Gartner: Sony BMG DRM a “failure”; what are the alternatives?

Here’s the full text of that Gartner document referenced yesterday, in which analysts Martin Reynolds and Mike McGuire pointed out that putting a piece of masking tape on the outer edge of an XCP disc rendered the DRM unloadable. The report is mostly notable for its brevity, which is frankly welcome after almost a month of coverage on this incident. Bottom line recommendations:

  • PC hardware/software providers: Prepare for continuing legislative attempts to require that DRM technology be integrated into products.
  • The recording industry: Develop DRM solutions that respect legitimate consumers’ interests, and review and test them thoroughly before release.

Gartner raises an interesting thought in the penultimate paragraph of the paper: what if DRM simply tracked playcounts rather than restricting user actions? That way, the analysts say, the industry could move to “play-based business models.”

Unfortunately, making the user pay the 6th or 10th, or 25th, time they play a song is just as onerous as preventing them from copying–though at least it doesn’t make them reformat their hard drives.

What is most frustrating about this is that the industry has been addicted to this “buy our product many times” model for years, ever since the CD form factor triggered a wave of repurchasing music. The industry has been unable to replicate that effect through introducing other form factors, since neither Minidiscs, Super CDs, or music DVDs have proven compelling enough to trigger wholescale collection replacement in the same way. Worse, A&R has shown no signs of taking up the slack by improving the actual product.

If–if–the music industry is to be saved, its model has to change. But to the Gartner analysts and the Sony guys alike, I say: you can do better than this. Making the customer repurchase the same content multiple times isn’t the answer.

5 Responses to “Gartner: Sony BMG DRM a “failure”; what are the alternatives?”

  1. Dennis M. Yates Says:

    I don’t know which model it is, but I read one about the consumer actually purchasing redistribution rights when they buy a CD. The purchaser can then sell copies of the songs legally.

    (Of course, the music industry wouldn’t go for that.)

  2. Crosius Says:

    The fundamental problem with the Music distribution industy is that it’s becoming redundant. It used to require a certain, high, monetary investment to combine the assets of a fully appointed recording studio, record mastering and reproduction facilities and the overhead costs of a physical distribution network.

    Now, equipment costs are low enough for home recording, CD’s aren’t expensive to make, can escape warehousing costs by Just-In-Time Manufacturing, and the Internet has democratized distribution models.

    It’s now feasible for an individual artist to do everything without needing a contract with a record label.

    Distributors’ current strategies are like buggywhip manufacturers lobbying for state-enforced, regularly-scheduled whip-purchases.

    They need to change what their product is, not change how the current product is packaged.

  3. Ragabash Moon Says:

    Honestly, they need to spend more time trying to catch the pirates than trying to stop them. You can’t stop them. You will never stop them. Every new copy protection scheme will be broken within a few days, if not an hour. All the new “tech” is doing is harming those legitimate customers. For example, there is a PC game that sometimes the installer will just crash for no apparent reason. After trying multiple times, when one calls customer service, and after going through the hoops there, one finds out that the installer program is scanning your hard drive to see if you have (or have EVER had) any sort of DVD copying software (even a trial version) installed. If you do, installation crash. The only way to install the game is to reformat your hard drive (or know enough about computers to remove all the references it’s looking for, at which point you could probably just hack the game CD a lot easier). Seeing as how you have OPENED the package, you cannot return the software. It’s not defective. You just have other legal software that they don’t like.

  4. n0g00i3 Says:

    this is excellent news for people who love music. we must surely now return to the days when we _actually play and take part in music_ instead of simply purchasing it.

    it’s beautiful to watch an industry slash it’s own throat especially one that has become as cancerous as the music industry

  5. Alean Says:

    if the recordmajors make their CD’s cheaper we would buy some more
    and what a kind of idiot must a A&R manager be to give michael jackson a 300 milion dollar contract
    ther are cheaper and better artists in the world jus invest in them and the Majors will be saved
    In Holland means Sony ZO NIE ( No Fucking Way )

    grtx Alean

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