Saturday, April 10, 2010


D.R.M., three letters that caused controversy within the music industry, and made many record labels become public enemy number one in the eyes of consumers who were legally buying music online. What DRM (Digital Rights Management) was; was a access control software that enabled copyright holders to put restrictions on how many times a user could copy, transfer, and reproduce an MP3 file on another device. Consumers weren’t happy with these restrictions, and once DRM began to give consumer's computers viruses (due to the faulty technology) they were fed up with record labels BS, and wanted this technology gone.

In the end, labels eventually got rid of DRM, but according to a recent article in TechCrunch record labels have found a new way to watermark MP3’s without people noticing. The new “Dirty MP3’s” now collect information about the buyer and the music transactions they’ve made. According to an anonymous source TechCrunch spoke with, this is how it works:

“During the buying process a username and transaction ID are known by the online retailers. Before making the song available for download their software embeds into the file either an account name or a transaction number or both. Once downloaded, the file has squirreled away this personal information in a manner where you can’t easily see it, but if someone knows where to look they can. This information doesn’t affect the audio fidelity, but it does permanently attach to the file data which can be used to trace back to the original purchaser which could be used at a later date.”

If that doesn’t rile you up then here’s the real kicker. According to the anonymous source Apple and Wal-Mart are alleged to be using this watermark on their MP3’s.

What does this mean for all of us? Well if Apple and other online retailers succeed in creating “The Cloud” then we might have another DRM situation on our hands. It’s alleged by the anonymous source that record labels will want this new watermark embedded on all the music streamed on the cloud. I hope this isn’t true, but if it is then DRM will be making it’s return in a major way. Yikes!

Submitted by: Jarvis R. Smith


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