Are anti-DRM declarations falling on deaf ears?

Are anti-DRM declarations falling on deaf ears?

Summary: Shock and awe is about the only phrase I can come up with to describe the success with which Apple is pushing its Fairplay-laden technology into the marketplace.  Fairplay is Apple's form of digital restrictions management and is what keeps content that's purchased from the iTunes Music Store from playing on anything but what Apple says it can play on (eg: Apple's iPods).


Shock and awe is about the only phrase I can come up with to describe the success with which Apple is pushing its Fairplay-laden technology into the marketplace.  Fairplay is Apple's form of digital restrictions management and is what keeps content that's purchased from the iTunes Music Store from playing on anything but what Apple says it can play on (eg: Apple's iPods).  I'm shocked by how quickly Apple's walled garden is getting built, unwittingly trapping many inside.  I'm simply in awe of how the dynamic duo of Apple's pristine user experience (for which it  has always been known) and its marketing machine have combined to woo so many into that garden -- it's entrance like the one-way semi-lunar valves of your heart designed to keep your blood from exiting that which it entered (back into your ventricles). 

Tomorrow, the week after Steve Jobs pre-announced at MacWorld that Apple scored a record $5.7 billion in sales ($1 billion of which coming was generated by its retail stores), the company's stock is expected to do quite well on Wall Street.  CNN's headline -- Apple's earnings: A Bumper Crop Expected -- says it all.

Meanwhile, a ragtag army of bloggers have been sounding the alarm.  In addition to yours truly, there's Cory Doctorow (old link, I know, but still true and which of his many rants against DRM do you pick?),  Doc Searls and his pal Patrick, James Governor, Dave Kearns, Don Marti (his blog is here),  Ed Felten, and a whole bunch of others.  The list is too long to enumerate but perhaps we should all donne the same shoulder patch (The 451st Netborne, as opposed to XYX Airborne?) and get on a conference call because, despite all of our best efforts, the war is being lost. 

They (the proverbial "they") must think were floosies.  The same lot that kept saying the tobacco industry was hiding the truth.  No one believed them.  Now, people are dead (ok, so a little DRM won't kill ya.. but you can't pass your music along when your dead).  We (the 451st Airborne) are simply the new inhabitants of that old echo chamber.  Did you hear? The sky is falling.  I was reminded of this by James Governor's post which points out the difference between copy rights and copyrights.  In that post, Governor goes on to pen a Declaration of Copy Rights.  I wonder if James feels like I do (I wrote a declaration of sorts too.  Of inDRMpendence).  We're shooting Charlie in Cambodia and no one is paying attention except for the brothers we're rubbing shoulders with along with a few technology operatives who are egging us on.  Perhaps it's just as well.  War is ugly.

As I've written before (I know, I'm beating a dead horse), there's no catchy sound bite.  The masses are overwhelmed with information and it's perfectly understandable why they don't want to know the meaning of the inititials D.R.M. or explore the subtleties of copy rights vs. copyright.  Whenever I bring this up outside the echo chamber (for example, with the family members), eyes glaze over and someone says "I heard there's a storm coming."  Privately, I think, "Yeah, there is."  Spam had this same image problem when it was called UCE.  Yup.  Most people haven't a clue what that means and never cared.  Unsolicited Commercial Email, if you must know.    But, when it got a sexy name (and people started feeling the pain), UCE's image was remade. DRM.  Perhaps the selection of those initials was all part of the plan.  "Great idea Phil! No one will pay attention to that." 

People still think the answer is to rebrand DRM.  Cory cc:ed me on his response to one of his readers the other day who suggested Defective Retail Merchandise.  Trust me.  No one will listen. Digital Restrictions Management (my rebranding of DRM) gets laughs.  In the echo chamber though.  No where else.  I still like CRAP.  Content Restriction, Annulment, and Protection.  People will want to know what you mean when you say "No, really, the technology in there is CRAP."  It covers the gamut of all the evil things that DRM technology does now (or will do) and it allows for phrases like "What a load of crap!"  You can say that about just about any device or technology with DRM in it, and it'd be true.  Another phrase that works: 'That's a bunch of crap."  Others I've run this by say nope. They're probably right.  But then again, a site that Cory runs is called Craphound.  Irony.  Not serendipity.

Topic: Apple

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  • Doing Better Than

    When the DMCA was first proposed and passed.

    The thing about it is that some people just won't care at all unless they are directly impacted. This is common of any issue involving the US populace.

    The consumers need to be shown how they are directly effected or else they flat out won't belive you. In the case of Apple's DRM; as it is right now it is flexible enough that most consumers wil not be impacted that much. The problem is the terms and restrictions on the Apple DRM can be, and recently was, changed at the whim of Apple.

    The Micrsoft format stores and companies that use SunnComm's DRM are the low hanging fruit here as most of these stores/companies are abusing the DRM feature to a greater extent than Apple is. With Vista and Microsoft's Secure path technology a lot of users will see the impact- and will stop being apathetic.

    Also with this new legislation- Our Goals should be not to block it right out but to take a page from what happened in the last EU Software patent round- get ammendments into the bills that the copyright Cartel would never agree to - such as copyright holder must pay escrow and maintance for the entire length of the copyright a non-DRM copy of the work. If they refuse then no DMCA enforcement... likewise we need to get the DMCAr or simular bill passed.
    Edward Meyers
    • I like the strategy, but ....

      I like this idea: "Our Goals should be not to block it right out but
      to take a page from what happened in the last EU Software
      patent round- get ammendments into the bills that the
      copyright Cartel would never agree to - such as copyright holder
      must pay escrow and maintance for the entire length of the
      copyright a non-DRM copy of the work. If they refuse then no
      DMCA enforcement.."

      Introducing direct costs on participants in order to fund or
      implement the program (and thereby raise the pain level) is an
      interesting approach, BUT ... as such it would amount to a fee or
      a tax that would then fund bureaucratic overhead, and ultimately
      the cost would just be bundled in like other forms of taxation
      and business expense and PASSED ON TO THE CONSUMER in
      adjusted pricing :(

      gotta be a way to take the lipstick OFF this pig, this pig that likes
      to roll in CRAP.
      • Much More Devious

        That is the point. The costs of using DRM and supporting the government beuracracy to maintain a non-DRM version of the file in escrow would add to the costs.

        An artist who chooses not to DRM their work would have an economic advantage. Actually they already have an economic advantage and this is why Non-RIAA labels that do not DRM their CDs are able to sell them for 8.00 or less and have a good sized profit.

        There are other ways to get ammendments in that would kill this CRAP fast. One of them would be to not allow DRM patents and mandate a royalty free state run interoperable DRM scheme or no DRM is allowed at all. This would kill Microsofts and Apples incentive. It would also allow the consumer unions to tweak the process more effectivly.

        Another one is mandating self expiring DRM and/or requiring that manufactures of DRM content replace the consumers copy each time the format changes or the DRM scheme can be broken.

        ... All kinds of stuff that could be done here- if the proper pressure was exerted on the right congress critters.
        Edward Meyers
        • Apple and MSFT have their 'Abramoff' weapons

          unfortunately, the budget for lobbying the big Consumer
          Entertainment vendors interests (like Apple and MSFT ) in virtual
          collusion with media content publishers is far greater than what
          can be mustered by a grass-roots "NO CRAP" band of rabble
          rousers who are trying to make noise :(
          • Ahhh and There Is The Rub

            With effective DRM the content companies do not need to continualkly pa..lobby congress to change copyright law in their favor. They can simply set the DRM to allow or disallow this or that at their whim. Mickey Mouse copyright comming up for experation- No problem just never tell the DRM to allow copies.

            That is one of the biggest problems with DRM is that the Content companies working in collusion with certain big harsware companies can totally disreagard what copyright law says. The congressmaen may not take to kindly to the RIAA/MPAA being able to effectivly write and enforce their own laws on the use said content without at least going through them first.

            We do need to make noise- At least as much noise as we can... so much noise that over in Europe they hear all the noise we make and they pass the two pieces of legislation to deteeth DRM over there , eventually isolating the US. If isolated the US might go along with the rest of the world.
            Edward Meyers
  • Trust the marketplace

    Adam Smith's wisdom will prevail! When people are finally faced with literally dozens of DRMed content - they WILL get fed up and b1tch at their congressional reps. The government will have no choice but to step in and regulate.
    Roger Ramjet
    • I Agree With These Guys- No faith

      "The NCC had little faith that industry self-regulation would adequately protect consumers' rights."

      The problem in the US is that RIAA/MPAA is trying to pass legislation that would require DRM on everything.
      Edward Meyers
    • Wakey Wakey!

      You misquote Smith's market philosophy. He said:
      "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."
      The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter X

      This is what DRM, and David's column, are about. The studios are doing deals with the Consumer Electronics (CE) firms to include controls over content that previously did not exist - and the public at large knows nothing, but are blinded by the new CE devices' Wow factors.

      The problem is compounded by studios being owned by either CEs (e.g. Sony) or by Media Conglomerates. Media Conglomerates abuse their market power by only promoting Wow, and ignoring (or downplaying) DRM, while CE Studio Owners see how the old market paradigm of adding more features gives more value to consumers and studios is braking down. The latest technology breaks the 20th Century CE market model of more is better (for consumers) and new = resale of content on new format (e.g. platter to CD) for studios.

      Ergo: The studios have friends and they are screwing us - but good!

      QED Sucker!
      Stephen Wheeler
  • Yes


    I have been getting more depressed about this myself in recent weeks.

    I can't see a way past Big Media's power to set the agenda. Until mainstream television and magazines pick this up and run it as a story the great unwashed will never see the light.

    But will that ever happen so long as Big Media is doing the editing? Recently I was disappointed to discover that even some public service (yeah, right) broadcasters can't see past their own copyright - like fat men can't see their... well let's draw a veil over that.

    The only answer at the moment is to keep making noises in the echo chamber. Sooner or later something will blow the lid off. If we continue to make noise in the meantime at least, when the lid comes off, our arguments will be solid, our presentation polished, and our facts straight and detailed.

    I have always liked Digital Restrictions Management but your right, CRAP is a lot better. My only reservation is that CRAP creates a barrier of its own. You know why.

    It's really important to remember that persistence and patience are truly great human values. Keep the faith David, you're doing a great job.
    Stephen Wheeler
  • Now they are saying being anti-DRM is being anti-IP

    I?m becoming irritated by those who suggest that being against DRM is being against the possession of Intellectual Property (IP) by individuals and companies. To those people I ask, ?If when you rent a car, do you think it would be reasonable for the car rental company to dispatch agents who monitor your every action with the car, and actively regulate how you use it? Therefore if you were driving, and you had the inclination to stop at your friend?s house before reaching your ultimate destination, do you think it would be reasonable for one of these agents to preempt your action, because it was not stated in your contract that you could do so??

    The issue with DRM is not the right of individuals or companies to own IP, the issue with DRM is the way IP owners are allowed to treat their customers, with invasive, big brother-like, regulatory tactics. DRM presumes to allow content owners to lord over the actions of their customers, granting them permissions to act according to their will. There is nothing about content providers that remind me of God, therefore their presumption to act in an overreaching way over me is unacceptable.
    P. Douglas
  • RIght arm !!

    Yeah, I hear ya, Berlind, as I nod my head in agreement with both
    your soapbox campaign to apply some "poop-be-gone" to that
    CRAP as well as your observations of what an uphill fight it is to try
    get that CRAP removed and point out how much it STINKS.

    Keep up the fight !
    • Thanks for the words of encouragement...

      I'm not giving up. But I'm more disillusioned.

      • Please DON'T give up!

        I agree with you. Crap is an awesome name!
  • Are anti-DRM declarations falling on deaf ears?

    You always talk about Apples Fairplay like it is some draconian
    "Big Brother" and always fail to mention that it really does not keep
    you from playing the music on any player you want to. I play my
    iTunes music where and when I want to.
  • The "Walled Garden"?

    "The walled garden" is the wrong analogy, it is more like a "walled swimmimg pool". One breach of the wall and it all comes pouring out.

    If something comes along that can convert the Apple format to another format then the wall is breached.
    • Google up AIFF to MP3 (nt)

      No Text
  • Wait for the Backlash

    Sometimes it is better to be patient and wait for the inevitable backlash as Ipods fail and people realise they no longer have a choice in hardware replacement. When some one elses product comes out and becomes the cool item, which always happens, people will kick up and realise the mistake they have made. Besides as the creative commons grows the competitive pressure it will bring against existing media will again alter the situation.
  • What?

    Did you blog anything constructive here? Or, just needed someplace to exercize your fingers?
    • I found his blog to be fine

      I had no problems with it. I liked it.
  • Catchy Sound Bite

    Just Say No To DRM