Comment – DRM (Brian’s Abstract)

If the “important thing is to maximize the value of your intellectual property, not to protect is for the sake of protection” is the point of DRM, then DRM misses the point. The popularity of web mash-ups using tools like Popfly and the information at sites like ProgrammableWeb not only demonstrates the value that can be based upon free tools and APIs, but, if you will, allows previously proprietary technologies to “join the conversation” up to now only inhabited by PHP, MySQL, Apache, AJAX and Linux. Odlyzko points to other ways to encourage usage and revenue like flat rates that simplify the purchase of services. In music there’s always the “album discount” and with books perhaps you might get a discount on a series. I asked my wife, who is currently reading a mystery trilogy, if she would have purchased the second and third books in the set if she could have gotten the first electronic one free; she said she would. This is a variant of “try before you buy” perhaps, but she could easily make electronic copies of the book and pass it along, which would have increased sales for the trilogy by bringing others into the fold.

Odlyzko highlights how miserably difficult it is to build a secure system, let alone one that is at the same time usable. The harder the system is to use, the less likely producers are going to want to use it anyway. There are better ways of maximizing IP and investment than blocking use.

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