HCoder.org

Digital Rights Management on the web

I strongly dislike Digital Rights Management (DRM), and often refuse to buy certain things simply on the grounds of them having DRM. So, what I do have against DRM? For the sake of clarity, I’ll assume we’re talking about videos/films (but all these arguments apply to any kind of content):

So, can’t you just not buy any DRM-“protected” films/books if you don’t like DRM? That’s more or less what I do, but I’m worried now that the w3c is planning on introducing DRM as part of the web, which will encourage more companies to use DRM. And I said “encourage”, not “allow”, because it’s perfectly possible to do so now (eg. Netflix does it). As I’m opposed to DRM, I think it’s ok that’s it’s painful or awkward to implement: there’s no need to make something bad easier and more common.

Some pro-DRM people seem to have this misconception that people who oppose DRM want the content to be free of charge. That’s ridiculous. I want to pay for the content, I just want to watch/read that content in whatever way is comfortable for me, and in whatever devices/operating systems I happen to use. In fact, I do spend a lot of money on music (but only when it’s DRM-free).

The only pro-DRM arguments I could take seriously were brought by the BBC (hat-tip to Bruce Lawson for sending me the link). They have very good points in the sense that in many cases it’s not even their choice to offer unlimited access. The thing is, again, that:

  1. If we agree that DRM (eg. limiting the content to certain kinds of devices) is bad, why make it easier? It’s already possible, let’s not make that the default if we think it’s bad. Keeping thing that are bad-but-necessary-right-now hard, but possible, sounds like a good strategy to me…

  2. Non-supported platforms would be excluded, why make it easier to have content on the web that discriminates against certain people (eg. people who have non-mainstream devices, free software)?

Finally, the EFF has a page about owning vs. renting that talks about other reasons why I don’t like DRM.