Yesterday, my sister bought a music file from one of the “legal” music download sites, Puretracks.com. Once she downloaded it, she tried to play it in her MP3 player, which is why she bought it in the first place. She then discovered that it was in WMA (Microsoft’s proprietary format) and her MP3 player did not support that format. So, she asked me for help in converting it to MP3, so she could play it in her MP3 player. I couldn’t even play this file, as it was encumbered with DRM (Digital Rights Management), so that only she could play it.

I then suggested she burn it to a CD, using Microsoft Windows Media Player, which could play the tune just fine, and then just rip it back to MP3 from there. So, she burned it on a CD, and she could play the CD just fine. She was using RealPlayer to play the CD. She then tried to use the same player to rip the CD track back to an MP3, and it wouldn’t let her. It was as though the DRM had followed the track onto the CD. Several hours later, she still couldn’t play the track she legally paid for on her MP3 player.

The fallout from this has been a very bad user experience, with someone willing to actually PAY for music being denied the ability to use the legally purchased song on her music player of choice. This means that she will never use this service again, and probably never use a legal download site again. All because the RIAA has it’s head up its ass so far that it has lost sight of the customers it is supposed to be attracting to its offerings. All the RIAA can see these days is its collective upper colons.

Here is a radical idea for the RIAA, which I already know will fall on deaf ears. How about thinking about the customers for a change, instead of merely thinking of ways to preserve an outdated business model and trying to find new ways to gouge the customers and the musicians too. The RIAA is becoming an anachronism, and desperately needs to be put out of its misery.

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