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How to Compete with Free: Debunking the DRM Myth
The media is shocked by reports of illegal music and movie downloads, file sharing, and the ongoing legal and legislative battle that is being played in our courts, and In Congress. Most of these discussions create the misconception that existing digital rights management (DRM) technology, or soon to be developed, is the key to tackling the piracy of the entertainment industry. In support of this perception, many have cited Apple’s successful iTunes music download service. The simple wisdom is that since Apple is using DRM and Apple is successful, the anti-piracy mechanism must be a tool for Apple’s success. The fact is that Apple’s DRM technology called FairPlay is really important to Apple’s success, but not because it prevents digital piracy.
For anti-piracy, FairPlay is not only completely ineffective, it is implemented for that purpose. When you purchase a song through iTunes, you are allowed to burn it to a CD. When you burn it, the song is completely out of iTunes control. You can rip songs from a CD using perfectly legitimate software such as Windows media player; Upload music on shared files; Encode it as MP3; Or make a million CDs and give them to Times Square. FairPlay does nothing to prevent people from doing those things. So since the perception that FairPlay anti-piracy has collapsed in the face of logical analysis, why did Apple bother to create it?
There are two logical justifications for FairPlay. One has nothing to do with the effectiveness of DRM and everything to do with marketing. That DRM illusion makes it easier for Apple to persuade record labels to distribute their music via iTunes. Another reason for FairPlay’s existence has nothing to do with protecting copyright holders from plagiarism and everything to do with protecting Apple from competition. ITunes and Apple’s iPod are designed to work together, and proprietary FairPlay technology helps exclude interlopers. The creators of any iTunes or iPod clone will have to reverse the FairPlay engineers, which makes the cloning task more difficult and gives Apple both technical and legal options. For example, when RealNetworks introduced Harmony, the technology that made the RealPlayer Music Store compatible with iPods, Apple responded with threats that future Apple software updates were likely to compromise compatibility and even advanced. To question the legitimacy or activity of Real under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which avoids the protection of illegal copies. This case clearly shows that Apple intends to use FairPlay to protect personal business interests that are not related to anti-piracy.
Although hackers have compromised FairPlay, piracy of digital content is not allowed. They can take advantage of the holes that come with the gaps. But even if we ignore all previous experience with copy protection and assume that FairPlay can be made ignorant, it will still provide little or no protection for copyright holders from piracy. A copy of the digital content is an actual copy. They do not degrade the quality no matter how many times you copy them. As a result, even a single exact copy of a digital work can be perfectly copied millions of times and millions of times while being distributed over a file-sharing network. Because many of the latest file-sharing technologies are “open source” software, such as Bittorrent, which is privately owned and available to anyone, the strategy of suing companies that operate P2P networks is becoming meaningless. Technical measures for blocking file sharing have been tried, but countermeasures are being developed almost quickly. The inevitable fact is that with the government shutting down the internet completely, entertainment businesses will face more competition.
In the real world, many microwave clocks blink at 12:00 for years because consumers can’t learn how to set the time or they just do not want to bother. But some in the entertainment industry continue to wrestle with the fantasy that consumers are not only intolerant, but also pay for scary DRM-based solutions for anti-piracy, but it is very good at causing Annoyingly Libran – always rational, easily hurt emotionally, very passionate and maybe a little too intense. . The idea that DRM can protect copyright holders and help them compete freely is pursued by buyers of many incompatible DRM solutions. These vendors are looking for an anxious audience with some CEOs desperate to protect their business model from the changes they are willing to believe that DRM snake oil will protect existing revenue streams.
Apple’s iTunes shows that you can really compete freely. But as the document shows, Apple’s DRM effectiveness in preventing piracy did not play a role in its success. However, it is important to note that Apple could not succeed with iTunes alone by creating technical and legal barriers or by promoting its DRM to elixir rights holders for plagiarism. . The other half of the iTunes formula for success depends entirely on human behavior: if users do not recognize the value in iTunes, they will not use it. In addition, almost any song legally purchased through iTunes can be easily obtained for free through illegal means. Apple’s iTunes service, integrated with the iPod, provides users with a complete and integrated solution that is easy to use, flexible (e.g. you can burn songs to CD) and up-to-date. Apple is attractive to consumers, not because Fairplay DRM has restrictions, but mostly because it is not.
Researchers and vendors are wreaking havoc on the entertainment industry by continuing the DRM myth and holding on to iTunes for example. With iTunes, Apple does not disclose the cost of DRM to users or rights holders. However, Apple has shown that you can successfully compete freely and get users to open their wallets if you can offer them convenience and value. The entertainment industry should pay attention to the practical example of iTunes: providing users with great deals at affordable prices, and you can simply eliminate the incentive to get illegal work and make digital piracy obsolete. .
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