Digital Rights Management first entered my conciousness when I saw it implemented as part of the Microsoft Office where I was stopped from printing a document – when I checked the policy on the document it noted that it was for the recipient eyes only and forwarding and printing were not allowed. Sure – I could have tried to some how get the content out of the document but the intent of the license was clear so I stopped.
Subsequent to that experience I’ve wittnessed the widespread implementation of DRM technology in the recording industry where newer file formats support the use of DRM schemes. Of course most honest people just accept that people have the right to protect their property and so they go ahead and purchase music files from online vendors with restrictive licenses attached assuming that because they are in the right they will always be able to play their music.
Life goes on swell for a period of time until you decide that you need a new computer and you pickup and copy all your music files from one machine to the other – after all, the music is in the file right? So you are up an running on your machine and suddenly your media player stops – it has gotten snagged on one of those music files your purchased online and is presenting a dialog saying that you you not licensed to play the media – what the?
Unfortunately this is the experience that more and more people will be beginning to have over the next twelve or so months as most of the population finally cycles into their next generation of home PC. This is going to be a decidedly negative customer experience for a lot of people, and for the most part those people are paying customers – meanwhile the pirates are able to continue playing their ripped media which has no such DRM restrictions.
I have a problem with the assumption that we seem to be building into technology these days that all customers are hostile and I have a BIG problem with “solutions” which target the legitimate customers first. I’m waiting for the customer backlash where vendors of music, software and movies end up having to put a tag on the bottom on their download sites which says “no-DRM in use” and that they will have to do that if they want any chance of selling copies of their products.
In fact, solutions like VCP will actually encourage people to find media which is not protected via any kind of DRM.