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Lala Invents Network DRM

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the ensnaring-your-music dept.

Music 212

An anonymous reader writes in with a CNet story about the record label-backed music company Lala, which claims to have invented "Network DRM." Lala has filed for a patent on moving DRM from a file wrapper, like Windows Media and FairPlay, to the server. Digital music veteran Michael Robertson has quotes from the patent application on his blog. (Here is the application.) Lala describes an invention that monitors every access, allows only authorized devices (so far there are none), blocks downloads, and can revoke content at the labels' request.

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Bah (4, Funny)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878717)

I cracked it yesterday. Next.

Re:Bah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878751)

You missed frist psot noob!!1

Re:Bah (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878761)

You're one fast cracker. I managed to crack Korn the other day but I don't care.

-Jimmy

Re:Bah (1)

Schuthrax (682718) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879745)

You are a god!

Re:Bah (1)

Tiber (613512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879895)

But can you hax the DRM protected 127.0.0.xxx subnet?

If you can hear it... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878725)

...you can record it. Case closed.

Re:If you can hear it... (5, Insightful)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878831)

The more intrusive the DRM becomes, the more appealing the other alternatives get... just like digging your own grave.

It's the same old problem of attacking the paying customers, while having no effect on those who don't pay for the content.

Claim 7 Has Your Number (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878925)

...you can record it. Case closed.

Yeah, but this amazingly intrusive technology was planning for that:

(i) scanning storage files of the user's computer to identify any digital media content files stored therein,(ii) uploading a list of any identified digital media content files to the host computer system, and(iii) adding to the list any digital media content files that the user purchases from the purchasing component of the host computer system

You would think it would end at notifying the mothership that you are in possession of that file. Nope, from the details:

For each digital media file on the list, the Uploader finds the matching source file and transcodes the media into a format supported by the system components, if necessary.

Man, I can't wait to install that uploader only to find my entire MP3 collection has been transformed to .lala and no longer works unless I pay for it. Sounds a bit like my medical records [slashdot.org] .

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (2, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879011)

"(i) scanning storage files of the user's computer to identify any digital media content files stored therein,(ii) uploading a list of any identified digital media content files to the host computer system, and(iii) adding to the list any digital media content files that the user purchases from the purchasing component of the host computer system"

OOOOOOH!!!

Where can "I" sign up for this software!!!

Geez....how are they gonna convince someone to let them load this crap on their computer?

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (5, Funny)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879387)

Geez....how are they gonna convince someone to let them load this crap on their computer?

Funny mouse cursor?

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879691)

It is going to come preinstalled with Windows 7. Problem solved.

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (2, Interesting)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879973)

Government regulations.

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (3, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 5 years ago | (#27880187)

"Government regulations."

Actually, that is the one that scares me as a possibility. Maybe it is part of a mandate from the secret ACTA [inquisitr.com] (sp?) international copyright treaty that is being worked on?

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (2, Interesting)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879031)

So I just put the pirated content on my iPod, big deal. Or I can stream from another server.

What are they gonna do about that?

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879305)

I think the solution here is going to be keyed data files. When you make music or video files you encrypt them and the player will play them when provided the key. That should keep prying eyes off your data.

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879483)

I hope that Windows 7 (and idiot windows programmers) makes it actually feasible to run as a user instead of an admin. If not, goodbye Windows, hello OS X or Ubuntu for everything but work and games.

I have already transitioned to OS X at home. I'm just looking for an excuse to completely ditch Windows, and only use it in a VM or a game partition.

Here's the endgame for the RIAA/MPAA: government mandated operating systems where the user is not in full control of the software. Anything else is just trying to turn back the tide with a spoon. I'm pretty sure that at some point the IP organizations are going to figure this out, and will start actively lobbying for laws to be worded accordingly.

It'll be interesting to see how that turns out. To some extent, the PS3 and Xbox360 are already moving in that direction. Adoption rates are high, and people are so far happy with the devices. We'll see where that progresses to.

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879759)

All of the sudden they may find that a certain 1% was a little more significant than they anticipated.

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879795)

Here's the endgame for the RIAA/MPAA: government mandated operating systems where the user is not in full control of the software.

That would suck. That means everyone else would start using OpenBSD, too.

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (5, Informative)

theworldgoesaway (792929) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879623)

This really isn't at all accurate. It doesn't do *anything* to your local content. It uploads a list/files for your music to a central server, which you can then stream (but not download) through their (quite nice) web-based media player. It's basically a way to access your music away from home. I use it all day long at the office to listen to music - and I can get my whole collection (not just what fits on my iPhone) and I don't need to set up Orb or something like that. Again, it does NOTHING to your local music.

In addition to that, they will sell you streaming-only songs (available through the same web player) for 10c a pop. No, you can't download them, etc, but they're 10c. So I can check out an album I like for $1, and if I decide to get the mp3 version (no DRM), they sell that for a standard price and apply the 10c you already paid to the price.

Really, there's NOTHING sinister going on here. It's actually a really great service. I have no affiliation with them, but I'm a very pleased customer. I listen to music via Lala all day at work, and I buy a lot of music for streaming through them. It's an excellent, well-designed store and media platform. I lose no control over my own media, and I'm happy to pay an extremely discounted rate for *access* to other music, with the option to pay for DRM-free MP3s. It's a valuable service, and I lose no control whatsoever. I do wish they'd give me the option to re-download music I'd uploaded (so it could serve as a backup, not just an alternative form of access), but I imagine that's as much a bandwidth issue as anything else.

In short, this is a highly misleading and biased article. There's nothing sneaky or underhanded going on here, this is Michael Robertson bashing a competitor who has a far superior and really quite excellent product.

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (1)

thtrgremlin (1158085) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879881)

I think such service will be great because I don't see these RIAA idiots ever understanding that a packet is a packet is a packet. Stream but not download? HA HA HA!!! If they believe their own rhetoric at all, I am sure they will buy that too. Thanks for the laugh.

Re:Claim 7 Has Your Number (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879963)

And you registered here just to tell us that, huh?

Re:If you can hear it... (1)

Reece400 (584378) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879503)

Unless of course there are still no approved devies becuase they will only be approving direct links to the brain...

Re:If you can hear it... (1)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879557)

...you can record it. Case closed.

By god man, you're a genius! If they just stop releasing music, no one will be able to hear it, and no one will be able to copy it!

You're going to make millions!

Also, it's too bad they aren't more worried about people stealing their ideas... if they were they could follow my advice above and stop having ideas! We'd all be better off...
-Taylor

Finally the end? (4, Interesting)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878743)

With a little luck, this DRM will end up on the entire network of a major corporation (we could only dream it's IBM or Microsoft!) and lock up their operations so BADLY that the entire corporate world will lash out with lawsuits. The resulting backlash could spell the end of DRM for good.

What about the Singularity? (1)

Sybert42 (1309493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879859)

They use open-source and Linux mainly, for now.

Streaming == DRM? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878763)

We have had DRM in streaming audio and video back to the days of RealAudio. This doesn't seem like anything new, other than something like Flash to allow cellphones to stream music too.

deja vu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878781)

so ur accessing you music from a central server and this server can revoke access.

Wow what's next inventing the shoelace?

Woot! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878811)

Thank God! I have been clamoring for this for years! Where can I buy one? forget that... where can I buy seven!!!!11111!!!!

Re:Woot! (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879223)

Not "Offtopic".
Sarcastic [wikipedia.org] .
A bit garish, tho...

Re:Woot! (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879953)

Is your DIVX player getting lonely?

where's our song rewriters.. (-1)

BitwiseX (300405) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878821)

I've just spent five minutes trying to come up with one of the classic slashdot "song rewrite" memes for Eric Clapton's Layla.. and i'm coming up short.

Someone help me out.

Re:where's our song rewriters.. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879057)

Lala...
You got me on my knees
Lala....
I'm beggin' honey please

That pretty much sums it up. Get on your knees and beg to gobble some music industry cock if you want to listen to music.

(with apologies to Bill Hicks, of course -- but I'm sure he wouldn't mind the sentiment)

Re:where's our song rewriters.. (2, Funny)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879191)

Lala .. Layla - I see where you're going - then I found out that they have financial backing from Warner Music Group - and at that point, for some weird reason, all I could hear in my head was the theme to Rawhide.

At first I thought that maybe my subconscious was thinking of Warner treating people like cattle. But then, I realized that what I was really thinking was that it's the music industry that are all animals - and not the scary kind - just the stupid bovine kind.

You know, the kind that will stampede over a cliff to their death if that's what the rest of them are doing.

Say ... are we on top of an escarpment (Balcones, to a few of you Texans out there)? "Rowdy! Give me a hand over here!"

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

Re:where's our song rewriters.. (2, Funny)

Slightly Askew (638918) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879261)

What do you do when going bankrupt?
Nobody buying your CDs.
You've been suing, and buying lawmakers
Making your buyers enemies

Lala, you got your DRM
Lala, you know you just can't win
Lala, we'll have this cracked before you'll realize.

...and so on. I'd continue, but have to go eat lunch.

Re:where's our song rewriters.. (4, Funny)

scrib (1277042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879523)

What'll you do when it gets quiet
and nothing's stored on your hard drive?
You've been renting not owning all those songs.
You know it's just a foolish buy.

Lala, I'm typing on my keys.
Lala, I need my MP3s.
Lala, darling please release my music files.

I tried to tell you not to do it,
that the server would go down.
Like a fool, you used their music tools,
Now you're left without your sounds.

Chorus

Let's store all of our own information,
you know it saves us from the pain.
Please don't say you've found a better way,
we've tried things in the same ol' vein.

Chorus

In other words (5, Funny)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878827)

In other words, it's a patent on how to not distribute content.

Re:In other words (1)

ardle (523599) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879279)

+1 Tru Dat

Vapor Fluff. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878835)

This "network DRM" seems to be a combination of old news and new buzzwords.

The notion of conditional access to a server, or aspects of a server is decades old and utterly ubiquitous. If you have the credentials you can log in, access some file, do SMTP, whatever. This aspect of "network DRM" simply seems to be a renaming of password protected downloads.

The second part of this system, which they seem to want to gloss over; but is obviously there, is some sort of client side DRM. Again, utterly non-novel. They claim that it is all on the network, and you can't download and copy; but that makes no sense. If your computer is playing it to you, you obviously did download it, and it obviously resides somewhere in your system's memory.

This is pathetic. It's just a streaming service with client side DRM added on. Useless; but hardly novel.

Re:Vapor Fluff. (5, Funny)

AuraSeer (409950) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879271)

If your computer is playing it to you, you obviously did download it, and it obviously resides somewhere in your system's memory.

They thought about that. The audio data itself never actually gets to your computer; it all resides on the server and is played from there.

They just need really, really big speakers so you can hear the music from your house.

Re:Vapor Fluff. (5, Interesting)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879549)

This is pathetic. It's just a streaming service with client side DRM added on. Useless; but hardly novel.

Yeah, but you missed the unwritten part of the patent: installed without the user's knowledge on inserting of a CD. Additional methods include make a default part of major operating systems ;)

This isn't exactly DRM (4, Insightful)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878839)

This technology isn't exactly DRM, although it plays a roll similar to DRM. Essentially what they've done is put a access layer on a streaming server, which isn't really anything new. It's not exactly DRM as DRM is used to manage (cripple) what you're allowed to do with a file, where as this system is more like putting a tollbooth on a road. In theory once you've sucked the content down you could just rip it to a file much as the previous attempts at controlling streaming media were circumvented. Also, due to the streaming nature of this approach it's more or less doomed to failure as it won't work on anything that doesn't have a permanent internet connection (IE iPods, by far the dominate portable media player out there).

For phones (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879253)

Also, due to the streaming nature of this approach it's more or less doomed to failure as it won't work on anything that doesn't have a permanent internet connection (IE iPods, by far the dominate portable media player out there).

It would be for iPhone, not iPod Touch.

Re:This isn't exactly DRM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879485)

The point of this is not to prevent ALL "illegal" downloading from Lala. The point is to make it more difficult to download that the effort is worth, especially with so many other ways to get free music. Plus, the free streams are 128kbps MP3. Yeah, you can grab the stream and save it to a file. Big deal. I wouldn't brag about a collection of 128kbps MP3 files.

This patent was just to placate the music labels. If you go the legal route to building a music service, you must get the labels onboard. They won't sign a license deal if there is no protection, especially in the case of Lala where you can listen for free without paying anything.

The "Network DRM" is just making it more difficult to get the vanilla MP3s that get streamed. For Rhapsody, etc., that use files with DRM on the file, they have different issues.

When I buy something (5, Insightful)

Reed Solomon (897367) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878863)

You see, when I buy something, I like to own it. If I buy a car, I like to know that the car won't be taken away from me just because I lend it to a friend. If I cannot own something or there are stipulations, then I will not buy it. If there is no alternative than "piracy", I will obtain it. Simple as that. Why am I not buying Blu-Ray discs? I cannot be sure they will be playable for all time on my Linux computer. If I download a pirated mkv high def movie, I know that it will always be supported.

In conclusion, this won't stop illegal downloading. The only thing that can stop illegal downloading is treating your customers with respect and offering something of value, not the latest in a long line of DIVX/DRM garbage.

Then again, maybe the rest of the world isn't like me. Maybe most people in the world are stupid enough to pay for something they won't actually own.

Re:When I buy something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879225)

If I buy a car, I like to know that the car won't be taken away from me just because I lend it to a friend.

If you loan it to your "friend" and this "friend" picks up an underage hooker while purchasing some crack and then gets stopped for DUII, then yes, you will lose your car.

Re:When I buy something (4, Funny)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879457)

You are too narrow-minded, I am quite willing to pay for DRM content. I do stipulate restrictions on how my money (and it is *my money*, i designed it myself) is used: it cannot be transferred to another country, nor transferred electronically, it is forbidden to reproduce likenesses of it, I offer no guarantee that it will continue to function, I reserve the right to cancel it at any time without notice, etc.
Astoundingly, despite their claims to support DRM, no music or video company will let me purchase their products.

Re:When I buy something (1)

zenslug (542549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879515)

If you buy the MP3, it is yours and downloaded to your computer. The patent doesn't cover plain MP3 purchases, just streaming.

Re:When I buy something (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879807)

If you "own" some land, the government can take it way for whatever reason they please.

Don't trust Michael Robertson (3, Interesting)

mrslacker (1122161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878867)

Not after the Linspire debacle. Plus:

http://kevincarmony.blogspot.com/2009/04/michael-robertson-wants-to-fool-you.html [blogspot.com] - which is about this very issue.

Yeah, I know KC has a huge thing in for MR, but rightly so. Anyway, I can't be bothered to read all of both articles, but this is Slashdot.

Prior art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27878883)

Let me get this straight, they've patented having a server that controls access, logs activity and allows content to be deleted from the server?

oh great, DivX all over again (0)

StandardDeviant (122674) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878901)

starting to think "D" in DRM stands for "Doomed" and "Dickheaded" more than "Digital". Customers may on average be pretty fucking dumb, but even the truly dense will feel themselves getting screwed if you do it hard enough, and the content cartel just can't ever quite seem to figure out how far they can push things. If by some outlandish chance this moves from "patent application" to "products on shelves", I expect that it'll die on the vine just as badly as the movie industry's attempt at obnoxious tetherware (DivX) did ten years ago.

Revoke content? (3, Insightful)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878929)

Yeah, people are SO going to purchase content that can be revoked on a whim. Those Divx players sold so well.

Re:Revoke content? (4, Insightful)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879009)

Yeah, people are SO going to purchase content that can be revoked on a whim.

You mean like how no one uses the iTunes store or Steam?

Re:Revoke content? (2, Informative)

orclevegam (940336) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879471)

It's annoying to do so, but with iTunes you can burn to CDs which removes any DRM imposed by the store. As for Steam, you can make a backup copy on a DVD (or other media), but I'm not sure if you still need Steam running in order to install/play the games. I know you can mark a game for offline play after it's been installed and authenticated, but I still think you have to have Steam itself running and perform the initial authentication on a new machine, so your point on Steam still stands.

Re:Revoke content? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879867)

Correct on Steam.
The offline mode is (or used to be) only valid for I think 2 weeks, at which point you would have to connect and reauthenticate again. Though I'm always connected so I never ran into it, I've heard others bitching about it back in the early days of steam.

Re:Revoke content? (1)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879509)

You can currently play any *.m4a file already on your iPod or via iTunes on your computer. If Apple goes bankrupt, you can still do this.

If Lala goes bankrupt, I can no longer access the server that was hosting the library of tunes I purchased.

Re:Revoke content? (1)

Burkin (1534829) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879625)

The comment I was replying to was about content being able to be revoked from you on a whim which can be done with both the Steam store and iTunes it had nothing to do with longevity after the service dies.

Re:Revoke content? (1)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27880069)

Ah, my mistake. Even so, though I don't know about Steam, this is not possible in current iTunes (unless there is a delete_users_music() function I don't know about)

Re:Revoke content? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879887)

No, if Lala goes bankrupt, you can no longer stream free music from them.
The MP3s you bought from them are just MP3s.

Re:Revoke content? (1)

zenslug (542549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879533)

If you purchase MP3s from Lala, they are regular MP3s and there is no DRM, network-based or otherwise.

Re:Revoke content? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879801)

Wait, Music costs Money? I've not purchased music in 3 years, download legally about a gig or 3 a week, and haven't had to worry about DRM or crappy pop music like MetalicaSpears or whomever. I pay my artists when I buy extra cd's, but mostly with concerts and swag. Sure, they are bazillionaires, but who needs to be?

Thank god they got a patent... (3, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878937)

It'll keep companies from implementing this utterly asinine idea!

Re:Thank god they got a patent... (1)

xeromist (443780) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879577)

I thought exactly the same thing. Lock it up and charge insane license fees please!

Lala - Hilarious Clowns (5, Interesting)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878939)

I wish I were making this up - seriously. But's true - check out how nefarious these assholes are and how stupid people that they are still in business. For your dining and dancing pleasure, I submit, from TFA (emphasis mine):

The patent proves Lala is trying to develop a new type of DRM, according to Robertson. Instead of wrapping individual songs in DRM, Lala's plan calls for a network to act as a fortress that surrounds an entire music ecosystem. Lala CEO Geoff Ralston confirmed that Lala filed the patent but denied the company is trying to wrest control away from users.

"It's a patent around Web Songs," Ralston said.

Web Songs are one of the cornerstones of the company's latest business model. Lala, which has switched focus from two prior models, now offers three main features. In the first, MP3s unprotected by DRM can be purchased and download for rates comparable to iTunes. A second option offers users unlimited, ad-free streaming access to music they already own. The way this works is that users allow Lala to scan their hard drives and preserve a list of the songs the person owns. Lala's system will then stream its own copies of the songs to the user. This way users don't have to worry about losing their music to hard-drive meltdowns or misplaced music players.

Lala's last feature allows people to listen to streaming music--that they don't already own--for 10 cents per song. Lala calls these Web Songs. One of the ways Web Songs is different than MP3s is they can't be downloaded to a portable device.
"A Web Song by definition has a limited set of rights associated with it," Ralston said. "One right you don't have is the right to take it with you. It's not a portable song. Another right you don't have is to copy it. Everything has limited rights, even an MP3. You're not allowed to take an MP3, copy it, and sell it."

Here's another slice, for those who'd like to avoid RTFA (emphasis NOT mine):

"A network-based DRM system manages digital media assets stored in the network," states the document from Lala, which has been praised by music labels and has financial backing from Warner Music Group. "The system provides consumers with access to the digital media from any device connected to an electronic network such as the Internet, while enforcing the intended uses by the copyright owners."

"The Web restricted nature of the offering," Lala writes elsewhere in the filing, "means that the digital assets are at all times controlled by the system and thus result in minimal piracy."

Love the language - minimal piracy. Think about it.

Re: Lala - Hilarious [Ass]-Clowns (1)

jimbudncl (1263912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879099)

There, fixed that for you ;)

Re: Lala - Hilarious [Ass]-Clowns (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879215)

Many, many thanks!

Re:Lala - Hilarious Clowns (1)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879179)

What reality do these executives live in and what are the subscription rates like?
Somehow I'm not understanding how [successful_product] + [convoluted_restrictive_buzzword_technology] = [attractive new product].

Re:Lala - Hilarious Clowns (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879263)

For an answer as to how this adds up to an attractive new product, I humbly submit http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1227035&cid=27879191 [slashdot.org] (it's a recycle of one of my other comments... sorry - couldn't resist)

Re:Lala - Hilarious Clowns (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879221)

They may indeed be hilarious clowns, but LaLa is doing well. They're cheap and they allow flexibility that many services that others don't offer. Consumers appear to like them because they offer a hybrid service that operates as both a web locker (ie. listen to your home music collection at work without having to upload your music to the cloud or tote an iPod) as well as a subscription service for streaming music on demand, a la Rhapsody (but without locking people into Rhapsody-style pricing).

It's all about building better mousetraps. A better mousetrap means more customers and more money. They certainly haven't appeased the "information wants to be free" crowd, but that's apparently not their target market. It's a safe bet that BT tracker sites already own that market.

Lots of folks state that they'll stop pirating when music becomes more affordable. My guess is that many pirates are being disingenuous when they state this, but it looks like lala is trying to capture this market by providing cheap pricing and flexibility. As mentioned above, it appears to be working, and in the business world, that's what counts.

The BitTorrent crowd will continue to call them clowns, but in the meantime, they're enjoying the money.

Re:Lala - Hilarious Clowns (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879449)

Look, I'll just Godwin myself - Nazi Germany appeared to be working.

Forget about anti-pirate disingenuousness for just a second - I'll grant you that thats a possibility, but having never pirated any music, art, video or software in my life, I think I'm qualified to ask:

You're OK that their business model has them scan a customer's hard disk and gets a list of what you already have on your hard drive? And they're funded by an RIAA member? Not as a philosophical point, not as a political point - for you, as a business point.

I'm way OK with any company that serves its market and makes a decent buck - I really am. But just making a decent buck in no way indicates that you're ethical, nor does it mean that you'll be in business tomorrow. Is it so impossible to imagine that eventually they get sued when their overlords abuse that private user info - right out of business? What happens to the little guy, customer, holding the bag, with his locker full of music that he's paid for, but can no longer access?

The emperor has no clothes.

Re:Lala - Hilarious Clowns (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879975)

Thanks for the explanation of the lala sales model above!

From what I see, lala has three money making models: (a) DRM-free download store (like iTunes), (b) ad supported network listening (like Pandora), and (c) pay network listening (like SiriusXM).

This doesn't sound as evil as it's being made to be.

Re:Lala - Hilarious Clowns (2, Funny)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27880151)

(c) pay network listening (like SiriusXM)

Wow - SiriusXM scans your entire hard disk when you subscribe and uploads to its servers a complete catalog of all of the music files that they find on your computer (and is funded by an RIAA member), and then when that is complete - gives you pay-network listening?

I did NOT know that SiriusXM was like Lala in that regard.

This doesn't sound as evil as it's being made to be.

Either we have different ideas of what evil is, or you're comparing to sufficiently large values of evil - or something.

Re:Lala - Hilarious Clowns (1)

shark72 (702619) | more than 5 years ago | (#27880147)

"You're OK that their business model has them scan a customer's hard disk and gets a list of what you already have on your hard drive? And they're funded by an RIAA member? Not as a philosophical point, not as a political point - for you, as a business point."

I think it's highly interesting, that's for sure. My memory is hazy, but my recollection is that when Michael Robertson tried this himself several years ago (streaming your music collection to you on any computer without requiring that you upload), the record labels got their panties tied up in huge knots.

The fact that a record label now supports this is a sign that things are changing. The record labels are beginning to understand that they should be making money in the general realm of music, and not by providing it in any particular form. If consumers are no longer interested in buying music ten tracks at a time on shiny discs, then the record labels must realize this. Kudos to them for investing in companies that are innovating. If we keep the mindset that record labels are CD-selling dinosaurs that are doomed to extinction, then we're liable to be surprised each time they try the tried-and-true approach of providing customer value through innovation.

"What happens to the little guy, customer, holding the bag, with his locker full of music that he's paid for, but can no longer access?"

If you're referring to lala's Rhapsody-esque music rental business, where you build a locker of music you don't already own -- that's just a risk in the business world. I have about fifty albums in my Rhapsody library; some of it is stuff I already own, and others is stuff that I enjoy listening to but don't see the need to buy. I'll enjoy Rhapsody's service for as long as they're around. If they go out of business, I'll miss them, but it won't break my heart. I'll still have the music I already own, and if I want to have permanent copies of the stuff I was renting on Rhapsody, then I'll buy it.

Similarly, there's a Chinese restaurant that I enjoy patronizing. I might go there this month and pay them $20 for a meal; I might do the same thing in subsequent months. If they close up and leave me "holding the bag" I'll be upset, but I won't think that they'll owe me anything.

As for your privacy concerns -- you're right; we should always be concerned about privacy. Apple and Rhapsody know all about my music collection and Netflix knows what movies I like to watch. The risk of my privacy being violated is always there. It's not unique to lala.

Re:Lala - Hilarious Clowns (1)

caladine (1290184) | more than 5 years ago | (#27880015)

The second option is great.

They might as well say, "Can we upload your list of files so that we may sue you?" Call me paranoid, but I think the chances of these file lists getting shared with the industry along with identifying information is very high. All of my music is legit, but what's to stop them from just threatening me with a lawsuit because they don't think I've paid for all of it? Thanks Lala, but no thanks.

From TFA:(emphasis mine)

"The system also allows for the 'revoking' of ownership of digital media," Lala writes in the patent filing. "For example, if a user is known to have illegally shared a file, the copyright owner may choose to revoke their ownership of the digital media in the system, limiting the rights of such user to the media."

Known to whom? What's the burden of proof? Knowing the industry it'll be the burden that comes along with "because I said so". This is an underhanded attempt to control people. I plan on staying the hell away from this trash. The feature set looks attractive in a few ways, but it's just putting perfume on a skunk.

When asked about this, Lala's CEO was unapologetic. "Is it controversial that a store has the right to terminate someone that steals from them?" Ralston asked.

No, it isn't. What's controversial is making that employee pay back all the money you've paid them over the years for their work.

In any case, it comes down to this post [slashdot.org] for me. Why should I "buy" from Lala if I don't actually own anything? Owning a "right" to do something isn't the same as actually owning it.

Evil Overseer approve, disapprove or computer use? (1)

eatvegetables (914186) | more than 5 years ago | (#27878989)

Evil overseeing, please inspect all activity on user's computer and approve or disapprove the following:

1. downloading of the digital media content file from the host computer system to a user's media content device.

2. adding to the list any digital media content files that the user purchases from any of the plurality of sources for purchasing digital media content files.

3. sending of email to granddaughter about not listening to that crap music pushed on her by the lame music conglomerate seeking to resurrect Paula Abdul's singing career with new techno-voice-warblator.

How insane is the music industry? This is a patent for a product that would give the music industry control over the inner workings of a user's computer. It has very little to do with an "electronic network," as most people would think of it.

Prior Art: .htaccess (1)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879019)

How is this different than a password protected website or RealMedia servers that were broadcast only?

Hmmmm (1)

ghmh (73679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879023)

That yellow teletubbie is smarter than I thought. Minds are being poisoned at such a young age though.

Re:Hmmmm (Teletubbie named "Lala") (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879651)

If you had a TV viewport into your digestive track, you'd be concerned about DRM too.

DRM is dead (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879051)

Sure, they can try again. But like all the others, after some time the consumers will notice what thay are getting and the business model will die, like all other DRM based ones before. And by now there are people that lost or nearly lost media collections because the DRM servers were shut down. Just like these here will.

Face it, the modern content distribution is P2P without DRM. Direct downloads can only compete if they are without any DRM and offer things like high quality, good selection and low prices, i.e. if they are a bit more convenient. For that people are willing to pay a bit, but not a lot. Anybody that ingnores this fact is just going to vanish fast...

How do you call this ? (1)

edavid (1045092) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879083)

How do you call the fact for someone to sell a good, then later take it back from the buyer ? "can revoke content at the labels' request" ?

Re:How do you call this ? (1)

draggie3k (1187915) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879353)

a fraud.

Re:How do you call this ? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879965)

Are you thinking of "Indian Giving"?
(I LOVE the irony of that term!)

I've thought about this at length. (4, Informative)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879087)

The basic idea is that content is encrypted with a per-user public key, where the private key is held ("securely", for some definition of "securely") in display and playback devices that the user owns. When a private key is issued to a user, it is delivered in a secure (again, for some definition of "secure" key store, from which a limited number of copies can be imported to "authorized" (using some PKI mechanism) display and playback devices.

This has the benefit that content can (a) be copied for backup and archival purposes, (b) played on a "reasonable" number of devices a user owns, (c) played on other devices via temporary "secure" key export and import functions (so you can watch your movies at your friend's house, but not on your TV at the same time, unless on an "extra" TV -- within the limits of key copies), (d) lent to a small number of friends to access your library, and (e) allow anyone to make content for your display and playback devices (remember, the encryption key is public).

This is not rocket science, and to "someone practiced in the art" of PKI, strikes me as sufficiently obvious as to invalidate any patent claims.

It suffers from two problems:

First, the concept of someone having possession of a decryption key and not access to it are at odds. Like I said, "for some definition of 'secure'" Tamper-proof crypto chips are not cheap. Of course, the cost of extracting a key to allow access to one person's licensed media probably makes it sufficiently impractical: if media are watermarked as well as encrypted on a per-licencee basis, tracking back to who's key was used to crack some content would be easy, as well as an individual who licenses excessive amounts of content (to crack, and illegally redistribute in plain form, or encrypted with others' public keys).

Second, and more troubling, is that it does not allow for arguably fair uses: mashup videos, for example, because one can't extract some of the content, and how much could be extracted as a fair use would depend on the use. Some arguably legal fair uses could be prevented, and others abused by a group of indivuduals to reproduce the whole from the sum of arbitrarily small parts.

The issue of what happens when one loses a device holding private keys to one's media also deserves consideration. Of course, content providers could form a consortium that provide key escrow services so that lost keys could be recovered.

So, user accounts, right? (3, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879107)

So, this is simply a user account system. You upload items to your user account on the server. How they're stored is determined by the server, see any system (eg. SourceForge) that allows users to upload things but doesn't expose the physical internal storage architecture via the UI. Access to items is determined by authorization data associated with the user account, controlled by the server and the server administrators. If the administrators revoke your account's access to an item, the server won't let you access it.

None of this is new, we've been doing it for decades. Even in the Windows world this goes back as far as NT 3.1. And once you've got this, the rest of their stuff is horribly obvious.

I, the evil doctor doofensmirtz have invented ... (1)

eatvegetables (914186) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879109)

I, the evil doctor doofensmirtz, have invented the most eeeevil computer program. It takes complete control over computers and prevents them subverting my will. I haaaaate freedom!

Perry, the platypus, what are you doing here and who is that penguin you are with?

OffTopic (-1, Troll)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879121)

whoever works on slashdot's website is doing a really good job of totally fucking it all up, you got rss fucked up beyond functional too, please go back to flipping burgers as MickeyDees because that is what your competency at coding websites is at...

Re:OffTopic (2, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879255)

"RSS is just a clunky high-volume replacement for web browsing. Rather than making it easier to consume information, it makes it easier to drown in context-free news, inducing that panicked feeling we all eventually learn too well when you see RSS is stuffed full with hundreds of unread posts." - someone that knows

Can't get much more secure than that (1)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879129)

...allows only authorized devices (so far there are none)...

Can't get much more secure than that! Next step: unplug the network cable.

Interesting Company Name (1, Funny)

sehlat (180760) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879235)

You can certainly say this whole idea came out of lala-land.

The 80s called ... (2, Interesting)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879241)

... they want their floating licenses [wikipedia.org] back.

Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879377)

I fail to see the problem with this. It appears that the issue is just that you can't download the web songs or songs that you uploaded.

DRM on the server? (1)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879409)

Lala has filed for a patent on moving DRM from a file wrapper, like Windows Media and FairPlay, to the server... Lala describes an invention that allows only authorized devices (so far there are none)...

Can someone tell me what the difference is here? From what I can tell this is just enabling streaming of the "wrapped" files (wrapped with proprietary Lala wrapping technology of course). Unless I'm misunderstanding completely, there will still need to be a Lala client unwrapping the data before playing, like an encrypted hulu. Characterizing this as moving "DRM to the server" seems incorrect, since the encryption always needs to go all the way to the device to be effective.

The reason that the labels want this so much is that they can take over Lala and control the wrapping technology, where it currently resides with Apple (mostly) and to a smaller degree MS, Real, etc. It also allows them to sell to a much broader variety of devices since there is no requirement to "unencrypt, then reencrypt" for each device (as currently happens when you move a song from itunes to ipod for example). I wonder how they're going to get device and software manufacturers on board, seeing as how they're basically asking them to relinquish control of a very powerful and profitable resource.

It would be interesting to see if the "approved devices" are required to have TPM modules [wikipedia.org] . Obviously it is trivial to crack without it. This could be advantageous to crackers as well, since they can rely on the Lala servers to transcode the content for them.

Still doesn't solve their main problem (2, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879419)

Of me not wanting to listen to their new music.

Finally! (2, Funny)

Facegarden (967477) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879507)

Wow, finally! I've been looking for a way to make my music listening situation drastically more cumbersome and painful!

Sounds like they finally listened to all those people that kept calling for more restrictive listening scenarios!
-Taylor

Re:Finally! (2, Informative)

zenslug (542549) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879717)

As a Lala employee, I recommend you try the site out. Michael Robertson likes to mischaracterize our product because his competing product isn't doing too well. This network DRM thing is what it is, but basically it means that we don't make it easy to just download the mp3 that gets streamed. If it weren't called DRM you wouldn't thing of it that way. You'd probably just think of it as trying to prevent leechers. We sell mp3s, and those are just plain mp3s, nothing special, no DRM. It's just the streaming part of it where we put in some safeguards. We know (and the labels, too) that people who don't want to pay for music won't pay. But it's a snap to build a tool that will let you grab any stream. The point, again, is to make it annoying enough to try to grab the stream that it isn't worth trying to get it from us.

Re:Finally! (2, Informative)

hob42 (41735) | more than 5 years ago | (#27880111)

Uh... The service creates an index of all your music files and lets you stream that list of music for free. Then, you can pay $0.10/song to add songs you don't own into the playlist. That's the DRM part - you are restricted from saving the streaming-only songs to your PC or PMP.

Or you can "buy" and download DRM-free MP3s for a couple bucks, like an ordinary music store.

Where's the cumbersome and painful part again?

Safety, published late 1990s, can do this (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879683)

The program "Safety" published by Glenn Everhart back in the mid to late 1990s (first implementation was done by 1993), published with full source code, supports access controls based on what software is used to access files, who is accessing, where they access from, and a variety of other things. If the file protected is some video and the access is a streaming-sending program, access can be different from access granted to some player and so on. This all runs on VMS, but does the kind of access control described if you want it to. Since it was published long ago, with complete sources and documents, the code to do this and the notion of discriminating in access control this way can hardly be called novel. Also the Safety program allowed a non-permitted access to be given access to something else; in this kind of case the something else might be an advertising video or trailer. But the technology has been in the public domain now for over a dozen years.

Here's an idea (2, Funny)

yelvington (8169) | more than 5 years ago | (#27879689)

File a patent on a business method involving patenting all the really bad ideas we don't want to see implemented.

Lala! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27879743)

As if we needed proof that the teletubbies were evil!

captcha = teletype

Prior Art? (1)

psbrogna (611644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27880177)

Didn't Adobe Content Management Server provide server based DRM like 10 years ago? Was that only for PDFs? Can't remember.
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