UM Drinks the DRM Kool Aid

UM has become one of the first ten universities to sign up for Napster's “free” online music access. Sadly, this came at the urging of the student government.

For a fixed fee paid by the University, all undergrads get unlimited access to Napster's music library, from which they download DRM'ed files that can only be copied twice and can't be put on DVD without paying a dollar per song.

Given the 3.5 year life of the average PC that means today's freshmen will lose their music libraries around when they get their Ph.D's.

And this is called “outsmarting the pirates”! More like “outsmarting yourself” I'd think.

For some useful background on this “service”, see the invaluable Ernest Miller's Notes on Napster's Matriculation at Penn State, where he collects links so I don't have to. See also Slashdot's debate.

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8 Responses to UM Drinks the DRM Kool Aid

  1. John Nicholson says:

    The Register has some gossip and links about Cornell’s Napster situation

  2. Sam Nospam says:

    So the poor babies “lose their music”. Big Hairy Deal. First off, given that the listenable lifetime of the average pop tune is similar to that of a mayfly, anything more than six months old is ready for the discard pile, anyhow. Second, nobody owes them a soundtrack to their lives. Third, back in my day we made our own music. Twice a day. Up hill. Both ways. In the snow.

  3. anything that can be downloaded can be hacked.

    unless you have the world’s most inept Computer Science Department in the world, within weeks there will be a program that strips whatever coding is in the files that make them unrecordable to DVD.

    geez, mike, for a college professor, you don’t know much about students

  4. Brett Bellmore says:

    If the electrical engineers don’t intercept the bit stream at the hardware level first; It DOES kind of have to be decoded at some point, to be fed into the D/A converter in the sound board.

  5. Barry Freed says:

    What is it that Bruce Schneier famously says: “Digital bits are inherently copyable.”

    (Or was that Ed Felten? I think it was Schneier).

    DRM will never work. It’ll just piss people (i.e. potential customers) off.

  6. TomR says:

    ??? Given the 3.5 year life of the average PC that means today’s freshmen will lose their music libraries around when they get their Ph.D’s. ???

    Where did you go to school? Everywhere I have been, the average freshman not only takes much longer than 3.5 years to get to a PhD, they never do (or necessarily should) get there.

    Maybe you meant ‘graduate’ . . .

  7. Michael says:

    Thanks to all for the good comments. I agree that anything can be copied by the ept. Of course with all this anti-circumvention law going around, that could be a nasty felony.

    Since the DRM scheme allows two copies, which the average user would make when getting a new machine (yes yes the smartest ones just transplant the hard drive, we’re not talking about you, ok?) I figured, whimsically , 3.5 * 3, assuming a new machine for going off to college, you copy it to the machine you get around graduation, the Ph.D can take 6-7 years in the US…during which if you are lucky you get your 3rd computer, which is obsolete when go become unemployed…and have lots of time to listen to music…

  8. Barry Freed says:

    But of course only one person needs to be smart enough to figure out how to code around i.e. crack the DRM, then she just embodies her m4d 5ki11z in code form and all who follow just download and run her little program. End of hassle.

    No need for swapping out HDs.

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