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Kindle, Zune DRM Restrictions Coming Into Focus 311

Posted by kdawson
from the lie-down-with-dogs dept.
It's not news that the media you buy for both Kindle and Zune are protected by DRM. Readers are sending in stories of some of the ramifications of that fact. First, Absentminded-Artist notes an account at Gear Diary recounting what an Amazon rep told one user about download limits on Kindle books. "One facet of the Kindle's DRM has reared an ugly head: download limitations. Upgraded your iPhone recently? Bought a new Kindle? You may not be able to reload your entire library. There's an unadvertised flag: 'You mean when you go to buy the book it doesn't say "this book can be downloaded this number of times" even though that limitation is there?' To which [the rep] replied, 'No, I'm very sorry it doesn't.'" Next, reader Rjak writes "DRM is a bad idea, poorly implemented. One of the many many valid reasons to drop Zune and its marketplace is the DRM validation error you see below. The vast majority of the music I had purchased last year is completely gone. There's no refund, the music doesn't exist on the service anymore, the files are just garbage now. Here's the error (screen capture): 'This item is no longer available at Zune Marketplace. Because of this, you can no longer play it or sync it with your Zune. There might be another iteration of it available in Zune Marketplace.'" Update: 06/23 00:28 GMT by KD : The Gear Diary blog has been updated with what may be more definitive information from Amazon on how the Kindle DRM behaves.
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Kindle, Zune DRM Restrictions Coming Into Focus

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  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @04:26PM (#28413245) Homepage Journal
    For music, the DRM is all but gone. That Zune still carries DRM proves that to MS the end user is never the customer.

    The emerging problem is certainly books and video. Niether of these is going to be trivial to convert to electronic format anytime soon, and the files don't seem be trivial to burn to an unprotected format either. This means that video and books are still on the list, as music used to be, of only be useful as long as the files stay in good shape. It is interesting that Amazon has chosen to take this one step further and limit it to a number of devices. As the article states, since one is to upgrade often, and the files are owned by Amazon, this puts an effective lifetime on the books. Where on can buy a hardback and refer to it for a lifetime, the Kindle will eventually break.

    I think this is a good argument against most e-book readers. The publishers are not going to fully support them, and unless there is special need, the consumer does not get the value. Movies, are another issue, but pretty much I don't buy movies to download. Better value with $5-10 dvd.

  • by -noefordeg- (697342) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @04:27PM (#28413263)

    To those complaining. Do NOT buy DRM media.
    Every time you pay for an item you support DRM.

    And when things go awry, you come here complaining?!

  • by silmarilwest (724433) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @04:35PM (#28413325)
    is the problem in this case. The device is not without flaws, but it seems unfair to blame the device for a flaw with the app store (I'd criticize it more for not being able to handle naturally occurring dates). The majority of users won't use their player for DRM protected content although they should clearly have the ability to do so without worrying about this scenario. Pathetic doesn't even begin to describe these types of restrictions.
  • by davidwr (791652) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @04:47PM (#28413415) Homepage Journal

    Vendors who incorporate DRM and who rig it so the songs quit working when certain events happen will be in trouble with the law if they don't advertise this in advance, like "if you buy this song, you may have to buy it again if you upgrade your media device or if it breaks and is repaired."

    Failure to do that is breach of implied contract: You bought the music with the understanding it would work at least for the lifetime of the device on which it was originally installed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 21, 2009 @04:51PM (#28413453)

    "DRM has not been implemented correctly to date."

    That can be a good thing. DVD's DRM? Cracked. I've read HD-DVD and Blu-Ray were cracked but maybe the keys were revoked; I haven't tried.

    "I want to support the content providers but I don't want to give up or inhibit my rights to access that content."

    I agree, and I don't quite understand DRM, even though I favor when it's nonexistent or thoroughly broken (and they still release stuff). I buy more DVDs then ever, because I can get access to the content. The more they phrackin limit me, the less I buy from them (hey, Sony, that's you; I buy downloadable content because it's easy and I get it now, you're pissing me off by DRM'ing, so I look elsewhere). The companies complaining the most are often the ones with the more notorious track records.

    The Kindle DRM, from what I understand, is cracked, at least the popular form of it, although I haven't tried to see if that is still the case. This is one of the reasons why I bought a Kindle DX. There were other reasons (emergency web access for when Comcast bonks, pdf reader hopefully for O'Reilly's offerings, instant gratification of starting to read a newly downloaded book, samples), but the DRM was largely why I had put off buying one.

    The problem with the Kindle download flag is that, I haven't tried this yet, you can backup your Kindle on your own PC. Does that "count" for certain or is it unclear? What is Amazon going to do if I can't download a book I bought rights to and I complain? What is a court going to do?

    Really, the ball is in Amazon's court, as well as the copyright holder. The more DRM is a problem, the more it stalls Kindle sales with massive negative press, esp. as the Kindle gains more and more momentum which it seems to be doing. Kindle is so large now that's Amazon's customer service for the Kindle generally sucks. (They don't seem to read the emails.) Also, this inhibits Amazon too as if the Kindle is popular and there are more restrictions, esp. with the DX going to academia more, people will turn to other avenues as well as free textbooks (which exist and some are damn good) and other readers, like Sony's.

    This can also provide furor against Amazon, which is more than the Kindle--people will start to pull sales of other things Amazon sells because they're pissed they're getting screwed on their $30 digital copy of a speciality textbook.
    I've already done this myself to them on another issue; I bought my LCD TV recently from Dell, not Amazon, because last summer Amazon pulled their pricematch guarantee. Amazon lost that big purchase sale because of a policy change, and I emailed their Bezos email (whatever it was back then since it changes) telling them so, and got a response. They've since modified and partly returned the price match guarantee (for large purchases, so I've heard); in any case, while I still buy from Amazon now, I'm less likely to pull the trigger, and for a few months, didn't purchase around $1,500 from them, in addition to the TV. For example, all my sanders are Ridgid, instead of Bosch. I completed my pocket screw setup by buying the rest of the Kreg equipment from a local dealer. And I bought a few Hitachi replacements at Lowes instead. It affects them even today, as I check locally more instead of just buying online (and I've noticed some of Amazon's prices going up as well).

  • by Animats (122034) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @05:08PM (#28413591) Homepage

    Microsoft seems to be violating their own Zune EULA [zunestore.net]:

    Microsoft may from time to time make available for download from the Services certain images, artwork, photographs, videos, and other content (the "Downloadable Content"). Microsoft hereby grants you a limited, non-transferable, nonexclusive license to download such content solely for your personal, noncommercial use in accordance with these Terms of Use. Such license shall be limited to the specific purpose for which such Downloadable Content was made available (e.g. for use as wallpaper or poster prints, as specified in connection with the download), and you may not modify, distribute, perform, transmit , create derivative works of or otherwise use such Downloadable Content or make any commercial or public use thereof. Downloadable Content shall only include content which Microsoft specifically identifies as being available for download, and you agree not to remove of obscure any copyright notice that appears in the Downloadable Content.

    Note the words "Microsoft hereby grants you a limited, non-transferable, nonexclusive license to download such content solely for your personal, noncommercial use in accordance with these Terms of Use." Microsoft granted you a license. They didn't provide a provision which allows them to revoke that license. They don't have the option, once having sold you a license, to take it back. The FTC was out to lunch during the Bush Administration, but they're back in business. [ftc.gov]

    So if you have a Zune, and it won't play something you paid for, go to the Federal Trade Commission online complaint page [ftccomplai...istant.gov] and start filling out the form.

    The FTC was out to lunch during the Bush Administration years, but that's over. They're back in business. [ftc.gov]

  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Sunday June 21, 2009 @05:11PM (#28413609) Homepage

    Sorry, but it doesn't really (technically) work that way. When you buy the CD, you haven't bought any rights to anything. You've just bought the CD. According to copyright, you have no right to copy that CD. Fair use says that you can copy that CD, so long as it's copied in certain ways for for certain purposes.

    Where this has gotten confusing is that when you "buy" a song online, what you've really bought it a license to copy that song under additional circumstances not normally granted under fair use. Of course, that license probably has terms in it that say the online store can revoke the license and deny you access to that song at any time for any reason.

    For this reason, I think someone should really sue these companies for false advertising or deceptive practices (IANAL, so I don't know what you would technically sue them for). Companies using DRM shouldn't be allowed to advertise that they're "selling" music, and they shouldn't be permitted to use the word "buy". Instead of "buy", they should be forced to use words like "rent" or "license". And the terms of the license should be in simple language and displayed prominently, not just when you first install or run the software.

  • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@NOSPAM.earthlink.net> on Sunday June 21, 2009 @05:22PM (#28413699)

    I pretty much agree. I don't see anything wrong with piracy against the very companies that bought the law that made it a crime. Buying the law was, itself, corruption, so they don't deserve ANY profits as a result of it.

    OTOH, I consider it a reckless lifestyle choice. I'd prefer to just not purchase anything that supports DRM. So I don't. I've also stopped going to movies. I've also stopped buying music CDs. (Except from local bands without contracts with the RIAA or any member company.) And my software CDs are Linux & GPL (plus the occasional GPL compatibly licensed software). I made this choice before the DMCA was passed, though I'll admit that that reconfirmed my decision. (The Sonny-Bono copyright extension act was part of my reason. The rest came from reading the MS EULA for either Windows2000 or Office2000 at work. [My reaction to it was "This is a suicide note for any business that signs it!". The company lawyer's attitude was "No court will uphold this". He wouldn't realize that MS was capable of enforcing the EULA via technical measures, and that this was only to make their actions legal.])

  • by BlackCreek (1004083) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @05:32PM (#28413769)

    Amazon reps got in contact with the guy.... They simply don't a have a clue of what happens, and may try to change policy. Worth a read...

    http://www.geardiary.com/2009/06/21/kindlegate-confusion-abounds-regarding-kindle-download-policy/#more-34458 [geardiary.com]

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @05:54PM (#28413921)

    Buy it once, use the pirated copy thereafter. After all you're purchasing a "license" and a "service" not a product, so all that matters is the license.

    Jamie Thomas just got fined $1.9M for having files on her computer that were never proven to be shared with anyone unauthorized (MediaSentry is a fully authorized download) and owned all the CD's of the songs in question. So just what did she purchase?

  • by sjames (1099) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @06:17PM (#28414095) Homepage

    The hidden download limit is out and out fraud. They are not giving you what they lead you to believe they were. It's no different than putting 3 pints of product into a bottle marked as 2 quarts.

  • by easyTree (1042254) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @07:33PM (#28414609)

    Bah. The moment law stopped being a codification of what the majority consider to be right and proper, it lost value.

    These days it's a codification of who's paid who and as such I choose to ignore it as much as I able; choosing instead to refer to my internal moral compass.

    I don't subscribe to the idea that every action or discussion must be arbitrated by a lawyer.

    I have a degree in computer science; am *I* to be consulted every time someone wants to email a friend or download some hedgehog pron* ? hopefully not

    * I sincerely hope that there's no such thing as hedgehog pron...

  • by fooslacker (961470) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @09:20PM (#28415275)
    I agree with everything you said except that DRM can be implemented correctly. The fact that people keep linking you to Pirate Bay is a perfect example of why DRM is so silly. It doesn't stop the pirates and it cripples the legit users.

    I'm currently furious about my Kindle download limits (something not advertised and something you can't find out prior to purchasing a book). I totally want to support the content creators but when they treat me like a criminal not only do I not want to support them I don't even want to read their book so I don't bother pirating it. The truly insidious thing about the Kindle problem is they wont' tell you if there is a limit, you just discover it after you buy and try to transfer it to your iPhone or your new Kindle. That to me seems like fraud. I'm sure it isn't legally fraud since Amazon and the publishers can afford lobbyists and I can't but if I were to do something like this to my neighbor it would definitely be considered nasty.

    DRM has got to go away, all it does is hurt the guy who wants to buy your product. The pirates just crack it and move on and when your product is badly crippled I can't blame them, they're actually fixing the flawed product you sold them at that point. Companies that use DRM encourage this sort of behavior and it will probably take some of them going out of business and that collapse being linked directly to DRM before it will change.
  • by nabsltd (1313397) on Sunday June 21, 2009 @10:16PM (#28415595)

    Neither copyright law nor fair use really cover the *playing* of a song or the *listening* to it.

    This is true. Various "fair trade practices" laws cover the playing of the CD.

    Every state in the US has some sort of "fitness of purpose" law about items sold that basically says that if something can't do the primary thing it was marketed as being able to do, then you are entitled to a refund or replacement at your choice . For example, if the car you bought won't run unless it is on the dealer's lot, then it clearly isn't fit for its primary purpose of "driving".

    So, if an audio CD won't play music, then it's not fit for its primary purpose, and you can get a refund or replacement.

    Personally, if I ran into one of these discs, I'd return it for a replacement, and I'd keep returning them until they were out of stock or finally just gave me my money back. Hopefully, with enough returns, the distribution company would get the picture and stop trying to sell defective products.

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