Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Zune and Creative Commons

Some further news about the Zune and Creative Commons DRM discussion, which has caused quite a stir in the circles that get stirred by this sort of tune.

Just a brief recap. The Zune Insider blog broke the news that Zune would have a new interesting feature to transfer files through wireless device so that friends could share music. The problem with the feature is that it only allows the recipient to keep the song for three days. "Foul" cried all sorts of people! Our songs are being infected by viral DRM! Zune Insider then posted a correction, stating that Zune would not infect the file with DRM restrictions, but that it would simply not play it again. I must admit that I do not see the difference, as the end result is that you cannot play the file.

The problem that many people are having with Zune's DRM-that-may-not-be-DRM-but -has-the-same-effect is that it could eventually have implications for music released under a Creative Commons licence, but some people did not buy the argument. See for example LawMeme and Slyck News, where the authors argue the many possible angles of infringement. James Grimelmann in LawMeme particularly reasons some interesting points about the absurdity of some of the original claims regarding Zune and CC, particularly in regards to fair use doctrine.

My problem with the extremity of the case made against Zune is that I simply do not see this as a problem for CC nor Zune users. I am trying to imagine a case where a Creative Commons song would be affected by Zune, and I cannot imagine any situation where this would take place. As i have mentioned several times, I have several CC-licensed songs in my iPod. Imagine that I decide to sell it and purchase a Zune. Would I ever send these songs to another Zune user? Very unlikely. After all, these songs are already available online, such as the Wired CD. If I were to transfer these songs, I would not infringe my CC licence, as I would not distribute the content to the public, it is a private copy. However, in the UK we don't have private copying, but this sharing is allowed under CC licensing.

I will not be buying a Zune any time soon, and I am guessing that the device may not find favour with the public. However, I cannot be concerned about the potential DRM problems of wireless sharing service that could be easily bypassed. Burn, rip and share, I say.

Update: Ashley Theunissen has emailed me this interesting note. Seems like Amazon has not realised that Zune is made by Microsoft:

2 comments:

Andrew Ducker said...

I can certainly see the advantage to being able to transfer songs to people in person. There's a world of difference between "Here you go, take a copy of this." and "Here, write down this address and when you get home remember to download files from it."

Andres Guadamuz said...

I agree. In my iPod I have installed an application called Sharepod, which allows me to share the contents of the drive.

I'm sure that something similar can be devised for Zune.