Legal doesn’t seem worth it.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have much experience with DRM (Digital Rights Management). However, in my limited experience, it’s done nothing but make one wish they’d just pirated the media anyway. It’s the reason I never really wanted to buy music, a movie, or a TV show on anything other than a tangible CD or DVD disc. At least with that I have limited freedom of what I do with it. I can take the disc to a friends house and watch it on their (usually more awesome) home theater setup if I want, or I can rip it to my computer or mp3 player and create playlists and compilations. I can listen or watch the content I paid for how I wish.
The latest headache isn’t really my headache at all. Andrea’s mom, Belinda, was wanting to know where to get mp3s for her new mp3 player. Of course she can buy CDs and rip them to mp3 easily enough, but the thought of being able to go online and pick just the songs you like and pay less than a buck a piece is alluring. Since her player isn’t an iPod I didn’t recommend iTunes, I instead mentioned Wal-Mart’s music distribution service that has songs for 88 cents a piece. She finds a few of her favorites and $4.00 later, she has her songs. However, trying to play the songs only resulted in the “Blue Screen of Death” and that was that. None of the driver updates or codec packs could solve the issue. I didn’t have the time to really dive in deep and see what other solutions people had tried. But the point is, you shouldn’t have to mess with drivers or BSODs. DRM in this case is just a deterrent to legitimately obtaining the product.
It’s often been said that all these DRM measures are hurting honest paying customers more than the internet pirates. In the case above this seems to be true. But if you ask me the future of DRM is more than preventing piracy, it’s taking advantage of honest paying customers. DRM doesn’t just keep you from copying your song and giving it to your friend. I mean, that’s bad, and you wouldn’t do that anyway right? The capabilities go far beyond that. Imagine buying a movie to watch on your TV, then when you want to watch that movie again in your bedroom, it won’t work because it’s locked to the hardware that’s in your living room. You’re forced to either buy the movie again, or only ever watch it in your living room. Then buy it again for your portable video player in your car, and so on and so on. Or imagine not being able to record a tv show that you’re going to miss, because the publisher doesn’t want you to have all of the episodes recorded before the boxed set comes out. Digital distribution is the future, and your ability to actually use the products you pay for is quietly being whittled away.
Steve Jobs is lobbying for music companies to strip the DRM for their online catalog of music. However, given the music industry’s track record, I’m skeptical at best. I agree that publishers should have some means to protect themselves from unauthorized distribution of their products. At the same time, there needs to be a way to keep these guys in check. You can’t keep selling me the same product time and time again, just because a new format came out, or I got a new TV. And when I do buy that Weird Al anthology, it had better be compatible, and “just work”. Other wise, I have friends in low places than can get the job done easier, and unfortunately for you…for free.