Can We Not Just Talk About DRM?

Two interesting pieces on the DRM conversation today – one from PaidContent and the other from, of all places, Microsoft …

In relation to the Jobs piece, PaidContent writes;

The DRM itself is rooted in secrets—keys that unlock music—and a lot of smart people spen their time hacking those secrets. Jobs: “They are often successful in doing just that, so any company trying to protect content using a DRM must frequently update it with new and harder to discover secrets. It is a cat-and-mouse game.” Apple has been successful at keeping FairPlay updated so far, repairing “a few breaches.”

The sad thing about this cat-and-mouse game is that it isn’t about Apple engineers trying to make our lives better, it is about Apple engineers trying to limit the damage of the bad guys. I want the Apple engineers on my side creating more cool stuff? How about you?

The Zune Insider points out this fascinating nugget that I haven’t heard yet in today’s conversation;

Theoretically, it seems like both Steve J and Bill G both agree that the model – at least in its existing form – needs to change.

Cesar (Zune Insider author) harkens back to December when Gates too was complaining that DRM was in a sad state.

“People should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then.”

Yes, Bill Gates said that. Yes, he brought us the Zune. Yes, he brought us Plays for Sure. Yes, he knows it “ain’t right” yet.

DRM is a mess right now – both Gates and Jobs agree.

DRM has allowed us to do some cool things, but in relation to music sales, it seems to be far more effort than it is worth.

One more thought, and this one I seldom hear discussed:

If someone who would never buy the music ends up “stealing” the music – is it a loss?

I’m not trying to make the 13 year old excuse here. I’m a big boy who makes plenty of money selling my own content. I have no problem with people getting paid for selling theirs.

That kid they bring out every once in awhile on the news – the guy with 500 gigs of “stolen music.” You can’t tell me that if you took away his hard drive he’d drop by the local Target and pick up the CDs. It isn’t about the music – it is about collecting 500 gigs of something that you shouldn’t be collecting. Please notice something – the kid is 13 – that’s what they do.

But, when I look at the world of my customers, I don’t get mad at the people who will never buy my product. I instead do what I can for the people who will. I play to them. I develop enough hoops that if someone wanted my content, there is no easy free option out there – and I often find that to be enough.

I follow that with a value proposition that reminds them how much my content is worth and, bamm, I’m doing fine.

Oh, and yeah, I produce good content worth paying for.

If I built what I did around fear that someone somewhere might rip me off (instead of some one, somewhere, might buy my stuff), I’d be nowhere.

Just a thought.

How about we use DRM to enable new methods of consumption for the existing customer instead of panicing over someone who probably never would be a customer?

Just a thought.

I’m heading to bed.

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