Digital Rights Management

21Jul06

The Capitalist Infidel has been looking at what the record companies have been doing in their fight against piracy and is totally disgusted. The Capitalist Infidel has no idea how any industry can try to woo customers by abusing them. The Capitalist Infidel is not talking about their actions against innocent schoolchildren downloading songs off the internet. He is talking about Digital Rights Management(DRM). In fact, it is so bad that Consumerist actually has a whole section devoted to it.
For those of you who are too lazy to read the Wikipedia link, DRM basically makes it hard for you to copy and transfer song files around. This is supposed to make it hard for people to distribute songs online.

Of course things do not always go to plan. First and foremost, DRM is a passive defensive mechanism, meaning that hackers will be able to break it sooner or later. In fact, the Wikipedia article I linked to earlier links to software that removes DRM. The only people DRM restricts are the legitimate consumers who pay for the music and do not have the freedom to back it up or share with their (first degree) friends.

The consumers would have been lucky to get off that easily though. DRM also exposes your computer to hackers. Remember when people avoided pirated CDs because of the risk that some of them contained viruses that could damage your computer? Well the RIAA decided that they could not afford to fall behind their competition and decided to bring in the extras to you. RIAA needs a better marketing department.

And if you listen to your songs on an MP3 player, this article shows that DRM actually shortens battery life. Not that the record companies will be apologetic about this. They feel that transferring songs to your MP3 player does not constitute fair use of your digital rights. This of course makes the Capitalist Infidel wonder what companies like Sony, which, with BMG, produce CDs, expect you to put in their MP3 players, like the Sony Walkman.

The fact is, what the record companies are doing is ridiculous. They are abusing their legitimate customers who buy their CDs and potential customers, many of whom download songs or movies to test online before buying them. This is not how you keep your customers.

The Capitalist Infidel sees the of actions the record companies doing more harm to themselves than good. Sabotaging your own products is not the way to gain customers. Such actions will push customers to the pirates, who can provide them with DRM free music and in fact makes them feel that this is justified. After all, why pay more for an inferior product? And paying the evil record companies that introduced DRM just does not seem like the right thing to do.

Finally, most singers earn more from concerts than selling CDs and music sharing increases the number of fans, and therefore concert viewers. Music sharing will not hurt music development. In fact, with the market deciding what they like, it may be even better than record companies deciding what is best for the market.

This article was first published in The Capitalist Infidel’s Blog.

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One Response to “Digital Rights Management”

  1. 1 Nive

    Completely agree with you on how music sharing doesn’t hurt music development. I find it so ridiculous that they use the argument that piracy hurts creativity. Look at how the Arctic Monkeys made it big. Besides, we really don’t care if the likes of Ashlee & Jessica Simpson and Nelly get hurt by piracy, do we? I seriously doubt this though. Perhaps, if a decline in profit does arise, its probable that some of the fans have simply realised what awesome music really is.
    In fact, I’d say music sharing is the cheapest and easiest form of marketing and if MySpace.com is anything to go by, it is highly popular among bands and fans of bands trying to make it big.


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