DRM Doesn't Enable Business Models; Blind Fear Disables Business Models

from the get-over-it dept

A bunch of folks have asked if I had any comment on analyst Michael Gartenberg post over at Engadget claiming that DRM has been demonized too far, and for all the "bad" things about DRM, most people really don't mind it, and we should be happy that it "enables new business models." I've discussed this before, but not in a while, so it seems worth revisiting.

First, it's a lie that DRM "enables new business models." Gartenberg doesn't realize it, but he admits it in his post, when he suggests that DRM made all-you-can-eat subscription models possible, while immediately countering that point by admitting the real factors are elsewhere:
Take subscription services for example. Sure, I'd love a service that would allow me to download unlimited content in high bitrate MP3 format for a reasonable fee every month. Except economics and greed will never let that happen.
Notice what he says here. The DRM isn't what enabled the business model. It's fear of how people will use such a service that does. It's fear that people will actually use what's been given to them -- leading to the claim of "economics and greed" stopping such a service from ever coming about. But, that makes no sense. People already have access to pretty much every song ever recorded with no DRM at all. Claiming that they need DRM to enable such a service makes no sense. It's already there -- just not legally. So what does the DRM stop in such a service? Absolutely nothing. If the fear is that someone takes a song and shares it online... too late. It's already happened. The only thing that DRM does in that situation is put up a restriction on a legitimate, paying customer. That makes no economic sense at all.

And that's my real problem with DRM. It cannot enable a new business model economically. That's because it's only purpose is to limit behavior. There are no business models that are based solely on limiting behavior. It may be the case that some companies may be too afraid to implement a business model without this faux "protection," but that's entirely different than saying DRM enables the business model. DRM takes an economic resource and artificially restricts it. It takes away options, it does not enable them. DRM hasn't been "demonized." It's a pointless solution that prevents no unauthorized sharing and only serves to hinder the activities of legitimate customers.

Filed Under: business models, drm, economics, subscriptions

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Sep 2009 @ 3:56pm

    Speaking on behalf of Generation Y

    So, I'm trying to determine what the answer to
    http://www.pittsburghsummit.gov/mediacenter/129639.htm is.

    Well, first off, it seems that you, as managers, to get off your God Damned lard ass and start producing stuff other than hot air and regulations. You need to start listening to those damned yappers that call at 5:15 and want to talk about what the hell... They have your number do you listen to them?

    And you bankers, who invest in things that don't produce hot air, I am super angry. Your difficulty to understand the inevitable really, really pisses me off. I saw this two years ago, and you didn't think there was a problem? What the hell planet do you live on? Doing things like Risk Analysis is a good starting point. I included my risk analysis when I felt inclined to contact you.

    And to you who hold an O position, like you Steve Ballmer. I really want to kick your ass for taking a co-worker's iPhone and stomping it on the ground. Who the hell are you? You're like a 10 year old ketchup bottle on a shelf, waiting for the bomb to drop. Fucking retire already. You have $20B in the bank. Go get your fat ass a home in Medina where you can feel safe and everyone can scan your license plates as they look for the undocumented state-run liquor store a few blocks from Bill's place. (Oh yeah, I know. Next to the Exxon station. Nice people there.)

    Anyways, to anyone else, that holds an O position, (Because C is so passe these days) this is your time, baby.


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