Critics of DRM copy protection schemes chime in


Following up on my own bad experiences with Apple’s copy protection schemes (I’m no longer going to call these technologies Digital Rights Management, the current IT industry euphemism that can only have been thought up by the same people who brought you Military Intelligence), comes a great rant in the Inquirer by Charlie Demerjian. He hits the nail squarely on the head:

The fundamental question is simply this. Why would a consumer want to buy something that has more restrictions and less functionality for more money than current solutions? I have asked this question to junior members of the companies to the very top CxOs, and from people on the street to fellow journalists. No-one can give me an answer.

The only answer is greed. They don’t give a rat’s ass about you, what you think, care or do, as long as they get your money. If you don’t want to give them your money, they will take it, and make resistance a crime.

Venture capitalist Tim Oren has a more reasoned, but no less conclusive, take on it:

  • Copy protection DRM always destroys end user value, in both convenience and robustness. When you see DRM in a business plan or analysis, it is always there to benefit someone other than the end user. Find out who, it will indicate where power lies in a content value chain.
  • The mere presence of DRM indicates a failure to deliver end user value. If the information object were to lose value when extracted from the bundle or service from which it was derived, DRM would not be felt necessary. Therefore the presence of DRM suggests a vendor that is behind the curve, failing to find a new value to deliver as their chokepoint disappears in the digital world.
  • DRM almost always means there is trouble afoot for aggregators (‘infomediaries’). If it’s an aggregator inserting the DRM, their value added is in question. If it’s information originators mandating DRM, then they feel they can damage the aggregator’s value with impunity, and will likely try to drive end users’ attention to themselves.
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