The following is a classic example of creative application of technology but poor commercial results. For example, if a customer buys a film DVD from an online shop, he/she could be charged for each view of the film in a video player that does not correspond to the encryption code. While this restricts customers from benefiting from someone else’s purchase, it turned out to be a bad public relations exercise. Circulating DVDs among friends is a popular way of maintaining social contact and exchange of information. But, the fact that the customer could never really “own” the DVD unless he views it with his own player can be very offensive to the customer. Secondly, reselling is a longstanding tradition associated with all retail content – be it entertainment or information. The DRM makes it impossible for second-hand sale of the content it offers, irking the customers again. What the above case of DRM’s failure shows is a lack of understanding on part of the manufacturers (basically Information Technology professionals) about the social aspects of digital data consumption (O’Brien, 2004).
Danny O’Brien gives another example of the short-sightedness of the decision makers in the Information Technology industry.
“…seems to have completely missed the bigger picture, which is that copyright owners are using DRM to trump the legal rights that society has till now expected from copyright holders in return for the privileges granted to them. If rights we now take for granted are to be protected in the era of digital media, action is needed now. At the very least, the regulators should force Microsoft and other DRM patent holders to find ways of making DRM technology compatible with these rights before the technology is deployed more widely.” (O’Brien, 2004)
A review of the scholarly literature on the subject lays open to the reader layer upon layer of poor perspective on part of Information Technology professionals. Let us leave alone all the other negative implications of the DRM systems in place presently. The least we can expect from DRM is a little progress toward curbing digital piracy in general and music piracy in particular. But DRM has failed to achieve its bottom-line in even the most liberal of evaluations. All DRM implementations ranging from Apple’s FairPlay to Advanced Access Content System employed for HD DVD versions have been circumvented by the resourceful. All entertainment content – be it music or movies – could be tapped off air. In other words, one need not hold a doctorate in electronic communication to record/copy protected content as it is playing. It is hard to believe, but nevertheless a fact, that the best brains of the Information Technology industry could not fathom this, let alone trying to address it (Goodman, 2007).
In addition to the above discussed disadvantages, DRM systems have other negative consequences too, including the loss of a customer’s rights under prevailing copyright laws and the potential for malicious vendors to exploit the customer’s personal preferences for unsolicited marketing purposes. Further, there are considerable usability issues with the initial version of DRM software. As users discover more such problems, they are likely to pressurize manufacturers in bringing about a solution that improves usability and protects their rights (deCarmo, 2001).
While the United States is the largest market for online-music consumption, the European Union countries are trailing close behind. While American online music corporations seem indifferent to the plethora of problems with the DRM technology, their European counterparts are quite ahead in their thinking. In Europe, as in the rest of the world, hackers have been successful in attacking DRM systems for quite some time now, without raising alarms. But, the opposition against the DRM system has been growing in strength of late (Information Week, 2007).