Eclipse Ecosystem

A blog devoted to promoting the Eclipse ecosystem

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DRM, Open Source and the End of Monopolies

Punt "DRM" into your favorite blog search tool and you will see it's a hot topic in the blogosphere lately, likely spurred by FSF's mention of it in GPL v3.

I was cruelly introduced to DRM last year when I bought my nephew an MP3 player that, god forbid, was not an iPod. We tried to put music on it from iTunes that they (to that point) had been listening to on their computer. I felt so naive.

I'm not sure who asked the question, a pissed off uncle, nephew or Mom, but it resonated immediately: "Why doesn't iTunes want our money"? In other words, DRM is doomed to demands of the market, and the market doesn't want "digital lard, clogging the arteries of our digital lifestyle" (thanks James for that great visual). Sure enough, James points today to, a site focusing on labels that allows consumer flexibility. I'm sure it will be a big hit, especially if they ever offer a pay-per song model (since my nephews would be a bit daunted by a $9.99/month bill, and their Uncle isn't that generous :). They even have "Fall Out Boy" on their band list, which is tough to find on some other sites.

The bottom line is that I am not at all worried about DRM in the mid to long term. Sure, in the short run I'm going to have to do an end-run around the iTunes of the world, but ultimately the market will decide what's best.

Open source has shifted the value of software away from primarily the license to execute a particular set of bits. Now the value is much more up to users to determine - is it in support, maintenance, services, documentation, quality, flexibility, brand, association, interoperability, portability, mashability and so on.

Think of DRM as "traditional commercial software" where the value is perceived by the vendors to be primarily in the license to execute a particular set of bits through a music player. Consumers know that's not at all where the value is, and ergo DRM is doomed to insignificance.

- Don


  • At 5:43 PM, Blogger Bob Balfe said…

    I have had nothing but problems with DRM in my house. I purchased some songs through Media player 10 and when I attempted to add them to my MP101 Media player server (so I can play songs on my stereo in another part of the house) the media player software corrupted the songs. I had no way of recovering and had to repurchase the songs.

    I found no way on the MSN site to say "give me my song again the file is gone."


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