Thursday, February 08, 2007

DRM (Rights Management) and Access Management

Earlier this week Steve Jobs started to blog on the Apple web site. His is a fascinating argument and surprising in some ways, since Apple has the most successful DRM system on the planet.

But he is right. It must be in the interests of music publishers and creative artists to move to a marketplace which allows device-independent music acquisition. The trouble is that publishers and artists are understandably nervous of a technology (eg the MP3 file format) which facilitates unlicensed copying. Print publishers (whether of newspapers, magazines or books) are in a better position because an alternative model is feasible for print markets. Namely: to license access on a subscription basis. The trouble with the DRM solutions that have been developed for music and film is that they depend on managing (or on trying to manage and inhibit) the copying. There has been less emphasis on the possibility for offering access to a library service.

It is also in Apple's interests. Things are changing and they are changing at Apple. Unlike the iPod, the iPhone will have built in broad-band connectivity. Access management through subscriptions to a comprehensive service become a feasible distribution channel. Perhaps the music and film industries would do better to develop subscriptions which allowed users to acquire access rights to huge libraries through an iPhone or any other consumer device. If large libraries of film or music could be easily accessed through the web they would soon become incredibly popular. That is why YouTube is such a winner.

Because print needs to be searched it's best off as a network resource not a consumer durable. Access through the web is more important than the local copy. Think libraries not copies: texts not books: magazines not issues.

1 comment:

jchris said...

This is the best analysis of Steve Jobs' iTunes DRM letter I've seen yet.

I'll be adding you to my feeds list.