How The Recording Industry's Obsession On DRM Made Apple So Powerful

from the unintended-consequences... dept

Oh how we all love those unintended consequences that come back to bite those who only think one level deep. It's no secret that, lately, the recording industry is pissed off at Apple for not raising prices on iTunes songs (something we still think the recording industry has no say over -- if they want to raise wholesale prices, then they should go ahead). They've even gone so far as to threaten to pull their songs from iTunes, something it's unlikely many of them will do. However, Copyfight points to a piece by Tim Lee which notes that it's the recording industry's own obsession with copy protection technology that made Apple so powerful. Apple has tremendous lock-in with iTunes, in large part because they gave in to recording industry demands to use copy protection technology. That means that customers are unlikely to go elsewhere and the only ones who really suffer if a label pulls out of iTunes is that label. So, instead, Lee suggests the recording industry should negotiate a new deal that demands that Apple removes all copy protection as it would free people up to leave Apple and buy elsewhere -- taking away much of Apple's power position. Of course, the established recording industry will never go for it (nor would Apple) as they've come to believe the mantra that copy protection is necessary that they're blind to any possible business model that doesn't use it, or to the ways in which copy protection does more harm than good to their business. It's amazing that it's becoming clear to just about everyone outside of the entertainment industry how damaging copy protection is from a business model standpoint -- but the industry continues to insist it's the only way to go.

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  1. identicon
    jeremiah, 10 Oct 2005 @ 3:12pm

    DRM is not just about your damn mp3's...

    I really wish Techdirt would back off its incredibly myopic view of DRM, because I think you're doing your readers a giant disservice.

    DRM, while momentarily inconvenient for those of us with DRM-laden mp3 files, is not exclusively about mp3's, DVD's, or anything that the "entertainment business" on its own cares about. Additionally, the fact that the discussion over copyability and access control is continually framed in a "OMFG I CAN"T PLAY MAH MP3 ON MY CELL! TEH SUX()RS!!" completely misses the point of DRM.

    Ask yourself this question: Should your medical records have access control?

    The answer, of course, is "Yes."

    *THAT'S* DRM!! The same concept that keeps your online banking (relatively) secure, your credit report (relatively) secure, your medical records, criminal history, etc, is DRM.

    Yes, a huge generational/technological gap in the management echelons of the entertainment conglomerates has resulted in a clumsy interpretation and application of DRM. Yes, it's inconvenient. Yes, it's angering when files/devices you've paid for don't work as advertised.

    Distilled to its essence, DRM is just about ones and zeros. Nothing more, nothing less. To be understood and discussed intelligently, however, the conversation must move out of the myopic realm of personal mp3 collections, and must accomodate the larger realities of DRM in a digital world- that DRM touches and influences processes and data types of ALL kinds.


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