Free (and legal) music downloads coming by Christmas 2006 and DRM



I’ve seen several news reports picking up this story from yesterday. SpiralFrog will provide an advertising supported, free music download service and is expected to launch in time for Christmas 2006. There is an agreement with the Universal Music Group and SpiralFrog and the concept is that users must agree to watch advertising before downloading the free music. Testing will begin in the US and Canada before the end of the year. It sounds as though they will use DRM from Microsoft on the free downloads…


which translates into iPod INcompatibility…. Speaking of DRM… There’s been quite a few stories over DRM and it’s breakage in the last few days. The link is to a George Ou piece on fairuse4wm which breaks Microsoft’s DRM. I also read that Microsoft has posted an update to break the ability of fairuse4wm. The whole concept of DRM is a thorny and in some cases, emotional issue. I understand the concern of content producers, that digital files can be copied easily with no loss in quality and there should be some protections on copying. However, the consumer has rights too…. Fair Use gives the right to make backup copies of what has been purchased.

Ultimately, it seems that DRM makes criminals/pirates of us all by default. The concept of SOME of these online services with DRM is criminal in my point of view. (Particularly those that only let you listen to the music as long as you pay your subscription to the download service, when your subscription expires, so does your music…)

If you’re interested in legal DRM free downloads, you might consider mindawn.com.

–UPDATE 8/30/06 1:46 PM EDT–
Microsoft has confirmed the problem and released a patch to prevent the use of fairuse4wm

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