I found this article penned by Steve Jobs discussing Digital Rights Management (DRM) and electronic media.
Jobs makes a rather compelling argument that DRM is not necessary, and may even be detrimental to the content owners.
In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.
Meanwhile Microsoft’s next generation OS, Vista, is being absolutely pummelled in the press and blogosphere for it’s overly aggressive piracy controls and DRM. Microsoft will soon realize that the public won’t stand for it. Hackers will continue the cat and mouse game, costing millions in development and patching costs. Home-Theater hobbyists will eschew Vista for open source options. Enterprises will spurn Vista for fear MS might inadvertantly disable functionality with it’s tilt-bit ‘feature.’
It doesn’t have to be that way! What if Microsoft decided to grow a spine? Even more radical, what if Microsoft, Apple, and the OEMs jointly pushed back on the RIAA an MPAA and said “We won’t support DRM from this day on. If you want your content to see the light of day in the new digital era, this is simply the way it’s going to be.”
Today’s bold statements by Jobs, combined with the inevitable trainwreck Microsoft faces with Vista’s handling of DRM, lead me to belive this rebellion against the RIAA and MPAA may be in our future. If it happened this way, we might actually have a shot at seeing a DRM free world.
We can only hope.
<post moved from my old tech blog>