Thursday, December 07, 2006

End of DRM=End of iTunes


One of my real interests in technology lies in the Digital Rights Management(DRM) debate. In this post I will outline my thoughts on what is going to happen with it.


Every few days there is an interesting comment post either on Digg or one of the many blogs I read regarding DRM; normally proclaiming the end of it for one reason or another. While I would love for these posts to be true I know that for the time being at least, they never will be.


The Status Quo


There are many reasons that DRM will continue to exists; below is a brief list of them:

  1. Record Companies Like DRM - Most record execs seem petrified of the possibility that music will be free to use as we like. After the scares that the Napster years gave them they are not willing to risk that happening again.

    Realistically the idea that people will share the music they just paid for is pretty thin. DRM is very easy to circumvent if people really want to and there are still many ways to get music for free if you want to, in my opinon the people who use itunes aren't the ones who pirate music anyway. If all music stores were to remove DRM tomorrow I expect they will see no real changes in sales and the likes of bit torrent would not see a surge in users because the paid downloaders will continue to pay and the pirates will continue to pirate. In the long term I would expect an increase in paid download sales as people will have fewer problems with compatibility.

  2. The General Public/Governments don't really care - Most of the public only encounter DRM when they try to move music to incompatible devices and even then they probably aren't aware thats the cause of their problem. Despite the efforts of the likes of Bill Thompson to educate people via the BBC, people are still mainly ignorant.

    Governments only really care about an issue if they are going to lose money or votes. DRM makes them money from lobbying groups like the RIAA and people don't care enough about it to change their vote - so why would they legislate against DRM? They wouldn't!

  3. The Market is Being Impeded by the RIAA - There are a lot of music download services out there, but on the whole they use DRM. Those who don't use DRM are left with the indie labels and on the whole these make no real difference to the overall picture.

    In any normal market were a company to start offering the better product that is non-DRM protected music they would prosper. However thanks to the RIAA and their foreign counterparts such a product isn't available. I personally don't believe this will be the case for ever but for now they have the power.

  4. iTunes holds a near monopoly - At present iTunes has the lions share of the music downloads purchased due to their superb products. iTunes works very easily with the ipod and downloaded songs. The average user has no idea that the songs are even protected, as long as they happy doing everything with iTunes there is no problem for them. The minority of people who use other players either don't pay for downloads or use their CD collection so have no problem.


The Times They Are A Changin'...albeit slowly


iTunes and the iPod are DRM's biggest ally, though at times it may not seem to be the case. At present most people own who own a portable music player have an iPod of some variety (I do and I am quite happy with the product).


The iPod will not be the best music player on the market forever. The tech world moves very fast and based on the brief history of gadgets; I can reasonably predict that within the next decade, a new gadget that plays music will be produced by a company other than Apple. When that day comes people are going to want to keep the music they bought on itunes ... uh oh - you can't do that! Suddenly the general public and in turn Governments care.


You may be thinking that this happens every few years and people just spend money buying the music again on the new format. While people have been willing to spend more money in the past I doubt they will in future because no one really expects to pay twice for a file containing the same song. No doubt DVD Jon will come up with a nice easy to use solution we are all told is illegal but will use none the less. So we will all have the music we paid for back in a useable format.


With the next popular format however people will be wise to DRM and won't be sucked into the con that it is. The only question is what will the record companies come up with instead?

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home