Out with the DRM, in with the new
The big story of the week, as far as mainstream tech news goes, is the big news from Apple. They are removing the DRM from their iTunes files, upping the quality of said files, and changing their pricing structure. All in all, good news for me. Why? Because I think DRM is a bad idea which prevents legitimate purchases from being transferable items. Others agree.
DRM is Digital Rights Management (or Digital Restrictions Management for those of us who find the practice abhorrent), one of those acronyms that have been tossed around that most people just don’t care about. This is basically some sort of ‘standard’ wrap of encryption code that tries to keep specific access control for a digital product, in most cases to prevent unauthorized copies being made. This could be wrapped around a game, so that it can only be run on one computer, or in Apple’s case, around music so that it can only be played on authorized iPod. The whole point is to prevent theft. Of course the problem with this is that those who want to steal, will, regardless of what fancy technology is put on.
The down side of DRM is what it does to the rights of the person who actually buys the product with the intent of using it legally. Lets use iTunes for an example. I spend my hard earned money purchasing songs on iTunes instead of purchasing a CD. Lets skip over the fact that only one person in my house can use iTunes on one computer and start with reason I hate drm #1: I can’t put my iTunes on my generic mp3 player, I have to use an iPod. To illustrate reason #2, I will share a story. A few years ago, there was a computer in the house that had iTunes on it, and it held a good number of songs, legally purchased. This computer was moved from a household computer to a kids’ computer. The kid then tried ‘cleaning up’ the family stuff and lost the entire iTunes collection. A hundred dollars or more worth of songs, gone, because the user account that held the iTunes folder was removed. Could I get those back? Sure, with software that is technically doing something illegal. I could go on, but at this point I’m already bored with an argument that I’ve been going through for years and will hopefully be solved with the new DRM free iTunes.
Oh, but hey, those songs that I did purchase with my gifted iTunes card I can upgrade to the new DRM free 256 Kbps AAC encoding for only 30 cents per song. So that’s then coming to the $1.29 the upper tier would be charging me. Whoo hoo, yay me.