On the 21st March, 2006, the French parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of forcing companies selling music online to open up their digital rights management (DRM) technology.
What in effect this means, is that subject to approval of the French Senate, if you want to sell music online in France, it has to be compatible with all music players. Regardless of it’s format or source.
As you’re all probably well aware, at the moment, if you buy a track from the iTunes music store, it can only be played on the Apple iPod and if you buy a track using Sony’s Connect music store, it can only be played using a Sony device (eg. Network Walkman, CD Walkman, Hi-MD, Clie handheld or Vaio computer) and there are more examples.
This isn’t an ideal situation for everybody, imagine what it would be like if when buying CDs, you had to go to a specific store to buy a specific format of CD to work on your brand of CD player. And then, what if you buy said CD for the brand that your home stereo is, but wanted to take it on the road using a portable CD player, that is of a different brand?
This is the situation we are in at the moment.
The record companies, government bodies and music player makers all want us to purchase our music legally, but put heavy restrictions on the end-product that we receive.
In essence, they believe that they cannot trust us with their products anymore.
For many years recordable casettes have been available and then recordable CDs and there was little that anyone could do about piracy prevention, only traditional detection and law enforcement methods were effective.
Now that the power is there to prevent the copyright owners rights from being infringed, they decide to penalise every Tom, Dick & Harry, regardless of their intentions, we are all tarred with the same brush.
During the Napster crisis of ’99 (not to be confused with the Cuban missile crisis of ’63, which at the time they made out were pretty similar in severity) everything was thrown at shutting down Napster and stamping out digital music downloads completely.
Record companies didn’t recognise that people wanted to download music, their only thoughts were that people wanted the music for free.
The thought never crossed their minds that people perhaps wanted to break the chains that had been strapped around the music industry since its inception.
For years, the consumer had little choice when it came to purchasing music.
Either you bought the album with all the tracks on it, even if you actually only like 50% of the songs, or you could buy the singles, which are overpriced and don’t all get released, so you miss out on some of the good tracks from the album.
Now, you can pick and choose what songs you want to have from the album for a reasonable price, no longer do you have to use the next track key because you come number 10 is stinkier than week old cheddar. The masses rejoiced and downloaded. Napster flourished and the record companies went red in the face.
But for years they did nothing but subpoena.
They didn’t seem to understand that people are doing this because they like the freedom, the power to listen to what they want, not what the fatcats want. But all they could see, was that money was being taken out of their pockets, and it had to be stopped.
It took almost 4 years after the closure of Napster before a viable legal download service was launched, a service by the name of iTunes music store, created to compliment Apple’s new music player, the iPod.
Launched on April 28th, 2003, it has recently hit its 1billionth download worldwide.
Does that not say something to the record company executives?
1billion songs sold legally in 3 years, using just one of the many download services.
Put together Napster, Sony Connect, myCokemusic & the od2 network and we’re talking at least 3billion, surely?
3billion songs downloaded legally, by the very people that are still to this day being branded as theives and being forced to accept sub-standard products, ie. music that has no flexibility.
Why are the majority being braded as potential thieves, and end up getting the short end of the stick, when it is the minority that have the intention of using their newly bought product illegally?
This ruling in France should hopefully help the rest of the world realise that DRM is not the way forward, in fact it is several steps backward and that the consumer gets shafted so that the rich can get richer.