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
    J, 20 Dec 2006 @ 11:05am

    DRM makes "laws" where there are none. In certain cases, like in entertainment, it can supersede copyright law. For example, once the 75 year term expires and a book goes into public domain, there is no DRM that automatically "turns off". This is a big problem for our future, as more that is valuable becomes digital. It's not just creative works, but designs, file formats, news reports, history, anything that must be stored.

    DRM is an exploitation of the business relationship between the seller and customer. THAT is the problem, and Techdirt brings it up every day because other media outlets say it once and forget it. So, the public might be interested at first, but eventually the attention dies out. Music is a great cause to fight for, because sooner or later EVERY corporation will deal with content in some form, and it is vital for the public to know that the DRM and the law are not interchangable. Everyone can relate to iTunes and what is going on.

    I think that's what the original poster was getting at.

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