My article on music and marketing sparked a little debate about digital rights management (DRM). I am in the opinion that DRM is in general a bad idea. It doesn’t work. It’s not user friendly. And the only people it serves are the owners of the DRM systems that can lock people into their particular playback devices.
Like Oyvind point out in the comments here it’s not the end of the world. It’s not global warming or bird flu. But it’s annoying and limiting for the development of good distribution platforms and user friendly systems on digital media.
And because there are people out there that’s way smarter than me I’ll point you to three resources that goes a bit more into detail about why DRM is a bad idea and why it hopefully will disappear:
The end of DRM is near
Yes, indeed, we are just about there: DRM is on its way out, and I needed to tell you about it, in this podcast. The Music Industry’s equivalent of the Berlin Wall is indeed coming down…. soon.
It used to be illegal to plug anything that didn’t come from AT&T into your phone-jack. They claimed that this was for the safety of the network, but really it was about propping up this little penny-ante racket that AT&T had in charging you a rental fee for your phone until you’d paid for it a thousand times over.
When that ban was struck down, it created the market for third-party phone equipment, from talking novelty phones to answering machines to cordless handsets to headsets — billions of dollars of economic activity that had been supressed by the closed interface. Note that AT&T was one of the big beneficiaries of this: they also got into the business of making phone-kit.
DRM is the software equivalent of these closed hardware interfaces.
A Copyfighterâ€™s Musings
Microsoftâ€™s Zune Wonâ€™t Play Protected Windows Media
May this be a lesson to those who mistakenly laud certain DRM as â€œopenâ€ and offering customers â€œfreedom of choiceâ€ simply because it is widely-licensed. With DRM under the DMCA, nothing truly plays for sure, regardless of whether youâ€™re purchasing from Apple, Microsoft, or anyone else.