Why do consumers accept DRM?

Why do consumers accept DRM?

Summary: My colleague, David Berlind, has railed on for months now about the evils of DRM and, in particular, the 'anti-competitive' practices of Apple regarding their flavor of DRM, which they currently seem to be unwilling to cross-license. (Never mind that if Apple were not in the game, Most consumers are used to paying for the same content over and over again as the format changes.


My colleague, David Berlind, has railed on for months now about the evils of DRM and, in particular, the 'anti-competitive' practices of Apple regarding their flavor of DRM, which they currently seem to be unwilling to cross-license. (Never mind that if Apple were not in the game, Most consumers are used to paying for the same content over and over again as the format changes. Microsoft would be the 'big bad wolf' by forcing their own DRM technology on everyone!)

I can see David's point but I have yet to see any thoughts about WHY consumers don't care. David seems to think 'they just don't get it' but maybe they understand all too well that in the long run, it just doesn't matter.

David, and many of us who read his articles, feel strongly that copyrighted material purchased from one vendor ought to be usable on another vendor's product. Makes sense, right? Well, in truth, this is not a new problem. It is just a lot more apparent in a digital world than it was in the analog world of yesteryear.

It only takes a few minutes of perusing through the iTunes store to recognize that a great deal of the music sold on iTunes was first recorded before the invention of CDs. That means that the great bulk of that music will be purchased by those who first purchased it on cassette, 8-track (shudder), or LPs. Before that, it was 45s or 78s.

Similarly, a lot of video purchased on DVD today was originally purchased on BetaMax, VHS, or even the ill-fated Laserdisc.  Today, it's all protected by DVD codec (a video DRM of sorts) -- but that doesn't seem to bother David.

So what's my point? Simply this ...

Many, if not most, consumers are used to paying for the same content over and over again as the format changes. And each time there has been a format change, there has been a lag between the time the new format appears and the wide availability of that format from a number of OEMs.

This is because OEMs had to first license the use of the new format in their products. Is DRM any different? Not really -- and more likely than not, when the dust settles, there will be a small number of co-existing DRM schemes which will be interoperable across vendors.

Will Apple's DRM prevail? Microsoft's?  Or some as-yet-unreleased and less intrusive DRM?  Time will tell.

Topic: Legal

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  • One more reason it's accepted.

    Given the popularity of P2P networks, many people began taking illegal/copyrighted works even though they knew it was less that "above board". Sure they enjoyed it, but deep down they also knew it was not going to go on forever.

    I think it's like a person that speeds on a constant basis. He KNOWS that at some point he will be caught and he accepts it.
    • Not really a reason but a result

      Like speeders P2P users will continue. Sure they might get caught but it's worth the risk to them. They don't give rats ass about DRM. They just bypass it. DRM means nothing to these types and if anything it's just challenge to them. DRM is useless in any attempt to stop piracy.

      DRM only affects those who are honest paying customers. If to invasive it will turn honest customers into the very pirates the copyright holders are trying to defeat.

      DRM is only good in one place. In place where you don't give access to anyone who does not have vested interest in keep the content from being copied. How do you know when you sell content to customer that they will want to keep the content from being copied as much as you do? Now say it's confidential bank information. The bank want it confidential and you want it confidential. You wouldn't just bypass the DRM to distribute you bank info on the net. Now apply this to movie. Are you harmed by copying it and giving it to two friends where those two friend give it to two friends each and so on and so on. Ther is actually reason for doing so. To show off that movie you like to others to create water cooler talk for example.

      Best thing to reduce piracy is to offer a competitive product for a reasonable price that comes with value added. Selling movies at reasonable price shows this exactly. Look at what gets pirated, the high priced new releases. You never see people pirating that $10 DVD movie from 3 years ago. If they actually sold new releases for $10 you get tons more sales. Think of every person renting that movie in video store for $5, I'd bet 80% of them would suddenly become buyers. I know I would. That's almost doubling income coming in from every movie released. Of course video rental stores would complain but hey, times change. Rental stores are so 90s.
      • Yes, but you are talking sense over...

        greed, sanity over venal, money-grabbing idiots that the movie industry seems to be controlled by. Consider the bilge they are dishing out week after week nowadays. How many new movies have you seen in, say, the past couple of months and have felt satisfied? The ridiculous over-pricing of the tickets compared with the overall low quality of the movies being produced, IMHO, is one of the main reasons why people have turned to circumvention of DRM, file-sharing using BitTorrents, illegal downloading and stuff. They don't feel like forking out that kind of money week after week for the crap they get in return.
    • those who don't like DRM are....

      in many cases seeking out non DRM files via places like subpop.com, allofmp3.com, mp3stor.com mp3search.ru, stereogum.com or buying or borrowing cds that are not incumbered.

      By the way music sharing will always take place it has and will go on forever with or with out p2p.
    • It's not just 'less than above board' ...

      ... it is STEALING! Not just stealing from some nameless, faceless corpoartion but from some poor starving musician who just wants his chance and can't get it -- the industry won't take a chance on him because the piracy rate is too high, making the profits too low to take that chance! Let's keep this in perspective.
      M Wagner
      • Please

        Stop this RIAA BS line. The labels pay the artist less than a nickel, when the remember to pay them at all, per download.


        The Artist make bupkiss on record deals. The artist , with a few excptions, make most of their cash from live performances.

        Even more hilarity

        [i]Sony treats downloads as record sales even though the label does not sell anything to the digital download services including iTunes. Rather, the complaint alleges, Sony is ?licensing? their masters, including those by Cheap Trick and the Allman Brothers, to download services in exchange for a royalty of 70 cents. Due to the fact that Sony treats each download as a sale, instead of a license, the following deductions apply: 20% packaging (even though there is actually no packaging involved in digital transmission), 15% ?Net Sales? deduction (which originally protected labels from paying on broken records although there is no ?breakage? on digital services) and a 50% ?Audiophile? deduction (originally created to compensate the labels for the cost of developing new technology). On top of all these deductions, the lower royalty rate is applied instead of the 50% licensing formula. The result is that the artist is credited with only several cents for each 99 cent download.[/i]


        Who's the real pirate here? Who is hurting the artist more in this case??

        Don't even get me going on PAYOLA.
        Edward Meyers
        • Ethics 101

          This is a common excuse for this unethical behaviour (if you don't like the word theft) = "The publishers are ripping the artists off - giving them peanuts - so I will help by giving them nothing!!"
          What do the artists think? That is the litmus test - do they feel they are harmed or helped by P2P sharing? I know some artist embrace the Internet and new ways of getting their music out there, but the question remains and needs some answers.
          Bob G Beechey
          • Fualty Assumptions or "Every Time you Pirate a Penguin Losses Its Wings"

            Well the first thing is that you start with the assumption that DRM is meant to stop or deter the "Pirates" from trading on P2P networks. Unfortunately this is not the case. The RIAA already has told the US copyright Office that indeed DRM is not there to stop the hardened Pirate but rather to control the law abiding end customer. They did so publicly and at the DMCA Triennial Rulemaking.

            Okay as far as what the artist think... it just so happens PEW asked them;

            [i] "I know for a fact that a lot of people first heard my music by downloading it from Napster or Kazaa, and for this reason I'll always be glad that Napster and Kazaa have existed."

            - Moby, in his online journal last year


            [i]Among the findings: artists are divided but on the whole not deeply concerned about online file-sharing. Only about half thought that sharing unauthorized copies of music and movies online should be illegal, for instance. And makers of file-sharing software like Kazaa and Grokster may be unnerved to learn that nearly two-thirds said such services should be held responsible for illegal file-swapping; only 15 percent held individual users responsible.

            "Across the board, among those who are both successful and struggling, the artists and musicians we surveyed are more likely to say that the internet has made it possible for them to make more money from their art than they are to say it has made it harder to protect their work from piracy or unlawful use."[/i]


            Finally I am very much against piracy. Not because it is an ethics issue in the sense that taking things is wrong but more in the sense that every time you pirate a work from the RIAA you deny an Indie band that is offering non-DRMed music or an artist that has allowed his/her songs to be published for free at the Internet archive in hopes of gaining a fan base theirs. Each time you pirate Windows that is one less OpenSolaris, Linux, BSD , Etc user out there and every time you pirate MS Office there is one less Gnome Office/Open Office user out there. The lack of market share means less companies will publish works on these computer platforms. In the case of music the lowered marketshare means the bands have less fans at the concerts where the band actually makes the money.

            finally answer all 10 of these points, if you can;

            1. When we moved from VHS to DVD there was an increase in quality hence a value for the consumer. DRM does not offer such. In addition with DRM the song may not play even though there is no inherent difference with the format. In the case of iTunes the quality is actually lower than a CD.

            2. DRM is not an copy control technique. It is an access control device. DRM actually allows you to copy the work in many cases. Moving a song from one portion of your Hard Drive to another, from your Hard Drive to your iPod, From one your Hard Drive to a Zip Drive, From one folder to another- All involves making copies- Which most DRM schemes do not prevent. What DRM doesn't allow is for you to play these copies. There is a big difference here because DRM controls whether or not you can play the copy. This means the DRM mechanism may lock you out of the work.

            3. because of #2 the media companies/ Apple and not you are control of the property that you own- your computer. In order for DRM to work the computer must be made to not follow the instructions and commands that the owner of the computer gives it.

            4. Also because of #2 the media companies can dictate where and when you play your work. The WalMart DRMed music store only allows you to play your songs on 3 devices. There was no number of device limitations on VHS, CD, DVD, or tape. You could play your songs/movies on any number of devices you wanted.

            5. Nothing in copyright law states the author has the right to control where the owner of a copy can play, read, or otherwise utilize legally obtained copies of the work. This is not a right given to authors or publishers yet this is exactly a right that the copyright holders have granted to themselves through DRM.

            Again the exclusive rights that copyright law gives authors are;

            (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

            (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;

            (3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

            (4) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly;

            (5) in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly; and

            (6) in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

            In this list where do you the right to control how many devices and types of devices the owner of the copy can play the material on? It's not there. The copyright holders have just given themselves a right without having congress pass a bill to amend the copyright act.

            6. Copyright law balances the rights given to the author and the public good through exceptions and limitations of their rights. These exceptions and limitations can be found in sections 107-122, section 1008, and 1201 (c-k). 1201(k) actually prevents the copyright holder from adding DRM to certain materials where as other portions listed above provide instances where DRM may legally be broken. DRM ignores all of these exceptions. DRM ignores the exceptions in sections 107-122. DRM in particular is used as a way to circumvent their limitations of distribution under section 109 the so called doctrine of first sale by preventing consumers from selling their used media- another difference between DVD/CD/Tape/Ect and DRM. The media companies not only are ignoring these exemptions but also 1201 (k) section and most of section 10, and are releasing material that has fallen into the Public Domain wrapped in DRM thus locking it up where as copyright has already expired!! This in fact is a strategy that MS is advertising for libraries to make money if you let them digitalize the library's Public Domain works.

            7. DRM ignores the fact that copyright expires. The current DRM mechanisms don't expire with the copyright thus giving them the effect of a non-expiring copyright- which is actually contrary to the US Constitution.

            8. The terms of the DRM can be changes on a whim of the copyright holder. Go read the TOS. Every single one of them allow the terms to be change unilaterally by the company. These changes can include you not being able to even play your songs that you bought.

            9. DRM doesn't stop "piracy". The real "pirates" will find a way around it. In fact the RIAA and MPAA are now saying they undercounted the piracy rates over the last couple of years and the rate in the US went up instead of down.

            10. DRM is used to lock the consumer into a certain brand of player. Imagine if Sony VHS tapes only played in Sony players and Philip's tapes only played in Philip's players. Now imagine if the only real difference was the DRM scheme. That is the current situation.
            Edward Meyers
          • more to the point

            ask the artist what they think of getting a few cents per download while the music companies get the cream of the crop? Artists are divided over support for p2p or not, ther is no clear answer: some artists are okay with p2p some aren't. but I can promise you the vast majority of artists would be against the unfair payment ratio they receive on their royalties!
      • stealing???

        ia a harsh and inaccurate choice of words. Even judges and most lawyers agree on that.

        Artic Monkees gave away hit songs to great success.
    • However...

      The sad fact of the matter is that drm schemes have a nasty habit of being beaten, sometimes before they become what industry uses. Given that uncomfortable fact, how do honest people behave legitimately if the drm scheme has to change as often as it is hacked? Does industry expect them to "upgrade" or "buy a new box" every time they feel their current drm is too hacked to be worthwhile?

      Also, drm is kind of counter to the precedents of "fair use". Seriously, a lot of people buy a CD, burn a copy of it and play the copy until it dies, then go back and burn another copy from their "original". Where does drm leave that legitimate copying?
      • Whn my car wears out, GM should provide a new one?

        You see, there is nothing about it that promices you "lasts forever".
        • digital data doesn't "wear out"

          The storage medium wears out not the data itself. Your GM car wears out, but if the tyres wear out your car is still viable (you buy new tyres). Likewise if your computer system wears out, you should be able to continue to use the music you purchased simply by restoring the backup to your new system.

          You wouldn't like it if you had to pay for your GM car again, everytime you bought new tyres.
  • DRM is a different animal

    Once in place, DRM effectively locks consumesr into using specific hardware and software for a specific timeframe. If you buy a song on iTunes you MUST play the song using iTunes on DRM-enabled hardware with a DRM-enabled Opertaing System. If you try to play the song with Windows Media Player or an open-source player it won't work. If you try to play the song on older hardware it won't work. If you try to play the song with iTunes on your brand-new Rio MP3 player it won't work. If Apple decides to only sell music on iTunes as a 6 month subscription, they can do that too.

    Consumers don't care today because they happen to really like iTunes, Windows XP and Intel. But what about tomorrow when (and if) there tastes change??

    Effectively, DRM dramatically increases the cost of switching. Yes, there is and always has been a cost in switching from an old to new format. But DRM also adds costs to switching between current music suppliers (Apple versus Sony), switching between current software (iTunes versus Windows Media Player), and switching between current hardware (iPods versus other MP3 players).

    Additionally, DRM effects not just music, but everything digital!

    As another example, take DRM-protected Microsoft Word documents. Assume you are a government, and that you save a document as a DRM-protected .doc. You are now locked into using Microsoft Word to open that document. Which means the government MUST pay Microsoft a licensing fee in order to view public records! This may be just fine today when we all love Microsoft Office, but what about ten years from now when there's a better product out there?? The government is forced to pay a hefty switching cost to move from Microsoft Office to the new software, a cost that is much higher with DRM-protected documents than not.

    So thats what it comes down to. DRM artificially raises the cost of switching for consumers, and thats a bad thing in the long-run.
    • Nail! Head! Hit!

      This is all about undermining the free market by creating <i>lock-in</i> for specific vendors or groups of vendors. This has the effect of limiting the consumer's ability to vote with their wallets for the best product, by creating artificial cost barriers to switching products and/or vendors. This is the reason anti-trust laws were created. A free market only exists when the consumer has choice. Suppliers <i>rigging</i> the market to make choice <i>too costly</i> distorts the market and it is no longer free!
    • Different indeed.

      Yes. It is true that I'd sometimes bye a CD of music, that I already bought as an LP or even 78er, but it also happens, that the quality of the media I have is good enough.
      In that case I may digitize it myself and use it from another medium. And I think I have the right to do so. I already bought the right to play the music, it's only the medium that's out of date and the piece of art has to be moved to another medium.

      When it comes to newly produced material that I bye in digitized form, whether on CD or downloaded over the net, I must be able to play it on any player that can handle the format. The DRM is not part of the music/video ( art work ) or of the format. Normally I also have the right to make a working backup copy ( LP to tape wise ) and possibly a copy for a friend.
      Please media industry, be reasonable. I don't own the music/video distribution rights, but dammit I own the copy I bought.
  • I Don't Trust It

    If I purchase media I should have the right to back it up, rip it to MP3 or do whatever else I want to do with it. Just like if I purchase a car, I can modify and add to it anything I want as long as it's street legal. The same should go for digital media. This is just another crackpot scheme by the entertainment industry to force you to pay for something again after you have already purchased it. A load of crap if you ask me.
    • You don't trust anything

      But in this instance it may be fully earned distrust. But you still dont trust anything =-)
      • There are two things I don't trust

        Microsoft and the current administration.

        Other than that I'm fine :)
        • pfft

          I still say you don't trust anyone. =-) But we could argue that point all darn day long and still reach the same place. Right back where we started =-)