DRM Double Play

I saw two interesting news items recently. First is that Microsoft is shutting down a Digital Rights Management (DRM) server for MSN Music. The other item is that NBC is telling Apple that iTunes/iPods should have antipiracy features. It is amazing to me how closely related these two items are.

Above is why I never bought music from Microsoft. Something in the back of my head knew this was coming some day. If Microsoft did not rule the market they were going to leave the market. Microsoft is not really leaving the market, they just shifted to the Zune marketplace. All the MP3s in the Zune Marketplace are DRM free. Microsoft is not doing that bad of a thing here.

I know the people in the music industry do not see this as a problem. To them it is no different than switching from cassette to CD. The difference in the eyes of the customer was that upgrading to CD was getting value with that upgrade. Here the customer is not getting any additional value.

I think this is a good example of the music industry alienating it's customers. It is that alienation that keeps people from paying for your product. The story above is why I currently will not buy any music with DRM. It is all MP3s for me now.

George Kliavkoff, chief digital officer at NBC Universal had a great quote about pirated content and portable media:

If you look at studies about MP3 players, especially leading MP3 players and what portion of that content is pirated, and think about how that content gets onto that device, it has to go through a gatekeeping piece of software, which would be a convenient place to put some antipiracy measures," Kliavkoff said in an onstage interview at the Ad:Tech conference. "One of the big issues for NBC is piracy. We are financially harmed every day by piracy. It results in us not being able to invest as much money in the next generation of film and TV products."

Wow, this one is a little disturbing to me. This guy needs to know a little about technology. I cannot find his education listed on the web. Maybe he a lawyer and not an engineer. From this comment you can tell he has no idea what made the Apple iPod successful. It is successful because it is an open platform. I can put my content on it without having to have that content blessed by Apple. If I needed my content blessed by Apple, I would buy a different device.

I would be afraid of any antipiracy software on my portable media player. How is that player going to tell if the content it pirated? Will I be able to put my own content on my player? If I make the content will I have to have it blessed by someone? Will I not be allowed to put content from third parties on my media player?

Right now I have more than one way to get a TV show to my iPod. Being a TiVo User I can use TiVo Desktop Plus to transfer a show to my computer and from there to my iPod. Is that piracy? I am paying for the program, it has all the adds, NBC has not stopped TiVo for TiVoToGo yet.

I know this comment is not really about this generation of Portable media players. It is about the Media players like the iPod Phone and the iPod Touch. Players that are connected to the web. I know he wants to make sure those players have his approval. I know that he wants media players to be closed systems. Cell Phone companies are making people thing this is possible. I think it is a bad idea for everyone including content company. As you close off avenues to content getting to boxes, you like the reasons for people to buy your content.


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