DRM: An Industry Changed

DRM: An Industry Changed

imageImagine you are a successful company, and you've enjoyed nearly half a century of mutually beneficial business with your best client. Fortunately, he has been a reliable and nearly endless consumer of your product, and he seems to need you as much as you need him. So imagine your surprise when one day, quite suddenly, this customer pulls out a gun, shoots you square in the face, takes your wallet and then blames you for the entire incident.

The year is 2000. You are the music industry, and the gun is Napster.

The reality of the events surrounding Napster's monumental popularity and significance at the end of the last millennium is far more complex than a simple gunshot, and certainly both sides of the debate continue to fight a battle not set to be resolved for years or decades. But, the result of Napster's two-year siege of the music industry is as strongly felt now in the relationship between consumers and the industries that provide digital media as it was six years ago.

Let's put the impact of Napster in perspective. In February of 2001 Napster recorded its highest simultaneous users logged in, 26.4 million people. According to Media Metrix, in that month alone, the service provided 6.3 billion usage minutes to users worldwide; 11,000 years of downloading, and what many call theft, compressed into the shortest month of the year.

In a very real sense, record executives woke one morning to find that millions of customers quite suddenly had access to their entire libraries for free. In a matter of days, the recording industry was relying on a revenue stream based on the honor system. Piracy had, of course, been an issue prior to Shawn Fanning's release of Napster, but it had been relegated to the tech-elite and had been perceived as unsavory as walking into your local Tower Records and shoving a stolen CD down your pants. Once millions of people made the choice to log into Napster, most with the express intent of downloading copyrighted music, it was clear consumers had widely changed the way they perceived their relationship with music ownership, and they had done so in a sudden and violent revolution.

Although the industry eventually managed to shut down Napster, it could not put the genie back in the bottle. Peer-to-peer developed and adapted to the best possible legal pursuits by decentralizing and exploring new technologies.

imageAnd the frenzy to download has not been abated. While the media no longer has the face of Shawn Fanning to put in front of its cameras, the public continues to push the boundaries of digital ownership. One of the most popular sites for finding Bit Torrents of movies, television and music ranks among the top 200 websites in the world and hosts more traffic than Match.com, Netflix, Slashdot or the online sites for Target, Wal-Mart or Best Buy. And with distributed peer-to-peer clients such as Bit Torrent, it has become far more difficult for media companies to simply litigate and shut down the offenders.

So, can we be surprised that digital rights management exists, that protecting digital property is of greater significance to companies than improving the consumer experience, that the industries that can be affected by piracy have lost as much faith in their customers as we customers have in their business practices? Whether intentionally or not, Shawn Fanning's Napster was Fort Sumter, and the media industries were understandably shocked to find that the army massed against them numbered in the millions.

The full extent of piracy's effect on any industry including music, movies and video games, is truly an unknown quantity. One nationally released study by Harvard and North Carolina universities in 2002 suggested file-swapping had an effect on the industry indistinguishable from zero. The following year another study for the National Bureau of Economic Research refuted those conclusions and suggested that each album downloaded represented one-fifth of a lost sale. The RIAA claims that piracy accounts for $300 million in lost sales each year. The Entertainment Software Association goes much further, suggesting that $3 billion in sales are lost due to piracy.

While consumers continue to request less stringent DRM and more freedom for interoperability of their digital media, the music, movie and game industries are understandably skeptical of the reliability of consumers to respect the legal rights of copyright owners. It's not entirely unlike the skepticism a judge might show someone facing his fifth DUI offense who claims he's off the juice for real this time. In fact, considering the continued popularity of peer-to-peer programs, assume that the man standing before the judge is holding an open bottle of whiskey.

While Steve Jobs strongly encouraged the recording industry to eliminate DRM this past Tuesday, the reality is the industry is far more likely to focus its efforts on creating some kind of DRM that can be put on applied to unprotected music rather than loosening the restrictions it puts on the now billion-dollar online music industry. DRM is the price we as consumers pay for forcing the industry to lurch forward into the digital age, by throwing a brick through the window and looting the store during the riot. The same is true of the copy protection we gamers have long suffered.

We as consumers have created the necessity of a service like iTunes, which has sold now more than 2 billion songs, as well as the necessity for the digital rights management. Napster both signified the desire in the average consumer for digital distribution, while at the same time signifying that the average consumer will take advantage of easily exploitable media. It was our litmus test that validated the concerns a wary videogame industry had been espousing for a decade. Inconvenient as it may be, the rules of fair use are being rewritten, and the actions of tens of millions of consumers in 2000 handed all the cards over to the media industries. We have only ourselves to blame.

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Speaking as someone who has never pirated music that I could buy, I'm not sure I agree with this assessment. You mean to tell me it's your fault I have to buy an overpriced CD when I want a song without copy protection?

I'm kind of curious how much money the music industry brings in from concerts and shows. Anyone have any idea?

The issue I and most people I associate with have with DRM is that if people want to steal / download / get / (whatever term you prefer) their music, movies, tv, games, they can and they will. The RIAA / MPAA will not catch all of them, nor would they realistically be able to prosecute 8% of America (that's how many people were logged into Napster during that february) DRM and copy protection has only done a single thing for me, cause me the inability to play games I legally bought, and the inability to move music around that I legally downloaded. In both cases it's affecting a legal customer in a negative way, and I for one don't appreciate being treated like a criminal.

If you offer a good or service at a decent price people will buy it, if you fail to offer the service that people want, the world is going to leave you behind. People aren't downloading because they want to steal, I feel iTunes continually growing sales are proof of that, DLC proves it for games, and the entire Steam model is a success.

The reason people are downloading is because of convenience, the same reason that the DVD player beat out VHS so quickly, not because of a higher picture quality, but because you could skip around.

TomBeraha:
The issue I and most people I associate with have with DRM is that if people want to steal / download / get / (whatever term you prefer) their music, movies, tv, games, they can and they will. The RIAA / MPAA will not catch all of them, nor would they realistically be able to prosecute 8% of America (that's how many people were logged into Napster during that february) DRM and copy protection has only done a single thing for me, cause me the inability to play games I legally bought, and the inability to move music around that I legally downloaded. In both cases it's affecting a legal customer in a negative way, and I for one don't appreciate being treated like a criminal.

If you offer a good or service at a decent price people will buy it, if you fail to offer the service that people want, the world is going to leave you behind. People aren't downloading because they want to steal, I feel iTunes continually growing sales are proof of that, DLC proves it for games, and the entire Steam model is a success.

The reason people are downloading is because of convenience, the same reason that the DVD player beat out VHS so quickly, not because of a higher picture quality, but because you could skip around.

Exactly, its the same as shopping from Amazon.com. Its mainly about convenience. The continued popularity of Napster even after it was "shut down" is proof that most people are willing to pay for the convenience. We have given the music industry yet another way into our pockets. It is time they embraced the online music industry and got over it. Especially since you can't stop PtoP file sharing.

Steve Jobs:
In 2006, under 2 billion DRM-protected songs were sold worldwide by online stores, while over 20 billion songs were sold completely DRM-free and unprotected on CDs by the music companies themselves. The music companies sell the vast majority of their music DRM-free, and show no signs of changing this behavior, since the overwhelming majority of their revenues depend on selling CDs which must play in CD players that support no DRM system.

So if the music companies are selling over 90 percent of their music DRM-free, what benefits do they get from selling the remaining small percentage of their music encumbered with a DRM system? There appear to be none. If anything, the technical expertise and overhead required to create, operate and update a DRM system has limited the number of participants selling DRM protected music. If such requirements were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies.

As much as I try, I cannot find fault in this logic. It astounds me that the people in charge of licensing downloadable music are really so stupid!

Whats funniest is that for all the remove-DRM software available, and all the back and forthing that goes on between the coders and the hackers, all it takes to remove the DRM from an mp3 is to burn it to a blank cd as an audio disc and then rip it back to mp3's. Its a bit of a pain, but it works and you can do it in any mp3 capable program including itunes!

The music industry had their moment in the sun, their golden goose is out of eggs and they should pass away gracefully and leave the rest of us in peace. Truly I don't care how they feel betrayed by their customers. In fact it was the music industry who pulled out the first gun and said buy from me or go without. Napster was more like a revolution against an evil dictatorship than an attack on the poor helpless "we only want to help you" business portrayed in this article. and guess what the television industry is next because I am god damn tired of whatching commercials, tired of advertising in general actually. Of course what do I know I'm just a consumer why should anyone worry about what I think? I will never support a music format crippled with DRM, it's like making a car that only turns left, yeah it's usable but who the hell wants to put up with the hassle.

I wouldn't start fighting advertising and other corporate monsters. Properly applied and entertaining advertising is welcome I say. But, that's another discussion altogether.

As for the DRM and music industry issues, I would agree with Joker that the problems started with the industry repackaging the same music and passing it off as hits, but now the pendulum has swung to the other side. Potential pirates could very well strangle the industry. Social networks and indie bands are now able to thrive in this environment, and the overall effects of piracy are surely exaggerated by the record companies.

There's no major threat yet, but if they don't start supporting digital distribution techniques, then they will falter.

Joker951:
The music industry had their moment in the sun, their golden goose is out of eggs and they should pass away gracefully and leave the rest of us in peace. Truly I don't care how they feel betrayed by their customers. In fact it was the music industry who pulled out the first gun and said buy from me or go without. Napster was more like a revolution against an evil dictatorship than an attack on the poor helpless "we only want to help you" business portrayed in this article. and guess what the television industry is next because I am god damn tired of whatching commercials, tired of advertising in general actually. Of course what do I know I'm just a consumer why should anyone worry about what I think? I will never support a music format crippled with DRM, it's like making a car that only turns left, yeah it's usable but who the hell wants to put up with the hassle.

I hate commercials as much as the next man, but I'm not about to pay twenty dollars every time I want to watch Heroes, which is what would happen if commercials were done away with. That is why HBO and such are pay stations.

Now as far as games are concerned, you want to put The Golden Arches on the dashboard of my character's car and pass me mission info via their T-Mobile Sidekick? Fine. Just knock off some of the cost of the game since those ads are how they pay for development and such without actually paying for it. In game ads lower costs for developers and some of this should trickle down to us, but I digress...

Personally, I'd feel a lot worse for the music industry if I ever got that check they owed me after they were found liable in the class-action price fixing suit they lost.

I never got my check either.

Aside from what you may think of the music industry (sure, I despise massmedia conglomerates as much as any of you guys), this article has a lot of legitimacy I think. People always cite the convenience of Napster and P2P compared to other distribution methods (CDs & DRM downloads), the evils of massmedia corporations against artists, blah blah... but dare I hypothesize that most Napster users were on it because it was free, and free is great, and nobody really, truly cares if Sony etc loses money because sticking it to The Man is awesome. If I were Sony witnessing that, I'd start thinking about DRM and lawsuits too -- start thinking about ways to put a cap on the average consumer having the desire and access to casual 'net piracy.

You can argue about whether it's retarded or not, whether piracy has a real effect, whether massmedia conglomerates deserve to die, etc... but in terms of "why there is DRM", this article sounds right.

Allow me to offer another example.

Let's say I'm a business owner and offer a service, and say Joker951 decides my service isn't of good enough quality. But, of course, he still wants the service, he just doesn't feel like paying what I charge. So one night he breaks in to my business, uses the service, and leaves. He doesn't actually steal the money from my safe, but he does use the service I provide for free. Now, let's say he tells a bunch of friends, and suddenly they all start doing the same.

Now, what as a business owner do you think I will be more focused on?

1) Improving my service so that hopefully these people who are now used to getting it for free will decide to start paying for the service again, or
2) Improving security

The popularity of downloading media forces the industry to spend more time on security and less time on meeting demand. I'm not asking for sympathy for them. In fact, I say if you don't find the product worth the price of admission then definitely don't buy it. But the actions of those downloading music have not just been completely impotent in meeting the complaints of customers, but created the need for media companies to aggressively protect their service.

It's a little ironic that those who complain most about DRM are often exactly the reason DRM seems like a necessity in the first place.

Sean Sands:
Allow me to offer another example.

Let's say I'm a business owner and offer a service, and say Joker951 decides my service isn't of good enough quality. But, of course, he still wants the service, he just doesn't feel like paying what I charge. So one night he breaks in to my business, uses the service, and leaves. He doesn't actually steal the money from my safe, but he does use the service I provide for free. Now, let's say he tells a bunch of friends, and suddenly they all start doing the same.

Now, what as a business owner do you think I will be more focused on?

1) Improving my service so that hopefully these people who are now used to getting it for free will decide to start paying for the service again, or
2) Improving security

The popularity of downloading media forces the industry to spend more time on security and less time on meeting demand. I'm not asking for sympathy for them. In fact, I say if you don't find the product worth the price of admission then definitely don't buy it. But the actions of those downloading music have not just been completely impotent in meeting the complaints of customers, but created the need for media companies to aggressively protect their service.

It's a little ironic that those who complain most about DRM are often exactly the reason DRM seems like a necessity in the first place.

Too true. I don't like the thing about breaking into someone's house though. Its more as if one person broke in and passed out what he stole for free. But that is semantics as the end resultis the same. Naturally they are going to step up security, I just don't think many have thought about it from the other side. My point is that they should make the best of what truly is for them a bad situation.

See, I think the breaking in analogy is off, too.

It's more along the lines of a business offering a product they've extorted out of suppliers (CDs cost $15; the person who produces what you WANT on the CD gets $1, but if you want your music heard, you've gotta deal with this massive oligarchy because there's truly no other alternative), which the business distributes as samples for free (radio plays) to the consumer, in hopes that the consumer goes to the store and shells out money for an illegally-priced product.

Then, all of a sudden, a service comes along that lets people listen to the free samples on their own terms, which was morally justifiable, because they heard them on the radio anyway (I know singles exist, but let's talk general consumer here). What's more, the people who actually created the product the consumers want can interact directly with consumers, cutting out the middle man who's been extorting their industry since time immemorial. Smaller producers who couldn't get an audience from the middleman are now getting exposure, trade shows (concerts, where artists REALLY make their money) are boasting improved attendance, and more people are talking about the product than ever before.

The only loser here is the middleman who in a just world would get brought up on RICO charges.

Now, pretend you're the middleman. What are your options?
1) Improve my service so that hopefully these people who are now used to getting it for free will decide to start paying for the service again, or
2) Improve security, or
3) Directly attack my ex-customers while hiding behind antiquated laws I lobbied to get passed, then throw more money and bad data at new lawmakers to make sure I never have to adapt and can continue to hold an entire industry in a stranglehold.

I'd never thought of it that way, but in a lot of respects they are the middle man. Somewhere in there they created the need for themselves and now artists' music can't get anywhere without them.

It's not necessarily an issue strictly regarding middlemen (distribution companies, record labels). You can still be an artist who self-publishes all the time. But regardless your stuff will still get warezed online (please resist the urge to bring in lost sales vs increased exposure arguments). There's basically no secure way to distribute any electronic media, and because of that there's massive amounts of piracy. That's where DRM comes in.

People always try to recontextualize internet piracy as poetic justice against media conglomerates -- it is, and as much as I love that aspect of it, it isn't the whole picture. Everything gets warezed online regardless of whether it's indie/self-published or released by a major media conglomerate. The need for secure channels to distribute electronic media (the ideal of DRM) would've came about regardless of how the distribution industry was shaped -- more specifically regardless of whether record labels are evil or not. If every record label was wiped off the face of the earth, the need for DRM would still remain.

te2rx:
Aside from what you may think of the music industry (sure, I despise massmedia conglomerates as much as any of you guys), this article has a lot of legitimacy I think. People always cite the convenience of Napster and P2P compared to other distribution methods (CDs & DRM downloads), the evils of massmedia corporations against artists, blah blah... but dare I hypothesize that most Napster users were on it because it was free, and free is great, and nobody really, truly cares if Sony etc loses money because sticking it to The Man is awesome.

The success of iTMS suggests otherwise. Perhaps it's just social conditioning, or a nationwide Apple fetish, or a lack of knowledge of the alternatives, but I think the fact that people are buying things from iTMS suggests that A) the reason people download music is because it's convenient and B) people are willing to pay for convenience.

Yeah, there'll be pirates. However, there's another side to the equation: people (like me) who'd just like a big button labeled "DOWNLOAD SONG" that puts it on my hard drive and bills my account the appropriate cost. For many people, Napster was a good idea because you could basically do just that. For others, I'm certain it was because it was free.

Unfortunately, you can't improve the service for honest consumers without giving the dishonest ones more room in which to rip you off. This has always been true in any business. The music industry collectively seems to be in denial about this observation, since they keep trying to strangle the pirates. The only thing that this accomplishes is making piracy far more convenient than legitimate purchase, and yes, it is a technological issue.

Here's a retail metaphor. Imagine that all retail products were sold in a box that would only open when the purchaser's fingerprint was placed on a reader. The fingerprint could only be registered at the time of purchase, and if you didn't put it back in the box every twenty-four hours, the product would stop working anyway (but you could trade it in for a new one). Why would they enact such a policy? Why, to make sure that everyone who wants to use the product has to buy one. Can't borrow it from a friend, can't steal it, can't toss it in your handy Matter Duplicator (which, don't you know, are ubiquitously common?) - if you want one, you buy it.

Such a state of affairs would lead to the creation of a black market in no time.

Information economics are still a very new thing. The fact is that we don't yet know how the market will respond to any product's supply becoming essentially infinite, limited only by the ever-decreasing ease with which it can be found and transfered. But I can promise you that blowing millions of dollars on an arms race with hackers in an attempt to shoehorn a material economic model into an information market is not going to turn out well for anybody except the consultants who write the DRM.

I think the bottom line is: if you are going to steal the files, you are going to steal the files.

DRM or not, I can still download any song I want at any time, with little hassle. DRM isn't stopping anyone from getting anything.

Also, has there been a decent impact on merchandise sales or concert ticket sales since music became available free on the net? I haven't heard anything about it, but if we are to say that (even though it is impossible to prove causality anyway) downloading music illegally is decreasing record sales, isn't it possible that reaching a wider audience has other, positive impacts?

Example: Animation companies overseas have been trying to shut down fansubs after licensing has been acquired in the US. However, fansubbing has created the American anime fan. Shows like Naruto and Bleach, which are wildly popular now in the US, began as downloads over the net, courtesy of fansub groups. Now [Adult Swim] enjoys their immediate fan base, without having to spend a lot of extra cash to hype up the show.

Oops, I reported the above post on accident, mods please ignore that...

Anyway, what did I just say about bringing in lost sales vs increased exposure arguments? That's a can of worms you don't want to open. From your anime example, think about those franchise shows like Naruto and Bleach for a minute. How many people are not watching it on television / buying the DVDs because they've already seen the fansubs for free years ago, or that they're already 100 episodes ahead of the English releases because of fansubs? I'm absolutely sure that shows like Naruto and other long-running franchise anime need no more exposure assistance from piracy that Dragon Ball Z did, which exploded in popularity because it was shown in dubbed/edited form on American television, probably not because of obscure fansubs. Arguably there are shows that do need preexisting exposure to succeed, such as Azumanga, Excel Saga, Suzumiya Haruhi etc... but those are usually smaller/niche shows, i.e. not Neon Genesis Evangelion or Ghost in the Shell. I know I'm making tons of assumptions here, but even that illustrates how difficult it is to say what the net effect of current fansubs are on the international distribution of Japanese animation. I don't think it's as easy as 'Net Piracy = More Exposure = Good. There's no way to measure it, potential this versus potential that, and that's why you shouldn't bring it up in the first place. The only way that distributors would totally drop copy protection and anti-piracy crusades is if they knew the increased exposure was always totally beneficial to their profit... but they don't, so it's DRM time.

Concert sales are an aside to the issue because it's not an electronic media -- you can't copy a performance (you can record it, but I'm talking about the true live experience here) so DRM has nothing to do with it. If you're a filmmaker, an animator, a graphic artist, a game developer, basically anyone whose business is producing those canned bits of electronic media... you don't have the luxury of falling back on things like concerts.

te2rx:
Anyway, what did I just say about bringing in lost sales vs increased exposure arguments?

In the music industry, state an example of a popular band than suffered financially due to digital piracy. Try finding a quote somewhere that states, "We sold out all of our concerts, but didn't sell well in the stores." It's the record labels that are raising a stink about it because they have to act like they care to keep investors happy, nothing else.

I honestly believe that the ability to share music counter-balances those potential purchases (lost sales) with additional purchases gained from new fans (increased exposure). It's the best of both worlds, I feel.

te2rx, your whole argument is really only supported by the idea that a person will buy the music legally if it was not possible to pirate the music. I don't think that is the case at all.

The number one reason to remove DRM from music is because it's only going to raise the price of music (discourage honest purchases) and piracy will still continue on and be even more attractive.

te2rx, I agree, it does bring up a great deal of controversy and complication when you start discussing positives. Personally, however, I am one of those people that watches Bleach on Adult Swim, and I started watching the subs. I like the show, and so I enjoy watching it when it's on. It's the same for me with Ghost in the Shell, Naruto, DBZ, FMA, Champloo, and Trinity Blood. I watch them all whenever I can, even though I know what's going to happen. That's partially why I'm so interested in this possibility.

And even through you plead that I don't do it, it's a can of worms that I want to open because I don't know much about it (that's why I posed my thoughts as questions). If it turns out that even the extra exposure isn't out doing the damage it causes then that needs to be brought forth. Everything needs to be considered. As of right now, I feel that we are only discussing the most superficial effects. There has to be a lot more going on that isn't being talked about. Blinding ourselves to other, more complicated issues won't make what we say any more relevant. Ignoring another variable won't make it go away.

Socrates suggested that every perspective should be brought forth so that a conversation can take place in order to reveal why a particular understanding is misguided. I agree with him. I see no reason to refrain from bringing up a point just because its complicated or derived from misinformation. The only way to correct such a perspective is to debate it openly. I'm here to learn (that's why I'm on this site, and on the web in general), and if that means looking stupid by bringing up a foolish point then so be it.

Also, there is no way to conclude, with certainty, that illegal downloads have decreased record/movie sales. People might simply be content with listening to the radio or watching MTV. Maybe people aren't buying DVDs because most Hollywood movies these days aren't any good. My point is that there is no way to prove it one way or another, but we are discussing it anyway. The entire discussion of illegal downloading is based on supposed effects. Regardless of how highly correlated two issues are within a case study a clear link of causality cannot be made. We are talking in assumptions and suppositions; there is no way around it. If something is especially wobbly then I suggest that we bringing up those matters MORE than the clear, easy to talk about ones. We won't ever come to understand them if we don't.

As for fansubbing, most of the fansubbers have come into terms that what they are doing is illegal. Initally, fansubbing was done to bring exposure to anime, but anime doesn't really need exposure anymore. There's a bunch of articles around the Internet about this, talking about the morality of fansubbing. Those articles can probably tell more about the fansubbing community than I can, so I won't bother trying.

What I find more interesting is the visual novel translation scene. As the companies that make them aren't very big, as well as the incredibly small English-speaking fanbase that they have, the few who are actually ambitious enough to translate the entire games, seem to really want to support the companies that made the game in the first place. This made for some very interesting events, such as one refusing to release a translation out of fear of piracy.

Many of the numbers were quite depressing. One game in particular was pirated an enourmous amount despite it only costing ten dollars to buy. Much of the community is so used to getting things for free that it seems that the prospect of digital content that isn't downloadable for free scares them. So much so that they are willing to pay to make it free. The digital world is a wierd one.

I came across an article this morning referencing a study on the effect piracy has had on music sales.

A new study in the Journal of Political Economy by Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Koleman Strumpf has found that illegal music downloads have had no noticeable effects on the sale of music, contrary to the claims of the recording industry.

Entitled "The Effect of File Sharing on Record Sales: An Empirical Analysis," the study matched an extensive sample of music downloads to American music sales data in order to search for causality between illicit downloading and album sales. Analyzing data from the final four months of 2002, the researchers estimated that P2P affected no more than 0.7% of sales in that timeframe.

After trying multiple methods and controlling for various factors, the researchers couldn't find any statistically significant relationship between P2P downloading and music sales.

Oh, please - piracy didn't hurt the biggies, it eliminated the little (read interesting) guys, the true indie labels that depended on unit-sales to break even. The money's still changing hands, but until the record-industry's chokehold on booking, promotion, radio and tv/movie/advertising tie-ins is broken, we're stuck with good-looking-and-under-25 pop sludge, flash-in-the-pan 'cool' college acts and the occasional 'grandfathered' act. Now that the only way to make any money at all is to tour, if you're not on a major label (who hasn't signed anyone under the age of 30 in *years*(in any genre!) or a weenie college act jammed into a Sprinter van, it's simply not gonna happen. Exactly what are we supposed to listen to in 10 years?

Enjoy your Jessica Simpson and OK Go. And John Mellencamp.

Wait, whose country is this?

This is OURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR COUNTRYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!

image

te2rx:
It's not necessarily an issue strictly regarding middlemen (distribution companies, record labels). You can still be an artist who self-publishes all the time. But regardless your stuff will still get warezed online (please resist the urge to bring in lost sales vs increased exposure arguments). There's basically no secure way to distribute any electronic media, and because of that there's massive amounts of piracy. That's where DRM comes in.

People always try to recontextualize internet piracy as poetic justice against media conglomerates -- it is, and as much as I love that aspect of it, it isn't the whole picture. Everything gets warezed online regardless of whether it's indie/self-published or released by a major media conglomerate. The need for secure channels to distribute electronic media (the ideal of DRM) would've came about regardless of how the distribution industry was shaped -- more specifically regardless of whether record labels are evil or not. If every record label was wiped off the face of the earth, the need for DRM would still remain.

My thoughts exactly.

 

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