Monday, March 20, 2006


As has been observed in the comments section, we find it difficult to mention Digital Rights Management without using the word "hobbled", but it turns out we might have been using precisely the right word. Checking the DRM on Windows Media and AAC files consumes computing power to an extraordinary degree:

"It takes extra processing power to ensure that the licenses making the tracks work are still valid and match up to the device itself. Heavy DRM not only slows down an MP3 player but also sucks the very life out of them."
Here's CNET's breakdown of the battery lives of various MP3 players playing DRM and non-DRM (I'm guessing 128 kbps MP3s, but that's not explicit in the review):
Creative Zen Vistion:M: 16 hours with MP3s, 12 hours with only WMA subscription tracks
Archos Gmini 402 Camcorder: 11 hours with MP3s, 9 hours with DRM tracks

iPods run about 8 per cent light when playing AAC rather than MP3 tracks.

So, to take the example of the Creative Zen, the digital rights fingerprinting takes up 25% of your battery power. Irritating for a long journey; wasteful of power. And remember, of course, that playing these tracks on a PC will have a similar drain on mains power, it'll just be less noticeable. It will, however, all be adding to global warning and using up scarce resources, to no good effect at all; just to keep the RIAA happy.

The polar bears can't get to their winter feeding grounds because the ice isn't freezing properly, but at least Warner Records execs can order more take out sushi than ever before.

[Thanks to Karl T for the tip]

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