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Qtrax — Ad-Supported Music With iPod Compatibility?

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the see-it-when-i-believe-it dept.

Music 131

dnormant writes in with a note about QTrax, a 5-year-old startup that just announced deals with all the major labels to provide free, ad-supported music downloads. The new wrinkle is that, though the free tracks come encumbered with Windows Media DRM, QTrax claims that they will be playable soon on iPods. Wired's assumption is that the company is on the verge of a deal with Apple to allow use of its FairPlay DRM in place of Microsoft's. (Apple hasn't licensed FairPlay to anyone so far.) The AP coverage of the story assumes that QTrax has found a way around FairPlay on the iPod, and if so, that its solution will break the next time Apple updates iTunes.

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prior art (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#22203958)

QTrax, a 5-year-old startup that just announced deals with all the major labels to provide free, ad-supported music

Hey, that's a pretty good idea. Maybe they could distribute them wirelessly... using radio waves!

It would never work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204032)

Who would listen to all those ads? Why use radio anyways? The signal quality would probably suck a lot of the time. I doubt that this new 'radio' technology will supplant cable/fiber anytime soon.

Re:It would never work (0)

gerardolm (1137099) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204220)

Wooooosh... (it's not a joke, but still, that was the analogy passing over your head and waving your sanity goodbye)

Re:It would never work (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204316)

"Wooosh" indeed.

Re:It would never work (1)

asCii88 (1017788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204364)

And later they could make some cool receivers that will let you skip those ads and record your favourite content to be played back later. And they should have a feature that would allow you to be listening to something, while at the same time recording something else. I think I'll patent this wireless entertainment device.

Re:prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204740)

Neat idea. Then they can use iPod's scroll wheel to dial the radio frequency.

"Assumes"? (4, Informative)

dnwq (910646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22203960)

From the article: "We've had a technical breakthrough which enables us to put songs on an iPod without any interference from FairPlay," said Allan Klepfisz, Qtrax's president and chief executive. Seems pretty damn clear to me.

Re:"Assumes"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204114)

Wired's assumption is that the company is on the verge of a deal with Apple to allow use of its FairPlay DRM in place of Microsoft's.

That's not a technical breakthough.

Idiots (4, Interesting)

RetiredMidn (441788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204466)

It's easy to put songs on an iPod without interference with FairPlay: use DRM-free music. Most writers, and /.ers, it would appear, seem to miss this point: Apple does not restrict non-FairPlay music from the iPod. Whatever DRM scheme Qtrax is using is designed to prevent music from being played on devices that don't license their DRM scheme.

The only way Qtrax can get their music to play on the iPod is to a) make it DRM-free, which it doesn't sound like it's doing; b) use FairPlay DRM, which they seem to have eliminated; c) implement their DRM "client" (unlocking) on the iPod, which seems unlikely; or d) get Apple to license their DRM scheme for the iPod, retroactively. Yeah, that'll happen.

I smell a rat: too many claims, too few details.

e) (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204628)

Write their own implementation of FairPlay.

Point taken... (1)

RetiredMidn (441788) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204724)

...but still not what I would call a long-term plan for success: handling ad-supported distribution of otherwise-free music and committing yourself to keeping up with Apple's avoidance maneuvers.

But it does trigger a thought: what if the record companies are looking at a scheme where they'll release DRM'd music under Qtrax's nominally free ad-supported model, and adopt Apple's $0.99/track DRM-free alternative? I could live with it.

Well, yes (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205540)

But how much foresight do you really expect from something like this?

Re:Idiots (1)

Romancer (19668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204650)

Couldn't they just obfuscate the file on the ipod during the file transfer? The same way that apple does with itunes. Third party utilities have been out for a long time addressing this since the songs weren't meant to be accessable for retrieval once they were transfered to the ipod without itunes letting them. As long as the ipod can play the file they are ok.

Adding a piece of software to run on the ipod seems like the most obvious method of doing this since it would allow access to the file by the firmware but prevent retrieval and copying from the device without the ad supporting softwares approval. The two pieces, one on the computer to display ads and download -> transfer to the ipod, and the ipod add-on to enable the altered file to play back. The ipod add on could also update an ad database when connected and display them as album art during playback for more exposure.

Re:Idiots (3, Interesting)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205062)

Apple doesn't "obfuscate the file on the ipod during the file transfer." If you're thinking of the private file system iTunes copies to the iPod when it copies tracks over (whether MP3/AAC or AAC-Fairplay), what's going on is that iTunes gives all the files identically long, pseudo-random file names to optimize reading and file system transversal on the iPod.

It's not designed to hide anything, only to make reading files and transversing the file system simple. That's why you can browse the hidden directory and copy files back manually. Song files are hidden primarily to prevent users from mucking with the files once iTunes copies them over, so that the software won't have to deal with verifying file system integrity and externally edited files or directories. If Apple really wanted to hide the files or prevent you from getting them off, it knows how to create an encrypted file system disk image.

Modifying the iPod's firmware to play back WMA wouldn't be impossible it seems, but doing so would be legally difficult for a commercial company. Rockbox and Linux can already run on the classic iPods. However, Apple could repeatedly bork every attempt with new firmware updates, just as it did to stop Real from shoving its DRM on the iPod.

Apple is happy having Amazon sell MP3s for the iPod, but they're not going to stand for Helix, WMA or any other DRM system locking up music in a way that takes advantage of the iPod. Also, with Apple now selling two families of iPod, rolling out a system that works on both the Nano/Classic and the Touch/iPhone would be far more difficult for a Fairplay-compatible system like Real tried to do with Helix. They only copied the basic ACC format, no messing with the firmware.

Getting WMA to play on the iPod would require a very sophisticated firmware change, and only the classic iPods are known to have WMA capable hardware. The Touch/iPhone likely only has hardware support for H.264.

Playing ads on the iPod using DRM tracks would be absurd. It would be much easier to just serve up songs as video podcasts running ads or videos with ads, just like TV and the web, where users can ignore ads. Forcing the screen to play would rape battery life though, and who really needs ads to sponsor songs they can get for 99 cents or from CDs they own? A foolish idea all around it seems.

Will Steve Jobs License Apples FairPlay DRM ? [roughlydrafted.com]
How FairPlay Works: Apple's iTunes DRM Dilemma [roughlydrafted.com]

Re:Idiots (2, Interesting)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205514)

It's not designed to hide anything, only to make reading files and transversing the file system simple.


That doesn't really hold water. If the motivation for the funny names and the hidden directory was simply to make traversing the file system simple, then why would they bother preventing drag-outs from the iPod in iTunes? Newer versions of iTunes won't let you copy music back out of your iPod into your computer; it is now necessary to dive into the hidden directory.

The directory may have originally been intended as you describe, but then they took advantage of the happy side effect of obfuscation, as part of a trend of increasing evil/stupidity.

Clearly, the iPhone was designed to be completely locked up -- unlike the iPod, it doesn't get mounted as a file system when you plug it in. :-(

Re:Idiots (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206262)

Clearly, the iPhone was designed to be completely locked up -- unlike the iPod, it doesn't get mounted as a file system when you plug it in. :-(

Doesn't the iPod require a specific option to be set to do this? Does the iPhone have the same option hidden deep within its configuration menu?

Re:Idiots (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206254)

Getting WMA to play on the iPod would require a very sophisticated firmware change, and only the classic iPods are known to have WMA capable hardware. The Touch/iPhone likely only has hardware support for H.264.

H.264 is a video codec. WMA is an audio codec, which requires much less processor power to decode. I suspect that all iPods have plenty of processor power to do a software decode of WMA files, even with DRM thrown into the mix. Media acceleration is a recent thing for Windows Mobile PDAs (which all support WMA), and mostly is only required for the more heavily compressed video codecs.

Re:Idiots (1)

YeeHaW_Jelte (451855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206284)

"Rockbox and Linux can already run on the classic iPods."

Not on the new 6th generation classic iPods they don't, thank you. Apple has implemented encrypted firmware on these newer models.

Re:"Assumes"? (1)

thefear (1011449) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204672)

From the article: "We've had a technical breakthrough which enables us to put songs on an iPod without any interference from FairPlay," said Allan Klepfisz, Qtrax's president and chief executive. Seems pretty damn clear to me.
And that break-through was: Lawyer(tm) Let Lawyer(tm) solve all of your every day problems, from DRM licensing, to 'taking care' of people you just don't like, Lawyer(tm) does it all.

Re:"Assumes"? (4, Interesting)

Phroggy (441) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204902)

Actually that's not clear at all, since FairPlay doesn't "interfere" with anything.

FairPlay-encrypted AACs are one of the formats the iPod can natively play. Unencrypted AAC, MP3, WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless files are other formats the iPod can natively play.

So, do they mean they've gotten a license from Apple to encrypt their own files with FairPlay DRM? Or do they mean they've reverse-engineered FairPlay so that they are able to sell FairPlay-encrypted AAC files without Apple's blessing? Or do they mean they're offering a hack for the iPod's firmware that will add support for their own DRM format? Or do they mean they're selling unencrypted files?

If they mean they've gotten a license, I'll be very surprised. I can't see how it would be in Apple's interest, at this point, to license FairPlay to other companies*.

If they mean they've reverse-engineered FairPlay, Real tried that already, and Apple sued and got them to stop. I can't see how this time around would be any different.

If they mean they're offering a firmware hack, I can't see how they could possibly support every model of iPod out there, and Apple definitely won't be pleased. Since this would undoubtedly void Apple's warranty, I could see a lawsuit coming from this.

If they mean they're selling non-DRM files, why wouldn't they just say that?

Something's fishy here.

* Option #1 isn't in Apple's interests, because Steve Jobs wants to strongarm the industry into going with option #4, which will be best for everyone, including Apple. By licensing FairPlay, Apple would lose the ability to do this.

Re:"Assumes"? (2, Interesting)

wiz_80 (15261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205572)

Something's fishy here.

My assumption is that they have no idea how they are going to deal with the iPod-compatibility claims, but are hoping that by making enough noise and talking about it to anyone who will listen it will somehow magically happen.

In fact I can quite easily imagine a meeting where somebody explained everything you mention, but all the PHBs were counting bonuses in their heads instead of listening.

Certainly I will not be having anything to do with it. My personal use model has BitTorrent as my extended preview system, with Amazon providing the permanent data in handy CD form.

Re:"Assumes"? (1)

wiz_80 (15261) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206160)

According to El Reg [theregister.co.uk] , they don't even serve the files - they scrape what's already shared on Gnutella and then filter it.

Does this mean that sharing files via Gnutella is now supported by the record companies?

/me exits, boggling

Re:"Assumes"? (1)

iLogiK (878892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205818)

As I understand it they're going for option 1:
They went to the labels with the idea of ad supported free music. The labels said fine, if you put DRM on them.
Because of the success of the iPod the only viable DRM to put on the music so that people will be willing to put up with it is FairPlay.
Apple won't go along with it because of the reason you mentioned, this is their plan. Have a popular music player that only works with the DRM from their store.

Re:"Assumes"? (1)

prat393 (757559) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205152)

Actually, when I click on the AP article, I get a weather update:

Qtrax Aims to Offer IPod-Friendly Tracks
Sunday January 27, 10:15 pm ET
By Alex Veiga, AP Business Writer
Qtrax File-Sharing Service Launches; Offers Free Music Downloads Compatible With IPods

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Fast-moving thunderstorms brought new waves of rain on Sunday to Southern California, following days of drenching weather and heavy mountain snowfall and raising fears of mudslides and flooding.

The worst of the storm was over, and Monday promised to bring a spell of clear weather, forecasters said.

"Things will start to die down as the night goes on," said National Weather Service forecaster Ryan Kittell.

Up to 3 inches of rain had fallen by early afternoon in valley and coastal areas since nightfall Saturday, with about 4 inches in the mountains, forecasters said. Wind gusts of 30 to 50 mph were reported in some areas.

Officials said the rain brought a threat of serious slides on hillsides stripped of vegetation by last year's wildfires. Mud and minor rock slides prompted authorities to shut a highway through a burned area near San Diego. Voluntary evacuations were in effect in heavily burned Modjeska Canyon in Orange County.

The Los Angeles County and Orange County fire departments were on standby for possible flash floods and slides. Flash flood watches remained in effect through Sunday night for Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.

To avoid overflow, the flood gates at the Big Tujunga Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains were opened Sunday, releasing 500 cubic feet of water a second.

Department of Public Works spokesman Gary Boze said the controlled flooding was routine during heavy storms.

In downtown Los Angeles, Sunday's basketball game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers was delayed 12 minutes after a small leak in the Staples Center roof allowed a steady flow of water to fall on the court.

The Santa Anita race track in Arcadia, meanwhile, canceled horse races for the sixth day this month because of wet conditions on the synthetic track.

The storm system also soaked parts of Northern California and the weather service posted winter storm warnings for parts of the Sierra Nevada.

A highway was closed in the mountains south of San Francisco, and Pacific Gas and Electric said about 2,700 homes and businesses were still blacked out because of earlier storms.

A series of fierce storms has caused deadly avalanches, flooded streets and set off mud and rock slides in recent days. Some areas have received more moisture in a week than during the entire rainy season last year.

Three skiers were killed Friday by a trio of avalanches that swept through canyons outside the trails of Mountain High ski resort at Wrightwood, northeast of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains. A fourth man escaped the avalanches.

Avalanches are unusual in the San Gabriel Mountains, but the peaks had been hit by 3 feet or more of new snow this past week, drawing thousands of skiers and snowboarders.

Associated Press writer Chris Weber and AP Sports Writer John Nadel contributed to this report.

Radio (0)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22203964)

Isn't free ad-supported music called radio? Even if this lets you pick your own songs, why download them in DRMed, proprietary and ad-supported files? Isn't that why everyone moved to CD players and MP3 players to have all your own music with no ads?

Re:Radio (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22203988)

maybe some people want to keep it legal but still not pay for music? just a thought. you know, i know it's not real popular around slashdot but there are still people who believe that artists deserve support and if they can't afford a large catalog taking a few seconds out here and there to listen to an ad is a pretty good trade.
 
or a better question is why buy them in a drmed proprietary format from a company that can't let in a little competition? why is it that apple still receives praise when they've proven that they're even worse than the big bad wolf microsoft?

Re:Radio (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204062)

There are other ways of getting legal music other then downloading it in DRMed Propriatary format with ads, although you may have to pay a bit more for them and there is radio. I wasn't trying to get into a debate about ethics only that free music with ads is simply a backwards step twards radio which is why we got MP3 players in the first place.

or a better question is why buy them in a drmed proprietary format from a company that can't let in a little competition? why is it that apple still receives praise when they've proven that they're even worse than the big bad wolf microsoft?

Where in my post did I praise Apple?

Re:Radio (3, Insightful)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205440)

When you say "a company that can't let in a little competition," are you arguing that:

- Apple has thwarted any retail market for devices that are not iPods, as Microsoft prevented the sale of DOS and Windows alternatives?
- that Apple should be forced to license FairPlay to other companies, like how Microsoft was forced to license Office to rival third parties for resale under different brands?
- that Apple should be forced to fund alternatives to iTunes for use with the iPod, the way Microsoft has enabled integration with Notes clients from Exchange, or CalDAV from Outlook clients, or WiiConnect compatibility from the Xbox 360?
- that the iPod should play WMA DRM, just like Microsoft supports PlayStation 3 games on the Xbox 360?
- that Fairplay should work on PlaysForSure players, just as Microsoft had to support Win32 apps on Unix?

Because any of those ideas would be batshit nuts. What were you really thinking?

And when in recent history has Apple become "even worse than the big bad wolf Microsoft," as I missed the story about:

- two decades of holding back better technology,
- promising vaporware that wasn't delivered for years if ever,
- being charged with monopoly market exploitation and overcharging customers by various states and countries,
- attempting to cover it up political astroturf campaigns uncovered by the LA Times,
- delivering unusable technology at absurd prices,
- raising the price of a desktop OS by 400 percent
- stealing code and violating copyright while advertising anti-piracy campaigns
- tightening spyware-policed phone home DRM on their OS
- starting a format war to control the world's media DRM and push a shitty authoring system like HDi
- working to raise the price of media downloads while killing off all fair use rights like WMA and WMV
- shipping a new OS whose main features revolve around HD DRM policing and OS Activation
- inventing Paladium
- delivering a crappy mobile OS they can't hardly sell but would love to stick the world with
- delivering a proprietary alternative to PDF, JPEG, MP3, H.264, Java, OpenDocument and every other open format with the intent to screw the world with a poorly designed file architecture that forces dependence upon a derelict monopoly ... or anything else Microsoft-like. When did any of those things happen? Or are you talking about specific evils of Apple, such as:

- delivering an open sourced alternative to the NT kernel
- delivering an open sourced, standards based alternative to the IE browser engine
- delivering an advanced graphics compositing engine for Vista to copy 7 years later
- delivering the advanced Cocoa frameworks to power Mac OS X and the iPhone, well ahead of .NET
- delivering a smartphone that blows away the state of the art and forces innovation into a dead industry
- promoting an open alternative to DirectX in OpenGL
- promoting an open alternative to WMA DRM with the MP3 playing iPod
- promoting a mild DRM that offers fair use rights to revitalize the dead music industry
- promoting an end to DRM restrictions in music downloads
- promoting an open alternative to WMV/VC-1 by pushing joint development of ISO MPEG standards
- creating a competitive music player that sells better than DRM obsessed, subscription touting rivals
- creating a competitive operating system that sells better than DRM obsessed, authorization touting Vista
- promoting the use of open file formats such as PDF, PNG, MP3/AAC, H.264, OpenDocument
- promoting a standards based web and working on HTML 5 rather than a Win32/.NET/Flash-based web
- contributing back to the GPL/BSD community in core OS, security, and web rendering
- developing a calendar server and releasing it to the community under the free Apache license

Anyway, that's why there's a difference. Not sure why its so invisible to you. Also, the sky is generally blue on clear days.

Apple TV Promises to Take 2008 [roughlydrafted.com]

Re:Radio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22205800)

Apple is pretty good at DRM'izing the OS as you say Microsoft did with Vista themselves:

They screwed up DTrace for processes such as iTunes by using an undocumented API, it's not documented in the kernel source either. They sneaked that one in.
With that same API, they also ban debuggers (they go SIGSEGV if you attempt to debug iTunes).

Re:Radio (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22206380)

Go and fucking commit suicide by slitting your fucking wrists fucktard.

-webmaster404

Re:Radio (1)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204458)

You're kidding, right? The ability to forever filter out and select only the songs that you want for free? Sign me up.

Re:Radio (3, Insightful)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205164)

you're kidding right? A DRM format that continues to deliver its side of the bargain after the business model fails? Google Video, NFL, PlaysForSure, etc ad nauseam.

DRM seems to be a fair way to rent movies temporarily or to buy music you can burn to CDs at any point. Outside of that, its a "trust me!" game that you shouldn't trust past what you can't afford to lose at any moment in time.

Tom Krazit of CNET and Eric Savitz of Barrons Deny the Jesus Phone [roughlydrafted.com]

Re:Radio (1)

keraneuology (760918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205224)

I pay nothing, I buy no product. No risk, fun while it lasts, if it fails I have nothing invested.

Re:Radio (1)

billeeto (981533) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204972)

what's nice about imeem is you can minimize the window and not have to see the ads, and they're small anyway. why are they promoting this qtrax idea of rented server space for limited use tracks, instead of pure streaming? i feel imeem has a shot at success.

ummm... (4, Interesting)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204000)

The new wrinkle is that, though the free tracks come encumbered with Windows Media DRM
Yeah, that won't get cracked tomorrow.

The DRM business model is interesting. Ideally it would work allowing for people to receive reduced-priced music at the cost of ads or usability (i.e. music only able to be used on one device like what's been floating around lately) but the reality is they're providing another type of DRM which will allow another method of cracking and receiving (in this case) free music.

I realize that what they're trying for is a compromise, but as long as there are insanely poor college students with way too much time on their hands out there, the market they're targeting will never go for something like this in the way they intend.

Re:ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204116)

DRM: Do (try to) Require Microsoft

Re:ummm... (1, Troll)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204314)

I dont see why they have DRM. Its there to prevent unauthorised sharing.
When your giving it away for free it kinda loses its purpose.

Whats wrong with a mp3 with ads on it?

Re:ummm... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204400)

Because it can be edited to remove the ads?

Re:ummm... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204442)

Which is different from editing it to remove the DRM how?

Re:ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204550)

Despite the impression you may get from reading slashdot regularly, not all DRM is cracked immediately, or even at all.

Re:ummm... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204888)

Its not like they are using anything exotic. Its WMA.

Re:ummm... (1)

gaderael (1081429) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204842)

So, how is the DRM implemented? Are the ads actually played at the beginning or end of the track? Based on answers to my first two questions, how hard would it be to use a program such as Audacity [sourceforge.net] to play them back in any format of your choosing without the DRM annoyance?

Re:ummm... (-1, Offtopic)

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Outgoing. Lovable. Spontaneous. Not one to mess with. Funny. Excellent kisser. EXTREMELY adorable. Good personalities. Loves relationships.Addictive. Loud.

CANCER - THE ONE(6/22-7/22)
Trustworthy. Attractive. Great kisser. One of a kind. Loves being In long-term relationships. Extremely energetic. Unpredictable. Will exceed your expectations. Normally not a Fighter, but will if neccessary. Someone loves them right now.

Re:ummm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204890)

Meh, iTunes DRM was already cracked before, but it's such a non-issue that nobody's bothered keeping up with the patches.

Furthermore, this bit, "(Apple hasn't licensed FairPlay to anyone so far)", is completely wrong; they licensed their format to Motorola for the ROKR and iTunes-compatible RAZRs. Rather short-lived though.

Or maybe ... (3, Interesting)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204012)

... it's just PR-fluff designed so people don't write them off as irrelevant because they don't support the single most popular PMP on the market.

I predict that the touted iPod-compatibility will remain "coming real soon now!" until the company is quietly wound down.

Re:Or maybe ... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204206)

" I predict that the touted iPod-compatibility will remain "coming real soon now!" until the company is quietly wound down."

That happened the first time this little company went live - this is round 2. Same method, only different...rriiigggght.

Re:Or maybe ... (0, Offtopic)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204598)

I generally refrain from replying to people's sigs . . . but your email is hidden and I can't resist. At the time of this writing your signature reads, "What part of 'a well regulated militia' do you not understand?"

I assume you mean to convey by this that you interpret the second amendment as defining a State/collective right, and not an individual one. I'd like to respond with a quote from my own web page [hutnick.com] :

The first Congress passed the Militia Act of 1792, which said, in part:

        [. . .]That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia[. . .]

So you see, militia was only meant to restrict who possessed firearms on a basis of race and sex, not based on military service.


In light of this fact, do you maintain that the second amendment is not meant to ensure an individual right to arms? (Surely we can agree that such a right, should it exist, should not be restricted on the basis of sex, race, or seniority.)

-Peter

The didn't work out so well for... (1)

SchnauzerGuy (647948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204018)

Rhapsody [macworld.com] .

Re:The didn't work out so well for... (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204580)

What do you mean by it didn't work so well for Rhapsody?

The article you linked to says that after Real launched Harmony, Apple issued a software update which stopped the Harmony tracks from playing. Real then issued their own software update and the tracks have played without a problem ever since.

Now I'm sure Apple could issue another update in the future again breaking the tracks, but from the article you posted it reads like it worked out pretty well for Real, and for the iPod users that bought tracks for less than the cost over at the iTunes store.

Re:The didn't work out so well for... (2, Interesting)

SchnauzerGuy (647948) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204642)

Note that the article I linked to was from 2005. After a lot of back and forth, and threatened lawsuits, here is the current situation as described on Rhapsody's website [rhapsody.com] :

The Apple iPod does not work with Rhapsody To Go. At this time Apple does not support track "rental" from Rhapsody or any other subscription music service. Purchased Rhapsody tracks also cannot be played on an Apple iPod.
Like I said, it didn't work out so well for Rhapsody.

Re:The didn't work out so well for... (1)

Basehart (633304) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205042)

Speaking of Rhapsody, I remember a conversation three years ago with a friend who thought Rhapsody's subscription model was the way to go. I, on the other hand, argued that Apple's buy-to-own model was the way to go.

So here we are three years later.

My friend has been paying $14.99 per month for a grand total of $539.64 and doesn't own any of the music he's been listening to, and I've spent around the same and bought approx thirty albums and lots of individual songs.

We both started off with quite large libraries to begin with, after ripping all our CD's, so it's really down to new music. I listen to internet radio pretty much exclusively, primarily because I wouldn't know what to choose if I saw a long list of new bands. My friend, on the other hand, can listen to a whole album by a new band if he hears a single he likes, but never own the album (unless he want's to take advantage of the 10% off thing that Rhapsody offers for album purchases).

In the three years he's been using Rhapsody he hasn't bought an album because, well, what's the point. He can listen to anything he wants whenever he wants so long as he pays the monthly subscription.

If I hear band I like on the radio I can listen to about half a minute of each track, to make sure the single wasn't a fluke, and buy the album for $10.

Needless to say the pros and cons go on and on forever, and seeing as we're going camping in a couple of weeks I was wondering if there are any definitive world shattering arguments for or against either model?

Can I win the argument this time?

Re:The didn't work out so well for... (0, Offtopic)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205480)

Well according to the free market:

- Apple sold 4 billion tracks and is maintaining sustainable profits while growing its music business rapidly in per song sales.
- Rhapsody is stuck with the same niche of music renters and can't find new ones, just like PressPlay and Duet and all the rental losers before it.

Rhapsody did however manage to pull MTV's urge out of WMP and the Zune software, leaving a big hole in Microsoft's trousers. This didn't seem to have much of positive impact on Rhapsody though. Real is now promoting per track song sales.

Rise of the iTunes Killers Myth [roughlydrafted.com]

did they just reverse engineer FairPlay? (1)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204030)

Nice hack, I guess.

It won't be Music (3, Interesting)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204054)

I cannot see how they can put ads in place on the iPOD. The ad would have to be static, which is far less valuable these days then something that can be updated dynamically with all the invasion of privacy information they can collect.

So the future I see is........ "Oh baby, Baby...... pfff Umm like this is Britney, buy my album and stuff for reals. Lawyers cost money. I'm serial. pfff Hit me one more time"

Or a Paris Hilton track being interrupted by a commercial for Valtrex.

Re:It won't be Music (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204178)

Or a Paris Hilton track being interrupted by a commercial for Valtrex.
Well at least the ad is reaching its target audience.

Re:It won't be Music (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204856)

thank you. it's comments like yours that keep me reading these music related stories. nothing brings a smile to my face faster than one of the self-appointed elite being approximately as stupid as possible, and not ironically. bless you.

hehe (1, Funny)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204068)

Wow, the inconvenience of p2p teamed with the inconvenience of DRM.  I'm sure it'll be a huge hit.

Why Bother With P2P if it's legal? (1)

szyzyg (7313) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204078)

I mean there are advantages in terms of server load I'll give you that, but if you've licensed all the tunes then why not follow the imeem [imeem.com] model and centralize everything on a website - no special p2p software needed just a flash player and a modern browser. P2P services were percieved to have some sort of limited deniability for a while because the content and sometimes the indexes did not exist on any of the developers servers, but there's no need to that here.

I mean downloading movies and tv shows via p2p is popular, but it's nothing compared to the amount of pirate movies and tv shows shared on youtube, stage6, veoh and all those other sites indexed by clones of tv-links - if you can get instant gratification most people will take the easy option. So for the same reason I see imeem.com remaining popular since you can find pretty much every record on there in cd quality, available for instant listening and of course licensed by the record labels.

Oh I see that the press release claims that they've signed on all 4 major labels, which it turns out is BS Warner Music Group [alleyinsider.com] hasn't signed on so users will have to do without Madonna when the site launches.

Re:Why Bother With P2P if it's legal? (1)

illectro (697914) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204162)

imeem is the youtube of music that's the best way to describe it (and it does video ad photos pretty well too ;-)

Sorry to reply twice but (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204098)

When are these people going to learn that there is no especial significance to a file being on someone's harddrive?  I can download an mp3 every time I want to listen to it as easily as open it off my harddrive.

Thus, there is no meaning to making sure it is "deleted" via DRM.

Hmm, well I guess it is pretty abstract.

Yet another solution in search of a problem (5, Interesting)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204102)

If you understand iPods at all, be prepared to wretch at the level of FUD in the article. For example:

That's unusual, as iPods only playback unrestricted MP3s files or tracks with Apple's proprietary version of DRM, dubbed FairPlay.

"We've had a technical breakthrough which enables us to put songs on an iPod without any interference from FairPlay," said Allan Klepfisz, Qtrax's president and chief executive.
Let's be clear - the problem is DRM itself. The solution is to drop it.

The problem is not how to get DRM content onto an iPod without Apple's help. The problem is not how to get content onto an Apple. The problem is not that iPods only play open MP3s and Fairplay'd tunes - Jesus, that's not true (cue the dead horse beating).

The issue here - not in the summary - is that QTrax is P2P as well as download. And they're either scared or just stupid:

As long as the DRM on downloads and advertising in the Qtrax application aren't too obtrusive, the music service may appeal to computer users now trolling for tracks via LimeWire and other unlicensed services, Enderle said.

"This is a way to get the stuff for free and not take the risk of having the (recording industry) show up at your doorstep with a six-figure lawsuit," he said.
Call it Flamebait if you will for what I'm about to say (which this isn't, BTW): if these guys aren't stupid, then my first suspicion is that they're a stalking horse for the record industry to prove that DRM is ok, and that the record company's version of what DRM is ok on an iPod isn't subject to Apple's dictates. Failing that, then they actually believe you can have your DRM and eat it, too.

Either way, I'm disgusted by their attempt and their thinking.

Re:Yet another solution in search of a problem (1)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205216)

Call it Flamebait if you will for what I'm about to say (which this isn't, BTW): if these guys aren't stupid, then my first suspicion is that they're a stalking horse for the record industry to prove that DRM is ok, and that the record company's version of what DRM is ok on an iPod isn't subject to Apple's dictates. Failing that, then they actually believe you can have your DRM and eat it, too.

I've been trying to figure out the tech end. Someone with an iPod and iTunes care to help me out? I don't have iTunes on my Linux machine, so I can't veify anything. Doesn't iTunes permit downloading to the player and deleting songs off a player, but not copying stuff back off the player? Isn't that why 3rd party apps are popular? I'm thinking that the service may download DRM content from the website with advertisements, but export it directly onto a portable player with either Windows DRM, or a DRM free MP3 on an iPod hoping you don't notice that 3rd party software can move the unprotected tunes back off the iPod.

The software for talking to iPods for Linux work just fine for transferring data both ways.

Can someone verify the official iTunes software? This should keep the songs out of trouble with Apple.

This is just a theory. Feel free to shoot it full of holes.

Re:Yet another solution in search of a problem (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205328)

Yep, iTunes lets you put music on your iPod as a one-way deal - you can't pull them back off without third party software. (Whether they're popular or not, I can't say. I got one after a disk crash - only way to get my music back out - but that didn't involve anything DRM'd.)

So far as I recall, you can only place iTunes Fairplay'd music on an iPod you _sync_ to - you can sync with an iPod (and only one) - or you can not sync, but transfer music to - and remove from - an iPod manually.

Maybe merit in what you say - it's DRM'd on your desktop, but strips DRM on the way to the iPod. That's going to lock out working with sync'd iPods - the music with syncing has to be on your desktop. Also, I know very little about the internals of an iPod - I don't have idea what would happen with music copied in from iTunes next to music copied in from a third party app - maybe it's all good, I don't know.

So, yes you have the food chain correct. Your idea that this is their scheme - allow a roundabout method to circumvent DRM and allow free music copying - while not impossible - seems to require more thinking that these guys seem capable of to me. After reading the Register article cited elsewhere in this thread, the only thing I'd give them credit for cranially is associated with venture capital.

Thieves and scammers "think", too, but that doesn't make them a Johnny Lee ( http://johnnylee.net/ [johnnylee.net] )

Re:Yet another solution in search of a problem (2, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205702)

I don't have idea what would happen with music copied in from iTunes next to music copied in from a third party app - maybe it's all good, I don't know.

It works fine. We have put some MP3's on an iPod and backed up the entire iPod to hard disk under Linux. I guess the only thing you don't get backed up is the keys, but that iPod has never had DRM tracks, so it's a moot point.

Pick your fav program here. Some are multi-platform.

http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/managing_your_ipod_without_itunes [freesoftwaremagazine.com]

Re:Yet another solution in search of a problem (1)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205340)

PS - whatever these guys are really up to, the expression I was looking for to describe them was, "too clever by half."

Facts (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204104)

That's unusual, as iPods only playback unrestricted MP3s files or tracks with Apple's proprietary version of DRM, dubbed FairPlay

Hard to take an article seriously when it gets the basic facts wrong. I've got about seven gigs of unprotected AAC files on my iPhone. They "playback" fine.

-Peter

The article is funny for 1 reason alone (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204126)

The fact that anybody takes Rob Enderle seriously anymore.

I thought the whole SCO affair had made his reputation less than great?

Re:The article is funny for 1 reason alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204278)

No one really keeps score for pundits. They earn a reputation mostly through seniority rather than accuracy. If someone is willing to pay them to shovel shit long enough, eventually people assume they must know something.

As a commentator, the worst thing you can do is be is silent. Being wrong has few consequences.

It's been done (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204130)

The industry tried a DRM'd P2P service a few years ago with PeerImpact. As far as I can tell the only difference is that Qtrax is ad-supported.

Amazon already figured it out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204144)

The way to get around Fairplay is to use MP3.

More info at The Register (2, Interesting)

Len (89493) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204160)

The Register has an article about Qtrax [theregister.co.uk] . They're pretty skeptical about it.

Re:More info at The Register (2, Insightful)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206104)

Personally, I wouldn't put any weight behind what Andrew Orlowski says. But it turns out he was right to be sceptical in this instance - the system has 'mysteriously' failed to launch as planned today, nobody wants to talk to the press, and the majors are denying they ever signed such deals.

Startup? (5, Funny)

8tim8 (623968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204202)

QTrax, a 5-year-old startup

Um, they've been around for five years, I don't think they're exactly a startup anymore. More like a regular company that's trying to attract some VC money and subscribers by trying to look all shiny and new.

It's kind of like your mom wearing low-riders and a tube top--at some point this sort of thing just needs to stop.

Re:Startup? (3, Interesting)

illectro (697914) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204280)

From what I'm seeing elsewhere they're claiming to have deals which they don't have, supposedly Universal and Warner have yet to sign on to allow their music to be shared. I feel the fail gathering in the wind......

my eyes! (1)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204294)

"It's kind of like your mom wearing low-riders and a tube top--at some point this sort of thing just needs to stop."
that's just wrong. I don't know if I'll ever be free of that picture.

"just because your moma's in jail and you were born in a trailer, doesn't mean you're trash" - Peggy Hill

You haven't seen my mom... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204322)

Oh wait, this is /. No doubt you've turned up here pics while surfing...

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204326)

It depends on how your Mom looks in them.

Re:Startup? (2, Informative)

cranesan (526741) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205016)

It's still a startup 'cause they haven't made any money yet.

DVD Jon to the white courtesy phone please... (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204214)

...DVD Jon to the white courtesy phone.

How long before something this stupid gets cracked? Let's start a pool on it. I'm in for two weeks and three days after the launch date. Everyone - pick a day.

Re:DVD Jon to the white courtesy phone please... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204362)

It might as well be that DVDJon actually supplied the FairPlay DRM solution for them.
http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/23/1826234 [slashdot.org]

Wow (1)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205288)

So I guess I lose my place in the pool then, since the date he cracked this thing is actually in the past.

Thanks for the link - I missed that story the first time around and it's fascinating.

The part that irks me (4, Informative)

MrCopilot (871878) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204358)

From the Reg

The company has pinched what it could from open source land. The fat client is a custom version of Firefox, with a fork of the Songbird music player layered on top. Normally software developers could expect a decent license fee from a $30m start-up for use of their work - but in the new Tim 2.0'Reilly "freetard" model, the Firefox and Songbird developers don't get a cent for their labour - merely the satisfaction that they're "building a platform".
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/27/midem_qtrax_launch/ [theregister.co.uk]

Re:The part that irks me (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204526)

Does it really make sense to refer to Fire-fox as a "freetard" model with the amount of money that comes in from its use?

the so called freetard model was able to get the publicity and support to make Fire-fox incredibly successful project that would probably of flopped as a closed source product and that sentence really makes the rest of the work by that author very suspect.

Re:The part that irks me (4, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204592)

I'd be irked too. First off, The Register is suggesting that using code from an open source project is "pinching". Pinching usually refers to theft, and there is no theft going on here. There's also no infringement, because the developers who worked on these projects have willingly licensed their code for anyone to use for free, regardless of whether or not the code is being used to make money.

How rude of The Register to lambaste the company for building software using code that others are handing out under licenses that say "don't pay us a cent".
 

Re:The part that irks me (3, Informative)

Catharsis (246331) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205768)

Actually, it's a licensed fork. Songbird has licensed our technology to Qtrax and we provide support to them. It works well for everyone and we're delighted to see some little birds leave the nest.

Songbird as a platform is making leaps and strides right now. If you're a Mozila-developin' fan of the project, we're in the middle of a Top 40 extensions contest to port cool extensions from Firefox. Come by #songbird on irc.mozilla.org or check us out at http://songbirdnest.com/top40 [songbirdnest.com] . Win cool schwag! Meet great people! Hack on something fun!

As a daily-use media player we're still not quite there yet. We are, after all, only at version 0.4. Still, many people are discovering all the cool things that having an extensible framework in your media player enables you to do.

Squawks,
-pvh

Deals not done (2, Informative)

Rand1956 (928631) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204512)

Qtrax touted in a press release Sunday morning that it was the first Internet file-swapping service to be "fully embraced by the music industry," and boasted it would carry up to 30 million tracks from "all the major labels." New York-based Warner Music undermined that claim, declaring in a statement that it "has not authorized the use of our content on Qtrax's recently announced service." Universal Music Group and EMI Group PLC later confirmed they did not have licensing deals in place with Qtrax, noting discussions were still ongoing. A call to Sony BMG Music Entertainment was not immediately returned.

Hey I have an idea! (3, Funny)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204520)

I know! Let's sell mp3s without any DRM, so people can play them on *any* player, and support those with ads. Wait, what? Who are you guys? Why are you...*silenced gunfire*.

yuo Fail It (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204536)

Re:yuo Fail It (1)

ecavalli (1216014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206126)

It might be obvious, but the parent's link is NSFW and mind-searingly horrible.

No DRM is the key! (1, Insightful)

filbranden (1168407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22204554)

When will companies realise that the answer is to stop shipping DRM? Amazon and others are doing it now with great success. Even iTunes Plus does it. Companies that base their business on DRM are condemned to a slow but certain death.

Dead on Arrival (1)

freedom_india (780002) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205258)

DOA. Anything laden with DRM is bound to fail, especially when amazon is considering worldwide release of MP3.
Its another company that burns money and dies unheralded.

Forced to listen to ads, plus DRM-laden? My God, what were the promoters thinking??

Re:No DRM is the key! (1)

cybereal (621599) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205264)

DRM is fine for a subscription service. This is essentially the same idea, but instead of paying a monthly fee, you are seeing ads and presumably generating revenue stream for the company serving you the songs.

The tradeoff is that you have more restrictions on how you can use the music you download.

DRM itself, technologically is severely flawed. The utility of it is not flawed at all, it is in fact, a very good idea in the benefit of the copyright owners. Unfortunately, no matter how good that idea is, nobody has managed to execute it in a way that actually works. The consumers have to deal with questions of compatibility worse than almost any media technology they have ever encountered. The rights of the people are violated by preventing fair use. The copyright holders don't actually get the protection they think they have because the technology is flawed by design. We invent ridiculous laws that are primarily used entirely outside of their original intent (DMCA).

On the topic of fair use and DMCA. I haven't seen anyone musing about the reversal of rights here. If we were to take an optimists view of the DMCA, it would exist to help protect the rights of the copyright owners. But, what of the rights of all people, the largest group? We should have a law that requires any technology to allow for fair use of copyrighted materials without unnecessary hinderance. This law would be supported by original intent for precedent from fair use provisions in the copyright law.

This law would make all DRM in its current form illegal. It would all have to be updated to allow excerpts to be made for whatever use we the people dream up. Furthermore, anti-competition laws should support requiring all DRM schemes, if any should continue to exist, be made usable publicly without license or secret by all potential recipients.

Furthermore, and this is very important: It should be illegal to insinuate any form of ownership over any encumbered artifact, song, document, or otherwise. This is an outright lie. Nobody owns a DRM encumbered song. A term like "purchase song" is a lie. And while I realize I will get arguments about how all copyrighted material is licensed and never owned, I don't really care. The laws are meant to support the people in a fair way. People have come to understand after decades of purchasing music, that they OWN their copy. Let's not forget that personal ownership of property is one of the basic tenets in the foundation of The United States of America. If we are unable to own a copy of a song, then at the very least, we should be clearly instructed and educated on the package in which we receive it, virtual or physical, that we're merely licensed to use the item.

An entire industry is trying to wrest an understanding built through ignorance and convention on the part of both sides of the purchase. It's too late to "go backsies" on this now. So I suggest that all media where the copyright owner wishes to revoke the concept of ownership from the purchaser be treated as the exception, not the rule. This media should require a very obvious and contrasted warning about this ownership in a consumer friendly form. It should not be hidden in legal threats, it should be simple truth:

LICENSE - By paying for this media, the purchaser is not granted ownership of the contents. The purchaser is granted license to consume the contents in a restricted way."

Or something, hopefully even more daunting. Basically, de facto understanding is being exploited by the media companies to benefit their marketing attempts and this should not be allowed. By continuing to insinuate ownership, they are having their cake and eating it too.

Are you down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204586)

with O-G-G? (Vorbis and Theora forever!!!)

Don't fall for it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22204682)

A 5 year old startup?

Clearly this is the RIAA trying to trap unsuspecting users into an umbrella corporation and then sue.

Nice try RIAA. Next time don't use the ole 5 year startup ploy. Everyone knows a startup is less than 6 months old, and has a web 2.0 branded name.

Qtrax. HA. Sounds like something I would wipe my hard drive with.

Business Plan (1)

cranesan (526741) | more than 6 years ago | (#22205002)

Step 1: Make or copy a method of uploading your own music onto an Ipod without using iTunes.
Step 2: Announce your product to the world. Sign deals with record companies. Sell the product.
Step 3: Wait for Apple to break it in the next iPod firmware.
Step 4: Sue apple
Step 5: ?
Step 6: Profit

Alternate Business Plan:
Create a 'secure' format and convince all the record companies that it's secure. Then simply convert the secure music into MP3 and dump it in the user's iTunes Music directory.

I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22205292)

I wonder if the fact that their hyped launch is now an hour and 15minutes late is part of their press strategy?

I mean honestly, if it says "Midnight EST" and it's 0130 something prolly messed up.

failed launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22205706)

looks like qtrax is a little high on marketing hype and a little low on legal signatures. Looks like their contract with warner music expired and qtrax didn't realize it.

oops.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/01/27/updated-music-label-says_n_83439.html [huffingtonpost.com]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080128/ap_on_hi_te/downloading_music;_ylt=AqkSd1FOGDKGg2itrlsdV.MjtBAF [yahoo.com]

Warner, EMI, Universal agreements may not exist (1)

ecavalli (1216014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206110)

Or not? [news.com.au]

That article states that Warner, EMI and Universal media group have all denied signing any sort of agreement with the qtrax people. The author attempted to contact Sony on the issue but was unsuccessful.

finnly (1)

luther349 (645380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22206378)

a p2p app that wont get waves of lawsuits. if they truly did find a way to be ipod computable even there drm isnt all that bad. if they also figure out a way to burn to cd we will relly be getting somewhere.
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