music, technology

The New DRM Class-System

Originally it looked like Apple and EMI would get rid of DRM altogehter, but now the facts are out. You can get DRM free tracks for $1.29 or DRM-laden tracks for $0.99. So, what does this mean? It means you have to pay $0.30 per track to purchase back some of your rights as a consumer. Removing DRM from music is a step in the right direction, but the precedent of charging more is step in the wrong direction. It is anti-consumer, but it is also creating a class system for music.

File quality. We can ignore the fact that the DRM-free mp3’s are better quality. Why? Because it’s a red-herring, meant to trip people up, there is no added cost for EMI to offer better quality files and only a margin added cost for Apple. It has nothing to do with the increased cost. It is important to remember that you aren’t paying for the file itself, you’re paying for the rights to play the music. And that is part of the problem— intellectual property, and how its owners want to manage it.

Imagine a company selling t-shirts sold two versions of the same shirt one for $20 and another for $26. The company says you could only wear the $20 to the supermarket, but if you pay $6 more you can wear it wherever you’d like. What do you think of that company? What do you think of that business model? Isn’t intellectual property awesome?

But now let’s consider who it is that buys the different versions. The rich suburban kid buying the $26 shirt is the same one that is going to be able to buy the DRM free music, while the people in a less financially position will be forced to choose DRM burdened music. If you have the money you can listen to your music, which you bought, under your terms. However, if you are not so lucky then  you are forced to listen to music, which you bought just like wealthy people, under the arbitrary terms of record and software companies. Doesn’t being rich have enough perks, do we really need to create a class of products that controls how lower and middle class people use the things they buy?

If you pay for something than any personal use should be fair game. Companies don’t want you to believe that you have that right. People need to tell them what they want doesn’t matter. Just say “no” to DRM and “up yours” to paying more for the right to say no.