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DRM Backbiting Frenzy

Oh my. Paul Sweeting at Video Business (which is owned by TWICE parent company Reed Business Information) has a report from the Digital Rights Strategies conference that should raise a few eyebrows: 

“Most deployments of DRM today have flown in the face of consumer behavior,” said Talal Shamoon, CEO of InterTrust, a leading provider of DRM and forensic tracking solutions.

In his opening presentation, Shamoon offered a laundry list of DRM’s current shortcomings, including:

  • it obstructs what people (legitimately) want to do;
  • it tries to defeat the advance of technology (digital copies, networking, online socializing);
  • the security is inevitably easy to defeat or is misapplied;
  • it’s used to protect monolithic vertical [interests] instead of enabling new business models.

Shamoon was not alone in pointing the finger at content owners.

Even Apple, patron saint of DRM-haters, comes in for a scolding. Ken Fisher, at ARS, sounds what I’ll interpret as a hopeful note:
When DRM proponents start pointing fingers and attempting to separate the theory (really, the ideology) from the practice, we have to stop and ask: what’s going on here? It appears that players in the DRM ecosystem know the tide is turning against them because DRM is punishing the wrong people, namely the folks who are buying DRM-laden content. This is bad for their business, because a DRM backlash could harm DRM peddlers.

He goes on to predict a full-scale DRM revolt. 

Me, I’m not so sure. This blog, for instance, asserts that Microsoft has invented an “unbreakable” DRM similar to technology used by the military. That sure doesn’t sound like people will be walking away from DRM anytime soon. For a revolt to be successful, consumers would have to be able to finger DRM as the source of their interoperability woes and blame the content holders, not device makers, for their frustrations. Do they do so today? I genuinely don’t know. 

Still, it’s undeniable that there is push-back. In Canada, for instance, a public interest group is claiming that DRM violates Canada’s privacy laws.