Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Few Words on DRM

There is plenty  of talk about DRM (Digital Rights Management) these days, and for good reason.  Everyone wants to be fairly compensated for their work, and on the buyer's side, people want fair value for a purchased product, without undo restraints or restrictions. 

DRM used up to this point has often been restrictive.  You buy the product, but can only use it on 1 device.  This is not fair and people have every right to be upset.  Top that off with a higher price point, and you have a recipe for cheating. 

Everything should be DRM-free.  This seems to me to be a direct reaction to the problems with DRM, from above.  If you use a poorly created DRM system and it doesn't work, then your answer should not be to scrap DRM altogether.  Just use something better.  But that is my opinion.  Others will cite Louis CK.

American (everyman) comedian, Louis CK followed the idea first offered by the band Radiohead.  They made their 2007 album, In Rainbows, available online and allowed buyers to name their own price.  This was a success.  Louis CK followed this up in 2011 by producing his own concert video and making it available for only $5.00.  Important to this is that Louis also made a personal plea to buyers to "do the right thing."  By doing this, and by keeping the price low, Louis was able to remove the incentive to cheat.  To learn more, read this.

Before deciding that the "Louis CK model is best", we need to consider that his is a very unique position.  He is well known (has a following), but hardly an out-of-touch multimillionaire.  He has an everyman quality, which is a very significant part of his act.  As a fan, you want to support him.  And he charges 5 bucks!

On the flip side, JK Rowling and Bloomsbury have made billions of dollars with the Harry Potter series, they have restrictions on their books (can't buy in certain countries, books are watermarked, etc...) and they are selling simple, plain-text ebooks for $8, and audiobooks for $30.  No doubt, they need to be compensated for their work, but, you can see why people may want to circumvent their locking system.

So what is the solution?  Read about our philosophy with regards to DRM in the next segment... DRM Part 2.

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