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 emusic.com
, 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.