September 1, 2005 | By Derek Slater

The Customer Is Always Wrong: A User's Guide to DRM in Online Music

If you buy music from an online music store, you may be getting much less than you thought. Today EFF released "The Customer Is Always Wrong: A User's Guide to DRM in Online Music," which exposes how today's digital rights management (DRM) systems compromise a consumer's right to lawfully manage her music the way she wants.

The guide takes a close look at popular online music services provided by Apple, RealNetworks, and Napster 2.0, as well as Microsoft's "Plays For Sure" DRM campaign. In an effort to attract customers, these companies try to obscure the restrictions they impose on you with clever marketing. Unfortunately, bypassing these hidden restrictions to make perfectly legal uses puts you at risk of liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

This guide "translates" the marketing messages, giving you the real deal rather than the spin. Understanding how DRM and the DMCA pose a danger to your rights will help you to make fully informed purchasing decisions. Before buying DRM-crippled music from any service, check out the guide and be sure you understand how the service might limit your ability to make lawful use of the music you purchase.

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