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jazzfan
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Proprietary formats and DRM

As things move forward and more people start to realize that there is plenty of digital music stored on their computer that they like to listen to on something other either their computer (with it

CharlyD
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Re: Proprietary formats and DRM

Great posting jazzfan! And I completely agree with your observation that there is a growing market for those who wish to listen to music stored on computers through something other than a computer or portable music players. I also agree that DRM and proprietary encoding formats can severely complicate getting that music to your home system.

On the other hand, DRM does allow several business models for distribution and consumption of digital media that are much more likely to produce a significant financial return than models that do not include DRM. One of the purveyors of content wrapped in DRM that you include in your posting is MusicGiants, one of the very few offering popular music in least CD quality format. I cannot imagine that MusicGiants would be able to offer their extensive catalog of popular music without being able to offer some guarantee to the owners of that content that their content will not be available for free download shortly after its release.

The complexity and ensuing frustrations of DRM are largely due to lack of standarization. Users of iTunes do not have problems with FairPlay if they stick with their iPods or playing at their computer through iTunes. Trying to play "protected" aac files in Windows Media Player? Forget it! The Blu-ray disk format, of course, incorporates a very strict DRM system (AACS) that all players must support.

I would really like to see, and would certainly be a customer, for a distribution/rendering model that supported download and playback of studio-quality content that included a wide range of artists and genres. While there are a few sites offering hi-rez downloads, their content does not include widely distributed artists. I'd love to be able to download the studio masters of the latest Dire Straits or ColdPlay and play it back in multichannel on my home system without having a PC in my listening room. That's very unlikely to happen unless DRM is involved.

jazzfan
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Re: Proprietary formats and DRM


Quote:
The complexity and ensuing frustrations of DRM are largely due to lack of standarization. Users of iTunes do not have problems with FairPlay if they stick with their iPods or playing at their computer through iTunes. Trying to play "protected" aac files in Windows Media Player? Forget it! The Blu-ray disk format, of course, incorporates a very strict DRM system (AACS) that all players must support.

This statement is somewhat incorrect. The main problem with DRM is not due to a lack of standardization but is inherent to the nature of DRM, which only allows for limited usage. One of the problems with DRM is that it is misnamed, instead digital rights management is should be called something like digital rights limitations since all that DRM does, on the consumer side is limit one's ability to access the content that one has paid for. Got a MusicGiants file with Microsoft's DRM you can only play it back using a program or device that supports Microsoft's DRM. Got a iTunes file with Apple's DRM, again, you can only play it back using a program or device that supports Apple's DRM. It's not about compatibility or standardization, it's all about control.

Let's take your example of the new Coldplay CD and run through some of the various ways to obtain a digital copy of the CD onto one's hard drive.

Method one: buy a copy from the iTunes store. First you have to download and install iTunes on your computer, then you have to open an account at the iTunes store and then you can pay for and download a copy, Okay, so let's say that one has done all of the above. Good because the new Coldplay CD is available for purchase and now we've really in luck because the CD is available in the iTunes Plus format: 256kbps ACC file with NO DRM. Not "high definition", aka a lossless file format, but still without DRM. Cost: $9.99

Method two: buy a copy from the Amazon MP3 Store: format 256kbps MP3 file with no DRM. Again, not "high definition" but still without DRM. Cost $8.99

Method three: buy a copy from the MusicGiants HD Store. This store is only available by using Window Media Player and Window Internet Explorer and, like iTunes, only available after one has set up an account. But still, the new Coldplay CD is available for download in the MusicGiants store. Cost: $14.19, however the format is WMA Lossless (Windows Media Audio) but it does have DRM and very restrictive DRM at that.

Method four: buy a copy of the physical CD and rip a copy onto your hard drive. The new Coldplay CD is available on Amazom for $9.99 (with free shipping if you buy over $25 worth of goods). Format: any one you care to use: FLAC, APE, WMA Lossless, Apple lossless or even WAV or AIFF.

Method five: download from another source. The new Coldplay CD is readily available for download as a bitTorrent or from UseNet - neither one of these methods is legal and downloading from them may result in one's getting sued by the RIAA. Cost (provided that there is no law suit): free

Based on the above, I would say that it's only lossless downloads that currently have to deal with the issue of the DRM and the use of DRM is not required to maintain a successful business model, e.g the iTunes Music Store and the Amazon MP3 Store. Luckily there is a work around: buy the physical CD (which often costs less than the DRM encumbered lossless file) and rip a DRM free, lossless copy to one's hard drive.

satkinsn
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Re: Proprietary formats and DRM

jf -

I think the worm has pretty decisively turned against DRM in the marketplace, Amazon's mp3 store being the prime example.

The fact that audiophile formats are not as readily available DRMless is more a function of demand than a reluctance on the part of suppliers. The big money is in mp3s and - I suspect the labels know - people who buy audiophile downloads are less likely to illegally redistribute what they buy.

(We have more disposable income, we're more likely to listen to artists who are not rich and famous and see ourselves as helping to support them by being honest.)

For folks like you and me, the next interesting question is whether albums that are otherwise unavailable will be made available as high quality downloads.

I just paid large sums of money for cd copies of Air's 'Air Lore,' long out of print on RCA's Novus label, and 'Wildflowers,' a collection of loft jazz from the 70s. That was after I'd purchased Wildflowers from Amazon as a mp3 file, but wasn't satisfied with the audio quality.

If I could have paid much less than the cds for audiophile downloads and liners, I would have seriously considered it.

Scott A.
Watertown NY

jazzfan
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Re: Proprietary formats and DRM


Quote:
I just paid large sums of money for cd copies of Air's 'Air Lore,' long out of print on RCA's Novus label, and 'Wildflowers,' a collection of loft jazz from the 70s. That was after I'd purchased Wildflowers from Amazon as a mp3 file, but wasn't satisfied with the audio quality.

If I could have paid much less than the cds for audiophile downloads and liners, I would have seriously considered it.

Scott A.
Watertown NY

I have an vinyl copy of "Air Lore" which I had signed by all the original members of Air after I saw them at William Patterson College way back in the early 1980's. I also remember when the Wildflowers collection was being recorded at various performance spaces (although most of the material was recorded at Sam & Beatrice Rivers' Studio RivBea) down in Soho in the late 1970's.

The availability of places to play plus the amount of raw talent flowing into the Soho free jazz scene made it quite a heady time for free jazz. With places like Studio RivBea, Joe Lee Wilson's The Ladies Fort, The Kitchen, Rashad Ali's place, The Public Theater, The Tin Palace (with the best hamburgers, ever!) and a couple of other spaces whose names escape me going full bore and regularly featuring great players like David Murray, Air, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Fred Hopkins, Dewey Redman, Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton and others one could just about see a first rate show seven days a week. But then the yuppies moved in and it all went to hell.

John Zorn, Joel Dorn and company did manage to create another downtown music scene in the 1990s but this time it was big egos and greed that killed the scene. While the Zorn led downtown music scene was lots of fun, it never quite reached the levels of the earlier Soho jazz scene.

satkinsn
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Re: Proprietary formats and DRM


Quote:

I have an vinyl copy of "Air Lore" which I had signed by all the original members of Air after I saw them at William Patterson College way back in the early 1980's. I also remember when the Wildflowers collection was being recorded at various performance spaces (although most of the material was recorded at Sam & Beatrice Rivers' Studio RivBea) down in Soho in the late 1970's.

The availability of places to play plus the amount of raw talent flowing into the Soho free jazz scene made it quite a heady time for free jazz. With places like Studio RivBea, Joe Lee Wilson's The Ladies Fort, The Kitchen, Rashad Ali's place, The Public Theater, The Tin Palace (with the best hamburgers, ever!) and a couple of other spaces whose names escape me going full bore and regularly featuring great players like David Murray, Air, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Fred Hopkins, Dewey Redman, Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton and others one could just about see a first rate show seven days a week. But then the yuppies moved in and it all went to hell.

John Zorn, Joel Dorn and company did manage to create another downtown music scene in the 1990s but this time it was big egos and greed that killed the scene. While the Zorn led downtown music scene was lots of fun, it never quite reached the levels of the earlier Soho jazz scene.

<sigh>

I envy you.

I remember buying Air Lore at a long gone record store near Syracuse University - I think I bought 'Rolling Stones Now' or 'Aftermath' or something the same day.

Then I threw it out (!!!) 10 years ago when we moved and I couldn't face the 1500 or so records that needed transporting.

I also tossed a lot of other 70s era stuff you cite, and have been busily rebuying it over the last few months. I have most of the Columbia era Blythe, two Arista Anthony Braxtons and one on a Windham Hill subsidiary of all things and Ornette's 'In All Languages' on lp.

Did you see that Mosaic is going to issue all the Arista Braxton this fall?

As for Zorn, I buy most of the soundtrack and Masada songbook stuff, but don't find myself as drawn to it as I think I'm going to be.

Anyway, full loop back to OT - the hidden cost of downloads is the need to keep them orderly and backed up. I have a few hundred dollars just in backups, and the thought of having to migrate them periodically for the rest of my life is daunting.

best,

s.

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