It seems that a company called SpiralFrog is betting that people between the ages of 13 and 34 love free music and don’t mind commercials. Their press release and an article in the Baltimore Sun indicate that users will be able to download as many songs as they want for free—legally.
There’s got to be a catch, right? Yup. If you want to download a song, you have to sit through a 90-second commercial advertisement. Then you are free to download the song to your Microsoft Windows Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) enabled computer or portable device (sorry Apple iPod users). Watch ninety seconds of commercials to gain unlimited rights to all the music you want? Might be worth it.
But there’s still another catch. Note that I said the music requires Windows DRM, and that means you do not have unlimited rights to your newly grabbed music. In fact, you LOSE your rights to your music if you don’t return to the site and watch more commercials on a regular basis. Ick!
Another thing that is not mentioned, but knowing a bit about DRM, I’m guessing that you can play the music ONLY on your Windows PC, Pocket PC, or Windows Mobile device with the appropriate version of Windows Media Player installed.
That means: no burning the music to CD, limited transfers to other devices (and only Windows DRM compatible devices at that), and the license automatically expires, so even if you backup your files, they become useless without returning to the site.
Honestly, I’d be tempted except that it uses Windows DRM. So far, I have not found anything redeeming about WDRM—unless you are a music studio executive. It totally handicaps legitimate uses of products you purchase. So, what’s the point?
While I applaud SpiralFrog and the music studio that agreed to this creative way to distribute the music, I hope that the Internet community rejects the product so long as WDRM is used as the protection mechanism.