this article about the new DVD standards, which will come locked down with new, onerous Digital Rights Management restrictions. It’s a good overview of how new consumer electronica are being designed to basically protect big corporations from the consumers who buy them.
One point that the article really misses, though, is how DRM isn’t really aimed at pirates, despite all of the entertainment industry’s protests to the contrary. Instead, the only real purpose of this technology is to force you to pay multiple times for same content. Want to watch a movie on your TV? Great! Buy the DVD. Want to watch it on your iPod? Well, here you go, buy it at iTunes. Want that music you downloaded from iTunes as your phone’s ringtone? Cough up more dough. What’s that you say? Fair use? Well, according to the past head of the MPAA, it doesn’t exist.
On a brighter note, Ars Technica has a profile of some of the good guys in the music industry: Emusic. Emusic is a digital music subscription service with no strings attached. No DRM, no limited playlists, no nothing. Just high-quality MP3’s that are compatible with just about all of the digital music players out there. It is interesting to note that they chose to be DRM free not because of any idealism, but because of a sound business decision. They wanted the maximum possible customer base for their product, so they selected the format that is most universal. And they seem to be making money at it, too. I signed up a few months ago, and I have to say I’m a happy customer.