HOT DRM, BOOHOO

Rupert (the MP3 player, purchased in May 07) came with a promotion from boohoomusic.ca (corporate names have been changed) – 30 free songs if I joined up, free to keep regardless, and I joined. My 30 free songs consisted of pop stuff. It was easy.

I also purchased and downloaded a bunch of songs direct from artists' sites, Creative Commons stuff (no DRM), and uploaded a bunch of albums (5 or so) from my personal CD collection to Jackson Institute (the computer).

I was travelling (LA, San Diego, train home), ten days away from home. About halfway into the train ride home, most of the music wouldn't play. The message was that Boohoo wouldn't let me play the music unless I did the Jackson Institute - Rupert sync weekly. In effect Boohoo had taken some weird ownership of all the music, which I found quite annoying, so I quit Boohoo as soon as I arrived home.

Led by one of the hipper flatmates, I found eh-music, a site that sells obscure-ish music with no DRM, which I joined. I took out a monthly subscription, and I have been happily downloading obscure-ish, unprotected music from them ever since. I have also been happily uploading music from my personal CD collection, and had 20 or so CDs in the library. 

My eh-music refresh date is the 24th of each month. For my April download I was a bit late, waiting until about the 10th of May. After I downloaded my new songs to Jackson Institute, I hooked up Rupert II (the third of the MP3 players – it's a long story) which sent the message that it had 1.9 GB remaining, and then the sync started. Something glitched and when the image came back the message read that Rupert II had 4.6 GB remaining; somewhere along the way 2.7 GB of files, all music, had gone missing.

I checked on Rupert II, and the music that was not from eh-music, that is the Boohoo songs and the uploads from the personal CD collection (20 or so CDs), were gone. I checked Jackson Institute, and they were gone from there too. Somehow, everything that had DRM had disappeared without leaving any traces. It was as though they had never been there.

My first I thought was that I might have deleted the tracks, but when I thought it through I remembered that my memory, though growing weaker, has (historically) been very strong; I can remember conversations verbatim, I can remember what people wore and the circumstances surrounding situations, I can remember birthdates and phone numbers, I can remember a lot of stuff in fine detail. My memory is a bit like a two year old hard drive, normally reliable, but a bit flaky. That said, it's not nearly flaky enough that I could delete 2.7 GB of files, all music, and not recall having done so.

Coincidentally, the hard drive (on the two year old computer) has been misbehaving a bit lately, crashing for no reason (clicking on the inbox in gmail), but it is no Hal 9000 (I have been careful not to download any recordings of "Bicycle Built for Two) and it is not yet misbehaved enough that it could/would selectively delete 2.7 GB of files, all music. So what could have happened to that 2.7 GB of files, all music? 

I suspect boohoomusic.ca came after me on the one year anniversary date and deleted all the music files that had any DRM on them. I can't prove this, but what else might it be?

~ by thiscassandra on Thursday 29 May 2008.

2 Responses to “HOT DRM, BOOHOO”

  1. Start with the assumption that your instinct here is likely the correct one; many DRM schemes self-destruct if they don’t get a “no, it’s okay, really” message from the mother ship at regular intervals. When maintaining a DRM like that ceases to be profitable, woe betide them what purchased something so “protected”.
    That said, there’s no freakin way 30 free songs represents 2.7 GB of content.
    That further said, without knowing the make and model of the MP3 player and the software used to manage the synchronizing, this is difficult to diagnose.

  2. I wasn’t very clear, the 2.7 GB consisted of all the Boohoo stuff and all the uploads from my personal CD collection (20 or so CDs). I have edited the post to better reflect the situation.
    The 30 Boohoo songs was nothing.
    Someone directed me to isohunt. Interesting.

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