Another Chapter in the Double Standard of Music and Technology.  Google protects their stuff but the music and content biz should give it up for free?

Moses Avalon

While Google is hard at work trying to make it possible for the public to steal any creative work you can cache in a browser, they are also working hard to make sure that that same public doesn’t steal from them.

The Android platform (Sprint, Verizon) Google announced this week in Tech Crunch will incorporate a security device that will make sure you don’t download bootleg copies of an App.  And there is only one trade off– a total invasion of your privacy.

The protector works by sending a ping back to Google every time the App is launched in a mobile phone.  This ping contains location data as well as user data that will or should correspond to the purchase data for the App.  If there is a mismatch the App shuts down.

Not a bad idea, except that the device requires that your phone be communicating with a mysterious cloud system that always knows when you’re using the App and where you are.  When did you agree to let little brother into your side pocket? Answer:  When you clicked on the user agreement in the App.

Will this measure come to Apple?  It already has, sort of.  While no Apple based Apps have this connect or shut down feature, the App Store user agreement makes room for such devices in the future and you can be sure of one thing: if it works for Macys then Gimbels will be doing it soon.

Why doesn’t the music industry do something like this with song files to protect them from piracy?  Well, they have tried. But every time the industry comes up with a method the “public” (and when I say “public” I really mean the PR machine of the tech companies) cries out that music should be tradable freely, and that the nasty record companies are invading privacy.

If you recall the Sony debacle with their copy protected CDs back in 2005, I think it was.  The “public” cried foul because a widget was uploaded off the CD into your PC to monitor the file’s use and distribution.  MP3s can not carry any DRM, but an AAC (iTunes formatted song files) does. But Apple shamed EMI out of using DRM and now EMI is on life support.  Meanwhile, other labels refused to allow DRM free files to be sold on iTunes and were lambasted in the press and by the “public” for being douche bags.

So, once again the double standard prevails. While technology companies do whatever they can to protect their software and the “public” seems accepting of it– even encouraging of it, the music biz takes pie in the face any time they try to do the exact same thing.

The public seems to have no problem with Google or Apple knowing where you are all the time and what you’re doing with those Apps you paid for, but music people steal should be protected under the 4th Amendment (privacy)!?!

Can you imagine a user agreement for a digital record store that had a clause stating, “we can track your location when you play the song and if you stole the song we’ll delete it from your device?”

My god, a pack of civil rights lawyers would crawl on their belly to file a class action against us.

What the frack?

PS: I wonder what professor Lawrence Lessig would say about all this?

Your thoughts and comments here.

Mo out


  1. Saleem says:

    Sucks how people have different views for music and software. One thing I think music is far more accessible than software or phone apps.. Two I think nothings gonna change until they come with some sort of new format that would make it more of a task to find and download music. Seems that most people download through these easy p2p programs that allow for easy search, click then download. Maybe the when we start mixing records in surround sound it may allow us to have a larger file size due to codecs and high quality conversions other than mp3. I feel in order for change to happen there needs to be an inconvenience in downloading pirated music and a convenience in purchasing high quality music with a click of a button. People have to start making better music and albums need to be better a&r’d (as I would say 😉 fans are missing the experience they once had when buying a record, even the trip to the store. If we are gonna give it to them digital why not make the albums cheaper. $5.99-$7 digital $10-$12 cd at best buy. It’s got to be appealing, its got to be fast, and most important it’s got to be good music! I would buy an album for 5.99 instead of 1 song for 99 cents. And weren’t the labels skimming down the $15 cd’s to about $6-7 or less before artists got paid? Not to mention the digital perks you could give away for buying a whole album.. Secret website VIP access, behind the scenes footage, wallpapers, contests, bonus songs etc. At least that’s what I would do… Unless I’m going delirious but then again it is 2 am as I type this on my iPhone racing to be the first person to comment lol

  2. Darragh says:

    Maybe if you value your Freedom that much you’d keep your money in ur pocket and buy something eles, like a Record Player and some cool old Vinyl!

  3. John says:

    There are ways and means. We have the technology, developed in house. As you say though, either the competition is established and they don’t want to know, or more likely it is too difficult to find anybody who understands the concept or is prepared to help us into the market.
    A token with embedded micro circuit, contactless and secure which attaches to the digital consumer product which also has embedded our Gbit/s data platform. [a new usb, if you will] A new api and interconnect for the consumer. Works between the PC, Smartphone, TV and eventually Point of Sale. A bit like a smart magnet. Entertainment and applications by the back door. Downloaded from the Internet and Re-played on your custom phone. We just refuse to accept that we cannot find just one Investor who first understands the concept and then is prepared to fund the technology. Now we learn, a new dawn is about to arrive in US with the advent of wholesale nationwide satellite connection in America. Google – ‘Lightsquared’. Who knows now, maybe we will find a third party investor who understands ‘nationwide connection’ and ‘wholesale’ and will fund us as the next global killer application. There is a lot at stake here. Our immediate focus, given the backer and the funding will be to integrate what are doing with Medical Point of Care in the Community and in the Developing World. We want to add nanotech ‘lab-on-a-chip’into our token, so that lay persons or even the patient can diagnose etc. when the doctor is unavailable.
    You would think a new ‘multimedia currency’ plus new mix of technologies, business model and methodology would be of interest somewhere. Wouldn’t you ? You may be asking why didn’t you use this Internet concept when the music industry started to collapse ? Just imagine, a new attractive music product which could not only continue in retail sales but could also provide secure downloads so that unpaid downloads would not work on your phone. Conversely, a new mobile music player; remember Sony Walkman’. A separate mobile entertainment and applications vehicle which does not rely on the mobile phone networks. Anyway, you can probably hear the frustration from there. We have tried and we are not finished yet.

  4. Dyer says:

    Let the tech apps have their way and a culture will emerge understanding that the wild west ways of the Internet are changing. This may be a case of a new sheriff in town rather than big brother.

    Once the app watchdog culture is accepted as norm, the music industry should slowly cross to the app side of the street – slowly.

    The ping sent back and forth should never go beyond a security checkpoint type of approach- like an airport. Checking your I’d and luggage is one thing, surgically implanting a house-arrest device is another. If these companies go too far and track more than our I’d and luggage – we will protest. Do it right and it may create an answer for artists and companies getting ripped off by computer users who don’t think they’re stealing.

  5. Ed Dell says:

    I thought it was Gimbels, Also the Blackberry does not use the Android OS, as your statement implies.

    Great work, always however. Much appreciated.

  6. Lawrence Brandon says:

    I completely agree with your take on the double-standard, but completely disagree with your description of the Sony software as a ‘widget’. Call a rootkit a rootkit. Widgets are by nature visible, GUI-based, and installed by choice. Read the Wikipedia link you provided and say truthfully if that’s the behavior of a harmless “monitoring” widget.

    As an IT tech, I and others had to wipe drives and reinstall Windows/software for poor saps who put these Sony discs into work computers and then noticed they couldn’t read other CDs or experienced repeated crashes when they inserted discs. And these people were paying customers who got burned for choosing physical product.

    It’s these kind of unfortunate moves that keep the public in “screw the labels” mode and allow the gleaming tech boys of today to run roughshod over music.

  7. Thomas says:

    Sorry, but this is a really, really bad comparison. DRM was like: okay, you BOUGHT this, so now you may play it on 2 different devices and may burn it up to 5 times. This was a harsh usage restriction on the stuff you spent your money for.
    Want to play it on your pc, mobile and your notebook? Nope, sorry buddy. Want to play it on your old mp3 player? Nope, you need to buy an expensive new one. You like to burn mix cds? Naah, we dont want you to. VERY harsh usage restriction.

    With apps, this _may_ be a privacy issue, but you may use the app you bought on all your android devices all the time. Your rights that you get when you buy the app dont get cut.

    • Moses Avalon says:

      DRM did not restrict how many devices you can play a file on. It tracked how a file was copied and tracked what are called “play events.” Each licnencee created their own parameters about number of copies.

  8. Thomas says:

    Oh and dont be silly about that sony rootkit. Rootkits are hackers tools and this one was poorly programmed and caused PC crashes. Also it posed a potential security leak. Sorry, this is by no means “harmless”.

  9. Maria says:

    We need a music police force. Until one of the tech companies (Apple?) helps us with this, we will continue to be robbed by the people who use what we produce.

    If possible, only release your complete work to those who will help you get paid.

    Which company will be our champion?

  10. Jane Doe says:

    Spend 5 minutes at Slashdot and you’ll find no shortage of tech people who are outraged at this stuff.

    It comes down to the consumer, who isn’t necessarily a techie or a musician. With music, the consumer expects to play the song on any device they own. CD player, boom box, computer, portable MP3 player, car, etc. Most of these things aren’t connected to the internet. DRM that prevents the song from being played on all of these devices limits what the consumer can do with their stuff.

    With CDs, you can play them in CD players, or you can rip them and use the digital file on the other players. A copy-protected CD can’t be ripped. Now you can use it how you want to. I’m not talking about giving the file to everyone you know. I mean being able to listen to the music how you want to listen to it.

    The copy protection is apparent and a nuisance. Can you say the same for phone applications?

    An Android app can’t be used on an iPhone, not because of DRM, but because the software on the devices are incompatible. Consumers generally don’t have two phones, so there’s no demand to copy the app to another device. And, because the consumer had to use their phone’s connection to download the app, it’s not a big deal that the app checks some server to verify its validity. It doesn’t limit the consumer. The protection is not apparent and it’s not a nuisance. And the last decade has shown most people are willing to give up privacy for little more than a candy bar.

    So, there’s a double standard because the situations are different.

    Computer software is different. Take a look at all the bad PR Ubisoft has had over the copy protection in their games. One recent game required internet access to even play. If you lost your connection, the game would stop without even saving your progress. The protection is apparent and a nuisance. There is no added benefit and it makes the consumer’s experience worse. Ubisoft finally got rid of that “feature” after the same sort of backlash this author says doesn’t exist.

    • Moses Avalon says:

      So, apparently some of y’hawl, ( and I’m talking specifically to “Jane” above, who has clearly drunk the Techie cool-Aid by the gallon) have forgotten something. DRM never, never was a copy protection. It was a content management package that measured how a file was transferred. Although it goes by several different names, abosulutly still exists in iTunes files all ALL subscription services, and streaming services.

      So in a sence, Jane I right, my analogy is not a good one. what Goolge is proposing (and what will become a trend) is far WORSE. DRM could never track your location, or link your buying habit to a file containing all your credit card data. This new trend will do that and a whole lot more.

      [The copy protection is apparent and a nuisance. Can you say the same for phone applications?]

      I guess were going to find out.


  11. Val Gameiro says:

    Here’s my 2 cents on this… Google is partly owned by the CIA… therefore, Gmail, Chrome, Desktop Search, Android and anything they produce (like the recent google wifi debacle) is suspect. Not only are they a company trying to make a profit, they are partly owned by people who have a huge interest in analyzing information… your information.

    DRM is a pain in the ass! And I’ve purchased stuff from iTunes store only to not be able to now play it on my Windows Mobile phone, without circumventing it.

    As a indie filmmaker, and former musician, I know how it feels to have people take your stuff for free – starting out you don’t always have much of a choice, but if everyone never pays for your stuff, how can you continue to produce your art?

    In IT we say, make a better idiot-proof system, and someone will make a better idiot. Same applies in reverse… people will always find ways around software protection, etc. Nothing is fool proof.

    The ultimate solution is the education… criminals are made when they loose all self-respect, when they no longer believe they can get along in life like everyone else does.

    A person who is well off (not filthy rich and greedy) is more likely to want to spread his wealth and exchange with those around.

    Big money corporations, don’t view things like that. They want to control all the paper dollars, and want you to keep spending on them, and don’t care about fair exchange. By depleting the finances of a country, or knocking down it’s currency, they make it so people are less inclined to want to spread the wealth and support artists.

    If you change people’s education and teach them from a young age to respect and care for others (including the next door neighbor to whom they don’t ever talk), and that exchange is important, and that people who exchange fairly are much happier than those who just take, then I think you’ll start to see a great improvement… but then again, we do have a school system that is designed to brainwash people into being subservient, rather than encourage free thought and self-determinism… who can blame them? If I were a government and wanted a docile population who wouldn’t question me… I would do the same thing… it’s worked great so far!

  12. Technology is bringing us all the things we need at the touch of a fingertip. I think we need some Multimedia Board in cyberspace to catch plagiarism. It would be a huge help to those producers who make music for a living.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.