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Not Quite Technically Competent Enough To Know If They're Lying To Me

As I've mentioned, I won't have internet access in my apartment here in Arlington until Sunday at the very best. In the meantime, I'm making daily use of T-Mobile wireless access in Starbucks. My consistently lousy connection drops about every three minutes, so it's hardly suitable for streaming audio. Nevertheless, BarBri would like me to listen to a "Testing Drill Audio Lecture" on Criminal Law.

No problem, I thought, I'll download it and listen at home.

Silly me, that would make it easy. BarBri has made sure that my only option is an audio stream. So I could either stay in an overcooled Starbucks for another hour fighting dropped packets in hopes of hearing whatever's in this lecture, or I could go home and be with the girlfriend in my apartment.

Before choosing the latter, I flicked over to their frequently-asked questions to see if maybe there was a download function. The answer was somewhat illuminating:

I want to download the lectures but I cannot. Why?

The audio files are large and cannot be downloaded.

Now, I can understand BarBri wanting to stream audio files in order to keep them from being copied. But if the files can't be downloaded, how am I listening to them? Does it really take up less storage space and bandwidth to stream media files than it does to download them and decompress them at the other end?

Perhaps my more technically-minded friends can help, but this sounds a bit...curious to me.


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I'm not a technically minded friend, just a technically minded incoming 1L at Columbia, but yeah, your sense of smell is correct- that excuse is BS*. They are using the same amount of bandwidth to stream it to you as they are to download it. They can stretch it out over more time with the streaming, but that doesn't really impact their bandwidth costs. The only sane reason to not offer downloads is control. *Note to self: learn more lawyerly terms for 'BS' while at school.
Search for "Streambox VCR", which can capture streams to your hard drive.
Luis: I think the word you may be looking for is "unreasonable." :) Richard: I'm not sure I really want to risk a violation of the DMCA with BarBri. They're a bit itchy about their intellectual property rights. The only reason the issue annoys me is that BarBri has a pretty good reason not to allow downloads: they're afraid of copying. Everyone legitimately on that site knows they paid through the nose for access to it. Why not just point out the obvious?

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