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
    Elijah Blue, 11 Oct 2005 @ 9:15am

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

    DRM has nothing to do with my medical records or PERSONAL information (bank info, credit cards, etc.).

    That's mine. I should control it. It's specific to me as an individual. It effects my day to day life.

    Music and movies are public by nature. The goal is to 'get it out there'. That's why these music and movie companies exist, right? Distribution of content.

    I understand the desire to control the money flow (which is really what DRM is about: money), but some of these guys should look at the technical worlds approach to some of these things. Microsoft vs. Linux, for example.

    What you say? Well, Linux is created by it's users for it's users (and those interested in using it).

    What if all the musicians and movie makers decided to just 'go direct'. That's what's happening. Podcasting, (Video and Audio) for instance, will change the equation big time.

    What if a musician sells, directly to his/her fans, a 'subscription' to the bands weekly podcast? Inside stories, interviews, live recordings done that weekend at the local venue they played at and, once every 6 or 12 months.. a set og 10 or 20 songs INSTEAD OF DOING A CD.

    Charge $30 a year per fan, build a fan base, and you're making a damn good living as a musican, and you've never even talked to a record company rep.

    That's gotta scare the hell out of the old school guys. Don't get me wrong.. they aren't going away (just like TV didn't kill radio, as many back then feared it would). But you'll get more choice.

    And the people that matter: the CREATORS (musicians, commentators, reviews, movie makers) control the distribution channel for their work. That's what Web 2.0 and things like creative commons ( is all about.

    It effectively kills DRM.


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