Why digital rights management is anti-consumer

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I’ve had a few rants on this blog about why DRM-protected consumer goods (i.e. music and video) are A Bad Thing (e.g. here and here) but this comic from xkcd.com really makes a good point (which Walmart customers will appreciate – even if the company did later decide to keep the DRM servers running, how long can they be expected to do so for?):

Steal This Comic - from xkcd.com

(This comic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.)

7digitalFor UK downloaders looking for DRM-free music, I recommend 7digital (but have no affiliation with them).

2 thoughts on “Why digital rights management is anti-consumer

  1. I totally understand what you are saying there. The digital age makes it hard to protect things, but theres two sides to the story too.. getting your “stuff” out there is not bad either.. I think it really depends on what stage of the game you are at. Whether you are trying to make a name for yourself (then pirating might not be so bad – free advertising) OR if you are really at the point where you need money (pirating is not so good)

    We have an online webstore where people can purchase images online (prints or digitals). They can purchase low res website quality images for $5.. ya know how many we sell… NONE because people figure a way to take them right off the website.. Watermark or not.. but its not so bad.. They then post an image on THEIR blog that has a big BSCPHOTO.COM print on it.. free advertisng!

  2. I wasn’t really condoning piracy Lindsay – but that comic does highlight a real issue that content providers seem happy to overlook and consumers will almost certainly not consider to be acceptable.

    As a photographer, I do understand the issue with allowing people to see your work without letting them take it for free. One thing I would suggest is making sure that the low-res previews are too low-res to be of much use if stolen (i.e. VGA size or smaller). As you rightly point out, with high-res image previews there are too many ways to take a copy. Music and video are easier because you can give people a time-limited preview (I can’t think of an equivalent for images).

    Until there is a workable solution for all parties, then DRM is not the answer. And look at what’s happening in the music industry – after years of piracy with physical media, the industry thought that DRM would be its saviour. Now they’re learning that people will pay for DRM-free content if you make it easy for them to do so. Sure, there will always be some people who steal content (like the people who rip off my blog posts and post them on their sites without attribution…) but you have to take the rough with the smooth – if a business model cannot survive some pilfering (just as in a brick and mortar store), then it is ultimately doomed to failure.

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