Imagine a world without DRM… I sure can.
I just read this article name Imagine a world without DRM where the author confuses payment and delivery with DRM.
Let me see if I can pick his argument somewhat apart.
Satellite TV. Satellite TV broadcast depends on you having paid for an subscription to the service to see it. Once you have paid you may unlock the encryption and get access to what is typically an MPEG-TS stream of video and audio. After the stream is decrypted once you may burn it to an DVD, video, stream it to your computer and do whatever you want with it, as long as you abide your countrys copyright law. In Norway you may use the data for anything as long as it is what goes as “personal use”. This is not DRM as we know it from Microsofts WMA and Apples ITMS – where you pay do get the media, then you may only play it on approved equipment that supports the locked format. MPEG-TS is an openly available and videly used standard supported by a number of players and converters.
Premium cable/satellite programming. Same thing as with Satellite TV above. You pay to get access to the content, but once you bring it home from the store you may play with it as you like. No DRM/C.R.A.P. here either.
Pay Per View movies. I am not very familiar on how those set-top-boxes work, but from what the author writes it looks like pretty much the same ordeal as the Satellite TV. And if the content is only decrypted every time you watch it (behaving like ugly DRM), then why could it not follow the business model of Satellite TV and everything else? “You pay to take it out of the store, but when you get home you can do what you want with it”.
Software. Well, now, in the examples in this case there is real DRM in play. A lot of software comes with usage blocks similar to the ones in Microsoft and Apples DRM schemes for music. Meaning they make it very difficult to use software you have legally bought, so the next time you need a new version you just give up and get a “pirated” version that installs easier, and makes it possible to have a copy of the same software on both your laptop AND your desktop computer. You also get to use it even if you lost your license key due to a Gmail crash (resent event in january 2007 where Google lost a lot of mail – including backups…) It would of course be illegal for anyone to use the software if they have not paid for it, but it would be much, much easier for customers that have actually paid.
So what is the point of DRM here? It only cludges up peoples everyday life, giving them a reason to “pirate” software or media content they otherwise would have paid for, because it actually is easier to use. I imagine a world where companies stop alienating and distrusting their customers. My impression is that people tend to want to play fair, given the opportunity.
After the Norwegian department of culture publically announced that buying music from allofmp3.com was legal in Norway I used quite a lot of money there. Why? Well, I could get fairly recent mainstream music there at an acceptable price. And it is WITHOUT DRM. I use Linux for my home entertainment system, and there is no Linux apps that supports Microsoft/Apple DRM. And my Mac does sure as h*ll not support MS DRM. So instead of downloading the music from thepiratebay.org I actually bought it from what I perceive as an legal source. If a norwegian webshop would do the same I would guaranteed buy all my music there.
Buying convenience goods like music is all about convenience. If getting and using music (which is an convenience goods for me) is difficult, complicated and inconvenient to do in the way the seller wants it to be bought and used I have very few scrouples getting it for free from the nice hippie down the street. I would never consider getting it anyway.
Conclusion? DRM is making the industry loose money and it makes me resemble a criminal. That sucks.