Wednesday, February 14, 2007

DRM: what's it to you?

No doubt a lot of you have come to read about copyright protection in various methods and media means such as music, DVD movies, and books that have been out for far longer than any us have been on God's green Earth.

And while admittedly, there is a big need to give credit to anyone who makes new media material; there is still a hidden agenda behind the enterprise that control such copyrights in digital media services through DRM software: Digital Rights Management.

But what exactly is DRM?

The abbreviated term DRM is used when a company (i.e.: digital media company) wants to limit the ways of distributing it's digital media through the controversial 'illegal' copying method from one PC hard drive to another, or to another flash drive or to a digital media redistributable source, such as a CD, or DVD. Allowing the individual who buys the digital media, equipped with DRM within it, to only be able to copy the media to a hard drive, for instance, for a limited amount times, as is the case to another digital media source like a CD or DVD.

While digital media companies boast that this software inevitably reduces the amount of piracy that is fueled through internet download and hackers' hard earned work in breaking down the codes; the internet has only seen a further surge in the amount of downloads of songs, video files, and even electronic-books. Proving critics wrong for more than a decade ever since the introduction of the 'mp3' compression file format.

Another reason that digital media companies use to excuse the use of DRM in it's digital media, is that it helps them to raise the money needed to payoff their contracted artists agreements. While many critics believe that it is the single reason why CDs and DVDs are sold at such high prices.

The two main companies that support DRM so far in the I.T. industry are Microsoft and Apple, with both their respectable software operating systems (Windows family and OS X, respectively) and the distribution of digital audio tracks through their newest hardware additions such as the Zune and the infamous iPod.

So, if both companies were to drop the DRM protection plan that they both support, how would that affect them as well as the public, then?

In certain aspects, it will probably open the hinch-locked doors of DRM and allow the downloading, distribution and redistribution of audio and video files, and probably increase the amount of 'legal' contribution of the public to the digital media industry; but, on the other hand, it mostly mean that sales of both the Zune and iPod will take a dramatic nosedive causing the companies to probably drop the projects altogether sometime in the near future.

So, what is the solution then?

That - only time will tell.

- Microsoft

- Apple