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July 8, 2004
RCN's New Tethered Music Service
Yesterday, the Boston Globe regurgitated a press release and "reported" that bundled telecommunications provider RCN has announced a new music subscription service that provides some access to $700,000 songs for $8/month with no downloading fees (RCN starts Net music service). Read the press release: RCN Launches New Fully Integrated RCN Interaction Music Subscription Tier. Actually, the press release is more informative than the news article. Read on...
The subtitle for the Globe article is, "Customers get unlimited access to 700,000 songs." Ummm ... not quite. If you read the press release you'll actually notice that downloads are tethered to three computers (for an earlier Copyfight article on tethering, see A Tale of Two Tethers). What this means is that there is some sort of DRM involved. I wouldn't call DRM "unlimited access."
What are some of these limitations? Well, I did a little journalism and called RCN:
- As noted, tethered to three computers. It may not seem like too much of a limitation, but many families will easily hit that limit. 1 or 2 PCs at home. A couple might want to have their "unlimited access" music on another 1 or 2 PCs at work. Perhaps they have a child away at college (another PC). A portable laptop for business trips definitely strains the 3 PC limit.
- No burning allowed. No CDs for the car. No CDs to take the beach. Nothing.
- Uses Windows Media Player 9, which means you must agree to Microsoft's software licensing, whether you like it or not.
- Your downloads will "expire" when your subscription ends or the computer you've downloaded to doesn't connect to the internet to verify your license for 30 days. Gonna love that when you go on vacation.
Well, I suppose it could be worse.
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