Digital Right Management (or DRM) means “taking action to prevent illegal copying of digital products”. That definition might not hold in court, so those who want more information go read some book about DRM or read wikipedia, but for this article it’s clear enough. I believe one of the most important factors in DRM is how they will use it to make sure customers (those who legally buy their products) can enjoy their products, while minimizing the impact of piracy.
In a perfect world, digital rights management would keep pirates at bay and let customers happily pay for their products. But unfortunately we live in a world where DRM is sometimes keeping customers at bay, and letting pirates eventually get a way around it.
Recently, there was a huge fight about DRM, when digg users were revealing HD-DVD disc copyright encryption. The admins deleted the digg post, but users got so angry that they started posting and digging even more stories revealing the encryption. Soon the encryption was revealed in so many posts that the administrators couldn’t control it anymore – they had to give up, and let users post the stories. For more information about this incident, read what Forbes reported or do a search for Google. Basically this incident shows how there’s always way to hack encryptions. No matter what kind of copyright system you use, there’s always a hack for it.
And as companies try to keep up with the pace of hackers… they might forget their customers.
Has any of the following things happened to you:
- You cannot skip movie copyright notice (even if you press MENU) – even when you bought a legal DVD. In pirate version you don’t have this problem (so I’ve heard). And I must really think how hard could it be to let me (the owner of the DVD) to skip the notices the way I want. No wonder people pirate stuff.
- Have you ever bought a game, forgot key codes and then couldn’t install the digital product again – or that it was made annoying for you?.
- Have you thought about buying a console game (when abroad) just to notice that it’s “for different region”, and left the product in a store.
- Or have you bought a game, and then found out that you cannot install it on your second computer because of “security reasons”?
Yet companies wonder why their don’t have customers. No wonder “piracy is killing their sales”, since DRM is “forcing” people to use pirated software!
Okay, that’s a “bit” exaggerated statement, but I’m sure you get the point that DRM might annoy in some cases.
While companies might have “legal reasons” for doing this they are forgetting the most important rule: it’s the customers in the end that pay your salary. The more they keep annoying their customers, the less customers they end up having. When movies, video and games DRM systems push the customers too far, companies start losing customers.
I want to make this really clear: I’m in favor of some kind of copyright measures. I’m in favor of digital rights management – when it’s executed properly. I’m also favoring customer above everything. The DRM system must be done so that it has some copyright restrictions, but it must be done so that (so called) honest customers can purchase, use and enjoy their products easily – without even knowing about DRM.
As the digital products become more popular, the greater importance DRM will have. I believe this will become one of the most important issues in digital rights management in the future – and the customers must be put above everything.