I follow Joe Clark’s blog which tends to be about type and accessibility. His posts on accessibility can be a bit inflammatory but I tend to almost always agree with him or at least see his point. A recent post of his was on TAPInformation’s report on Accessible Audiobooks and it’s worth reading. I wasn’t going to post about it but since I’ve seen the study itself crop up on some library blogs I’d thought I’d link to it so there there’s at least a counter-point (not that many people read this blog). There’s some nice bullet-points at the bottom, so be sure to read them.
I often see some confusion when these things come up so I want to run through some common misconceptions as I know many don’t follow DRM like I do.
- WMA and AAC are audio formats, not DRM. AAC is not from Apple either. It was created by the MPEG group and is the successor to MP3. There is also an ISO standard for it. WMA is a Microsoft format of course.
- AAC is supported by many audio programs including many on linux. There is also a plugin for WinAmp I believe. This is, of course, for files without DRM
- Apple's DRM is called FairPlay.
I wouldn’t bring these up but I often see confusion in the debate of AAC vs whatever and find that some people get confused by it. Personally I’d prefer an open format such as Ogg Vorbis but I’ve come to the realization that open formats tend to get shit on unless someone big starts pushing it. I’m still waiting for my iPod to support Vorbis. I could care less about WMA support and would prefer they don’t as I’m in the camp that belives that codec should be put to rest.
A nice story I came across today though is that of Fox responding to fan complaints about the DRM in the online only FireFly soundtrack by releasing mp3 versions to those who bought it. I’ve never seen Firefly but was tempted to purchase the soundtrack just because of this gutsy move. It’s rare to see a media outlet do such a thing. Maybe if enought library patrons complain something will be done about audiobooks.
As a caveat I should mention that I own a iPod and have purchased both music and audiobooks from the iTunes store. I wouldn’t have done this though except that Fairplay is easily circumvented so I had no trouble listening to my purchases at work on my linux desktop.