June 18, 2004

Cory Blasts DRM

Filed under: commons — Wendy @ 9:13 am

My EFF colleague Cory warned Microsoft Research against DRM. True to his recommendations that access is better than lockdown, he’s put the entire text of his talk into the public domain.

1. That DRM systems don't work
2. That DRM systems are bad for society
3. That DRM systems are bad for business
4. That DRM systems are bad for artists
5. That DRM is a bad business-move for MSFT

Whether you like Microsoft or not, you’ve got to recognize that they haven’t gotten to be the richest company in the world through stupidity. DRM is long-term stupid. It’s technology designed to make technological products less useful (”Where do you want to frustrate your customers from doing today?”), and it doesn’t work as long as there’s one determined attacker in the audience.

The DRM moment has been left behind by science. Publishers were looking for pay-per-use and perfect price discrimination; DRM promised it to them. But DRM was backed by bad science. As long as we live in a world where we can still talk to our friends and still tinker with our tools, DRM is doomed to failure. And when it fails at its primary purpose, it succeeds only at driving potential customers to other sources.

In the short term, DRM may help facilitate lock-in to a particular manufacturer’s products. Once you buy a few Microsoft media player tracks, it’s easier to keep buying Microsoft. But as the format gets less useful, and the media player’s requirements become more restrictive, OGG looks more attractive. Sure, it’ll take some effort to get your existing tracks back (you might have to convert, re-purchase, or find clear versions on the Darket), but once you see the gains in flexibility, you’re unlikely to look back. Customers jump ship from DRM, with best customers first over the edge. If Microsoft as technology company doesn’t see that, it’s just ceding its leadership to someone who does.

4 Comments

  1. It’s a fantastic speech, I’ve read it and fowarded it. Good thing for public access!

    Comment by EricinTX — June 18, 2004 @ 10:45 am

  2. DRM Is Bad for Monopolists, Too

    Ernie thinks Microsoft will take the wrong lesson from Cory’s DRM warning. I disagree. Whether you like Microsoft or not, you’ve got to recognize that they haven’t gotten to be the richest company in the world through stupidity. DRM is…

    Trackback by Copyfight — June 18, 2004 @ 11:02 am

  3. I read this just a few days ago. Cory hits the DRM issue on the head. It still amazes me that people like Apple, Disney and Adobe are still trying to get us to give up our fair use rights to protect their percieved Digital Rights.

    Comment by DRM Blog-er — August 6, 2004 @ 2:41 pm

  4. For a Better Tomorrow…Today.

    Comment by Durffwurzle For President — November 9, 2004 @ 1:55 pm

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