Cory Doctorow on Copyright, Piracy and DRM

The fine people at Change This have posted an attractively laid-out PDF of a speech Cory Doctorow gave to Microsoft about DRM (digital rights management). Cory has a way with words, and he puts his words where his mouth is, by giving away the novels and stories he’s written.As the Change This website says:

Usage of Digital Rights Management (DRM) has been hotly debated since a college student threatened to put an entire industry out of business with a little application he built in his spare time, Napster. In this transcript of a speech he gave at Microsoft’s campus, Cory explains why DRM doesn’t work, why DRM is bad for society, bad for business, bad for artists, and a bad move for Microsoft. Using Sony and Apple as examples of companies that are using DRM to punish consumers, he suggests Microsoft use the opportunity to once again champion users’ rights. To follow our current path, Cory argues, is to stifle innovation and contradict the purpose of American copyright law: to promote the useful arts and sciences.

There is an irony in this document being made available in a proprietary format: PDF. But since you don’t need Acrobat to read it – there are several other PDF readers, including Preview, if you use Mac OS X – I guess that’s all right.

in any case, it’s an intereting read, as Cory goes over the history of copyright and piracy.

On My Wish List: Nested Folders in iTunes

iTunes is an awesome program. As anyone who uses it regularly knows, it gives you a great deal of power and flexibility to organize your music, and, especially, to organize what you put on your iPod. But when you start putting a lot of music on your Mac (or PC) with iTunes, you run into a problem: you end up with so many playlists that you have to scroll up and down looking for the one you want. And this is even more complicated on the iPod, since you can only see a few at a time.

The solution is pretty simple: iTunes needs nested folders.Ideally, you should be able to create folders to put your playlists in. Think of list view in the OS X Finder: you can have a folder, and, when you click the disclosure triangle, you can see its contents. iTunes needs the same thing. With nested folders you could create as many folders as you want, and reduce the number of playlists you see at the top level.

You could create folders with the names of specific artists, genres, types of playlists (party, chill-out, etc.), music you’re tired of, or whatever you want. You could then group your playlists in whatever way fits your style. Ideally, you’d even want to create aliases for playlists, so you can put some playlists in multiple folders. (The same way you can put songs in multiple playlists.)

Here’s an example of why I’d like to see this. I’m an eclectic listener, and my iTunes library contains rock, jazz, classical music, Grateful Dead concerts and more. I’ve got a lot of live recordings, such as two box sets of Bill Evans concerts that I have grouped into playlists according to the setlists of the original concerts (the songs cover more than one CD for each one). That gives me 14 Bill Evans playlists. I’d find it much easier to have a Bill Evans folder, then have the playlists appear when I click the disclosure triangle. Same for the Grateful Dead – I’ve lots of their live shows, and I don’t need to see one line in my iTunes list for each one.

Naturally, if this were implemented for iTunes it would have to be done for the iPod as well. And it would be just as useful on the iPod – with its limited display – as it is in iTunes.

Will we see this feature soon? I’m sure someone at Apple has already thought of it. If not, I hope they visit this site.

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