DRM: Won’t Get Fooled Again

For a few years, I’ve been a happy subscriber to Musicmatch Universal, a system that gave me on-demand streaming of a sizeable music catalog. Musicmatch also had a $.99 song-purchase facility from which I bought a few songs. Although I’ve always hated the Musicmatch player (bloated, self-updating, etc.) I was content enough. Oh, sure I had to “authorize” my hardware, but how hard was that?

If you’re shaking your head in disgust at my naivete, fair enough: I’m neither 8 nor 80 and I ought to know better than to trust a technology company to provide service. But, you know, just because you know something unethical is prone to happen, it doesn’t make it less unethical when it does.

Musicmatch was bought by Yahoo. One day, for some reason I allowed my Musicmatch Player to update itself into the Yahoo Music Player. “Sign in with your Yahoo id” it prompts. “Uh oh!” I thought, since Musicmatch used my email address and my Yahoo id is something different. But perhaps they’ll map the two behind the scenes — it’s not like that’s rocket science.

Of course they don’t. I now no longer have Musicmatch software and all of the songs I bought refuse to play on any device. Of course they don’t respond to my customer service complaints. It turns out that the amount of music I’d bought was not just a handful, but perhaps a dozen albums or so worth of legally purchased, royalty-paying music. Music that was so easy and convenient to buy digitally that I didn’t give it a thought. Except that now that it’s been taken away from me by the vagaries of the industry, I shan’t ever buy DRM’ed music again. 

Instead, I’ll think about this experience and the greed and incompetence of the music industry. I’ll think “Those frackers took more than a hundred dollars from me, is it immoral for me to recover that music (illegal, yes, but immoral)?” At best, they’ve converted me to buying CDs and ripping them. At worst, they’ve made piracy tempting.

Yes. Right. Geeks are supposed to know that DRM only inconveniences the honest and does nothing to deter the dishonest. Lesson learned.