Tuesday, August 7, 2007

DRM is All About Freedom

eliminatedrm.jpgFinally a big company is jumping on the DRM bandwagon instead of off of it (yes, that's a lot of "of"s in a row). Nokia is adding Microsoft's PlayReady music DRM to its S60 series phones. A great move. A move in the right direction.

The popular shift seems to be to eliminate DRM, but this is a horrible trend. DRM is necessary and in the end offers more options to both producers and consumers rather than less, as bozos like Cory Doctorow will make you believe.

More options for consumers

The iTunes Music Store, the biggest online music store, has limited options for its consumers. You buy songs. Either single ones or whole albums. You don't have the option of renting music. Other online music stores, like Microsoft's Zune music store (or whatever it's called exactly) allows you to rent music. You can download all the music you want for $15 per month. All the music you want. For as you long as you keep paying the $15 per month. Not a bad deal huh?

Mr. Jobs has been pushing the music industry to allow him to sell music tracks to consumers without DRM. That worked, some tracks you can now buy for $0.30 more and get less, you get the track without DRM. This works for iTunes, but again, iTunes options are limited. Music stores that rent music, like the Zune music store will never be able to do this. If people would demand Microsoft to stop putting DRM on its music that would kill music rentals. Why? Because it's way to easy to steal music then. You buy a subscription for a month and download all music from the music store. It's unprotected so you can do whatever you want with it. This simply would not work, right?

So DRM is necessary. It is necessary to protect the artists so that their music is not ripped off on a larger scale than it already is. It is necessary to keep offering a subscription-based music rental option to consumers. It offers the consumer more options.

Freedom of the producer

Supposedly the whole big deal with DRM is that it limits the consumer's freedom. DRM can prevent you from copying your song and sending it to your friend. That is true, that is the whole point of it. The point is not to limit the rights of the consumer per se, but to have the freedom to do that. The artist and distributer together can now freely decide what other people can do with their stuff. Which is fair, right? If I create a painting I want own the rights to that. I want to decide who buys it or can copy it. If I, for some reason, want to control that the painting is never put on a wall opposite to a window, why wouldn't I be allowed to do that? I'm the author, I can decide whatever I want. The buyer does not have to agree with that of course, in turn that's the buyer's freedom.

The same thing applies to music. Let's say I'm a singer and write and record a song. Now I want to sell this to others. Shouldn't I be able to control what happens with this song? That it is not played on religious radio stations for example (I'm an atheist), or for all I care, that the song can only be played between 4-6pm on Thursdays? It may be a ridiculous demand, but still, that's my right, right? The buyer of the music has the freedom to decline.

So DRM allows more options to the consumer and gives more freedom to the producer. Everybody wins.