Sunday, April 29, 2007
The RIAA and Wimpy WiFi - Part 1
For many consumers, WiFi capability is the next logical step for MP3 players. The expectation was that a WiFi-enabled MP3 player would have similar capabilities to a cellphone, or a laptop. That is, access through hotspots, the ability to send files back and forth to other WiFi-enabled devices, perhaps the ability to sync wirelessly.
Enter the Microsoft Zune -- a digital music player with wireless capability. But the major labels had something to say about that. The result was a device crippled almost to uselessness by Digital Rights Management (DRM) -- and a system that rigorously protects the property of the major labels while trampling the rights of others.
Is the Zune wireless? Technically, but Zunes can only communicate wirelessly with other Zunes (that's what "Welcome to the social" refers to -- we'll save the discussion about referencing early 2oth century church ice cream socials in a misguided attempt at hipster coolness for another day). A far cry from true WiFi.
And while you can transfer songs from one Zune to another, the process adds DRM to the file. Send a song to a friend and they can listen to the track three times before it automatically disables itself -- and they better listen promptly, because the track self-destructs after three days whether its played or not.
The RIAA has been happy to sue anyone and everyone who crosses their path. Wouldn't it be interesting if creative commons licensors collectively brought suit against the Zune's violation of their rights?