Years ago a friend asked me what I thought of this new DRM (digital rights media) stuff that was just catching on. I didn’t want to say it, but I was at the time a dinosaur who had no idea what the implications were. I owned CDs of all the music I wanted. I downloaded it to my iTunes (not on the cloud then or ever) and I was happy.

In intervening years I’ve downloaded a (very) small number of songs from iTunes. But mostly I still insist on getting CDs. I’ve bumped briefly into DRM elsewhere, but tend to avoid it as much as possible. The worst place for me is the non-free phone apps. And now I see my wife buying ebooks and when I ask her if she can share one with me, she tries, and what I get is a pointer to where to buy the book myself. Excuse me, I paid for that book on her phone, why should I buy it again?

And now come the marketeers. What do you do with a nation of people who are used to having any luxury they want and are frustrated at the restrictions being put on them? Why, you sell them the same things they already have, but without the restrictions.

Worst offender so far is a new AT&T service that will let you access all music in their library for 1 flat rate. Per month. You don’t actually own anything. You just listen and pay, or don’t listen and still pay, then do it again.

Then on my xbox I looked up a game in the app store to do karaoke. See, my singing is, well, hideous. I only do it when I am alone or torturing detainees*. But I enjoy it. So I thought a bit of karaoke in the safety of my own home would be a humanitarian thing to do.

Found the app. Downloaded it. And it gives you access to 5 songs. Everything after that is available on a rental basis with the longest rental being 1 month and the shortest being 2 hours.

It’s like an escort service for your vocal chords. No thank you.

Of course, each of these things is priced at a place where it really doesn’t seem like much. Especially when, as we’re taught to do by charity calls, we break it down into metrics of the equivalent daily cups of coffee. So no doubt people will pay for these things. And piss their money away getting something of no greater value than the things the own, or could own if they pooled that money for a short time.

I don’t know which bothers me more: the companies that do this, or the people that line up to pay for these things.

* if you are humor impaired, let me clarify: that was a joke.

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