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back to article The protection's off, as Warner commits to Amazon

Warner Music Group is making its music available for download from Amazon without Digital Rights Management (DRM) copy protection, enabling consumers more freedom in how they listen to and transfer digital music. Amazon.com/MP3 All tracks on Amazon are compatible with iTunes and Windows Media Player Amazon.com's download …

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Stop

Free Sharing?

Not so. The point of the fight against DRM is the ability to format shift, escape patent claims on codecs and use the content you have paid for on the device of your choice. It is not, and never has been, about facilitating distribution outside of that controlled by the copyright holders.

This sort of statement is harming rather than helping the fight against restriction of legal uses of copyrighted content.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Correction

Quite right. Thank you.

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Great news

This is great news. I really think Amazon is going to give iTunes a run for their money. I'm sick of having to burn iTunes songs to CDs then ripping them back into MP3s.

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Woo!

That makes me very happy (assuming it eventually comes to the UK, and assuming the artists I want are on Warner...). I will then be able to play the music I buy online on both my iPod and my Sonos :)

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Alert

At what bitrate?

If it's not 320vbr, it's trash! Might as well stick it on an iPod ;)

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DRM-free shite is still shite

Haven't the labels discovered yet that marketing a dozen identical boy bands who *still* have no talent is no more effective than marketing just one?

No wonder there's a 15% falloff in CD sales. Even Milli Vanilli was more musically enticing than the current crop of crap.

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Anonymous Coward

@Dave

Things have really come on for quality MPEG encoding and I'd happily downloaded tracks today that I wouldn't have touched 3 years ago, so long as it's DRM free, of course.

As a music fidelity connoisseur myself I'd very much like to invite Dave to a blind listening session of the kind a group of mates did recently. We have some fairly heavyweight playback gear and used lame to encode using the "standard", "extreme" and "insane" preset, and threw in a FLAC for good measure. Between the four of us we only just managed to correctly identify the "standard" encoding, vbr around 190kbps, and even that was bloody good. No discernable difference using a variety of songs between the extreme, insane and lossless.

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@Scott

No, thank you. That small alteration stops the usual suspects from branding us all as thieves. The reality is that most of us just want to enjoy music and pay for the privilege, but not be locked in to a particular format or device. Some would probably tell you that information (and music) wants to be free but, again, most of us are a little more pragmatic, having to live in the real world.

I don't usually find myself praising Bezos' little venture, but the fact that it has always worked for people using "alternative" operating systems and browsers is another step in the right direction. Here's hoping it will continue to do so.

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@Dave

256vbr, apparently:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200154210&#spec

Maybe not quite up to 320, but certainly better than most stuff out there. I may just try this download service out...

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Not for me

Here is the FAQ for Amazon MP3 downloads: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200154210

And here is the Terms of Use page: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200154280

And here are the reasons I won't be using the service:

1. The downloads are in .MP3 format. I don't want the patent-encumbered .MP3 format. The only .MP3 files I have are from the now-defunct mp3.com. All of my own CDs, I rip to the free .OGG format.

2. The tracks are encoded at 256kbps VBR.

While some (probably many) will point out that if I "purchased" a track, I could convert it from .MP3 to .OGG format, I would kindly point out that any conversion to/from a lossy format will result in degraded audio quality. In other words, the resulting .OGG file would be even less quality than the .MP3 file, no matter what bitrate was selected.

3. No physical media is transferred.

I like CDs. I like being able to play the music in my car and in my CD player. I like the fact that if I want to, I can re-rip the songs into any format I want, including lossless FLAC format.

4. You need to download and install the "Amazon MP3 Downloader" application in order to "purchase" the album (you do not need to install the application in order to "purchase" the tracks individually, though doing so will often cost more than "purchasing" the album). This also excludes Linux users: "If you wish to purchase an entire album, you are required to use the Amazon MP3 Downloader available for Windows XP or Vista and Mac OS X 10.4 or higher."

5. You cannot download the track again if something happens to your computer. "Your Amazon MP3 Music purchases can only be downloaded once. After you have successfully downloaded the file to your computer at the time of purchase, we recommend that you create a backup copy. We are currently unable to replace any purchased files that you delete or lose due to a system or disk error. If you encounter a problem with an MP3 file immediately after purchase, please click the Customer Service button in the Contact Us box in the right-hand column of this page so we can determine how to help you."

This also means that if there were artifacts introduced during encoding (pops, clicks, etc), and you don't notice it right away (perhaps even if you do), you're screwed and you simply have to deal with it.

6. The license is non-transferable.

At least with a physical CD, I can resell it if I later decide I no longer want it.

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@Pie Man

> Between the four of us we only just managed to correctly identify the "standard" encoding, vbr around 190kbps, and even that was bloody good.

Quite. I'm reminded of a Quad loudspeaker advert of some years ago, where a (cartoon) reviewer is seated, scowling and obviously disapproving, in front of a curtain behind which is a live cello player. The point being - he'd been told he was listening to a recording played through speakers so that's exactly what he heard; rather like those who are convinced that insane bps rates make for a better sound than more realistic rates.

Last time I checked, data was still being streamed off a standard audio CD at 150kbps.

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@BitTwister

You have been misinformed. Audio data is recorded onto an audio CD at 150Kbps (notice the capital K). Put into the kbps notation of compressed audio, an audio CD is encoded at 1200kbps. An audio CD contains 150 kilobytes of audio data per second (75 samples per second at 2KB per sample).

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Compact Disc audio = 1.3Mbits/sec

I thought the CD audio payload data rate was 176,400 bytes per second.

The sample rate is 44.1KHz, there are 2 bytes/16 bits per sample and 2 channels (stereo). So the byte rate is 44100*2*2=176400 bytes per second or 1,411,200 bits per second.

The data recorded on the CD also has Reed-Solomon ECC and control information.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Chris C

You are misinformed.

A capital K means nothing, the B is the significant letter. Kb or kb means kilobits, KB or kB means kilobytes. K (or k) means 1024 but a small b means the smaller of bits or bytes, which is patently bits.

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Happy

It's not so bad

Despite an annoying interface apparently calculated to discourage potential downloaders, the Amazon service works quite well. Well over 99% of my music is on CDs. I prefer CDs because they have a high data rate and I can always transcode to any format I wish. Plus they usually come with lyrics and are already backed up to CD :) But for the occasional song or two for which I don't care to purchase the entire CD, the service is very welcome and convenient. I have some McCoy Tyner that is exceptionally well recorded and encoded.

Most of the songs are vbr with a rate somewhere between 225 and 320 kbit, or 256kbit CBR. If you use their downloading tool they will guarantee against corrupted audio or failures. I have about 50 Amazon downloads and only one was bad (a .25 second audio gap). I complained about the bad file using their form and they refunded my money within two days. They also said that they had tested the file on their servers, determined it to be bad, and had arranged for it to be replaced.

P.S. The CD datastream is essentially the same rate of a T1 datastream. Given that T1 was an established technology at the time and components were commonly available, I suspect that it wasn't a coincidence.

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I like this sevice

I don't give a crap about downloading whole cd's so it works for me. I was actually surprised at how good the quality was mp3's just in general have always been noticeably poorer in quality than the cd tracks they are ripped from/

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Tom
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If they could just get past the silly US ONLY crap.

I can buy (and have) a DVD from Amazon.com, .ca, .co.uk, .co.jp but I can't buy a MP3 because I live in Canada?

Don't say "it's because of the licence" because THEY wrote the licence.

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Offer downloads for free when baught with a CD

I've always thought Amazon should offer downloads for free when you buy a CD. That way you have a digital copy instantly, and a top quality copy on its way in the post. The best of both worlds! Only there's no need to charge twice for it... it should be an added extra, or maybe an extra 10% on top of the CD price at most.

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@Chris C

Oops... (blush)

But what were you trying to imply with the use of 'K' and 'k'?

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Apple's DRM is in name only

Probably one of the worst kept consumer secrets is that Apple's DRM seems to be more to keep the labels happy ("We've got DRM") than a technical obstacle to track copying. I notice, for example, that my daughter buys quite a lot of material from iTunes but she has a Zune, not an iPod. The first thing she does -- and everyone else seems to do -- is strip the DRM off because its just a nuisance.

So I expect as the barriers come down Apple will drop the DRM.

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Patents and DRMs

mp3 a "patent-encumbered" format? I'm not aware of anything there... I actually thought it was some half-baked pretext for RedHat not supporting mp3's under xmms (as of RedHat 9 and then Fedora). My .ogg files seem to work only in Linux, and I don't want to be OS-restricted in the same way .wma does to Windows. Oops!

As for Apple's DRM, the matter is not if you can or can't crack DRM, but the fact that its there, and its "illegal" to crack it. Sure, I might be able to drive 200 km/h on the wrong side of the road too, but I don't think the cops would like that argument.

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Legality??

Sorry Daniel B but your analogy sucks big time. Driving down the road at 200 km/h endangers and risks the life of the driver, any passengers they have and other motorist and pedestrians. This is hardly comparable to Martin Ushers daughter removing DRM from a song she has legally purchased is it. You sound like one of the RIAA monkey boys, they would have you believe that every time you download a song you're the cause of a a kitten getting killed.

What always strikes me as rather strange is that companies such as Sony have been selling mp3 players for a good deal longer then you have been able to legally download mp3s especially when you consider that ripping a CD to mp3 is illegal. So stripping DRM from a song is just as illegal as ripping a CD to Mp3. Stop dramatising the issue.

its illegal to rip CD's to Mp3's

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