Saturday, December 24, 2005

Dave hates apple (and Audible) - Why can't he get the itunes success

Dave Winer has a problem with companies that like to make a profit in the music download space. Companies like Audible.com and Apple seem to bother him when it comes to music and what DRM is attached to it. He had a big problem with Audible this year and essentially blasted the CEO for making a crappy product. Now he claims the Itunes software is crappy and he doesn't get it. He comments on the topic in his post here.

I find it hard to believe that a talented software developer like Dave Winer cannot get the concept or even use Itunes. It is an easy to use interface that is very popular and successful. I think his lack of understanding may be due to his anti-DRM bias because many non-geek users like the Itunes software. Anyone that owns an Ipod has to use it and it is safe to say they have sold a ton of Ipods over the years. So what gives?

Critics of DRM have points about fair use and what people can do with their music they buy, but to DRM is a necessary tool for the distribution of content to ensure artists and corporations are not being robbed. Let us pretend it is the pre-download era and music is distributed on CDs. How would you be able to make sure your music was safe from being lost? In the CD world you can make a back up copy, but if you didn't make a copy, you couldn't just go to the music store and say " I bought this CD last week but lost it. Please replace it now". So the issue with loosing your music is the same in the download world. If you don't make a backup copy of your music or archive it on CD then it is the fault of the consumer, not the seller. Sure Apple and Audible know what you bought and certainly have a copy of that file, but why should they give you a copy each time you loose your music? Hard drives fail, computers are not permanent archive solutions. So, like any person who values their music all you have to do is back up. Get an external hard drive or burn it to a CD.

Audible lets you download files you have bought previously, so I don't understand Dave's complaint here. I just downloaded a file that I wanted on my laptop that I already I had on my desktop. No problem. log in and request the file. A few minuets later, I had a copy of the audiobook on my laptop and my desktop. DRM prevents you from perpetually doing this, but you can have the audio book on more that 1 computer.

Ok so there are a lot of words here to wrap around this issue. But I think it is important to point out that the companies that sell content online have the consumers interest in their business model. Sure exceptions happen, hard drives fail and ignorant users (read Dave Winer) loose their music or audiobooks. I hate to see unfair bashing of companies that make an effort. Sure Dave has his opinion and he can choose not to buy their products, but it is also important to make sure that content providers get a fair chance against the file sharing world that brings no value to the artists or companies that sell content.

Apple and Audible are fair companies, but the consumer has a responsibility to understand the process and take steps to protect their music.

Some takes on the topic(s) from the Sphere:

Rex Hammock's original post that got dave started

Mitch Ratcliffe's take on Dave and Audible

Dave's podcast about the Audible experience

Update: I changed the link to the site - Check 7/2/2005 MCN for his podcast. Feedburner added this link to my Iclectic Podcast feed. I apploigize for those who subscribe to my feed if you downloaded this. An uninteded error for linking directly to the MP3 file.

Groundhog Day offers some advice

Crunch Notes take on Itunes

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