Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sometimes DRM can be a real pain

So I've finally upgraded my cell phone - from one I've had since 2000 to the (relatively) new AT&T Tilt.  It's manufactured by HTC out of Taiwan (they call it the HTC 8925 or, internally, the Kaiser).

 

With built-in GPS and a 400mhz ARM processor it's got enough horsepower to be an all-in-one device.  So far, so good; GPS has been extremely helpful - in less than a month it's made finding alternate routes much easier.

 

After adding an 8GB microSDHC card the Tilt has more than enough to store pretty much my whole music collection (downsampled to 160kbps per track).  I bought a new album from the soon to be defunct Yahoo Music (might as well take advantage of that 20cents off per track) and transferred the tracks to the Tilt.

 

The setup worked well until I flashed the device's ROM with a stock WM6.1 ROM from HTC.  The stock ROM is awesome BUT Windows Media DRM no longer recognizes the device.  Windows Media Player valiantly offered to retrieve the licenses over the 3G internet connection but, since there's no version of Yahoo Music Jukebox for Windows Mobile, it couldn't authenticate and acquire the licenses.

 

I get the idea that DRM allows for a plethora of business models; the subscription model would be a lot harder to do without it.  Still, I *purchased* the album.  Why do I have to burn it to CD, wasting a blank CD-R in the process, then re-rip it if I want to play it on other devices? (even if I "format" those other devices)  It isn't enough of a hurdle to prevent nefarious copying but it is enough of an annoyance to slow adoption of legitimate use.

 

Hopefully it won't be long now where non-DRM is the standard for electronically distributed music.  Subscription tracks can always default to DRM but if I buy a track I really hope it won't be protected by default.

 

 

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