An Open Letter to Puretracks
Actually, this is the letter I wrote to Puretracks. It's only because I've put it on my blog that I'm calling it an open letter.
Lots of us in Canada got excited after reading the CBC article on how Puretracks is supposed to be DRM-free, but it's not.
So I’m sitting here in Vancouver and I keep getting an error message that tells me I can only access your website if I’m in Canada... which I am.
This is not good. I merely want to find out more about your service and see whether or not it’s true that your music tracks are crippled with Windows DRM.
I’m on a Mac at home (which plays non-DRM mp3s just fine, despite your blatantly false and deliberately misleading warning that they’re “not compatible” with my operating system) and won’t be able to visit from there. (Actually, I'm not sad at all about being on a Mac. Just sad that I can't do my own research and have to rely on people I trust to do it for me.)
All in all, without even getting the chance to go over your site, you’ve earned a big “thumbs down.” AND you’ve been publicly humiliated by BoingBoing to boot. I probably shouldn’t even blog about your debacle.
Please, for the public image of all Canadians everywhere, clean up that mess. It’s pretty sickening.
Dread Pirate Robert
UPDATE: .wma files crippled with Windows DRM won't play on my operating system, which means that Puretracks may NOT be lying when they claim that their files won't play. The CBC article is the one that says their files are in the mp3 format, but THAT'S clearly not true.
Anyway, I'm hoping for a response from Puretracks, Michael Geist, or anyone else who cares to weigh in.
FURTHER UPDATE 26 FEB 2007: Looks like Puretracks is actually trying to fulfill the promise of non-DRM mp3s.
Even more importantly, they're working on making it work for the Mac too. The original story in BoingBoing got a response from Isabelle at Puretracks, who says:
"I'm the director of marketing at Puretracks and a big fan of BoingBoing. I wanted to give you an update on your post about our MP3 offering that just rolled out. The first thing to mention is that we really do have 50,000 MP3s for sale in Canada . But we don't have Mac support at the moment. This is a side effect of our business reality. The entire first version of the store was based around the WMA (DRM'd) format, and it has been a monumental task switching our database and everything to support the new format. Several of these pieces, including our Download Manager, are still based on ActiveX controls and other non-Mac-friendly mechanisms so Mac users cannot purchase and downloads songs from Puretracks as of yet. But we WILL support the Macs, and the MP3 rollout is our first step towards being able to actually do that."