DRM: we own you – always

Rafe Colburn writes on Apple changing its terms for songs downloaded from the iTunes Music Store.

“LawGeek points out that Apple has changed the licensing terms for tracks purchased from the iTunes Music Store, reducing the number of times the same playlist can be be burned to CD, and has added code to detect trivially different playlists and include them in the count as well. This doesn’t really affect me, but it underscores a larger point, which is that when you purchase copyrighted material protected by DRM, you submit to the whims of the DRM provider, and usually the terms can be changed without your having any say in it at all. That’s why I hate DRM — it changes what the term “ownership” means fundamentally.”

That is an important observation – this means that when you decide to buy digital goods with DRM on them, the seller may decide – at any time – to change the terms of the deal.

Do you think this is legal? When you buy something you enter a contract with fixed terms, changing these requires both parties to agree on the change (but then again, I’m no lawyer…). Of course, you can always decide *not* to use the latest version of the software, but changes in other software may *require* you to upgrade to be able to continue to use it.

It’d be interesting to see a judges or consumer advocates take on this.


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