There are still countless stories about how DRM — digital rights management — continues to frustrate users who should be able to access, enjoy, and repurpose the media and content they’ve already paid for. DRM consists of access control technologies or restrictive licensing agreements that attempt to restrict the use, modification, and distribution of legally-acquired works.
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Every three years, the US Government hears arguments from private citizens, small businesses, tech experts, and major corporations on what kinds of repairs or modifications users should legally be allowed to perform on the tech they own. The rulings help to shape the policies of manufacturers both in the US and abroad - including Australia.
Google is moving to overcome one of the problems faced by users. There have been numerous cases of bad guys creating clones of legitimate apps but embedding malicious code in them.
It's taking the first steps towards remedying that situation by forcing developers to sign applications at their final build and add some metadata to the APK (the executable application file that Android devices use) to "to help verify product authenticity from Google Play". That's a neat way of saying DRM is now part of the Android ecosystem.
Microsoft has caved in to consumer outrage over its plans to force owners of its forthcoming Xbox One console to connect every 24 hours in order to keep playing their games. The always-on DRM requirement has been dropped, and Xbox One owners who purchase games on disc will be able to sell and swap those discs just as they can now.
Dear Lifehacker, I'm tired of Spotify and I want to move back to buying music. iTunes has a great selection, but will I still be able to play those songs if I switch away from Apple products? Would another service or physical CDs be better? And do artists make more money at one store than another? Help! Thanks, Tricky Tunes
Dear Lifehacker, I just heard about the woman whose Kindle ebooks were wiped when her account was suspended, and it got me thinking: Do I really own anything that I've bought with DRM? It seems like I could lose it at any time, or lose the ability to view something just because I switched devices. How can I get rid of the DRM so I can keep my own backups?
We've looked at removing DRM from iTunes movies and TV shows on Windows, but what about Mac OS X? Here's how to rip out the DRM and turn that copy-protected M4V file into a regular old MP4 on your Mac.
Looking to further its mission of making your software, and your media, free of restrictions, Ubuntu is bundling an Ubuntu One Music Store into 10.04, the next release of the Linux operating system due out in April.
The RIAA have finally declared DRM dead for music, according to all-things-BitTorrent weblog TorrentFreak. You won't see us arguing, having avoided DRMed music like the plague ever since it started gaining ground in the post-Napster 2.0 world, but the steady decline of digital rights management in recent months has been a welcome move all around.
Microsoft's limited success with the Windows Media format for selling music (and movies) has largely been due to its willingness to add uber-annoying DRM to keep copyright holders happy. So it's amusing to see the Big M officially recommending that customers who have used those services work their way around them. Here's an extract from an email which Microsoft has sent to subscribers of its soon-to-be-defunct UK music store (I once purchased a single song from it for research purposes and hence ended up on the mailing list).
We recommend that you back up any previously downloaded tracks to audio CD using Windows Media Player. This will protect your music collection for future listening.
This approach isn't new to anyone who has sought to remove DRM from Windows Media files (or from iTunes, for that matter), but it's nice to see it given the company seal of approval.
Just because Apple and Big Music dropped the DRM doesn't mean they want you trading your iTunes purchases. CNET notes that buyers' registered email addresses are embedded in every file, and so (somewhat) trace-able.
The news that Apple will offer DRM-free tracks and let you convert existing protected music is pretty welcome, but as Nick over at Gizmodo points out, it won't come cheap. Converting existing tracks will cost 50 cents a pop, videos will be $1, and whole albums will cost 30% of the original purchase price. All that sound nastily excessive to us for stuff you've already paid for (and a good reason to break out the CD burner for some cost-free conversion instead). As Nick notes, it's also important to check any future purchases to ensure you don't actually purchase a DRM-hindered track; if that looks like the only option, hanging out until April, when a bunch more tracks will be freed up, seems sensible.
Looking for an ebook read but don't fancy messing with the complicated authentication schemes that often get in the way? New site eBooks Just Published focuses on newly-published titles that don't use any form of digital rights management (DRM), making it much easier to read them on a wide variety of devices. Perhaps surprisingly, there's more fiction than non-fiction on offer. There's also a useful subcategory of entirely free titles if you're looking to save a few dollars. eBooks Just Published