in General, Tech

DRM problems – case in point

As I’m sure I’ve ranted about before, Fox cancelled Firefly a couple years back after a mere 13 episodes were produced. Later, DVD sales were so high that Universal decided to make a movie out of it – Serenity – which hits theaters a week from friday. (glee!)

Today, Fox finally listened to fans and released the wonderful western inspired soundtrack from the TV show. For reasons unknown, it is an online downloadable purchase only. In DRMed wma format.

Here’s a link to a Firefly fan forum’s thread on the topic. This is a group of pretty rabid fans who are desperate to give Fox their money. Unfortunately, they’ve met with limited success in the ability to purchase and/or listen to the files. Mac users are shut out entirely for example, and only IE can be used to purchase the tracks. Users outside the U.S. are unable to purchase at all. Once purchased, a number of owners have been informed that their license is invalid.

I don’t disagree with DRM in principle – copyright holders are entitled to protect their work after all. But the state of this protective technology is still far too primitive to be put into practice. The only ‘successful’ protection I’ve ever seen that works reasonably well is iTunes. Its cross-platform and seems to just work. Providing you have an iPod of course, but that’s an aside.

When DRM prevents customers from listening to legitimately purchased music on this scale, the system needs an overhaul.