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What happens when someone else controls what you already bought

April 28th, 2008 by Nicholas Reville

A lot of the anti-DRM discussion tends to focus on how much of a pain in the ass DRM is when customers buy content and want to use it on different computers or other devices. But an even bigger problem hits when a company inevitably decides to switch to a different DRM system, goes out of business, or discontinues a service. last100 has a great post about 5 Companies that Sold Customers Down the DRM River. It’s a word of warning to anyone considering buying content with DRM.

3 Responses to “What happens when someone else controls what you already bought”

  1. sodapop says:

    Do you guys complain you can’t play an 8-track on a CD player? You bought 1 form of the media. You bought the form, not the media. No one is contolling what you own because you don’t own it.

  2. Mike T. says:

    Your argument is flawed, sodapop. 8-tracks weren’t replaced by CDs in handful of years (let’s say, one year per finger) just because a company decided to turn off its DRM verification servers. They got phased out when better technology emerged and there was no longer a demand for 8-tracks.

    If you bought a video from MLB at the end of 2005, for example,–good luck. It doesn’t work anymore.

    I can, however, play any 8-track I want to today, given that I have a player. Even as you say, I bought the media. But when DRM changes, or is “retired”, or whatever, the company is rendering the “media” useless. Imagine them coming over and pulling the tape out of your 8-track.

  3. Dean Jansen says:

    Mike,

    A more apt analogy might be that the vendors leave you with all your 8-track cassettes intact, but they instantly destroy every 8-track player in the world.

    In other words, you still have the DRM’ed media file. However, if that media cannot phone home to verify your identity, it won’t play. Thus when a DRM vendor folds, the media players stop phoning home, all of the media ceases to work, and all the money you spent was wasted. Pretty bad deal.

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