DRM Pisses Me Off

August 22, 2012
2 mins read

TECHIES CAN BE a tricky bunch. We’ll argue till the cows some home about topics as obscure as Android vs IOS for hours on end as well as all sorts of other esoteric stuff that’d leave the average person emitting a stifled and disinterested yawn. In short, getting gadget fans and the tech obsessed to agree on anything is about as difficult as herding a room full of cats.

Strangely enough there are things that most tech-obsessed people will agree on almost unanimously. Take digital rights management, otherwise known as DRM. Designed to put the brakes on piracy, DRM was usually applied to music, e-books, and other digital content so it wasn’t able to be shared. While this might all be fine in principle, DRM often had many unintended side effects that effectively lobotomised the very products it was supposedly protecting. Unsurprisingly, DRM is universally reviled by geek-kind world over

Now the Free Software Foundation (FSF) has again waded into the fray to vent their views on the evils of DRM by launching a DRM Free Logo, aimed at helping buyers avoid technologies laced with DRM poison, which it refers to as “digital restrictions management.”

Now I may be a grumpy old prick, but DRM is just one of those senseless things designed by committee and dreamed up by corporate group think that simply pisses me off. Applying digital rights management to music is a prime example of stupidity at its finest. That I can waltz into a music store, plunk down 15 bucks, buy a CD and play it in any CD, DVD or Blu-Ray player I choose or rip it into any digital music format I choose hasn’t caused major corporates to fail or the world to implode, so the question that begs to be asked is why can’t I do the same with digital music that I’ve legitimately purchased online?

Because a bunch of corporate fat cat ass-hats are petrified that I’ll copy the music and share it with every person on the planet, effectively bankrupting them in the process. Yeah right.

Because of this irrational fear, much digital media is hobbled it so it can’t be burnt to CD, converted to work on other hardware and so on. Gahh! Sadly this doesn’t occur to the non tech-savvy person buying gadgets or plunking their down hard earned cash to subscribe to online services. The net result is that many end up with semi-useless hardware and less money in their bank accounts.

Thankfully, the FSF’s logo provides the equivalent of a certification program allowing Joe and Joanne Average to buy tech or download apps with the confidence that comes from knowing they’re not going to get stiffed by some DRM scheme thought up by an increasingly nervous recording industry.

The even better news is that the logo has already attracted a boat load of early adopters. Publisher O’Reilly Media, BitTorrent distributor ClearBits, e-book distribution platform Foboko, Momentum Books, programmer-focused The Pragmatic Bookshelf, Obooko, and Project Gutenberg Australia have all come on board. Here’s hoping more follow suit while those dullard corporates begin to understand that if you treat your customers like criminals, they’ll start to behave in kind.

If like me, you find the ehole concept of DRM just brain dead, check out the The Free Software Foundation, they’ve got a great Guide to DRM-Free Living which lists places where e-books, movies, and music can be procured with without DRM. Nicer still they also have a page of the “worst DRM offenders” so you can work out which brands to boycott. As you’d expect from the Free Software Foundation, their “DRM Free” logo is free to use for anyone who does not require DRM or other proprietary technologies to access their files, and the FSF says it can be found on the FSF’s DRM-free page licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. PAT PILCHER

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

1 Comment

  1. Nice article.

    Its interesting seeing a New Zealand twist on international matters regarding media and its consumption. I would read again.

    May I say as a media buff having a terabyte of music DRM free, I would savely say, DRM has failed at its intended purpose.

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