Friday, September 17, 2010

Digital Rights Management Made Me a Criminal.

Field work is wonderful, but it does have its drawbacks. Today, I had a ticket to see Screeching Weasel in Seattle. This will be the first time they have toured since a brief reunion in 2004 - but this will be the first time without original band member, Jughead. They were one of my favourite bands in high school (and still are), but I have never had the opportunity to see them live, since they're broken up more than they are together.

Since I am still in Iqaluit for work, and the show is taking place in Seattle, I will clearly not be making the concert. In celebration of this day, I wanted to play my favourite Screeching Weasel album in the warehouse - Kill the Musicians - but I, unfortunately, didn't bring it with me here.

I decided to try and find an online MP3 album that I could purchase to download, but I made the following discovery: Any places that allow the purchase and download of MP3 albums don't allow you to purchase from Canada.

Why is that? I don't think that Canada is any more strict with DRM than other countries. But, for some strange reason, the only place to purchase and download music (that I found) for Canadians is iTunes.

So, what's wrong with iTunes? Well, I, like many people, don't have an iPod. Or and iPad, or any other Apple product. iTunes only allows you to download Apple's special proprietary music files, which can only be played on their products. So, you have to download their special software just to be able to listen to the music you buy. It's a win-win-win situation for them because, now that all your music is in their format, well, you're only going to be able to purchase their products to play them. How fair is that?

So, since I wasn't going to be able to play anything I download from iTunes on my portable player (a Nintendo DS with a chip in it...), there was no way I was going to be able to purchase the album in digital form.

So I had to download it illegally. Their DRM methods made a criminal of me. And I didn't get to support the band like I wanted to. I did, however, find a really cool website while I was hunting around for the album. Ramone to the Bone is a blog that posts nothing but links to downloads of albums for Ramones-inspired bands. Their database is HUGE. For any punk-lover out there, it is worth checking out, for sure.

In my opinion, file-sharing isn't going to hurt the music industry. Anyone who has ever downloaded music knows that most of what you get is crap. It's labeled incorrectly, the sound is bad, you get incomplete albums... Any music worth listening to is worth purchasing, just so you know you have the best quality. The MP3 should be embraced as a format for selling the album virtually worldwide. Most people don't have hard copies of music any more, and when they do, it gets loaded on to the computer and tossed aside. Let's just do away with all this CD nonsense!

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