Back to Berlind, DRM, and my supposed missing logic

I’m way overdue in responding to David Berlind’s post from May 19 with the catchy title “IBM’s Sutor understands DRM, but logic misses major point”. I just went back and reread David’s entry where evidently I was lacking in logic when I said I didn’t buy much DRM-protected online music because I frequently just bought the CD at some later date. It seems I should have realized that I want to buy individual songs online and buying the CD is not the solution.

For what’s it worth, I rarely just want one song. I subscribe to eMusic and the great majority of what I buy there are complete albums. All the music there is straight mp3s with no DRM. I may occasionally get one song here or there, but that is not my personal buying habit. My daughter Katie takes it a step further and says that you fundamentally do want to get the complete album to maintain the artistic vision of the whole. Sure some of the songs may not stand too well on their own. On the other hand, many of them may do quite well in the context of what was placed around them.

So, David, I really do personally get the idea of why DRM is a problem, and you say that, but I may have missed your logic because I wasn’t going there in the first place. That’s ok, though, because you made me think about it.

Where I was going with that particular piece was to start to raise awareness about the potential pitfalls of DRM in documents. For that, I’m not sure where the a la carte logic fits in but maybe we can get to that when you send me a DRMed zip file of documents and I really just want one. I’m joking.

I am concerned about the situation there because of what you said about DRM and music at the very beginning of your post, “To me, it’s simple. Most don’t know it’s there.” The same will be true of DRM and documents. You’ll be told how safe and private your information is and then when you complain that you can’t open it on the platform of your choice or your successor in your job can’t access important files, you’ll have that rude awakening. It may be and probably will be too late by then.

Since DRM in documents is coming whether we want it or not, I think there there will need to corporate, government, and organizational policies about its use. For governments, that may even mean legislation in some places. We’re seeing that in France with DRM and audio and I see no reason why it won’t pop up again with documents. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those organizations and governments just say “no” to DRM for their documents because of fear of unforeseen consequences. That’s pretty simple logic.