2006 will go down in history as the year the entertainment industry finally started to take digital content distribution seriously. So far this year we’ve seen television networks and film studios experiment with a surprisingly wide variety of new distribution models, while the recording industry has started to realize that there may be a future in downloadable music. If there’s a downside to the recent explosion of digital content it has to be the entertainment industry’s unhealthy obsession with digital rights management (DRM).
In the past entertainment companies have been hesitate to distribute content digitally due to piracy concerns. Those concerns have apparently been replaced by a complete and total faith in DRM. Or, at the very least, a belief that it will be possible to build viable new business models around DRM protected content.
There’s just one problem — DRM doesn’t work. It’s a futile exercise in artificial scarcity that punishes honest consumers while doing little to slow the tide of piracy.