|FROM ||Ruben Safir
|SUBJECT ||Subject: [NYLXS - HANGOUT] DRM is Theft: IPODS
|Apple iPod dominance makes DRM more restrictive
Content being used to lock in consumers, argues Electronic Frontier
Tom Sanders at Red Hat Summit in Nashville, vnunet.com 01 Jun 2006
The market dominance of Apple's iPod music player is causing ever more
restrictive digital rights management (DRM) technologies, argued Cory
Doctorow, a fellow with the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Makers of portable devices have different reasons to embrace DRM,
Doctorow said in a keynote presentation at the Red Hat Summit in
He pointed out that Apple is looking to prevent users switching from
iPods to competing devices by making sure that music from the iTunes
music store plays only on the iPod.
"Apple [turns] every iTune you buy into a 99 cent price tag on switching
from Apple to a competitor's product," Doctorow told delegates.
"If you start with an iPod and you want to move to a Creative product
and you have spent $50 on music, that's a $50 investment that you
Using content to lock in consumers is even more important because such
devices have an average life span of 18 months.
In a commodity market for portable media players, Apple has no guarantee
that after such a time it will still have the best and/or most popular
products, Doctorow added.
Apple's competitors meanwhile are pushing for even more restrictive DRM
in an effort to entice content owners such as movie studios and record
labels to sign exclusive content licensing deals.
By offering to further tighten DRM restrictions, such companies are
playing to the content industry's fears of new technologies and piracy.
They also bank on the content owners' troublesome relationship with
Apple which has shown little willingness to raise download prices.
A similar trend is showing in the battle between the rival HD-DVD and
Blu-ray high definition DVD formats, Doctorow claimed. Blu-ray has even
gone so far as to bring back region coding that will prevent a US DVD
from playing in a European player.
"There you have two warring consortia seeing who can get the worst
product and can get the best content licence terms," Doctorow quipped.
He claimed that DRM only punishes legitimate users and does not prevent
piracy. When a new DRM-protected file is made available, it takes on
average three minutes before crackers strip it of its protection and
post the content on file-sharing networks.
And with faster processors, smaller and cheaper storage and increased
network capacity, content owners will have more trouble restricting what
consumers can do with digital content.
"There is no future in which bits are harder to copy than they already
are today. This moment in time has the most copy-proof bits that we will
see until the end of time," Doctorow argued.
Companies that base their business on limiting user rights are doomed,
he warned, and should be fought as they lobby the government for legal
"We need to show that we should not keep on struggling to save these
industries that have pitched their tents on the side of the volcano,"
said Doctorow. "We need to move on."