September 2, 2004 | By Fred von Lohmann

MSFT Offers Real "Freedom of Music Choice"

Tech support for Microsoft's new MSN Music service is responding to the incompatibility between its downloads and the iPod by advising its customers to burn the downloads to CD, then rip the CD to a compatible format:

Although Apple computers and Apple iPods do not support the PC standard WindowsMedia format for music, it is still possible to transfer MSN Music downloads to an iPod, but it will require some extra effort. To transfer MSN-downloaded music to an iPod, you need to first create a CD with the music, and then you need to import that CD into iTunes. This process will convert the music into a format that can play on the iPod. We're sorry that this isn't easier - unfortunately Apple refuses to allow other companies to integrate with the iPod's proprietary music format. If you are an iPod owner already and unhappy about this policy, you are welcome to send feedback to Apple requesting that they change their interoperability policy.

Now that's what I call freedom of music choice, in contrast to Real Network's misleading campaign of the same name.

Of course, this does underscore what we've been saying for some time: the DRM used by authorized music services doesn't protect copyright owners (especially with MSN's own tech support telling you how to defeat it). It obviously hurts the legitimate customers who have paid for their downloads. So conscripting customers into the Apple v. Real v. Microsoft platform wars appears to be the only function for the DRM on authorized music services. And they want you to pay for this?

Of course, Microsoft's own engineers in the now-infamous "darknet" paper concluded that DRM like this actually does nothing but drive otherwise legit music fans to do their downloading from "darknet" P2P networks.

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