Do we trust DRM?

Published on Monday, September 18, 2006

Looking at the trend, I get to believe that most publishers still don't trust Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. The fact that very few content publishers are willing to open up their shop in countries which are perceived to be vulnerable for copyright infringement, points to this state of affairs. Unfortunately (for me) India is part of this list! Examples of such companies include Apple's iTunes store, and Audible.

For Apple,  once you create an Apple ID, you cannot associate this ID with iTunes Store unless your credit card address indicate that you are not part of the black-listed countries. At Audible it is not as bad. You can get to buy *some* content, but not all! The policy seems to be differ for content from the same author even. As an example, you can listen to all of Dan Brown's books except for 'The Da Vinci Code'!

To me this is quite surprising. For one, most DRM technologies does not trust the customer to 'play fair', but it ensures (through other means) that the customer can only use the content in ways prescribed by the publisher (even though at times it gets into the way of fair use also). It gives the intellectual property owner and content publishers, not the purchaser - control on how it is used. So if it works, it should work for all people.

But then, what about all the stories of DRM being cracked? Well things might not always go as planned - but these systems are designed to handle such eventualities. And when things do go wrong, the crack will be available all over the Internet - which means the crack will be available in *all* countries and not just a select few countries. So why black-list a few?

Also the decision on shortlisting a country cannot be based on the presence (or absence) of strong copyright enforcement laws as every time the law is invoked, it provoked such strong backlash from the *community* that the content publishers had to withdraw their case.

You can read more about DRM here and I would appreciate your comments on this topic.

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