DRM is shooting itself in the face, concludes Cambridge boffin
So we all know that DRM is about as useful as having plutonium in your eye, but it’s nice to have this confirmed in a multi-year Cambridge study by one Dr. Patricia Akester: 'Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment.'
At 208 pages it’s a hefty tome but in summary it concurs with what many of us have intuited already, which is that DRM actually does the opposite of what it intends to do, inherently pushing people to become pirates as opposed to the exploited mass of bureaucrafied peasants we ‘should’ be.
I mean, you’ve got to know something’s up when a blind lady illegally downloads The Bible because the DRM-protected Amazon version she bought won’t allow her to text-to-speech it. Such was one of the case studies in Akester’s research, but it didn’t stop there. There were University lecturers who’d had to either limit or pirate their teaching material as they couldn’t transfer it to the right formats for their classes, and daily issues at the British Library when it tries to move documents to new formats for archival.
But the DRM crowd say these are ‘edge cases’. Shira Perlmutter of global music trade group IFPI muttered: "You are not going to get a one size fits all DRM that will deal both with the consumer and the special interests exceptions and ... you do not want to give up a system that works for 99 percent of cases..."
Does it really “work” for 99% of cases though? Do we really not sit at home with our legally obtained media and frustrate ourselves towards piracy because we can’t use it in the ways we’d like, ways that should be perfectly legal? I suspect most of us do.
It remains to be seen if the landmark paper will have any effect.