The future of DRM

Over lunch today, I had a nice chat with a fellow lawyer about digital rights management (DRM), among other topics. Then, later on, I came across this nice article from The Guardian entitled “How Apple is Changing DRM.”

DRM is a way for copyright owners to get around the rights the purchaser of a copy of a physical item would ordinarily have. These rights come from the “first sale doctrine”, whereby once the physical item is sold the copyright owner has no more control over what the purchaser does with the physical item. For example, if you purchase a book, you can tear it from its binding and put it into a 3-ring binder, or make paper airplanes, etc. DRM doesn’t let you do certain things with electronic media, such as put it on non-authorized hardware. Breaking the DRM usually means that you’re in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions. But, as the article points out, DRM doesn’t really stop piracy, it just frustrates users.

The trend is now to eliminate DRM from many files, but as the article points out Apple is less likely to get rid of it. The article’s headline is a little misleading, it’s really more about what Apple’s competitors are doing rather than what Apple is doing.

I’m interested to hear what you as users find to be the most oppressive DRM in your ordinary use of your computers and media devices. The comments are open.

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