Here’s a question to ponder.
DRM is generally accepted as being a Bad Thing, because it restricts what you can do with stuff you’ve bought and paid for. DRM laws and technology are designed to prevent you from transferring your CDs onto your MP3 player, stop you copying that ebook to your PDA more than once, and stop you watching that grey import DVD on your player. That’s bad. You bought it, you should be able to do what the heck you wanted with it.
So, what if DRM was looked at from another angle?
What if instead of copying stuff, you could only move them? What if you could buy a CD and transfer the music to your iPod, but then the CD was blank, until you’d moved them back. What if you could copy that DVD over to your friend’s computer, but then your DVD was blank until he “gave” you the files back – and you’d probably be annoyed if he “gave” them to someone else
This would make digital content work just the same as a paperback book. You could read it anywhere, lend it out (but then, you’ve not got a copy) and do whatever you want with it. But you’ve only ever got the one copy you’ve bought.
To me, that sounds fairer all round, to both the consumer and the manufacturer.
It wouldn’t be too difficult to implement either. One method would be to use some form of Move Only File System (MOFS) that allowed files to be moved in, but only allow files to be moved out to another MOFS, and copying was disallowed. Your music, ebook, movie or whatever would be sold on a MOFS-enabled disk that could be re-used.
Of course, whatever system was used, it would likely be cracked fairly quickly, but that’s theft – a whole other ball game.
The question is this: Would you subscribe to this kind of Digital Rights Management?