Archive for the ‘DRM’ category

Is it okay to circumvent DRM in Europe?

May 29, 2007

A Finnish court has ruled that a defendent was innocent of infringing copyright by cracking CSS and publishing code to do so. The defendent’s blog tells the story which is retold elsewhere with an overview of the potential circularity of the logci and with the catchy headline – Legal Gymnastics: It’s okay to circumvent drm in europe if its circumventable. It remains to be seen what impact this decision will have outside of Finland.

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eMusic weighs into the music DRM debate

February 23, 2007

The Independent tells how David Pakman, CEO of eMusic, predicts the demise major label DRM before the end of this year. He’s obviously in favour of no DRM since that is how eMusic operates, so no surprises there. It is also not a high risk prediction to make in the current climate of discussion around DRM, although I would be surprised if all DRM is gone by the end of the year. 

However I suspect this public statement is aimed at some of the indies like Domino and distributor Vital Pias Digital who are taking steps to remove their content from eMusic UK following the first royalty statements from that service. This may be about negotiating for better terms from eMusic which the major might get in the future. 

With ths in mind, Mr Pakman’s comments could be intended to serve as reminders to the likes of Domino and VPD that major labels might be on eMusic in the not too distant future and then it may threaten iTunes for the number one digital retailer spot, at which point not having repertoire on there may be a costly mistake. 

Engadget call for Apple to ditch DRM…

February 20, 2007

Article on Engadget summarising the state of play of DRM’s and calling on Apple to:

strip the DRM from the independent label and Disney-owned music, TV, and movie content in the iTunes Store. Show the “Big Four” you mean business…

Egos, vanity and debate causing EMI to dump DRM

February 9, 2007

Only slightly more confusing than Anna Nicole Smith’s life, how to begin to unravel the debate surrounding dropping DRM currently underway in the music industry? DRM was debated this year at Midem and the discussion continued in the media after the event had finished.

So, on to recent events.  Apple’s FairPlay DRM system was dubbed ‘illegal’ by the Norwegian consumer ombudsman in late January. French and German consumer groups are voicing demands for Apple to drop its DRM.

Meanwhile, US CD sales so far this year are reported to be down by over 10% and point to a faster drop than expected globally through the year. I guess only time will tell on that one.

Warner Music just posted a significant drop in its quarterly profit (but bear in mind the seasonality of music) and EMI is currently re-orging after reporting a profits drop recently.

So now on to some of the characters. At EMI Barney Wragg was recently appointed Global Head of Digital and with some new top brass and major down-sizing he still needs to show he’s the exec for the job, thus a flurry of PR on recent deals EMI has done. In the climate of desperation EMI is currently feeling leftfield deals such as the one reported on Reuters about dropping DRM (on catalog) in exchange for cash are not so improbable.

So Steve Jobs is well aware of what is going on with the consumer groups in Norway, France and Germany and he hates to be seen as not pro-consumer. It is also no stretch to imagine he got wind of the various approaches to online music retailers being made by EMI. So, Jobs decides to post his thoughts on music DRM on the Apple web site and thinks he can kill two birds with one stone:

  • Turn the ire of the European consumer groups onto the major music labels aiming to sidestep in government or legislative action (and consequently bad PR) that may be directed at Apple
  • Position himself neatly in history as the man who caused the majors to finally abandon DRM

A very well timed post from Jobs that mostly got taken and reported at face value by Apple lovers like the BBC. Written simply and littered with slight inaccuracies it even prompted the RIAA to speak out, the IFPI’s Jon Kennedy and Warner Music (who probably hate to feel like they are being led down a path by Jobs). Only BoingBoing asked the question whether we would see Jobs embracing distributing Pixar movies without DRM…

Anyway, Jupiter’s Mark Mulligan blogs that “I actually think this is more about European politics than anything else”. Well, I think it is in part about that. But in addition to that we see shrewd PR-mover Jobs taking advantage of EMI’s desperation in order  to cast himself in the role of history maker in catalysing the dumping of DRM.