Since the early days of this blog, I've written about how I dislike copy prevention technologies for software, music, and movies—and have hated them since my early days of computer use more than 25 years ago. That's because it's never wise to treat your customers as your enemies.
Today, crusading Canadian copyright lawyer and professor Michael Geist writes about how finally, slowly (at least for music), the big companies might be getting it. Until 2008, the recording industry was intent on suing file sharers, locking files with DRM copy prevention, and pushing through crummy copyright legislation. Now:
The decision to drop the lawsuit strategy was long overdue as it had accomplished little more than engender significant animosity toward the industry [and] helped to convince some of Canada's best-known artists to speak out against the practice.
Apple, the dominant online music seller, announced that it will soon offer millions of songs from all four major record labels without digital locks [which] reflects the recognition that frustrating consumers with unnecessary restrictions is not a particularly good business model.
In addition to the privacy, security, and consumer concerns with such legislation, laws to protect digital locks seem increasingly unnecessary given the decision to abandon their use in the primary digital sales channel.
I don't know if these changes mean that the recording industry is figuring out effective ways to do business in the Internet file-sharing world, or whether it is just giving up on failed strategies, but I find the trend encouraging. In practical terms, it means that, with six functioning computers for four people in this house, we won't have to worry too much about iTunes letting songs purchased from the iTunes Store play on only five computers anymore.
Alas, movies, audiobooks, and such are another story entirely.