Why DRM is worth fighting over

Much to my chagrin, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with Neil Gaiman over the Kindle’s DRM.

DRM isn’t about lending books out (though that would be nice to still do), and it isn’t about trying to get stuff for free. I don’t have any problems paying for music and books (one look at my credit card statements would prove that to anyone), and I don’t want to broadcast copyrighted works over the Internet.

What I do want to do is to be able to move my music and books from place to place and from device to device.

I’ve already posted on how the DRM in iTunes means I’ve lost more than 3 Gigs of music just because I decided to stop using OS X. Now, if I were to get a Kindle and buy several books that I later want to move to a different device (say, a Sony Reader released in a year or two that’s much, much better), I’ll be screwed. If the books are DRM’d, they’ll be attached to just one device: the Kindle. If I want to move them, I’ll have to buy another copy. If that new copy is also DRM’d, I’ll have to buy another copy if I ever want to move it to a different ebook reader.

I’m already dealing with this with the Adobe eBooks I bought before switching to Ubuntu. Because the books are DRM’d, I can read them on my Palm–which supports the DRM–but not on my computer, or any other electronic device I own. The PDA I wanted to buy–a Nokia N800 internet tablet–I didn’t, because it wouldn’t be able to read any of my DRM’d ebooks.

So if you don’t mind being locked into one product, one company’s way of doing things, forever, then DRM is not a problem. But if you ever want to exercise your buyer’s right to choose–a key component of a free market–DRM will bite you in the ass.

Another Switch

As part of the switch from OS X to Ubuntu, I’ve lost iTunes, and thus can’t listen to all the DRM-infected music I bought from the iTunes store.

Since I bought more than 3 Gigs of music from Apple, that really p*ssed me off. But rather than strip the DRM from the music (which is now illegal–thanks to the U.S. Congress), or try to run iTunes via Wine, I’ve simply switched to a different music service: eMusic.

eMusic runs on subscriptions, meaning for $10 a month I can download 30 DRM-free MP3 files from their library. That’s one-third of the price of songs on iTunes, and once I’ve downloaded the music I can burn ’em to disk, move them from computer to computer, or do anything else (non-commercial) I feel like. It’s a simple, straightforward, consumer-friendly (and legal) way to download music.

Why doesn’t iTunes work like this?

Now With 50% More Open-Source

Made the leap today: I wiped OS X off the hard drive on my MacBook and put a fresh, clean install of the newest version of Ubuntu (7.10, or ‘Gutsy Gibbon’) on it.

Everything worked out of the box save for wifi, and there’s a workaround for that. 7.10 looks great, the MacBook feels more responsive, and getting/installing software is easier than in OS X. No Leopard for me. I’ll stick with the penguin.

Religious crazy vs the Troops

Apparently the only counter-force to crazy American fundamentalist Christians is the urge to support the troops: a Baltimore judge just ordered a church to pay $1 million in damages to the father of an Army Lance Corporal killed in Iraq.

The church members drove all the way from Kansas to attend the kid’s funeral and hold up such uplifting, Christian signs as “God hates fags,” and “Thank God for dead troops.” Really, who would Christ persecute?

Now I’m no fan of the war, but I don’t want to see any more American troops die; that’s why I’d like them brought home. Contrary to the what article says, these people aren’t “protesting,” they’re co-opting the death of someone’s son to push a message of hate. Isn’t that what Republicans accuse liberals of doing all the time? So how many righties are going to come out and chastise these people? Or will they keep giving airtime to Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, and others who cloak their prejudice in righteousness?