Another Tech Exec Badmouths DRM

by on September 22, 2006 · 10 comments

It’s interesting how people on the technology side of the media business tend to badmouth digital rights management technology even as they acquiesce to the content industry’s demands for it. We’ve seen how Steve Jobs bluntly admitted that DRM is not an effective piracy deterrent, just months before rolling out what became one of the world’s most widely deployed DRM schemes. And we’ve seen how Yahoo has pointed out to the labels that DRM does little more than inconvenience paying customers. Now Ashwin Navin, co-founder of the BitTorrent service, is badmouthing the concept even as his company implements it at the behest of Hollywood:

The reason it’s bad for content providers is because typically a DRM ties a user to one hardware platform, so if I buy my all my music on iTunes, I can’t take that content to another hardware environment or another operating platform. There are a certain number of consumers who will be turned off by that, especially people who fear that they may invest in a lot of purchases on one platform today and be frustrated later when they try to switch to another platform, and be turned off with the whole experience. Or some users might not invest in any new content today because they’re not sure if they want to have an iPod for the rest of their life.

Quite So. The people who pay for your content are not the enemy, and it’s counterproductive to create headaches for them.

Hat tip: Ars Technica

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Hmmm. I believe Apple itself benefits from DRM via its iTunes service. Is this right.

    Other excerpts from the BitTorrent exec: ***the future will not be marked by (DRM). It will be marked by advertising-supported content that’s clear of DRM, because the content publisher wants it to be as widely distributed as possible and consumed over as many platforms as possible.***

    Wait a minute. Does content become merely a means of attracting site visitors and users in order to sell ads. It seems like lower and middle market artists might buy into this, but big bands will hold out to sell their content rather than act as ad beacons.

    And doesn’t the Internet already provide wide-distribution of content.

    You don’t switch business models, going from content based revenue to ad-based revenue, unless ITS MORE PROFITABLE TO DO SO. The worse reason to switch is to allay consumer concern about DRM.

    I’m dubious about ad-based businesses b/c they seem to have a revenue ceiling. I’ll leave it to market researchers to figure out the exact comparison of content v ad models, but I’m skeptical nonetheless.

    If this exec is so sure about selling ads rather than content, then why doesn’t he do it now. Just get some bands that will hand over their songs without DRM, distribute them and sells ads. Whats stopping it? The Studios are, right? Well, why doesn’t he move ahead and use content that doesn’t go through the Studios. They probably would not attract viewers to ads.

    Well then, how do you get the Studios to play in with this new business plan. Again, we return to the issue of incentives.

    Even if DRM, as Tim argues, is “bad” for consumers and service/hardware makers, if the Studios want it, then its going to stick around. You have to give the Studios incentive to join the new plan. You can’t just tell them it would be better for everyone if they set aside their fears, and hand over the goodies w/o that mechanism (DRM) which gives them at least some assurance against rampant piracy.

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    Hmmm. I believe Apple itself benefits from DRM via its iTunes service. Is this right.

    Other excerpts from the BitTorrent exec: ***the future will not be marked by (DRM). It will be marked by advertising-supported content that’s clear of DRM, because the content publisher wants it to be as widely distributed as possible and consumed over as many platforms as possible.***

    Wait a minute. Does content become merely a means of attracting site visitors and users in order to sell ads. It seems like lower and middle market artists might buy into this, but big bands will hold out to sell their content rather than act as ad beacons.

    And doesn’t the Internet already provide wide-distribution of content.

    You don’t switch business models, going from content based revenue to ad-based revenue, unless ITS MORE PROFITABLE TO DO SO. The worse reason to switch is to allay consumer concern about DRM.

    I’m dubious about ad-based businesses b/c they seem to have a revenue ceiling. I’ll leave it to market researchers to figure out the exact comparison of content v ad models, but I’m skeptical nonetheless.

    If this exec is so sure about selling ads rather than content, then why doesn’t he do it now. Just get some bands that will hand over their songs without DRM, distribute them and sells ads. Whats stopping it? The Studios are, right? Well, why doesn’t he move ahead and use content that doesn’t go through the Studios. They probably would not attract viewers to ads.

    Well then, how do you get the Studios to play in with this new business plan. Again, we return to the issue of incentives.

    Even if DRM, as Tim argues, is “bad” for consumers and service/hardware makers, if the Studios want it, then its going to stick around. You have to give the Studios incentive to join the new plan. You can’t just tell them it would be better for everyone if they set aside their fears, and hand over the goodies w/o that mechanism (DRM) which gives them at least some assurance against rampant piracy.

  • Mark Seecof

    Let’s think about this. After selling the same songs over and over to the same listeners on 45′s, LP’s, 8-tracks, cassettes, and CD’s, why exactly would a label oppose a DRM scheme that prevents the listener from moving the songs he buys to a new playback device someday? Wouldn’t a rational label prefer an endless succession of incompatible DRM schemes tied to the must-have listening devices of the day–a new one every few years?

  • Mark Seecof

    Let’s think about this. After selling the same songs over and over to the same listeners on 45′s, LP’s, 8-tracks, cassettes, and CD’s, why exactly would a label oppose a DRM scheme that prevents the listener from moving the songs he buys to a new playback device someday? Wouldn’t a rational label prefer an endless succession of incompatible DRM schemes tied to the must-have listening devices of the day–a new one every few years?

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    The margins may be better for BitTorrent with ad rather than content sales. But will viewing more ads be better for consumers.

    ***advertising-supported content will win out over (DRM) in the long run for movie and***

    Looking over his interview again, the BitTorrent exec actually thinks DRM free content supported by ads will be more profitable than DRMed-content sales. Funny, is there anything to suggest that (market numbers, viewers increasing to see ads, etc)

  • http://weblog.ipcentral.info/ Noel Le

    The margins may be better for BitTorrent with ad rather than content sales. But will viewing more ads be better for consumers.

    ***advertising-supported content will win out over (DRM) in the long run for movie and***

    Looking over his interview again, the BitTorrent exec actually thinks DRM free content supported by ads will be more profitable than DRMed-content sales. Funny, is there anything to suggest that (market numbers, viewers increasing to see ads, etc)

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