It seems the lessons of the past are not so easily learned. Time and time again DRM encumbered content has tried and failed to catch on with consumers. Yet, the megalomaniacs in the entertainment industry just can’t get their head around the concept that people would rather own the things they pay for.
So, according to this story on the BBC, once again they have formed a consortium to develop, yes you guessed it, yet another DRM scheme.
Here is my “bold” prediction; while they waste time arguing about how to deliver content online, the entire Internet will “solve” that problem for them in much the same way Napster “solved” online music delivery.
Can you believe it’s 2010 and the entertainment industry is just now starting to talk about how to deliver content online? Seriously?!? Where have these people been for the last 10 years?
I thought the music industry was a bunch of arrogant ignoramuses but at least in 1998 the music execs could make the excuse “hey, we’re baby boomers! We know nothing about this interweb thingy.”
No excuse for that now.
A recent episode of the CBC radio program “Ideas” (which is often excellent) has an interesting examination of copyright titled “Who Owns Ideas?” I strongly recommend you give it a listen even if you think you don’t care about copyright. You may be surprised at what the government has in store.
Yahoo recently announced that its “Yahoo Music” service will be shutting down. Sony Connect and MSN Music have previously done the same. What all of these services have in common is that they sold DRM “protected” music. The quotes around “protected” are intentional.
This means that consumers who bought music through these online stores are now at risk of loosing all the music they purchased. After the music store’s sites are shutdown the music will no longer be playable because the music players will no longer be able to access the digital keys that unlock the music.
Consumers are relatively fortunate in these specific cases because all three of these companies are not actually going out of business but are just shutting down their music services. Consumers may actually get a refund or some other compensation. If the companies went fully out of business and shutdown consumers would be up the creek.
In Canada this currently wouldn’t be as big of a deal since we can just break the digital locks on the content and play the music. But not if Bill C-61 passes. Circumventing the locks to access content you legally purchase will be illegal. All that in a bill that Jim Prentice claims is for the benefit of consumers.
Sorry Jim, we are not buying it. DRM is bad, legally protecting it is worse.
Last week Jim Prentice finally did what he has been threatening to do since last fall, he introduced the Canadian version of the DMCA. As usual Michael Geist has been doing a good job publicizing details of the legislation and so has CBC’s Search Engine, who conducted an interview with Jim Prentice.
Poor Jim didn’t do so well appearing downright confused about the bill stating the issues are “arcane” and that the “bill is very large”. Jim, it doesn’t matter how large the bill is. If you are going to impose it on us, you better know it inside and out!
Jim also tried to dismiss the impact of the law by saying enforcement wasn’t likely because the statutory damages wouldn’t be enough of a motivating factor to sue consumers and that digital locks on content won’t impact consumers because “market forces” will prevent media companies from using them.
If this bill is such a good idea, why is the minister spending all his time downplaying its impact? Can you imagine any other anti-crime bill where the minister goes out of his way to “reassure” the public that it won’t be effective?
The fact is, once this law is passed, the “digital locks” provision of the bill ensures that Canadians will have lost all rights to their own content and devices! Just transferring a “digitally locked” CD to an iPod, or recording a TV show that has the broadcast flag set will be illegal.
The minister likes to blab on about how the law allows for time shifting, and other “user rights” provisions while conveniently ignoring the fact that if the content is digitally locked, all of those rights are irrelevant.
With some luck perhaps we will have another election before the bill passes and Prentice will be defeated.
In a recent MacLean’s magazine opinion piece, Andrew Potter advocated that the only way to save music was to tax Internet providers. I’d like to link you to the article but the MacLean’s web site is among the worst on the net and apparently does not contain any actual content. (Update: I finally found the article online (thanks Google) here)
Anyhow, here is my reply to this kind of backward thinking… Read more…