E-Commerce Times Looks At State Of DRM, Including Apple's "Watershed" iTMS DRM

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is all about content owners controlling how and when you use content you have bought or rented. E-Commerce Times has published an article on DRM that offers a fairly comprehensive look the wars to control digital content, especially the wars between the recording industry and the pirate networks, and the recording industry and its own customers. The article also seeks to define DRM, and quotes a VeriSign exec as calling Appleis iTMS and the DRM embedded into the AAC files one buys from the iTMS as a "Watershed event." From the article:

However, all is not bleak on the DRM front for content owners. Last April, an event occurred that may prove seminal in hindsight. "If I had to pick a DRM watershed event, itis the iPod with iTunes," VeriSign principal scientist Thomas Hardjono told the E-Commerce Times, referring to Appleis move to sell songs over the Internet for 99 U.S. cents each, and $9.99 for most albums.

"Itis a watershed because it has shown the record labels, who are used to making a lot of money out of a CD, thereis an alternative business model," Hardjono said. "The labels used to accuse the peer-to-peer networks of killing the legitimate music business. Apple has shown thereis a middle way. If you make it easy enough and cheap enough, it will sell."

Appleis iTunes service does use DRM technology -- for example, users may not e-mail downloaded music files to one another, although they may burn unlimited copies of files to CDs. Still, the companyis approach is far less restrictive than that of its competitors. Many of those rivals charge monthly subscription fees, restrict the number of times a downloaded file can be burned to CD, or make downloaded files inaccessible if a useris subscription expires. Apple does none of those things.

We should note that the article is wrong about not being able to e-mail other users files bought through the iTMS. One can use e-mail, FTP, file-sharing, or any other method of conveyance one wants to get a song purchased from the iTMS to another person or another Mac. Appleis DRM makes it so that the file can then play only a grand total of three Macs. This doesnit stop the conveyance, in other words, but does limit how many people can use the file once it is shared.

Thereis more in the full article at E-Commerce Times, which is an interesting read.