world's dumbest crooks - 2.0
around the blogosphere : 2007-09-25

liquid DRM - opening doors for customers without slamming doors in the faces of content creators

Water If you're a regular reader you're familiar with my desire to see DRM live - in a transparent and unobtrusive rol.  I like to think of this as liquid DRM.  Our current DRM system is like a ton of bricks, getting them from place to place is virtually impossible.  Liquid DRM is clear, flows and may be bottled by the content owners, but as far as users are concerned, it's their own water to drink, waste or flavor to their own tastes. DRM, be it ad supported DRM or paid content with DRM is the only way to keep content secure - which much of mainstream media (Dave Matthews Band aside) relies heavily upon to monetize their content to both reimburse the content creators and generate revenue.

There are two ways a liquid DRM system could live without being evil:

  • Content owner-side licensing - which can port across multiple DRM schemes, so I can transfer my Apple DRM content over into a Windows DRM scheme via a transfer utility embedded in both players.
  • Virtualization: a third party media player layers itself on top of both Windows and iTunes (and others) delivering one library consisting of multiple DRM formats.  This third party player would also sync with multi-DRM-format capable portable players.  It may be a pipe dream today, but I fully expect to see this in a few years time.

So Amazon just delivered a DRM free music store.  EMI seems to be selling DRM free music all up and down this crazy town (forgive the 1950's verbiage, you've gotta love two-toned jackets).  While this is certainly a great step in the right direction, I have to ask - why are we seeing this new DRM free craze?

A few years back Napster got shut down because of P2P piracy/sharing. 
iTunes secured massive contracts with record labels because they locked down their system with DRM.
What has changed since then? 

    Why are record labels suddenly ready to open up the doors they closed 5 years ago?

I'd like to believe it's because the content owners care about their consumers.
 In reality however, it's because DRM is broken and they are desperate to regain their record sales revenue.  The labels are desperate enough to unnecessarily give up their own record sales future.

DRM free music won't seriously combat piracy, better, smarter, more liquid user-side transparent DRM might. 


Stay tuned for more on the subject later today.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to comment below!