Portable players and Digital Rights Management

Instead of writing my essay, I’ve been procrastinating, looking at mp3-players and deciding that they’re just not what I want, yet.

See, the thing is that most mp3-players (or portable digital players as they rightfully should be known) are encumbered by a range of Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems, severely limiting the music files that actually can play on the device.

Apple’s iPod is probably the most famous example. Despite gorgeous design and cool interface, it will only play music imported via its own music program, iTunes, and iTunes will only play the music file formats decided upon by Apple.

The thing is, I don’t want to be limited in this fashion, and instead, I’ve been looking for players that support my music file format of choice, Ogg Vorbis, which is an Open Source file format that is not owned or controlled by any corporation.

There are an increasing number of players that support .ogg, but none of them are as cheap, durable and available as I would like. Indeed, those that look really promising can only be bought in Korea. Though I guess that will change soon enough.

But that doesn’t really solve the greater issue of digital rights management. I hadn’t really dwelt much on the subject earlier, but today I found a talk on the matter that, though it’s rather lengthy, is well worth the read. It explains in layman’s terms why DRM should be avoided, and hints to how Intellectual Property rights may have to be revised in the face of new digital possibilities.

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