Prince rewards spendy fans with DRM-crippled downloads

Today in Defective By Design's 35 Days Against DRM campaign, the story of a loyal Prince fan who got kicked in the teeth by the DRM on the music Prince sold from his website: "Mike McCarty sends in his horror story of being a Prince fan, as a reminder of some of the tricks that have been pulled on music fans in this DRM age. Mike says, 'Luckily I only purchased one of MANY DRM-laden album from Prince's now defunct New Power Generation website, Xpectation. It came in the DRM-encumbered Windows Media format, but this was before I was ever aware of the horrors of DRM. Ironically, I EXPECTED the files to work pretty much forever, maybe not forever but at least a few good years. However, I guess the joke was on me as I misplaced the files on an external hard-drive a year or so ago and recently located them only to find out there's absolutely nothing I can do with them.'"

35 Days Against DRM -- Day 7: Prince: Friends without benefits. (Thanks, Peter!)


  1. Fuck Prince.


    My days as a hardcore Prince fan ended a little over a decade ago, when I finally received my “exclusive” mail-order-only Crystal Ball 5-CD set several weeks after I found a 3-CD version (which was never mentioned in all the breathless press about the “exclusive”) at my local Blockbuster Video.

    What was particularly galling wasn’t the fact that he lied about the CDs only being available to suckers who gave him their credit cards over a year earlier. It wasn’t the fact that the “crystal ball” packaging was a cheap shit plastic case that rendered the discs therein “pre-scratched” for my listening pleasure. It wasn’t even the fact that the “exclusive” version came sans artwork (the purchaser got to “interact” and download the art and lyrics from Prince’s website). What was particularly galling was that Prince actually charged FedEx OVERNIGHT shipping to my Visa, after making me wait more than a year for the CD (and after I found the “non-exclusive” version at the Blockbuster).

    Whew. Can you tell that I’m still pissed?

    So Prince’s latest act of dipshittery doesn’t surprise me. After all, he tried to get his fans to stop using his symbol to refer to him back in the days when he insisted that this was how we were supposed to refer to him. (I didn’t get it then either.) He’s allegedly sued his fans for using his pictures on their fan pages. And somehow he’s won a Webby? Sheesh.

  2. Obviously Prince has a history of this kind of thing, not to mention his regular rants against file sharing, etc…

    He is one artist who doesn’t deserve your support.

  3. I have never wasted a dime on anything drm protected however I have experienced it. I can understand how easily someone could think they have actually bought something only to find out later it was only a cruel joke.
    From a personal standpoint, I just have to say

    Act of Dipshittery

    because I think its a kewl phrase.

  4. Cory, maybe you shouldn’t shout out to Defective By Design. Their 35 days campaign is playing fast and loose, to say the least. Do we need more agitprop?

    Day 2 – Netflix’s DRM streaming. They are pushing the protest cards in Netflix returns, again… Netflix doesn’t see them, and it’s a waste of paper. They put a defective stamp on the Roku netflix box. Roku has stated they are committed to opening that box up to other streaming services. End of story.

    Day 6 – Windows Media Center: The DRM that was placed on some OTA/QAM HDTV recordings of American Gladiators was an experimental effort to stomp out awful TV shows. Seriously though, it WASN’T the Broadcast flag (which MS removed support for a long time ago) it was an accidental trigger of some legacy CGMS-A code (which should have never triggered on HDTV, and which MS removed with a patch after that incident)

    Prince is a genuine asshat, but I’m sure there’s a way to make that known without supporting DBD.

  5. All you have to do is get an audio recorder software, like Advanced Audio Recorder, that records any sounds that come off the computer. Hit record on the software, play the file as you normally would, hit stop on the recorder when song is done. Boom, untrackable mp3 version of the crippled music. It’s so absurdly easy to subvert, I am baffled as to how this is such an astoundingly common gripe. It’s so easy to repair.

  6. I use and recommend this:

    Protected Music Converter

    Protected Music Converter is a software which allows you easily convert your protected (or unprotected) music files to most frequently used unprotected formats (WMA, MP3, OGG, WAV). Thus you can listen your music on your iPod, burn them to CD, upload them on your cell phone, use them on whatever device you want, even if it doesn’t support protected content playback.

    I went looking for a solution to the DRM limited audio book downloads I could get from my local library. Many of them were restricted to playback only on the computer, which is really lame if you want to listen and drive, for example.

  7. It’s so easy to repair.

    True that, and back in the 80’s you wouldn’t believe how many cars I got for less than $100.00 then all I had to do was toss the electronic distributor and stuff a older one with good ole points and a condenser in it from a junk yard for less than ten bucks. that was so easy too.
    But why should my daughter or whoever need to know what to do besides press play to hear Gwen or Green Day.

  8. I wish there was an edit button,
    anyhow I meant to mention that automobile repairs are legal. While in most cases “easy” DRM repairs are NOT legal, yeah like I’m not too concerned about the latter but that’s the point.

  9. @Red Leatherman: Because knowing how stuff works is part of learning how to make it work better. If actually were a parent, I wouldn’t suspect you’d want them to accept something purely at face value. It is entirely plausible to reason that the action of deDRM-ing something is near completely unprosecutable. You’d have to catch someone in the very moment of the process (such as if one were to outlaw inhaling quickly) as there is no practical evidence of the origin of the untrackable duplicate.

  10. @Ablestmage, I’m not condemning your way of dealing with drm but wait till you have kids, some will listen to you, some will not listen, and seldom does intelligence have anything to do with it,
    About two years ago I spent a very long night explaining how to use a recorder like the one you mentioned to an intelligent adult, she ask me to explain it, I said click this and then click play, then name and save for over 6 hours. along with real time examples. I forget what service she had paid for that drm’d all her stuff but she had a month to save it and other than the 10 or so I saved during my tutorial she saved none.
    I made my living as a tradesman but I am a thing fixer at heart, I love to fix things cars, clocks, toys, player pianos. but a lot of people don’t give a hoot about fixin things, they just want things to work

  11. @Red Leatherman: I’ll not be having kids if I can possibly help it ^_^

    “Wanting it to just work” falls under the “not wanting it bad enough” sector, methinks, so those folks who refuse to pay attention or fail to put in the disturbingly simple effort will get the DRM-inhibited consumables at face value ^_^

  12. “Prince has been living in Prince world for some time now.” – Kevin Smith quoting one of Prince’s assistants.

  13. What about those of us who use Macs? I had Audacity on my old computer to do just what you all are saying, but it doesn’t work like that on a Mac. I believe that it is because it can’t record whatever is played on the speakers, or something dumb like that.

    Not that I’m too happy with Apple anyway. Their new monitors are like DRM on steroids. (In my defense, I bought mine before all that mess.) It makes me want to build a Hackintosh, just to say screw them. (I don’t like Windows. I’ve been a Windows person since the DOS era, and have far too many unhappy memories of trying to make it run. With Vista coming out, I just decided to take the plunge.) I think my next computer may be a Linux, actually, as long as I can emulate Photoshop and IE well enough. I should just stop, I went off topic…

  14. Nico – You can get by well enough with Linux… Well, GIMP is no Photoshop… but IE? Why even bother with IE when you have Firefox?

    Hackintoshes aren’t hard to build. Start with an Intel Core 2 Duo or Quad and vanilla Intel motherboard. (AMD chips work, but the motherboards they go in aren’t well supported.)

    Ironically enough, just about any cheap Dell is exactly what you want!

    You’ll also need a torrent of OS X modified for Hackintosh, google or check the usual sites.

    There’s nothing wrong DRM-wise with Apple monitors. They do support HDCP, but so does every other monitor made in the last couple of years. Don’t worry about it. If you don’t need or use HDCP, having it won’t affect non-HDCP uses.

    Now, if you’re referring to the lack of inputs, lack of controls or webcam support under Windows, or (for the bigger ones) the dual-link DVI requirement, that’s a whole other apple full of worms.

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