Creative MP3 Player Firmware Update Strips FM Recording. Verdict: Not Acceptable

By Richard Menta 10/17/06

OK, so you bought the Creative Technologies digital media portable instead of an iPod. The reason you bought it over the Apple was because you wanted the FM tuner feature as well as the ability to record broadcast FM. According to CNet, if you purchased a Zen Vision:M don't update the firmware to version 1.50.02 as "new firmware will also strip away the FM recording function of the Zen Vision:M, much to the chagrin of users. According to readers in the forums, this is due to US licensing issues from the RIAA".

Recording from broadcast is legal in the United States as protected by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992. The RIAA licensing issues are not true as the music lobby has no standing to prevent FM broadcast recording. Why Creative has taken this step to remove the FM record feature from their player line is beyond us, but that's not an issue? The issue is that they are stripping it out of MP3 players that have already been purchased.

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It is wrong!

When the consumer purchased their Creative devices there is a contract where every feature promised on the box is to be delivered. Removing the ability to record FM after the fact violates this contract. This applies to the Zen Vision:M as well as the Zen MicroPhoto, which according to Creative's website also removes the FM record feature.

But there is a simple solution when vendors violate the expectation of consumers. That is to not buy their products. As for those who already purchased a player and had the FM record later stripped out there is a solution there too. Complain...LOUDLY.

Cory Doctorow offers more insight on the abuses of digital rights management where he starts with the phrase Technology Giveth, Technology Taketh Away. It's very true, though as consumers we have a potent power to fight this. In the case of Creative Technologies, who are struggling to maintain single digit sales figures against the market dominant iPod, consumer awareness is the best medicine.

Until Creative stops this practice and releases a firmware update that restores the FM record feature they stole from their own customers we have to rate all Creative digital audio and video products as Not Acceptable.

We attach this to all their players because the company has violated customer trust. That is what their brand stands for today.

Other MP3 stories:
iPod Killers for Christmas 2006
Amazon Unbox - Terms Undermine Value


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