This is a screencast of the DRM presentations I gave last week at O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change for Publishing conference.
Some day in the near future you will purchase a digital audio or video recording and find that it doesn’t work exactly as you expect it to. Maybe it will simply stop playing after a few days, or perhaps you won’t be able to convert it for use on your portable media player, or maybe you won’t be able to skip past the annoying promos at the start of the program. When this happens you can blame Digital Rights Management (DRM) for your dissatisfaction.
While we talk a lot about DRM here on Medialoper, it’s not at all clear that everyone understands what we’re talking about. In fact, a 2005 survey of European digital music consumers (PDF file) revealed that 63% had never even heard of DRM, while 23% had heard of DRM but weren’t sure what it was. There’s no reason to believe that American consumers are any more well informed on the issue.
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 Those concerns have apparently been replaced by a complete and total faith in DRM.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.