Copyright Absurdity

 Posted by on 6 January 2006 at 8:00 am  Uncategorized
Jan 062006

I like Coldplay, so I’d be inclined to buy their new album X&Y — but not under these conditions. Boing Boing has the scoop, including an image listing all the insane DRM (digital rights management) rules. Here’s the gist:

Coldplay’s new CD comes with an insert that discloses all the rules enforced by the DRM they included on the disc. Of course, these rules are only visible after you’ve paid for the CD and brought it home, and as the disc’s rules say, “Except for manufacturing problems, we do not accept product exchange, return or refund,” so if you don’t like the rules, that’s tough.

What are the other rules? Here are some gems: “This CD can’t be burnt onto a CD or hard disc, nor can it be converted to an MP3″ and “This CD may not play in DVD players, car stereos, portable players, game players, all PCs and Macintosh PCs.” Best of all, the insert explains that this is all “in order for you to enjoy a high quality music experience.” Now, that’s quality.

I wonder how Coldplay feels about their fans getting all these rules set down for them by the music label? I wonder if most fans who read these rules will be wise enough to blame corporate, or whether they’ll just decide to dig up a band whose label treats them like customers, not crooks? It’s amazing how the labels always seem to come up with new ways of screwing artists: if they’re not cheating them out of royalties, they’re systematically alienating their fan-base.

I’ve ripped my entire CD collection to MP3, so it’ll be rather chilly day in hell before I start buying CDs that I can only use in “hard copy.” As far as I’m concerned, refusing to accept returns for this seemingly-normal-but-actually-almost-useless CD is a form of fraud worthy of a big fat lawsuit.

I have no pirated music in my music collection, nor would I illegally download music. I buy at least one CD a month through I routinely buy individual songs from iTunes. So why are so many record labels determined to presume that I am a copyright criminal? Why are they so eager to presume that of everyone?

These kind of dishonest antics, not to mention dangerous debacles like Sony’s hidden rootkit, seem designed to alienate honest customers while doing little to prevent piracy. That’s not a good long-term strategy.

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