The sting in the DRM tail.

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.

2 thoughts on “The sting in the DRM tail.

  1. Keith Hill

    I really like the idea of pushing the legislative branch to enact a law that requires DRM-enformed media to advertise that prominently on the packaging. I really don’t like the fact that I can’t backup certain DVDs because of special tricks. If I’d known that to be the case, I wouldn’t have bought said DVDs (movies). BTW I really don’t blame Microsoft for this. They want to their Media Center software to be able to access premium content now and in the future so they have to keep Hollywood happy.

  2. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Keith,

    That is a good idea, although I think the media centres need to get critical mass before people can push for that kind of legislation. What it will come down to is money vs. votes. The politicians will trade votes until the money they get can’t compensate for the votes they are loosing for their actions (or lack of action in this case).

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