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When I was solely a Linux user, I was a fine upstanding, law abiding citizen. Since going back to Windows, I have rediscovered the joys of Internet piracy. There's a false notion that Linux people are all hackers who go around violating patents and copyrights in their drive to bring civilization to its knees. Actually, Linux users tend to be people who stay away from copyright and patent infringement (with the exception of media codecs, but the patents on media codecs are on flimsy legal grounds). But Windows provides a plethora (yes, a plethora) of apps to steal music, software, movies, just about whatever you want. And what's more, some of these piracy techniques are apparently legal.

A couple of weeks ago I reinstalled Windows Vista on my laptop and purchased software to record audio and video streams off the Internet. Strictly speaking, this is legal so long as you don't intend on sharing said files. But it's very difficult to find an MP3 music stream on the Internet that is better than 128 kbs, which is good FM quality but below CD quality. But there are sources of good quality music which you can download without purchasing individual tracks by paying a monthly fee. Napster, Rhapsody, and Kazaa are three popular ones. The problem with these is that you download WMA files that are encoded with DRM copy protection. This means that in order to play the tracks on your computer, you have to be online so that Windows Media Player can contact the site where you got the music from and validate the license. If you cancel your membership (or your Internet connection is cut off), the files no longer work. And you can't get them to work on iPods or other MP3 players.

To the rescue comes Tunebite. If I had tried this app out before I bought the internet stream recording software, it would have saved me $80. This thing strips the DRM off the WMA files and converts them to MP3 at the same bit rate as the original recording. But it does it in a way that is actually legal, because it does it by playing and recording the tunes (sometimes using multiple passes to get best quality) and then transfers all the ide3 tags and other stuff so that the track is just about an exact match of the DRM encumbered one. Because it plays and records, it is within the law, or so I have read. But it definitely undermines the purpose of the DRM because you can download a bunch of music for very little cost and keep it permanently.

Now this might be possible to do under Linux, except that the music sites like Napster and Rhapsody don't support linux.

So Windows has made me a pirate…again.

Review by an alt.slack user who will remain anonymous