In a bold, exciting headline TorrentFreak declares that “DRM is Dead, RIAA Says.” I concur that DRM is definitely dead for music downloads and it is certainly a milestone that representatives of the RIAA are admitting it now. But we still have a very long way to go – just look at video.
Music Download DRM is Dead
The torrentfreak article explains the context of the quote this way:
Jonathan Lamy, chief spokesperson for the RIAA declared DRM dead, when he was asked about the RIAA's view on DRM for an upcoming SCMagazine article. "DRM is dead, isn't it?" Lamy said, referring to the DRM-less iTunes store and other online outfits that now offer music without restrictions.
Hearing that the RIAA is declaring DRM dead for music is nice – although we’ve known this for a while now (to say the least) even if they haven’t. There are now many avenues to get DRM-free digital downloads of music from Amazon, iTunes and other legitimate sources. But how about DRM on video?
DRM on TV, Movies and eBooks – Just Getting Started
Just as music DRM is going away, DRM on TV streaming (Hulu etc), Cable TV Tuning (Encrypted Digital QAM/ CableCard & soon Satellite TV Tuners?), Video Downloads (iTunes & Amazon) and DVDs & Blu-Ray Disks all have plenty of DRM or encryption with copy restrictions making it more difficult to view and listen to the media you purchase. I use the word purchase a little loosely since the media you pay for with DRM really is intended to be more of a “rental” of sorts.
You’re Renting those DRM’d Media – not owning
Take for instance the Amazon debacle of last week. Yes the books Amazon pulled from customers Kindles were in fact “unauthorized.” But the fact that Amazon pulled the books right from customers Kindles (even though they did credit the money back to those customers) without notice or an “ok” from the owner of those Kindles shows one of the dangers of DRM’d media. Many other examples of DRM’d music going away when the “DRM server” was pulled are all examples of why we do not want DRM on items we purchase.
DRM on All CableTV – Removing the “Analog Hole”
Let’s not forget that the MPAA had plans to some day close the “analog hole.” Which would mean forcing video to HDMI-only. The MPAA push for something they call "Selectable Output Control" (SOC), a way of ensuring your set-top cable box can't show certain content on the analog output so you won't copy it is another example of “locking down” the content and forcing you to their limited rules. The MPAA request was knocked down by the FCC last year, but I don’t see the MPAA giving up this fight any time soon either.
There Must Be a Better Way
The ills of DRM have been widely talked about of course as have the reasons media companies have put encryption and DRM onto that media. My problem with DRM is mostly around the shackles it puts on your use of that media. It hinders the use of the media on your Home Theater PC, mobile devices, eBook Readers etc and makes it more difficult for the paying customers to enjoy the media they are willing to pay for. There has to be a better way – lets hope the other media industries come around faster than the music industry has and finds a better solution than DRM.
For the full article on the death of music DRM check out TorrentFreak