/>
X
Tech

Does a compelling product make you overlook the built-in DRM?

Let's say there was a compelling product on sale that interested you. Maybe it's a games console, or maybe it's a player of some kind. Or it could even be a service such as iTunes or Audible. Let's say that you really wanted what this product or service had to offer but in your research you discover baked-in DRM of one kind or another. You want the product or service but you're aware that there's DRM involved that could be a problem in the future.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Contributing Writer

Let's say there was a compelling product on sale that interested you.  Maybe it's a games console, or maybe it's a player of some kind.  Or it could even be a service such as iTunes or Audible.  Let's say that you really wanted what this product or service had to offer but in your research you discover baked-in DRM of one kind or another.  You want the product or service but you're aware that there's DRM involved that could be a problem in the future. 

Does a compelling product make you overlook the built-in DRM?
My question is this - Does a compelling product make you overlook the built-in DRM?

What actually got me thinking about this was a post made by Jeff Atwood on his blog relating to DRM and how ignorance of it can be expensive.  Jeff's just bought an Xbox 360 and have to re-buy the content that he'd bought on an Xbox 360 that he had at work:

I've purchased lots of downloadable content on the Xbox 360 at work, primarily new songs for Guitar Hero 2, Guitar Hero 3, and Rock Band. I foolishly assumed all along that it would be no big deal to transfer that purchased content if I ever purchased an Xbox 360 for my home.

Big mistake.

...

In the end, I broke down and re-purchased 11,240 MS Points worth of Guitar Hero 2, Guitar Hero 3, and Rock Band songs through my personal Xbox Live profile on my home Xbox 360. If you're keeping score at home that's $140.50 in real money. To buy the exact same content. Again.

[poll id=265] 

Now Jeff's a pretty smart guy and for him to fall into a trap that cost him nearly a hundred and fifty green ones shows just what a minefield DRM is. 

But then in the back and forth of the comments section of that post Jeff says something that's very interesting:

I think the iPhone and Xbox 360 are such compelling consumer products that it's actually a reasonable tradeoff to live with their DRM lock-in limitations.

As Frans [someone commenting on the blog] pointed out, I could boycott the Xbox 360 and go PS3, but that's trading one set of problems for another. I am *mightily* impressed that Sony allows you to copy downloaded content to five different PS3s, though.

Similarly, I could boycott the iPhone (or hack/unlock it, which I do not believe is a sustainible [sic] medium or long term solution)-- but honestly, no other smartphone comes close to the iPhone in terms of features and internet browsing experience.

I'm now back full circle to my initial question - Does a compelling product make you overlook the built-in DRM?  Well, does it?

Speaking personally, I'm no fan of DRM but I'm not allergic to the point of anaphylaxis either.  For example, I have a subscription to Audible.com that gives me two DRM-loaded audio books a month.  I've bought content from iTunes (but only because I've been given gift cards and vouchers ... I've not personally paid for any content other than the iPod touch software update).  I have an extensive DVD collection.  I don't have any content on Blu-ray or HD-DVD, but that's not because of the DRM as much as I don't feel the need to go HD.  I have a Wii and a PS2.  I also have an extensive PC games library that requires a lot of jigging about if I want to play the games without juggling discs. 

Where do you draw the line between a cool product and the restrictions put in place by the baked-in DRM?  Do you buy into something irrespective of the DRM or does the presence of DRM prevent you from going through with purchases?

Thoughts?

Editorial standards