Why DRM?

by Lee Pritchard on February 10, 2007

in Music Licensing / Copyright

The following piece http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/ got me thinking about DRM and why it is there in the first place…

I must stress, this is my personal view…

Yes, DRM is there to protect music rights but I personally feel that the whole rights and royalty collecting models are a bit screwed up.

I think DRM is just an attempt by a conventional industry to retain revenue models that have historically served them well. As the statistics by Steve Jobs reveal, 90% of music has no DRM.

For me this is indicative of a much more serious issue, the one trying to make old royalty collecting policies fit new and emerging technologies. A patch work effect of new licenses and restrictions… having to get an additional license from X for using music in A but not in B is just making the whole situation immensely complicated and very restrictive for the man in the street and the small business.

The rights and royalty situations can now be so complicated that many companies creating and using digital media barely, if at all, understand the rights they have licensed or the rights they may be inadvertently infringing.

I don’t claim to know the answer to the whole problem but I do feel that there needs to be a massive reform of the collecting models surrounding music and music use. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that this will come from the “big four” or the numerous collecting societies that underpin their operations. I feel is will be the increasing numbers of independents and new thinkers. The policies of movements like Creative Commons and the numerous Royalty Free Music models are a refreshing move in the right direction.

I won’t mention any names, but when setting up my company I spoke to a collecting society and discovered that their adviser did not even know the answer to some of the questions I was asking…

If the people creating these policies don’t even understand it what hope is there?

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