DRM Fatally Broken; Ad-Supported Media The Future

Aug 2nd, 2007 | By | Category: Citizen Media, Corporate Podcasts, Digital Music, Digital Video Downloads, Internet TV, Video Podcasts, Vlogs

Information Week’s Alexander Wolfe today offered his DRM Scorecard, summarizing it Hackers Batting 1000, Industry Zero.

“Every single significant attempt at consumer-music DRM has been cracked,” writes Wolfe. He supports this by noting that CSS (older DVD encryption), Fairplay (Apple’s encryption technology), AACS (new DVD encryption technology) and Windows Media DRM have all been cracked.

The sorry state of media DRM is significant to podcasters and other Internet media publishers because it points out that there is a constant resistance to proprietary media solutions that limit what people can do with Internet content. Limiting what people can do with your media effectively limits the number of people that will do anything with your media.

With the growth of the idea of the “attention economy”, an economic approach that treats people’s attention as a limited commodity, it’s becoming clear that putting up barriers to people’s attention can kill your product. Proprietary media players, like the recently introduced BBC iPlayer, create barriers to people’s attention, which ends up marginalizing the DRM’d content.

This fact was highlighted in the world of podcasting with the quick failure of Audible’s much-hyped Wordcast system. It substituted the widely supported MP3 format that audio podcasting is based on with a proprietary DRM standard.
Because proprietary systems often fatally limit the audience for Internet media, companies that want to monetize their content need to spend less time trying to lock it up with DRM, and more time developing ad-supported content.

The future of Internet media is free, and DRM is starting to look like a speedbump on the Information Superhighway.

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