Copy protection compromises the income of content owners 09:45 on Wednesday

Millions have been spent on development of copy protection technologies and DRM systems to fight piracy but no technology can prohibit digital copying and professional piracy, and never will. The only total copy protection is to not distribute music at all, while the most practical copy protection is cheap music. Of course both of these alternatives could compromise the income of content owners, too.

What the development of DRM has achieved, is to make it more difficult for the consumer to use music for its legitimate uses. In my view the music industry have lowered the value of their product, all the while fighting to preserve the price of the product. Some could say there is even pressure to rise the price of music, possibly in part for the costs of developing and implementing copy protection and DRM.

Naturally the product value is not lowered equally for everyone. Someone with only a portable CD player can still go on happily buying CDs and listening to them like before, whereas for another consumer who only listens to music on his car stereo, incompatible with the non-standard copy protected CDs, the value of CDs has dropped to zero. Nevertheless, the median value of music has been lowered by copy protection.

If something, this is not in my interest as an artist and copyright owner.

Big record companies and copyright organisations have a history of not seeing the opportunities offered by advances in technology. They seem not to be aware of the progress in consuming habits and evolution of the consumers’ experience with the product called music. It’s human after all — people are afraid of the new and feel safe clinging to the old, but it doesn’t necessarily work in business. Their actions actually work against the artists and small record labels who according to the Long Tail model would present the unorganised majority of the music industry. Even though the mass of business and lobbying power lies with the few big companies, I personally think the critical mass of creativity is within that long tail. And creativity is the key to diversity and quality of music.

Comments are closed.