Digital Rights Management, it’s pretty universally agreed, is evil. Heck, Steve Jobs says so too, and he’s always right. DRM is just a way of restricting your rights as consumers to do what the heck you want with stuff you’ve bought. It prevents you from playing your CDs in your computer, burning them to mp3s or copying your favourite DVDs. It’s a thinly glossed way for the media industry to try and get us to buy the same thing several times, and it doesn’t work.
Even in it’s guise as an “anti-piracy” measure, DRM doesn’t work. That’s because media, like software, wants to be free; there isn’t a DRM measure on the planet that hasn’t been cracked by someone, somewhere, and that just ain’t gonna change. It’s in the nature of mankind to want to share, and that’s a good thing. The media industries know this too, hence the reason why we can listen to music on the radio 24 hours a day, or watch TV at next to no cost. It’s a form of promotion where the advertising is the product. Clever, eh?
Radio and TV as seen as good things, because they’re controlled. So-called “piracy” isn’t; we can give what we want, to whoever we want. Complete strangers even in the case of P2P networks. This is a marvel of the modern age where information can disseminate at literally the speed of light. On an optical network, at least. For the rest of us, DSL is as good as it gets, but I digress.
This form of distribution has a bad name but a good following. It’s been called Piracy to give it an unlawful tone, but all that’s happened is it’s made Jack Sparrows of us all. Instead of driving it out, piracy is the digital currency of the modern age. Ask a camera club how many people use Photoshop and you’ll see almost all hands go up; ask how many of them have genuine copies and you’ll perhaps be left with three of four hands still in the air. These won’t be spotty drug-using teens or members of a Mafia cartel (much at the MPAA tries to portray “pirates” as such) but folks in their 40s and 50s who are just happy to share. It’s the same through this digital age, whether it’s software, movies or music.
The problem is that it’s not piracy at all. Pirates kept all the booty for themselves, hoarding their treasure or burying it to make sure no one else could claim it. It would have been a poor pirate indeed who gave all his treasure to anyone and everyone! I guess the real modern day pirates would be the MPAA who want to hoard all the rights for themselves and make innocent children walk the plank. They’ve even got the sharks on their side in the form of the countless lawyers who support them.
So, here’s my idea. Let’s stop calling it piracy, because it’s not. Let’s call it something that’s accurate and positive. Make it a force for good, and hopefully the media industry will see that’s what it is and adjust their business model to fit into the modern world. Yeh, right. Like that’ll ever happen!
Let’s call it “Digital Free Distribution”. Because that’s what it is.
Now, anyone want to make a logo?