QotD: Where Do You See DRM Heading?

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Last week Apple announced that it had sold over 100 million iPod’s. Following this announcement speculation on the web suggested that the largest online music retailer (Apple’s iTunes) might change its tune and offer subscription based sales. Additionally, if one takes note of Apple’s recent move to offer DRM-free music, one can only wonder what is next. Today’s QotD follows this series of events to ask you;

Where do you see music DRM heading in the near future? 

Unsure what DRM is? Head over to the Wikipedia entry on DRM for a crash course.

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1 thought on “QotD: Where Do You See DRM Heading?

  1. One opinion

    It is true the CD has made both been a boon and a curse for the music industry — giving the industry an almost false hope in the mid 80s as folks replaced their vinyl with CDs –as folks now are almost finished replacing their VHS tapes with DVDs– only to take it away again in the late 90s with the real global popularity in both personal computers and the World Wide Web.
    Regarding DRMs; there are two schools of thought.
    One camp does not believe in our good nature (and points to Peer-To-Peer networks and using accelerator lanes to get around traffic on highways as proof of this). They say “copy protect both physical and digital files because you can’t trust them darn kids.” This camp believes in the PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE; that if a t-shirt is just lying there on the street, and no one is protecting it, someone will come along and take it. They believe that in order to protect their property they must do SOMETHING to protect it. Wrap it in a DRM and give the file a certain flexibility but make an effort! Because if they don’t someone will make a copy of that file and upload it somewhere and share it and she told two friends, and so and so on.
    The other camp says Pandora has let the cat out of the bag and yet, let’s not worry, people will still buy music to support the artists they love. Once they have a legal route to follow, music will be snapped up and folks will abandon their wicked ways.
    Outside of Steve Jobs though I don’t see a Moses urging the masses away from idolatry.
    Both camps want to get us back to people BUYING music (they look at different ways to make music ‘unique’ or add value to music; fancy liner notes, impressive packaging, bonus tracks, contest entry forms, discounts on other products, enhanced CDs, secret websites, etc.). The industry itself is in a seizure of change as it reinvents its place in the new value chain. Nettwerk for example, who represents BARE NAKED LADIES, has gone from a label to an almost everything…a finger-in-every-pie music company including artist management and publishing (the song writers have to get paid, too!).
    The question: where do you see DRM heading is interesting. But the question really doesn’t do the problem justice.
    The DEvaluing of music (of Intellectual Property) continues.
    Apple’s iTunes has given the industry what it has wanted most — the singles market. In one judo chop the buying public has gone from buying an album for $20, to buying a track for a looney (“forget about the rest of it…unless the rest of it is as good as the track I adore”). It’s the equivalent of Apple in the 90s going from a hardware company (and licensing other companies to make the Mac hardware) to a software company. Overnight Apple stock lost their value. They got it back when Jobs got them back into the hardware business and who can say, after the appearance of the iPod, that they were wrong? Can the music industry do the same? Is there a way to get back in the hardware business (to protect their music from their delivery mechanism)? They have certainly tried with Copy Protecting their CDs (at least a few labels did) but because Apple would not license their technology to the labels (and allow their copy protection to support iTunes), the outcry from consumers crushed this bid.
    Along comes a few European countries calling foul on Apple for a proprietary system and suddenly Steve Jobs comes out swinging calling for MP3s (NO DRMS!). What a guy. So EMI has jumped on board. OK. No DRMs.
    But it is not only the music industry that is feeling this. So the question of DRM is broader still. Last month I attended a Copyright conference and the speaker almost said matter-of-factly that Hollywood is reconsidering how they release movies in Canada because of the degree of in-movie copying on first week’s release (where someone will actually tape the movie from their seat).
    The glacial slowness of Canada (once a country we could all be proud of) to adopt laws to protect Intellectual Property Owners and/or Creators is saddening…to the point now, where if you ASK a person under the age of 22 if they’ve ever bought a CD from a record store or what they think the law in Canada is regarding music — both answers will depress you.
    Where do I see DRM going? I see it going away for a while as we try this latest experiment and let the other camp have a go. I see iTunes losing a bit of its monopoly (don’t worry Apple-lovers, they’ve got a considerable advantage in their hardware, and their software, iTunes, is so much better than their competitors). After this, if the buyers continue to move away from music…who can say. I think this is really a question of what will Intellectual Property Owners and/or Creators do without it?

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