DRM is a neccesary evil, but it won’t stop everyone. It only slows the velocity of illegal behavior. Making media easy to access and consume would have an even greater effect.
Cameron: The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California. Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love. It is his passion…
Ferris: It is his fault he didn’t lock the garage!
Anyone really believe that Ferris wouldn’t have stolen the car if the garage was locked?
If you subscribe to Yahoo! Musicmatch, Real Networks (RNWK) Rhapsody, or another Windows music subscription service, you use the Microsoft (MSFT) PlaysForSure digital rights management (DRM) codec. While you can download all the music you wish, the software prevents the user from transferring the media to other users.
It works, but as a subscriber to Yahoo! Musicmatch who transfers music to a Cingular 8125, I can tell you it is far from a pleasant user experience. In fact, it almost never works. Transfers mysteriously fail, and occasionally my whole downloaded library refuses to play.
A hack recently surfaced that would allow users to remove the DRM from downloaded files. It works. Microsoft must be fielding some angry phone calls from both customers and content owners.
Engadget tracked down the hacker – “Viodentia” – and interviewed him.
It gets better – Microsoft is now suing Viodentia, and plans to subpoena Google and Yahoo for information that would allow them to locate him (her? not likely). Microsoft is also throwing the entire PlaysForSure algorithm on the scrap heap with their new Zune initiative. (see ‘Apple Overload and Zune Confusion‘)
Why does DRM even exist? Because people have no respect for goods where the marginal cost of production is zero or close to it. (Source).
Is this fair? No. Is it right? No. Is DRM needed? Absolutely. There is no reason why DRM can’t be perfected. Will it stop everyone? Of course not- the objective is simply to reduce the velocity of pirated material, not bring it to a halt.
At the same time, content owners need to make their media available, because individuals who can’t freely access their media will simply pirate it out of convenience, not because of an economic decision. It’s not the presence of DRM, but the inconvenience and lack of media distribution that creates a bigger market for Viodentia’s services.