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February 7, 2006

DRM - destructive FUD

Now that I've had my monthly massage, I can unwind and actually objectively compose this rant of epic proportions.
Recently, I have embarked on a quest to digitize my analog mix-tapes. The idea here is to archive them for posterity and obviously share them with my friends. Those of you who know me well, understand that my mix-tape stacks are quite immense, and they are authentic circa 1980, hip-hop and house cuts. Unfortunately, due to large file size and bandwidth considerations, it simply wouldn't be practical to hosts the archives on my server. So, I sought out perhaps the most readily known media archiving site, the internet archive. I chose the archive because I have always admired the work of Brewster Kahle, and the whole idea of the wayward machine. Moreover, the archive has one of the most aggressive bots, Alexa's ia_archiver bot, so I was sure to have my content indexed.

*Aside* BTW: If you haven't checked out NerdTV, make sure that you peep the shows they really are quite good. Very informative.

I spent probably 20-30 minutes uploading the files. After painstakenly adding all of the content, and making sure that the nomenclature could easily identify the file, I proclaimed victory.
The next day, I went back to locate my files and to my utter surprise they were gone. I figured that there was some sort of problem with the way I'd saved the files, but then I received the following cryptic note from one of the curators:

The item you asked about was excluded from our collections for one of
the following reasons:

-Rights status unclear
-Rights status appears inappropriate for our collections
-Inappropriate content (eg, pornography, graphic violence)
-Uploader requested the removal
-Item content was empty or broken

Thank you for contacting the Internet Archive.

Hmm. It suddenly became clear that I'd been victimized by RIAA FUD campaign. Regardless, I wanted a full explanation from the curators, so what ensues is our conversation:

Are you suggesting that all of the items below are in question?
What proof are you seeking? Can you help me narrow it down?

Thx in advance for your attention.

The response:

While we aren't lawyers, and we can't look at every item submitted to
archive.org, we do remove things we run accross when we think there
might be a question about who owns the rights to a piece of music. I
believe there were several files in this item that may be questionable.
While we appreciate your willingness to contribute, please don't
attempt to re-upload these items.

I'm now seething. I thought who elected you guys as judge and jury? It's absolutely ludicrous for common folk to attempt to interpret the law of land. Especially in the case of copyright issues.
There is no question, that I paid for every piece of content. Clearly I was unhappy with the wanton censorship. My guess is that there is some hidden bias against hip-hop. No matter, I figured I'd give them a piece of my mind before I took off for odeo or some other archiving vehicle.

My response:

While I do appreciate your expeditious response, I'm a bit befuddled. I imagine that the Archive Terms of Use would help clarify my confusion. I suppose it begs the question, of what audio files _are_ appropriate. I suppose one could question each and every file that a random user would wish to upload to your archive.

I've always admired the work of Brewster Kahle, and I believe the Archive is an outstanding resource and is a great service to the community. However, I believe this sort of DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) prejudgement could potentially cripple its usefulness in the long term.

I'm clear that I paid for each and every item that I attempted to archive. In fact, some of the selections were older than 20yrs. I thought copyright expires after 20yrs ??

Again, the selections were simply an attempt to digitize my analog collection for posterity.

Their final response:

Nobody here is a copyright expert, but there are lots of resources
online that you can use to learn more about it if you'd like. A good
place to start might be: http://www.copyright.gov/

We appreciate your willingness to contribute, but we don't want to host
content we're not sure should be here.

Final Word...

Well, I decided to end the salvos, because it could easily have escalated to a flame war. I was very ready to char the curator, but the bottom line is that there are probably several other places that would be happy to archive my content. I really take issue with all of this DRM bullshit, because it really makes it nearly impossible for people to use _their_ music as they choose.

Hell, I paid for the stuff. Who is justified in telling me how it should be used? I will never understand that logic and will vigorously challenge anyone who would choose to question me. In my mind, once I pay for music it then belongs to me. It doesn't belong to the RIAA, some record label, or any other entity. I've already paid homage the artists, who by the way, makes almost nothing on the sale.

If I'm way off base here, I'd really hope that someone would square me a way.

Oh, I almost forgot. Some of you have asked about pics and such. I've posted a ton at the usual places, but I would really like for someone to sponsor me for a 'pro' flickr account.
Is there a kind and generous soul out there??

Posted by AG at February 7, 2006 3:24 AM