DRM Woes for Cory

On Boingboing, Cory posts about his problems with DRM’d iTunes purchases. He points out that he is a edge use case that gets hammered because he buys so many Apple products that he is caught in a bind where he can no longer authorize new machines. As he points out:

But I couldn’t. Between my mom’s iBook (3,000 miles away in another country), my original Powerbook (broken up for parts by Apple) and the replacement Powerbook (back in the shop due to a manufacturing defect), I’d done all the authorizations that Apple’s “speed bump” DRM would allow me. The Help links on Apple’s site went to pages with support forms that returned errors when I filled them in. So, the “FairPlay” system was punishing me for:

  1. Buying so much iTMS music that burning it to CD and ripping it back as MP3 (and re-entering all the metadata) was too big a chore to contemplate
  2. Buying a new Powerbook at full retail every 10 months
  3. Buying new Powerbooks as soon as they are announced, before all the manufacturing bugs have been shaken out

Apple tells us that its DRM “keeps honest users honest.” I’m a pretty honest user. Apple’s DRM hasn’t kept me honest, though: it’s kept me angry with Apple. It’s kept me feeling like a sucker for giving them my money. It’s kept me in chains.

This is not so different from my situation with my PalmDigitalMedia books that I can’t read on my Zaurus now. It differs in magnitude (I have a lot less money at stake than Cory does) but not in root causes. The consumer dumb enough to buy these DRM’d books and music finds themselves locked in or losing access to material they actually spent real cash to buy. Because the media companies find the risk of piracy too much to bear, they make you and I bear the risk in the form of losing access. From their perspective, what do they care? They win either way – if they’re lucky you’ll be such a sucker to buy the same thing again on the new machine/platform/format.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.