Social DRM

Posted April 24th, 2009

The other day I bought a book for my Sony PRS 700 digital reader.
And I was so delighted when I realised that Digitalbok.no distributed their PDF book without physical DRM.
On the footer of each page – there was information about me; who had bought the book. I have advocated the use of social DRM for many years (I spoke about the concept first time in 1995/1996).
In my view social DRM is the only sustainable method for distribution of content.

Unfortunately the content industry are buying into the fear of loosing revenue, and to protect itself it is providing more and more complex DRM systems, making it almost impossible for me as a user to buy and access content in an easy and practical way. Many content providers (movie, music, audio, books) are making it so hard for me to buy content – they are practically forcing me to use illegal methods for accessing the content. It is so much easier to use e.g. Pirate Bay to get music than it is to buy a record or track from i.e. the Warner Music Group.

In my view it is unfortunate that the content industry are buying into to fear based business model of DRM providers. I would argue that most of the users on internet (95%+) are decent users that would pay for the content if that was possible or easy to do. On internet as in society there will always be criminals, that would steal and use content illegally. The content industry have chosen a model for protecting their content with physical DRM on the premisses that most users are criminals and would steal the content. And by following that premise they are forcing most user to be criminals because the DRM system are to complex to use, and buying content is in many situations almost impossible it is therefore easier to download the material illegal.

It is also unfortunate that many of the content protection organisations are fighting for their life, and are still protecting a business model founded in the 1970’s on physical copying and reproducing of paper and cassettes.

The problem is that someone will always develop tools that breaches and brakes the existing DRM solutions, this would then lead to new more advanced DRM solutions that will make it even harder for decent internet users to access and use the content. A physical DRM solution is not a sustainable solutions for distributing content online.

Hopefully all digital content providers will follow the good example from digitalbok.no and use social DRM for protecting distribution of their content.

Putting a “watermark” on a movie is rather straight forward, and tools for doing that is already embedded in the podcast server from Apple. It would be a rather small scripting job to develop a solution that adds social DRM on all movies that are distributed online.

I would assume that a audio voice could be added in a non hearing frequency to be used as social DRM when distributing music as well.

Say no to physical DRM, and do not develop content protection services on the premises of the criminals. It is time that content solutions are developed with the normal decent user in mind. This would automatically terminate the need for sites like PirateBay.

I think this approach in combination of a Creative Commons license would be the solution for the future.

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