According to this post today on ArsTechnica, Zune doesn’t actually change the shared file:
Trusted sources tell us that Zune’s wireless sharing feature, which requires Zune’s DRM to function, will only monitor the presence of shared songs for the purposes of controlling playback. Files themselves will not be modified, either on the player or on a local PC.
We also learned that users cannot share files that they have received by sharing.
Sounds to me like a distinction without a difference. Sure, the device doesn’t change the recieved file, but it also doesn’t allow you to share that file with anyone else, and after 3 days or 3 plays it will no longer allow you to play the file someone shared with you.
Can you take a file you recieved via sharing and move it to your PC, and play it forever? Unclear.
Cesar Menendez, who runs the Zune Insider blog, and was the source for Medialoper’s original post, tries to clarify here – but I still don’t see any concrete answer on what happens to a file I create, license under Creative Commons, put on my Zune, and then share to someone else’s Zune, after three days. They can’t play the file, that seems clear – can they move a shared file to their PC? Seems unlikely, since that might enable you to bypass the DRM – unless, that is, the host PC is assumed to apply whatever DRM the file started out with?
-End of UPDATE-
Microsoft’s long rumored iPod-killer, codenamed Zune, will include “social networking” features, according to this blog post at Read/Write Web.
The problem is that I can’t find any real indication of what that might mean. The Microsoft press release does describe Zune as “an online community that will enable music fans to discover new music” but it isn’t clear how that might be any different than the iTunes store, which also arguably helps people discover new music, both in the same way that any store can be said to help people discover new goods.
One feature which is described in the press release is the wireless sharing capability:
Wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing lets consumers spontaneously share full-length sample tracks of select songs, homemade recordings, playlists or pictures with friends between Zune devices. Listen to the full track of any song you receive up to three times over three days. If you like a song you hear and want to buy it, you can flag it right on your device and easily purchase it from the Zune Marketplace.
Unfortunately, as Medialoper points out, in doing so the Zune player will wrap in DRM any content you’ve put on it, even if that content is explicitly licensed under, for example, creative commons, or is in the public domain.
At least my iPod doesn’t add DRM to non-DRM-tracks I put on it – and using Rockbox I can easily share with anyone with a USB connection.