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. icon
    R. Miles (profile), 28 Sep 2009 @ 7:39am

    Re: DRM Facilitating Business Models

    ...places limits on something currently available is incorrect. In fact, the very act of limiting something ...it creates value...
    Guess what, genius. I'm one of those consumers and I've yet to find any value in a purchase in which DRM limits my use.

    Let me give you an example. I purchased Adobe's software suite which required me to "activate" it upon installation. Great, no problem, been there many times.

    But then I bought a laptop and re-installed the software, noting the desktop copy was removed. I went to register the product again, and imagine my surprise (sarcasm) that my legally purchased software was locked, FROM USE, because the code was already registered.

    That's right, this is a pure example of a DRM limitation placed upon my legally purchased product and actually *removed* the value from it.

    With the piss poor customer service, it took *three days* to re-activate my software after providing DNA to these asses I was the rightful owner.

    This doesn't create value. It takes it away, so much so, this will be the *last* purchase I do from Adobe ever again if such draconian restrictions apply.

    I fully understand these programmers need funds to continue improving (laughable) their products, but to do so at the frustration of paying customers is the *wrong* way to do it.

    So you'll excuse me if I tell you to take your definition of value and shove it along with the mindset of these other idiots who are more out for protection, rather than truly adding value to warrant a purchase to begin with.

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