March 12, 2004
DRM? Chris Willis Nails It

On screen now at Media Morphosis Day 3:

"Insure content security with baked in Digital Rights Management."

Chris: What's the point?

Michael Silberman: I think DRM could be used to keep people from stealing, and get them to pay for content. And it could be used to facilitate the making of content.
No. Not.

DRM for news? Okay, your content has high value for maybe, 24 hours? You want to lock it up? There is no DRM that has never been cracked.

What IS the point? This is about being an authority in your field, being a voice for good trustworthy content and linking out to others talking about the same stuff. Why would you try to stop people from getting that value? Why would you want to keep people from seeing your stuff. Your value comes from the network effect of lots of people looking and talking about you. Take a page from the Wall Street Journal to which noone can link. Take a page from the RIAA, who has been so incredibly successful with DRM. People are mad at the media. Care to make it worse?

Let's move on to something constructive. Design content so it can be reused and accessed.


And here are the comments from the mediamorphosis blog:

Mike, I would really encourage you to read Vin Crosbie's blog (Digital Deliverance) about charging for content. In reference to your comment that you give away content for 7 days and then charge, I'm wondering whether you are using actual DRM. Looking at your site (I've never bought any content there) it appears that you have a firewall. DRM is a whole lot different. Wrapping the content in some DRM and sending it over the internet to a buyer is what I am objecting to. The idea that you would, say, stop a buyer of an article from say, emailing that content to a friend, when if they purchased a paper article, they could easily photocopy it and send it, really annoys people.

DRM is something each content user defines, so you would decide what sort of restrictions to make, but users, if they have trouble opening the article, sending it to friends and family or saving it indefinitely, all of which annoy users, don't reflect the social norms they understand with fair use of news content, and confuses them, but hackers will figure out how to get around.

I would really encourage you to spend time with users to see how they interact with content, talk with them about what they want, see how they use it. Because DRM (which is different than firewalls) as both the technology solution, as well as a legal structure, are not the way to go with content that is most valuable for 24 hours (verses say a hundred years potentially with a novel or movie or music) and that then has the potential, if you share it, to keep you in front of users as an authority and make users happy to be apart of your inforamtion community.

Posted by: mary hodder at March 12, 2004 02:33 PM

"And we're not stopping people from seeing our stuff by doing so - that's a myth."

"If we ever find we can make more money giving it away, well then we'll do that."

i work for a company that makes millions selling content. please don't mistake my thoughts on intellectual property as unrealistically utopian. at our company we are seeing huge business opportunities by giving our customers new tools to make sense and derivative works with our content.

if you are asking your audience to become a content producer, why shackle them with the inability to create derivative works? if they slap the same restraints on you, participatory journalism is not possible.

we live in a period of history when each one of us is - or can quickly become - a global media company.

i think the way to make money will be through developing cooperative content relationships. there have to be mutually beneficial arrangements, which will foster that.

Posted by: chris willis at March 12, 2004 02:30 PM

I trust things less if they use DRM - a sort of instinctive dislike of "protected" things. I'm not quite sure why. It could be my natural rebelliousness - I don't like them telling me not to do something, same as any teenager. I usually respect copyright laws, but DRM is...offensive, not defensive.

Posted by: Britta Gustafson at March 12, 2004 01:34 PM

Actually, we ( give our content away for the first week and then lock it up so we can earn a lot of money selling it - and we do make a lot, enough to make building walls around content that is expensive to create.

The utopian idea that all intellectual property should be free is very "hey wow man", but I prefer Silberman's point - which more accurately was that a smart DRM system should be built in to make it easy to slice and dice content created by media companies, while retaining authorial ownership.

And we're not stopping people from seeing our stuff by doing so - that's a myth. It's available at a tiny price.

And if you wanted to, you can crack the DRM system quite easily. You can hack into NASA too if you wanted to, because with technology someone will always find a way to do so. That doesn't mean you should.

If we ever find we can make more money giving it away, well then we'll do that.

Posted by: Mike van Niekerk at March 12, 2004 01:31 PM

Posted by Mary Hodder at March 12, 2004 09:53 AM
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