New Jack City

I popped over to my local Borders this afternoon to burn a couple of coupons and was surprised to find they had done some redecorating, including a new multimedia center where you can burn music tracks to your own CD or download them directly to your MP3 player. I had a few questions, so I tracked a clerk down and politely interrogated her.

Me: Can you download tracks to any MP3 player?

Clerk: We’re not compatible with iPods or Zunes, but any other MP3 player should work. If you bring your MP3 player in, we can hook it up to our computer and check its compatibility.

Me: Once I’ve downloaded tracks to my MP3 player, is there a limit to how many times I can copy the tracks to other computers or MP3 players.

Clerk: No, there’s no limit.

Me: So, no DRM?

Clerk: No.

I didn’t check to see if there’s a “user agreement” to downloading music that violates fair use as Amazon’s DRM-free MP3 store apparently does, and it’s not good that you can’t download music to iPods or Zunes (although considering those are Apple and Microsoft products, I’m betting that’s the decision of Apple and Microsoft, not Borders, because of the lack of DRM), but so far, Border’s music download system looks promising.

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6 thoughts on “New Jack City

  1. Pingback: New Jack City

  2. I think it has more to do with them supporting the .wma format, which, ironically enough, isn’t supported by Zunes. At least it wasn’t the last time I checked, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  3. That makes sense to me. I mean, the part about Borders supporting the .wma format makes sense. The part about Zunes not supporting that format makes no sense to me whatsoever. But then, there’s a lot that Apple and Microsoft do that makes no sense to me.

  4. FWIW, Steve Jobs has publicly stated that he’s against DRM and has been active in discouraging it. The studios have been very hot about it though, and insisted on a means of controlling data which contains their IP. However, with iTMS becoming a huge retailer of music, and with Apple’s policy of not sharing the details of their “Fair Play” DRM with /anybody/, this locks purchasers into the Apple hardware/software trap. What they buy can only be played in iTunes app or on an iPod (OK, OK, -or- burned to a CD-R and played in any player – how 1980s!). Now the record companies are panicked that they’re empowering a retail monopoly.


    Actually, I thought of one reason that Apple wouldn’t jump in here; it might muddy the iTMS profit stream… and they’d have to update their iTunes app to copy things FROM the iPod to the hard disk, whereas currently it will only do that for purchased downloads.

  5. Are there even any other mp3 players besides Zunes (which I have) or iPods (which my son has)? What a silly limitation.

    P.S. I know there are other mp3 players, I’ve just never seen anyone use one.

  6. One of my coworkers has an MP3 player that’s neither an iPod or a Zune, and when I get an MP3 player, I’ll go the same route. I really don’t care for Apple’s and Microsoft’s approach to customer use (and non-use) of their gadgets.

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