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[Paul Ohm (guest-blogging), April 12, 2007 at 1:09pm] Trackbacks
The Price of Music and the Analog Hole (1 of 2):

Today, I will switch from the Superuser article to describe a short article I have co-authored entitled The Analog Hole and the Price of Music: An Empirical Study, which will be published imminently in the Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law. The citation will be 5 J. on Telecomm. & High Tech. L. 573 (2007).

I talked briefly about the article last month while guesting at Concurring Opinions, and I'll try not to repeat much of what I said over there.

My co-authors — Doug Sicker, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Colorado, and Shannon Gunaji, a recent graduate of the University's Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program — conducted a series of experiments and surveys initially designed to test various aspects of the Analog Hole, but which ended up being much broader in scope.

The first result, which appears last in the paper, is based on a survey of people who reported that "most of [their] digital music collection was obtained through illegal file sharing." (Note, the older draft hosted on SSRN contains an inaccurate definition of the class of people in this survey.) We also limited our survey to people who reported not to have purchased music from an online store in the previous six months. I've learned this week to prepare to be called to task for terminology, and I'm sure many of you will let me know why we shouldn't have called these people, "so-called pirates."

Our surveys explore the price of music. Some have complained that 99 cents is too much for a song, especially for students and other people with low incomes. They have argued that given the low costs of online music distribution, music companies should experiment pricing below 99 cents. Swirling around this discussion is the question: would pirates be willing to pay anything for music? Or are we dealing with a subset of people who would rather download music for free than pay anything?

Our 90 survey respondents were asked at what price point they would be willing to pay for music. They split into a bimodal distribution. Twenty percent were not willing to pay anything for music. The remaining 80% were willing to pay from 20 to 40 cents for a legal download, instead of obtaining copies from non-paid sources.

We also gave the respondents space to comment on why they would prefer to purchase instead of pirate. Aggregating these answers, they appear motivated by three things: the desire to own legal content, the convenience of being able more easily to find songs, and the guarantee of a high-quality product. Finally, we asked the survey respondents for their thoughts about DRM. Eighty percent indicated that were they to purchase music, they would want the flexibility to move the music onto different media players or to control and access it in various other ways.

Second, we looked at the analog hole. As I said in the other blog post I have written about this paper:

Point a video camera at a television screen, aim a microphone at a speaker, or run a cable from the "line out" to the "line in" ports on the back of your computer, and you're ready to exploit the so-called analog hole. Just press "play" on one device and "record" on the other, and you can copy a movie, television show, or song, even if the original is supposedly protected by digital rights management technology designed to prevent copying.

This is known as the analog hole, which as I say in the paper, "arises as an inevitable byproduct of the interface between computer technology and human biology." If we humans are to see or hear relatively-easy-to-protect digital content, it must first be converted into harder-to-protect analog signals.

The analog hole comes up in the DRM/DMCA debates in interesting ways. For example, many debate whether the DMCA's prohibitions on DRM circumvention should be amended to add exceptions for the exercise of First Amendment and Fair Use rights. Is the law unconstitutional without such exceptions? Those who oppose new DMCA exceptions for fair use (content owners, mostly) point to the analog hole in response. Don't worry, they say, because you can always exercise these rights by exploiting the analog hole. In litigation, in the face of Constitutional challenges to the DMCA, courts in 321 Studios and Corley accepted similar arguments.

Others have fired back, arguing that the Analog Hole is a poor substitute for DRM-protected content, because it is too complicated or costly to exploit. (See footnotes 17 and 18 of the article for citations to legal scholars who have made this argument.) In other words, exploiting the Analog Hole requires a Superuser.

Our research suggested otherwise. We created analog copies of digital songs in two ways: first, by running a cable from a computer's "line out" jack into the "line in" jack of another computer; second, by placing one computer's high-end speakers next to another computer's high-end microphones. In the latter case, we needed access to expensive hardware, and in both cases, we had to install software that did not come bundled with our computers. Furthermore, both tests were somewhat time consuming. Still, neither case required much technical know-how.

Although this result probably does not surprise any VC readers, we thought it would be helpful to publish our anecdotal, qualitative observations.

Tomorrow, I'll talk about the loss of sound quality which results from exploiting the analog hole. Do consumers notice or care about this loss of quality? Would consumers be willing to buy music with degraded sound quality for less money? I'll also talk about what all of our results may say about the recent EMI/Apple announcement. Here's a teaser. What's the analog hole worth? Exactly twenty-four cents. (of course, the article is short, so you can quickly learn the punch-line today.)

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The Analog Hole is Worth Twenty-Four Cents (2 of 2):
  2. The Price of Music and the Analog Hole (1 of 2):
PErry (mail):
Why not just use TotalRecorder? It uses the analog hole (by creating "virtual speakers" and capturing the analog audio).
4.12.2007 2:19pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Would consumers be willing to buy music with degraded sound quality for less money?

This has already been answered with an absolute and unequivocal "yes". All the current popular formats (MP3, wma, etc.) are markedly inferior to CD's or vinyl albums (contrary to popular belief, the CD was not a great leap forward in fidelity over a good vinyl album played on a good turntable), not to mention the enhanced CD formats that have not taken off. Heck, they are inferior to a well-recorded good quality analog cassette tape.
4.12.2007 3:07pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Isn't there a "digital" hole as well? One can buy a song with DRM protection from a legal service, burn it onto a blank CD, and then rip the song from the CD onto your computer. Then the song file exists on your computer without digital protection. It lacks some identifying characteristics (the file name will be "song one," or something like that), but the song still plays. Or, you know, so I've heard.
4.12.2007 3:11pm
wooga:
Point a video camera at a television screen, aim a microphone at a speaker, or run a cable from the "line out" to the "line in" ports on the back of your computer, and you're ready to exploit the so-called analog hole.

I don't know what kind of fancy equipment you have, but this description of the "analog hole" leads to horrendous video problems (recorder and tv operate at different frequencies), and the 'direct plug' is thwarted by this little thing called Macrovision protection.
4.12.2007 3:30pm
wooga:
We created analog copies of digital songs in two ways: first, by running a cable from a computer's "line out" jack into the "line in" jack of another computer; second, by placing one computer's high-end speakers next to another computer's high-end microphones.

The DMCA still makes this illegal - and that's the problem - no matter how easy or difficult it may be to bypass DRM. I could even exploit an "analog hole" by getting a band together and performing the songs ourselves for a dictaphone. It doesn't make a difference to the music industry.

The RIAA can still sue you, and unless you have the money or a public interest firm willing to defend you, the RIAA can bully and crush people who don't have the resources to assert their fair use rights.
4.12.2007 3:37pm
JB:
It'd have been interesting to see the results of a survey like this taken in 2001 or 2003. It seems to me that the past 6 years have seen a missed opportunity to get legal downloads working--now, a large portion of people are used to getting things for free, and are viewed sympathetically by an even larger portion.
4.12.2007 3:39pm
Oren (mail):

. . . the 'direct plug' is thwarted by this little thing called Macrovision protection.


It is a trivial matter to get a "video enhancer" that will remove the macrovision signal from any analog video source. Try you local Chinatown electronics market (right next to the region free DVD players).


Our surveys explore the price of music. Some have complained that 99 cents is too much for a song, especially for students and other people with low incomes. They have argued that given the low costs of online music distribution, music companies should experiment pricing below 99 cents.


Personally, I would pay $.99 for a song, provided that at least $.40 of that went to the artists themselves. As it stands the artist gets closer to $.05. This is, to large extent, why I personally pirate music and instead, spend the money on band merchandise which actually pays the artist.

When there is a system that rewards the artists properly, instead of rewarding an endless cavalcade of middlemen, bloated (and often lawbreaking) record companies and other hangers-on, I will buy into it.
4.12.2007 3:59pm
Le Messurier (mail):
I have a rather large collection of LP records (Classical music mostly) I bought a device that boosts (or reduces) the output of the record player to that of the computer so I can digetize my records. It requires some software to record to the computer (and then burn to a CD) This is the long way to say that by using this software I now record music from streaming internet radio sites directly to my computer (then to a CD). Easy to use, you just have to be ready to push the "record" and "stop" button at the right time. Quality is as good as the stream.

This leads me to a question: how would anyone (like the RIAA)know I was recording this music rather than listening to it? I understand that it is illegal, but sticking it to the greasy haired hollywood lawyers and their clients doesn't really ring my morality bell too loudly. Particularly, since I'm using it for my own enjoyment and not selling or giving it away.
4.12.2007 4:01pm
Oren (mail):

The RIAA can still sue you, and unless you have the money or a public interest firm willing to defend you, the RIAA can bully and crush people who don't have the resources to assert their fair use rights.


See http://recordingindustryvspeople.blogspot.com/
4.12.2007 4:06pm
Guest Poster:
The court hints in MGM v. 321 Studios( 307 F. Supp 2d 1085) that despite 321's software being illegal that a consumer may be entitled to make a 1:1 copy, albeit with the analog hole. But, no court or statute explicitly allows the making of copies of DVDs or other media (except the limited exception in the AHRA, and 117).

Since under 17 USC 106, reproduction is , even for backup uses , not allowed, I'm not sure what all the fuss over DRM is. All these uses are illegal anyway regardless of DRM.
4.12.2007 4:21pm
Avatar (mail):
Keep in mind that ignoring something such as Macrovision is utterly trivial for pro gear, and not too terribly difficult for the consumer.

But even DRM isn't really that good of a protection, because in reality, it's pretty much impossible to secure a system from its own user if you're going to distribute millions of them to people you don't know. This is doubly true if you're talking about general-purpose computing devices, which are more or less designed to do whatever you want with data; while it isn't actually impossible to secure a device against the user, it's really, really difficult to do without simultaneously crippling the device.

Take the Sony PSP for example - people cracked the firmware of the device to turn it into a general-purpose portable video player in a couple of months, and attempts by Sony to update that firmware have also been hacked, and the hack widely distributed, such that anybody with a PSP and a small amount of technical acumen can hack their PSP. Bad if you are Sony and intended to restrict those functions to your own premium paid content; good if you own a PSP and want it to do things it's capable of doing.

(Sony seems to have learned a lesson there - heck, the PS3 runs Linux, and if you're running Linux, you can forget DRM!)

The animation company I once worked for released (still releases) hundreds of DVDs that aren't even CSS-encrypted. What was the point? Anyone wishing to pirate the product could easily do so, obtaining the code from any one of thousands of sources (including, humorously, the shirt of our head DVD author!) So encryption didn't frustrate any actual pirates. However, there are plenty of uses that don't involve piracy that are frustrated by encryption - say someone had a Linux box they wanted to play the DVD on? In the end, the benefits of encryption were next to nil, so why bother?

As to the idea of buying degraded music, well, wouldn't that depend if it was legal or not? If I'm gonna break the law, in this arena, I'm gonna do it with no costs to myself - who wants to BUY stolen music? On the other hand, I'm not an audiophile, and I probably would buy a few more tracks of music at 20 cents than the none I buy at a dollar...
4.12.2007 4:35pm
New World Dan (www):
As a matter of principle, I personally refuse to buy DRM'd content. On the other hand, if you want to strip copy protections from something, just ask any 18 year old kid. They've all got a system. I'd accept watermarking as a legitimate compromise. The biggest problem with strictly digital content is that there's no physical token to identify ownership. As such, how do I loan something to a friend or sell a song that I no longer care for? Watermarking at least solves that problem (more or less).

As far as exploiting the analog hole goes, no one does a loop back cable or the speaker/mircrophone route. Those are far and away the lowest quality approaches. As others have noted, most approaches are either the burn and rip approach or to capture the music stream on the way to the audio card.

The long and short of it all, is that DRM only hurts legitimate customers.
4.12.2007 4:48pm
Fub:
Paul Ohm (guest-blogging), April 12, 2007 at 1:09pm wrote:
Tomorrow, I'll talk about the loss of sound quality which results from exploiting the analog hole. Do consumers notice or care about this loss of quality? Would consumers be willing to buy music with degraded sound quality for less money?
People's perception of "sound quality" varies from the sublime, among a few people with well trained ears, to the ridiculous even among people who should know better.

Just for example:

People who believe that analog FM radio sound quality is excellent are often shocked to learn that the medium is limited to about 15KHz upper frequency response.

They are also often shocked to learn that most commercial FM stations rip standard redbook 44.1 KHz sample rate CDs to 32 KHz sample rate MP3 compressed format for storage on computer hard drives for their broadcast automation.

They are also sometimes shocked to learn that their favorite "excellent sound" commercial FM stations compress their audio dynamic range drastically, to accomplish "punch". Punch is the perception that their signal "stands out" when you tune past it on your (analog) radio dial. Dynamic range compression is by definition non-linear, and introduces tremendous distortion of the original audio material. But most people don't really notice the distortion. They just perceive what they think is a "good signal", because it has punch.

People who believe that their favorite "bookshelf" speakers have wonderfully smooth and clear base response, are shocked to learn that their favorite small speaker is mostly creating FM doppler distortion noise. As the late, great Paul Klipsch once said, "Show me a short 32 foot wavelength, and I'll show you a small woofer."

People who believe that cassette tapes, LPs, or other analog recording methods are "better than digital", are often shocked to learn that the noise floor is much higher and the actual useful frequency response of the analog methods are much more limited than most popular digital media. For example, cassette tapes (without some really fancy transport hardware and and recording heads) have a useful upper frequency response of about 12 KHz, and huge "wow" distortion in the transport mechanism. With LP recordings the noise and distortion issues are somewhat different, but the noise floor is still very high, and increases greatly with every playback due to groove wear, even with excellent turntable and stylus.

Those are only a some of the common misperceptions of sound quality, and they are at least understandable by considering that most people's ears aren't very well trained. The really ridiculous misperceptions include:

Smearing a CD with green magic marker to "improve sound quality", a myth which has persisted for decades.

Tube amplifiers sound "warmer" and "more clear" than transistor amplifiers. This myth probably had its basis in early transistor amps which tended to hard clip transients at high volume. Tubes tend to have far less linear I/O response curves than modern transistors, but they don't typically hard clip. Neither do modern transistor amp designs.

I've even had conversations with engineers who should know better, but who persist in believing various myths about sound reproduction quality. When undertaking an A-B test, or an A-B-C test (which one, A, B, or C, is different?), most myth believers don't do better than flipping a coin.

And I'm just an amateur. I've regularly talked to professionals who assure me that misperceptions are even more rampant and bizarre that I could possibly imagine. The list of misperceptions that people consider "excellent sound reproduction" and rationalize with some screwy theory is almost endless.

Some facts:

Most people over 40 years old have considerably less capacity to hear high frequency sounds, above about 10-12 KHz.

Many people of any age tend to misperceive a very boomy bass (usually with a major peak around 80-100 Hz) as an accurate reproduction of a recording. It ain't.

Many people, when their misperceptions have been clearly demonstrated by A-B or A-B-C perception tests, will just find some other way to rationalize their misperceptions of sound quality. After all, they "heard it with their own ears".
4.12.2007 4:53pm
Bruce:
There's a couple of different "analog holes" here, and this bears on your argument, particularly on how much people might be willing to pay to avoid it. One is analog outputs -- composite, component, S-cables, etc. Those are particularly easy to use. The other is a machine to machine connection, like put speakers and microphones next to each other, or holding a camcorder up to a video screen. Those are both less easy and probably more costly, at least if you don't already own a microphone or camcorder. I would bet that you'd get a much higher price to avoid the second analog hole than the first.
4.12.2007 5:41pm
Mr. Turtle (www):
The analog hole only exists as long as there are devices which will play any signal given to them. For example, a monitor could have the built-in capability to check for watermarks. As long as a robust watermarking algorithm is used, taking an analog recording of a signal won't help. The signal will still contain the watermark and the monitor will refuse to play it without the proper authority.

The inclusion of DRM into hardware will make it much harder to exploit the analog hole. I would expect that there will always be devices without integral DRM, but that's just a guess.
4.12.2007 5:54pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
J. F. Thomas

"(contrary to popular belief, the CD was not a great leap forward in fidelity over a good vinyl album played on a good turntable)"

Audio quality is a complicated and contentious subject, but I think your statement might go too far. The dynamic range of a direct cut vinyl range is about 70 db. An audio CD using Pulse Code Modulation has at least 90 db depending on how you define dynamic range in PCM. Nevertheless most people can't hear the difference. Many audio aficionados say vinyl albums sound "warmer" when played on high-end systems. The chief factor is cost. A digital audio system is much cheaper than an equivalent analog system that must use high quality mechanical components.

I think the big advantage of compressed digital audio over analog with today's technology is storage and retrieval. The slight compromise is audio quality you suffer from using lossy compression is more than made up for by convenience. Many people who have transferred their large CD collections over to their Ipods end up using the Ipod exclusively. They don't have to store all those CDs and they can organize their music easily. Besides most people over 40 can't hear any difference at all.
4.12.2007 6:00pm
Tracy W (mail):
I don't know if Americans have picked up on it, but there's another problem with implementing a DRM in a capitalist society. In a capitalist society, entrepreneurs make money by supplying what customers want, and customers generally want to get around DRM whenever they become a binding constraint.

DVDs were set up so a DVD could be encrypted to only play in a certain region. The value this offers to customers is negative. So companies outside the entertainmen industry have started manufacturing DVD players that will play any DVD regardless of region. In NZ and Australia shops selling DVD players will note in their specs if the DVD player is a multi-region DVD player. There's been some iterations in the technology (initial multi-region DVD players apparently started by claiming they were region 0, so DVD manufacturers started making DVDs that demanded a particular region, so DVD players were made that would re-set themselves to any region requested so DVD manufacturers started producing DVDs that lied (so a region 1 DVD would claim that it was region 2 when queried by the player and then not play when the DVD player re-set itself), so DVD players were invented that included a step by which the user of the DVD could tell the player what region it would be.

This does require a bit of sophistication for the customer to know that they want a multi-region DVD player, but enough people appear to be able to make this request that, as I said, stores print that information in the specs of players.

If the analog hole becomes important, there will be manufacturers supplying workarounds.
4.12.2007 6:16pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"It is a trivial matter to get a "video enhancer" that will remove the macrovision signal from any analog video source."

One such product is GoDVD by Simca. You don't have to go to Chinatown, at one time they were available at BestBuy.
4.12.2007 7:27pm
Anonymo the Anonymous:

Personally, I would pay $.99 for a song, provided that at least $.40 of that went to the artists themselves. As it stands the artist gets closer to $.05. This is, to large extent, why I personally pirate music and instead, spend the money on band merchandise which actually pays the artist.

When there is a system that rewards the artists properly, instead of rewarding an endless cavalcade of middlemen, bloated (and often lawbreaking) record companies and other hangers-on, I will buy into it.


Why? I understand the psychological tendency to lionize the "artist" over the "cavalcade of middlemen", but no one applies this logic to any other product. Does anyone say, "I'll pay $199 for Windows Vista but only if at least $100 goes to the programmers?" or "I hope some minimum arbitrary percentage of what I paid for my refrigerator goes to the engineer who drew the schematics?"
4.12.2007 8:41pm
Oren (mail):

Why? I understand the psychological tendency to lionize the "artist" over the "cavalcade of middlemen", but no one applies this logic to any other product. Does anyone say, "I'll pay $199 for Windows Vista but only if at least $100 goes to the programmers?" or "I hope some minimum arbitrary percentage of what I paid for my refrigerator goes to the engineer who drew the schematics?"


The difference is that the middlemen in most industries contributes a net gain in utility. The middlemen in the media industry now contribute a net loss in utility* and simply do not deserve a cut of my money. I compare it to this, at many hotels in less-well-off foreign countries, the doormen maintain a relationship with a number of taxi drivers that wait on hotel property for fares. In return for this consideration, the hotel gets some sort of kickback (and the customer pays a higher fare). While I absolutely do not begrudge the higher fare, I do object to the hotel making money without contributing any real utility. As such I try, whenever possible, to walk a few minutes off the hotel property and hail a cab from the street (and, somewhat immodestly, tend to tip up to the higher fare).

*I realize that this is a highly contentious statement and it is, in some sense, just my opinion. Nevertheless, between price-fixing, DRM, region coding, radio-station-payola and the absurd MPAA rating system, I believe this opinion is well-supported by fact. This will not save my hide in any legal proceeding, but I'm doing the moral thing.
4.12.2007 9:22pm
Ken Arromdee:
Sony seems to have learned a lesson there - heck, the PS3 runs Linux, and if you're running Linux, you can forget DRM!

This is untrue. Linux runs under a hypervisor which does not allow access from Linux of some of the features of the hardware.
4.12.2007 11:17pm
Gene Hoffman (mail) (www):
Paul,

The fundamental problem with the analog hole is that it ignores the digital hole. It is trivial in an open system to make a digital copy of any item. A superuser can patch a driver and always make a digital copy. Systems that protect non time dependent content are always subject to man in the middle attacks. He can also super distribute that patch - usually outside the jurisdictional reach of the DMCA.

DRM is not based on science but instead is based on the idea of security through obscurity. Once an X86 style CPU is involved then DRM is a farce at best.

There are strong parallels between this issue and the government's attempt to stop the proliferation of strong cryptography in the late 1990s. Having personally been involved in proving the falsity of that attempt, the DRM situation is the same.

Further, the lock pick analogy is fatally flawed. The skill of lock picking is not immediately available to everyone without skill based on the lock picker figuring out the obscured secret.

Basing public policy on false science is a recipe for disaster and that well explains DRM. I personally can't think of another farce encoded into federal law in the US.

-Gene
4.13.2007 1:25am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Are things going to change a bit with Windows Vista? My understanding is that it has a lot of DRM built in. And the major computer vendors seem to only be selling Vista already, despite significant market resistance. Indeed, a day or two ago, posters on cyberia-l were suggesting that it may be unethical for attorneys to use the product, since MSFT may have access to all your content (in the case of lawyers, their confidential information).

I question whether even Vista could close the analog hole that is the subject of this thread.
4.13.2007 2:41am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
The survey on how much people would pay for legal content is interesting. I wonder how much people who buy bootleg software would pay for legal copies. Surely, not the $250 that MSFT is charging for its full Office suite. My guess though is that many would be willing to pay $50 or even $100 for it.
4.13.2007 2:50am
hugh:
I have software that allows me to digitally record any sounds running through my computer's sound card, including streaming music off the web or CDs playing in the optical drive.

I have also connected my old turntable and amplifier to my computer which now allows me to make digital recordings of my old vinyl LPs. I can then convert these digital recordings into MP3 files for playback on my iPod or music CDs for playback anywhere. The software even allows me to digitally enhance and correct the recording, removing scratches, pops, and other flaws.

I seem to recall that it is "fair use" to make a cassette tape copy of an LP. I would assume that it would also be "fair use" to make a CD or series of MP3 files as long as I don't start distributing them.
4.13.2007 1:16pm
Oren (mail):

My understanding is that it [Vista] has a lot of DRM built in.


It does have a system dubbed PMP that prevents tampering with certain (DRM related) processes. This was broken a little while ago, allowing a dedicated user to protect and unprotect any process which brings us back to where we started.

It remains to be seen if Vista can deliver any meaningful long-term protection.
4.13.2007 1:52pm
Shawn-non-anonymous:
I only buy CDs and rip them. I don't share what I rip. I do this because I prefer to use open software; my operating system is the Ubuntu flavor of linux. I prefer the OGG file type for music to Mp3, the compression quality is better and there is no royalty or license to purchase to use it. Though I can play mp3 files if I need to. I cannot play AAC (Sony and iTunes) and I cannot play Windows Media. If I could buy music in OGG format online, DRM-free, for $1 a song, I would buy all my music that way.

The DRM on these files isn't there to protect the artist as much as it is there to protect a business model. DRM is used to lock customers into particular hardware (in the case of the iPod or Zune, for example) or software (Windows Media). It is all about removing choice and flexibility from the consumer and then selling them back their previous freedoms as a "premium" service.

I've bought a work recorded onto 8-track. I've repurchased that work on vinyl. I bought it again on cassette. I now own it on CD. 400% profit on one work because of constant media change. Now I can rip it to a raw file and re-encode it in whatever format a new device requires. Buy once, play anywhere. I'm done with buying things 4 times.

Now if they want to limit what I can do with the music I purchase, like, for example, sell it in inferior formats like mp3, I expect to pay less for it. The lower the functionality, the lower the price. Or, if the same DRM-encumbered music could be played on any player without any vendor lock-in and without any royalty issues, I wouldn't mind the DRM. (Although I have no clue what value DRM would serve at that point.)


As an aside, there is a DRM that works on linux for the OGG file format. An open source DRM that works. There are valid customer-oriented uses for DRM (legal documents, HIPPA data, Privacy Act information, etc), but I haven't seen it used that way for music or video yet.
4.13.2007 2:19pm
Shawn-non-anonymous:
A small note on the idea of burning a DRM song to a CD then ripping it again as whatever you want:

This works in those cases where the DRM permits you to copy the music to a CD. (It doesn't have to.) However, the song starts out having been compressed with a lossy format (some data is thrown away in the process and it loses quality), gets converted to a raw file (no compression) that represents the degraded output of the original compression on the CD, and then is re-converted to the same or different lossy compression format compounding the errors of the first compression. If you photocopy a document, then photocopy the result, and on and on, you end up with a highly degraded result. The same thing with compressed music, to CD, then back to compressed music.
4.13.2007 2:27pm