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
    Andrew, 13 Mar 2007 @ 10:42am

    same nonsense...different day...

    DRM is a joke...any kid can turn a song with DRM into an mp3. Labels need to lower prices of albums/songs and sell direct to consumers. On a related note, the RIAA's efforts against file sharing are soon going to be a thing of the past with all of these new software applications that offer encrypted exchanges. Look at GigaTribe for instance ( ), their free software lets users exchange entire folders of albums in a few easy clicks, and no ISP can snoop on a user's activity. The music model is changing rapidly, and the music industry is just going to have to adapt. I for one will never buy a DRM-plagued music file, nor will I buy one of those "copy protected" CD's I so often see. DRM just backfires and hurts their sales!!

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