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DRM on Music Being Rethought by Music Execs
Monday, January 22nd, 2007 at 2:45 PM - by
Selling music without DRM was being discussed at the Midem music trade fair in Cannes, France. An article at the Herald Tribune on Monday covering the show said that, "unrestricted digital files in the MP3 format from at least one of the four major record companies could come within months." While there is no universal agreement on the timetable, each of the major record labels is wresting with the idea.
A recent report by the IFPI released in London last week revealed that legal online sales are not making up for the decline in CD sales, and that has the industry rethinking the issue of rigorous DRM applied to music.
If just one of the major labels were to start selling music in MP3 format, it would be a recognition of the power of the Internet. It would also make life considerably easier for the makers of portable MP3 players.
In fact, a lot of the pressure the record labels feel is coming from the makers of MP3 players themselves according to the Tribune: "In part, it is because these companies have been largely unsuccessful in their efforts to produce digital locks that are simple and flexible for the consumer, foolproof to the hacker and workable on numerous makes and models of players."
In retrospect, the situation is reminiscent of the locks software vendors tried to put on office software in the 1980s. File formats were intentionally altered to make the software uncopyable once installed, but the tricky file alteration process sometimes damaged users' hard disks. The whole process so upset the customers that this kind of protection eventually had to be dropped by the software industry.
Today, the protection of the IP of music artists, compensating them fairly for their work and the management of unconstrained copying by customers remains unresolved. But as the digital music revolution, fueled by Apple and others, takes off, the consistent, rigid use of DRM appears to be under close scrutiny by the music industry.
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