January 6th 2006
By Mike Flaminio
It's only a blog, but the usual suspects at ZDNet bear ultimately responsibility for its publication. David Berlind authored the commentary.
Now it's perfectly reasonable for Brad King, who writes for MIT's Technology Review, to rail against DRM. It's his absolute right. But where he oversteps the mark (and the bounds of reason) is when he dumps the whole DRM issue, lock, stock and two smoking barrels, on Apple's doorstep. And that's when you start to smell...well, a rat.
Here's a serve:
"I reserve that (possibly irrational) anger for the iPod and iTunes, two music products that are so restrictive in their licensing and user set-ups that I have never been able to bring myself to download the software to purchase music through iTunes or pony up the cash to by an iPod....Jobs has, by and large, become a proxy for the music and movie industries in the continual eroding of consumer rights in a digital age. And -- for everyone who shells out their hard-earned money for the latest and greatest gadget -- you've all fallen for it."
That, not to put too fine a point on it, is a (expletive) lie.
What is 'open' about Windows Media? About Sony Connect? About Real? Nothing, of course; they're all proprietary technologies, just as FairPlay is. And MPEG/AAC, at least, is based on a standard, not a so-called debased in-house 'standard' from MS (which is simply imposed by Redmond by virtue of their monopoly, not via collaboration and consultation). And OEMs, bound to the Windows platform, are forced to buy it.
No one is forcing consumers to buy iPod.
No one is holding a gun to iPod owners' heads and forcing them to buy from the iTMS.
No one can stop you from burning a CD from their iTMS tracks and then copying that CD ad infinitum. And, frankly, if you're intent on working around Apple's DRM, there are a million cracks and hacks out there. And, what's more, there's nothing to stop you loading your burnt-CD-formerly-wma tracks onto an iPod.
"The iPod is so cute", That's the result of Brad's extensive survey of precisely one iPod owner. And upon what he bases many of his conclusions.
Rot. The iPod sells because it's # 1 in design. How it works. Ferrari used to say to owners who complained about rusty cars, "For your money, you get a great engine, a race-tuned chassis, outstanding dynamics, and brilliant brakes. The body we don't charge for."
The fact that the iPod looks good is a bonus (and, as we all know, the cases scratch anyway. So it won't look 'cute' for long).
The respectability of the name-brand tech-houses like MIT shouldn't mask the fact that this is a piece of FUD, pure and simple. The real monopolist - or wannabe monopolists - is MS. In case you hadn't noticed, the format for HD-DVD video is Windows Media. That's the two-faced Janus that MS is selling Hollywood.
And, although Brad's intentions - as part of the anti-DRM lobby - may be precisely the opposite, all he's doing, really, is adding fuel to the Napster/Real/MS PR fire, which is all about a huge whispering campaign to undermine iPod and iTMS, and substituting FairPlay's dominance for Windows Media.
It's like changing your vote: you're still going to end up with a politician. And you have only two choices. And both are devils that we know very well.