Digital Rights Management: Experts Lay Out the Straight Skinny

This week saw two visionaries talking about important issues of copyright in the Digital Age.


The prolific Cory Doctorow has published notes from his recent talk to Microsoft’s Research Group about the wrong-headedness of DRM (Digital Rights Management software). His five key points:

  1. That DRM systems don’t work.
  2. That DRM systems are bad for society.
  3. That DRM systems are bad for business.
  4. That DRM systems are bad for artists.
  5. That DRM is a bad business move for MSFT.


Andrew Orlowski, the San Francisco bureau chief of the U.K.’s excellent The Register, tells U.K. music executives meeting in Manchester “How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved.

Both speakers reflect the current wisdom about the future of digital media, and I’ll bet both were met with cautious skepticism by executives whose careers and fortunes depend on things staying the way they are. There’s always a tendency to try to be upbeat when you tell somebody that they’re doomed, and both Doctorow and Orlowski make a great effort to be friendly and constructive, but at some point you’ve got to stare it in the face: Digital media has opened a Pandora’s Box of disruption that will tear down pre-electronic business models and force new thinking about how to get paid for intellectual property.