Feeds

Dreadful Recorded Music?

What will DRM stand for in the future?

Security for virtualized datacentres

Opinion Imagine this: a new world standard in music recording. It works like this. You turn the radio on and it downloads four hours of songs in MP3 format. Free.

Yeah, you can probably imagine that. Now: imagine this - nobody in the music recording industry complains, or protests, or sues.

It already happened. It happened when DAB first appeared, and nobody noticed, because it was too expensive a solution. And it's happened again now that DAB has been followed by DRM. No, not Digital Rights Management - almost the exact opposite: Digital Radio Mondiale.

Here's how it happened. Ask yourself: when DAB first started, how big was an SD Flash memory chip? And what did it cost?

The question is about to become really important. DAB, or Digital Audio Broadcast, is amazingly popular - in the UK. Now, the rest of the world is about to get digital radio too: but a new standard. And, almost without anybody noticing or complaining, the new standard - Digital Radio Mondiale or DRM - is about to get people arguing about music downloads again.

It has always been (technically) possible for a DAB radio owner to record the digital stream direct to memory. The broadcast is already digital so there isn't any difficulty about digitising it; the only hassle is whether it's an MP3 format recording. I have played with one of the first DRM radios, and it is.

The radio is set up so if you plug a £10 SD flash memory card into the side of it, you can record four hours of DRM, or half an hour of DAB.  There's an electronic programme guide, so you can set your timer to record shows that are coming up. And when it's done you'll be able to plug it into your PC and save the MP3 files with all your other MP3 files.

So, why did the world's music copyright owners not kick up a stink at the time?

I think it's because they didn't think it mattered. Without a deja vu machine, it's hard to prove this wrong, but you're going back close to the days when they ignored the iPod, because "it only works on a Mac, so who cares?" and at the time when DAB first appeared the UK was the only place anyone took it seriously.

Morphy Richards has now released the first DRM radio in Germany, and its view is that the difference between the UK and the rest of the world was simple: "The BBC made DAB work, because the BBC started DAB broadcasts. So there was a market for DAB radios, which meant other broadcasters started DAB stations too."

No such impetus elsewhere, and so you can take your DAB radio overseas, but you'll find almost nobody transmitting. And so, the music business ignored it. DRM is now here and is much more likely to become a global standard because it allows digital broadcasts on existing medium wave and short wave and FM channels, as well as DAB frequencies.

But it's digital and, therefore, it can breach copy protection, or digital rights management.

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.