that has plagued gamers so much this year -- SecuROM.

On the subject, Rockstar announced:

Day 11: iTunes

You may have heard this week, that iTunes was going DRM-free. Of course, it didn't happen. Apple's iTunes, under Steve Jobs, is still stubbornly the only major distributor of DRM-encumbered music at a time when Amazon, Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic, Magnatune, 7 Digital and more are all selling music without restriction.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 8: Nintendo Wii

Jeremy Wahl writes to warn us of the dangers of the Wii console and Nintendo's attitudes towards DRM and its customers. For his efforts, Jeremy wins a DBD tshirt and free album courtesy of Magnatune.

Nintendo's Wii uses a system similar to iTunes cards. You buy cards in stores, or points via your console with a credit card. The points can be used to buy emulated versions of classic games or downloads of software and new, smaller games, called WiiWare.

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35 Days Against DRM -- Day 7: Prince: Friends without benefits.

Mike McCarty sends in his horror story of being a Prince fan, as a reminder of some of the tricks being pulled on music fans in this DRM age. Mike wins one of our T-shirts and a DRM-free album from Magnatune.

We begin with the demise of Prince's DRM-music service, New Power Generation.

Act One. Prince's music service: Defective by Design

Luckily I only purchased one of MANY DRM-laden album from Prince's now defunct New Power Generation website, Xpectation. It came in the DRM-encumbered Windows Media format, but this was before I was ever aware of the horrors of DRM. Ironically, I EXPECTED the files to work pretty much forever, maybe not forever but at least a few good years. However, I guess the joke was on me as I misplaced the files on an external harddrive a year or so ago and recently located them only to find out there's absolutely nothing I can do with them.

This is pretty common with digital files, but many of the DRM-free providers such as Magnatune and eMusic allow you to redownload your purchases directly from them.

Act Two: Prince's war on the Internet

Prince's war with all things internet has left me with quite the sour taste in my mouth. Pointing my browser to the website I purchased the album from confirms that the address cannot be found. No surprise. I think it's been gone for at least a year or two now. A while back I had heard the site went under and that Prince had begun using his MySpace page. This has since been shut down as well.

As The Register noted last September:

Teaming up with Web Sheriff, the firm currently known as "Europe's leading internet policing specialist," the Minnesota-born pop star has already ordered YouTube and eBay to remove hundreds of supposedly Prince-infringing web items, and he's intent on filing suit against the two web behemoths - not to mention Swedish BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay.

Mike continues his story:

Searching Prince fan sites such as Housequake, prince.org and a few others have led me to the fact that there pretty much is no way to contact Prince OR his camp in ANY form whatsoever. Also, there was never any mention to his fanclub (which I DID pay $25 to join) that they would no longer be supporting the DRM-laden files when the NPG Music Club went under. No other fans, or what Prince likes to call "Friends", knew what to do about the files either. The only suggestion I was given, which isn't possible now that the files cannot be played, was to burn the files to a cd and rip them back to mp3 if I want to put them on the ol' mp3 player. Well... the files won't play, so how am I supposed to burn them? It's just not possible.

Ah yes, the burn-to-a-CD-defense. This is a pretty common reaction to the problem that DRM causes. Of course, buying DRMed media, burning to a CD, and ripping the CD, all takes time and effort and means losing quality. Often DRMed music makes it hard for you to burn it to a CD -- you have to use specific proprietary software to do a job that is much better done elsewhere.

Act Three: You wouldn't treat your friends like this...

I used to be a massive Prince fan -- I won't say friend since I certanly wouldn't treat a friend the way he's treating his fans, but his adamancy about people stealing or sharing his work has alienated me and I'm sure quite a few others. Sure he gave away Musicology when you saw him in concert a few years back, but I still PAID for the Xpectation album and feel that I should be able to listen to it as long as I keep the files handy. I WILL NOT purchase another DRM-laden file ever.

Thanks Prince, for absolutely nothing except a good old-fashioned lesson in what not to do in future.

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 5: Yahoo and MSN Music

This year we've also seen some significant closures of various DRM services -- first MSN Music, then Yahoo Music. Yahoo offered refunds in the end, but it highlights the very real problem of DRM services closing down. Yahoo and Microsoft aren't even going out of business, yet they've closed DRM services. Google has done the same thing with its video store.

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35 Days Against DRM -- Day 2: Netflix

Netflix currently offers streaming of movies at no extra charge with many of its DVD rental plans. The streaming service, which requires Microsoft Windows Media and Microsoft Silverlight technologies in order to operate, uses Digital Restrictions Management technologies to limit playback to authorized devices, such as the Netflix set top box, Microsoft's XBOX 360 console and personal computers running Microsoft's Windows or Apple's Mac OS X operating systems.

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