I posted an article earlier today about my early experiences with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile and DRM-protected content providers at BostonPocketPC.com. Amazingly, I have already started to receive e-mails of a rather… well – let’s just say “distasteful nature”. Even more amazingly, none of these e-mails have to do with whether or not the technology works, but that the mere existence of the technology is “fascist”, “evil”, “un-American”, etc. It really makes me question why DRM is so hated – even if it can work.
As a software developer, I believe strongly in the protection of intellectual property if the author wishes. Yet there are those who persist in defending to ridiculous extremes the rights to have crackz and warez sites. The funny thing, though, is that there are some people out there who believe that while illegal software is wrong, DRM is an entirely different story. Guess what – IT’S NOT.
The goal of DRM is to protect against piracy of digital media. It is no different than protecting any other kind of intellectual property. To argue that using a pirated copy of Windows XP is wrong, but ripping a CD to BitTorrent and sharing it with the world is, at best, a really bad rationalization to help someone to sleep better at night. If an artist wishes to protect their intellectual property, it is their right.
I am perfectly open to accepting previous arguments regarding the implementation of DRM technology. Bottom line – many of them have flat-out sucked. Many still do. But for the first time on my part, I have seen a DRM strategy in Janus and Windows Media Player that might actually work. It is not perfect, mind you, but it is a step in the right direction (protecting author’s rights while still providing consumer and content provider flexibility). The mere fact that I point this out to someone is the easiest way to determine whether or not they were simply hiding behind the “DRM doesn’t work” mantra. I have actually demonstrated Janus in conjunction with Windows Media Player 10 Mobile to people, only to have them literally fly off the handle. I actually had someone accuse me of “rigging it up” 8-|
While I am at it, I better not forget the “Your a puppet of the <expletive deleted> RIAA” argument. Response – No, I am not. Matter of fact, I probably agree with you on many things regarding the RIAA. Where I differ, however, is by saying that they have a right to protect their interests. Just not in the ridiculously over-zealous and absolutely misdirected way that they have (by and large).
Finally – there is the “slippery slope” DRM argument, which sums up to the possibility that we may some day not be able to copy music we purchase, even for use on our other devices. I don’t disagree that the possibility exists. The current implementation of Janus DRM is dealing with this, however, and allowing for setting criteria for ripping to other devices. Could DRM be abused by, say, record labels? Of course it can. They could make it so that you could never copy music under any circumstance. Newsflash – They’ve been trying this already with flat-out copy-protection, mainly under the argument that DRM doesn’t work. Ironic, isn’t it – DRM makes strange bedfellows 😉 If a form of DRM can be proven to work, then it will be “put up or shut up time” for the record labels as well.
Look – you can argue about the implementation of DRM, the potential for abuse of DRM by content providers, the possible hassles that it might provide. But to argue that the concept of DRM is wrong is no better than arguing for legitimizing any other form of theft. If you want to attack the Janus/Windows Media Player 10 implementation of DRM, go right ahead. If you want, instead, to e-mail to personally attack me or the the concept of DRM, do me a favor – find someone who can waste time playing psychoanalyst to people who are desperately rationalizing. That’s not me.