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March 26, 2006


John Bell

The good news is that a tech rep contacted me via email today. Of the $200 smackeroos I invested in REAL formatted music, they offered to return about 20 bucks. The email was formal and polite yet still insists that the problem is the "firmware in the portable device".

I actually believe they should do more for me and stop claiming their service is compatible.

I am disappointed in the company. Of course, I also want my problem solved. I will let you know if anything happens next.


John, I had the same problem!! I thought it was me, because it can take me a while to digest and successfully implement new technology. I also fell for the iPod/Real connection, and ordered the Real service. Ha! No Real-accessed songs were allowed on my iPod. I still haven't figured out how to do this, but I cancelled my Real account.

I am catching up on my blog reading tonight after two weeks of strep throat running through my house, and I wanted to chime in and say Me Too. I found no solution, other than to cancel my Real account, however, I was not given a refund of any size despite a strong email I sent and telephone customer service. Thankfully I only invested around twenty dollars total in the Real song library. I managed to record them using an audio hijack program and saved them as Mp3s, so that is an option you can explore, it's easy to use.


Here's the problem. A while ago, Real figured out how to hack an iPod, so that they could play their music on it. Since the iPod is the most popular portable music device in the history of humanity, Real proudly trumpeted their newfound ability.

Apple, however, likes it when people can only buy music from their store, so they "fixed" the iPod so that you couldn't play Real's songs on it any more. But, that was such a good selling point, that Real is hesitant to move away from that language and admit that you can no longer play your Real music on an iPod.

If you look at the customer support page you linked to, titled How do I install the iPod to work with RealPlayer?, the instructions they give you tell you how to set up your iPod to work _as a file transfer device_. Basically, it turns your shiny new iPod into a USB thumb drive or portable hard disk. Technically, you are "using" your iPod with Real's music, but you can't play the music that way.

As far as "fault," it kind of lies with both Apple and Real. Music can come either with DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), or without DRM. Music you buy from either store has DRM, but it's not the same DRM. Apple's iPod can play music with Apple's DRM, or mp3s without DRM. It can't play other people's DRM-encoded music. If Real wanted you to play their music on your iPod, they'd sell their music as DRM-less mp3s. If Apple wanted you to play as much music as possible on your iPod, they'd license Real's DRM.

That being said, Real needs to stop telling people that you can "use" your iPod with their music.


Mr. Bartender

If you want to get your music onto your ipod, burn your real files as an audio CD. Then go into iTunes and rip the CD as mp3s. It's a bit of a process, but will work. Shame you have to jump through those hoops though.

screw drm

What needs to happen is we have to stop putting up with proprietary formats. Boycott all of it. Use ogg (or mp3). Period. It's a big enough insult to have to pay so much, but for a crippled format?? Don't. Buy. It. Noone in the corporate world is looking out for the best interest of the people at large--only we ourselves can do it, if it is done at all.

Imagine an economic system where as much money as now (perhaps even a little more, perhaps a bit less) passed from consumers to producers of content (though I wouldn't mind at all cutting out middle-men here), but where _noone was prevented_ from listening/watching/using _any_ publicly-available digital content. The whole cultural archive online, taxes of some kind paid for it, artists/authors/producres/programmers paid according to some formula of popularity, critical/artistic merit, expense of production, etc.

The world would be _much richer_ (because economy has to do with abundance of _the wealth money represents_, not the money itself, which is just paper, after all).

I believe this is obvious, yet noone is addressing it seriously in any mass media that I've ever seen.

I'm sure evolving such a system would be difficult, but I contend it is _not_ impossible, or is at least worth _thinking about_ and _trying_. Noone in power is even imagining its possibility, though, because they _don't give a rat's ass_ about the general welfare.

Just a little contemplation reveals that there's a new and unique economic nature to this type of 'commodity', one which doesn't fit old economic models. There's a real gift here. However it's not a gift to individual businesses, but to the entire commonwealth.

A corporation only cares how this great gift -- that valuable digital content can be copied for nearly zero cost -- can profit _the one business they own_, though. They desparately try to ignore this new factor, or keep it all for themselves, and try to hypnotize the rest of us into believing that sharing is evil. IMO, it is instead the 'digital rights managers' that are attempting to perpetrate a great evil on the rest of us, by monopolizing and preventing the spread of wealth. I feel strongly (and sincerely) about this.

We need to assert a new kind of eminent domain here, I think; in the long run, I believe we will.

Let's begin a difficult dialog on how an economic system could be created that would work for everybody: that's as fair as possible, and which uses the true nature economic of digital content to _everyone's_ advantage (axcept, perhaps, the all-for-me greed-heads). The nature of digital content simply cannot be denied forever; there's too much pressure for their measly spiggots.


Seems like this would easily be considered false advertising, which you can take them to court over. Get a lawyer and sue. If you sue in civil court I believe you can ask for punitive damages up to three times the amount of actual damages.

I hope you talk to a lawyer about this.

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