Music buyers step-up downpayment on their own DRM noose

Summary:As I've already written several times before in our series on Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), every time one of us buys another piece of DRMed content (eg: a song from iTunes), we are securing the legacy of the DRM cartel while giving it carte blanche to arbitrarily decide how we get to use the content that we're legally entitled to use in any way we want, as long as we use it for ourselves.

As I've already written several times before in our series on Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), every time one of us buys another piece of DRMed content (eg: a song from iTunes), we are securing the legacy of the DRM cartel while giving it carte blanche to arbitrarily decide how we get to use the content that we're legally entitled to use in any way we want, as long as we use it for ourselves.  

For example, five years from now, after your iTunes music library has swelled to more than 1,000 songs and your iPod breaks, you will have two choices. If you want to continue using those songs, you can buy another device that Apple says your allowed to buy. Or, you can throw away your songs (you can't even give them away or resell them like you can CDs) and start over with another device and another DRM-walled-garden of music that works on it.  Neither is very appealing which is why the latest stats on digital music purchases is worrisome.  According to the IFPI (the international equivalent of the US-based RIAA), digital music sales (including ringtunes) for the first half of 2005 totalled $790 million.  That's more than triple the $220 million in digital music sales for the same period last year. 

The DRM hole we're in is already deep enough. But, if the growth continues on this course, that hole will grow to be so deep that we'll never be able to dig our way out.  My recommendation is to take a deep breath before we continue on this path. For the time being,  declare InDRMpendence for yourself.  Say no to DRM by not buying any more DRMed content until, at the very least, the "R" in DRM really stands for "Rights" (instead of "Restrictions") and the entertainment, computer, and telecommunications industries are complying  with a single open standard. 

Topics: Legal

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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