Monday, January 29, 2007

DRM is Dead. Long Live DRM.

There is a great article over on the Freedom to Tinker blog about how many of the major labels are getting ready to release their music DRM-free.

Itself a response to a NYTimes article, The Freedom to Tinker guys astutely point out two very important things. Firstly, a huge fuss is being made over allowing MP3s to be 'unrestricted' (i.e. sans DRM). In reality, MP3s (and almost every other creative work) are protected by copyright law, the granddaddy-of-them all in terms of content security (theoretically speaking). This use of questionable rhetoric in turn leads to the second interesting point: in the minds of record labels copyright law was simply not enough - a more closed system (DRM) was a necessity to thwart 'untrustworthy' consumers.

As such, why would you sell anyone something they can't be trusted with? Record companies have continually told everyone (consumers and artists alike) that consumers can't be trusted with 'unrestricted' MP3s, that the few who purchase such 'unrestricted' files will simply distribute them freely. As a result, a culture surrounding the 'untrustworthy consumer' (whether correct or not) has been perpetuated by the very companies that now will attempt to sell 'unrestricted files' to 'untrustworthy users'. Getting consumers to be trustworthy will be doubly hard than it should be and getting artists to feel comfortable selling unprotected MP3s will be equally as difficult.

Corporate short-sightedness again rears its ugly head. Had the recording industry , in the words of the FTT folks, "embraced the Internet early and added MP3 sales to [their] already DRM-free CDA (Compact Disc Audio format) sales, they would not have reached this sad point. Now, they have to overcome history, their own pride, and years of their own rhetoric."


vivianzjl said...
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