EU Commissioner Makes Veiled Threat About Forcing Music Stores To Drop DRM

from the upon-deeper-inspection dept

Over the past year or so, some European countries have been taking a closer look at digital music and different stores' copy-protection schemes, with a view towards forcing compatibility, which would basically render DRM useless. Norway's consumer ombudsman saying that the iTunes Music Store's DRM is illegal, while French politicians flirted with mandating interoperability (before relenting and making things worse for consumers). Now, the EU's consumer protection commissioner is jumping on the bandwagon, criticizing Apple because songs purchased from iTMS only play on iPods and saying "something has to change." While she doesn't propose anything specific, this sounds a lot like the veiled threats so many EU regulators are fond of -- in essence, it's a "fix this, or we will" sort of statement. That's fine, but there's a pretty strong argument against government interference here, even if it would (theoretically) achieve the much-desired result of interoperability or the downfall of music with DRM. The switch away from DRM needs to be made as a business decision, not a regulatory one. By taking the regulatory or political route, content providers that are so insistent on DRM will simply become more resolute that they must use it, and will make the switch begrudgingly (and after a long legal fight, to be sure), rather than embracing DRM-free music on its own merits. A government mandate makes dropping DRM a political or legal issue, and it will be fought as such. This means that record labels will devote their resources to fighting the law, not figuring out the new business models that dropping DRM would enable.

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  1. identicon
    Dosquatch, 12 Mar 2007 @ 6:13pm

    Embrace on its WHAT??

    By taking the regulatory or political route, content providers that are so insistent on DRM will simply become more resolute that they must use it, and will make the switch begrudgingly (and after a long legal fight, to be sure), rather than embracing DRM-free music on its own merits.

    I hate to point out the obvious, but the MAFIAA has never embraced any progress in technology on its own merits. They bucked cassettes, VHS, Beta, CDs, DVDs, MP3 players, each in turn. Kicking and screaming through the courts the whole way. Told each time that this new technology did not violate their rights, that this new technology was perfectly legal. And every single time the technology turned out to be a boon to their business. Yet they continue to kick and scream, and rewrite the law to protect the way things are against the way things are going.

    I'd love to see this "embracing on its merits" of technology and market demand of which you speak, but it just ain't so. This mule doesn't move without a lot of pushing along by court decision and regulation.


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