Back in the early 2000s, a bunch of online music services competed to sell music — each with its own form of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and each with its own set of restrictions on how and where those songs would play.
Most of those services are gone now, and so are many of the people who used to run the major record labels.
“They wasted years and years fighting the technology instead of figuring out how to work with it,” says Corynne McSherry, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. She adds that the music industry gradually found that DRM wasn’t preventing piracy — just sales.
“I think DRM is inherently not consumer-friendly,” McSherry says. “And it’s just not necessary.”
The record labels were forced to drop DRM because their customers could get basically the same product for free, minus the annoying restrictions, from peer-to-peer networks. Movie producers and game publishers are facing a similar situation, but they seem to have no intention of dropping DRM.
“There has to be some degree of control so we’re not just putting content out there in the clear so everyone can copy indiscriminately,” says Fritz Attaway, vice president of the Motion Picture Association of America.
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