DRM Is On Life Support

    January 11, 2007

Digital Rights Management (DRM) has been a topic of much buzz and speculation throughout the blogosphere over the past several months. With the advent of rival content providers offering music in non-DRM formats, the practice seems to be standing on its last legs.

Of course, Apple would never admit to such a thing.

No, instead Apple would dazzle you with sales figures from the iTunes music store and offer up DRM flavored kool-aid for you to drink while perusing them. It’s no secret that the company made a killing in 2006 by selling DRM’d content in iTunes, but Apple’s days of music monopoly are numbered.

It’s not 2006 anymore, and viable content alternatives are starting to gain popularity in the marketplace.

Michael Arrington at TechCrunch gives five reasons why DRM is on the decline:

•  A year ago, Yahoo Music GM David Goldberg urged labels to abandon DRM
•  CD sales continue to drop and are down at least 15% from 2000, and current digital sales are not offsetting that lost revenue
•  eMusic, which sells only MP3s, is the no. 2 digital music reseller behind iTunes
•  Amazon is rumored to be opening an MP3-only music store
•  Sony Exec says “DRMs are going to become less important” as time goes on etc.

Let’s face it; the novelty factor of the iPod has worn off. I’m not saying the device is declining in popularity, quite the contrary. It’s the widespread use of the iPod that, ironically, is going to present Apple with the biggest DRM dilemma. Consumers love the iPod, but are consistently irritated with the restrictive nature of loading and retrieving content from the player.
Because so many people look to the iPod as a digital content manager, Apple will be forced to find ways to make the content, for lack of a better phrase, more easily managed.

So what should iPod owners do in the meantime? Arrington offers this suggestion:

For legal reasons we do not condone the acquisition of music via BitTorrent or AllofMP3. We think Bill Gates’ advice is a pretty good way to go – buy the CD, rip and and do what you like with the music. You can listen to it on any device you own. But whatever you do, don’t buy DRM’d music. You’ll regret it down the road.

If you ask me, that’s pretty good advice.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.