You know that out-of-place feeling you get when you walk into a party with a Hawaiian shirt and jeans on and everyone else is wearing a suit? Well, the Microsoft Zune feels your pain. One of the unique features of the Zune is its ability to send music to another Zune via WiFi. The feature plays a big role in Microsoft’s “Welcome to the Social” marketing plan, which encourages users to send music to each other. In accordance to antipiracy laws, a file sent from one Zune to another will only be playable three times for three days before it must be bought to be played again. So far so good, right? Not quite.
A large (and growing) number of musicians have new license for their music known as Creative Commons, which actually encourages users to spread Creative Commons licensed music to each other. Artists with the CC license feel the Microsoft Zune shouldn’t lock up their work after three plays, after all, they went their music to be shared freely.
The Zune … does not violate the letter of the CC license but it certainly violates the spirit of the license and of free culture generally
– Creative Commons general counsel Mia Garlick
In response to the problem, a Microsoft representative stated,
We are not applying any ‘DRM’ to any files that weren’t already protected. No file that has (for instance) a Creative Commons license or is unprotected will have any encryption applied to it.
In my opinion, Microsoft isn’t at fault here. If the Zune isn’t locking up CC licensed files, CC shouldn’t feel the need to attack the Zune’s stance on file-sharing. Though, it’s not going to help Microsoft if free-spirited musicians stop supporting the Zune. Creative Commons seem to be using the situation to implement its licensed music into mainstream MP3 players that support “DRM-ed” music. It isn’t a bad idea, except both CC and Microsoft will have to find a way to differentiate what music is licensed by CC and what isn’t.
At this point in time, it’s important that Microsoft tries to find a way to get CC licensed music onto the Zune. Like Wired News said,
If Microsoft truly wants this device to be as hip, revolutionary and freedom-loving as its advertisements and wireless feature suggest, it’ll get to work on adding CC support right quick.
Microsoft Zune Faces Another Problem [wired news]