As customers we are continually being perceived as the bad guy as we make our impact on the 60 billion dollar music industry. “Pirates” they call us – as we “steal” the music they sell at $12 a pop (per CD). This in essence could be considered stealing from the hand that feeds them. But that is beyond the point. What I am trying to get to here is how the music industry hypocritically steals from those who keep their business afloat- the individuals who actually pay for their music.
I would like to highlight three sources that all speak to this issue. Each argument expresses the music industries use of DRM’s (Digital Rights Management) and how these are used as sanctions to restrict the music consumers pay for.
The Truth about DRM and Its Effect on MP3 Downloading Online
The first source I would like to mention is that of the website “1stFreeMusicDownload”. You can find them at http://www.1st-free-music-download.com/ This particular site includes an array of information about the music industry- from free legal music, to reviews of sharing entities such as Napster. The article of my focus is “The Truth about Digital Rights Management”. Here the site explains how DRM effects MP3 downloading. Currently every online music store that operates in the United States uses some form of DRM- so if you’re paying- you’re affected. As you buy songs or full CD’s online DRM’s limit the number of times these songs can be copied or burnt to a CD. Not only does it affect the amount of CD’s music is put on- it also limits the number of computers the songs can be put on to five.
Although this may seem fair- think of a customer’s purchase of a physical CD. That CD can be copied as many times as the consumer wants and placed in an unlimited amount of computers- these restrictions are unnecessary. Customers buy music just as they would buy a T-Shirt- they like it, they want to use it, and they want it as theirs. These provisions make it so the songs individuals are buying are not entirely theirs- but shared with the music industry and sharing centers. They punish the people they should be valuing- and that in itself could move a customer from a sailor to a pirate.
-1st free music download suggests visiting Epitonic.com, Garageband.com, eMusic.com, and Amazon.com for free music downloads- check them out!
The Battle over Music Piracy
Author: Lev Grossmann
The second source that spoke to this issue is The Battle Over Music Piracy, written by Lev Grossmann and found in TIME Magazine. This article focused on Amazon’s use of DRM and what they are doing to be fair distributors and even bigger competition for iTunes. iTunes has publicly made it known that if it weren’t for the record labels- they would not enforce these DRM codes. But because they have to, they have worked for their customers to come up with a compromise with one label- where DRM free music is offered but at a higher price from 99 cents to $1.29. Great initiative- but not enough for Amazon. They are being prepared to offer completely DRM free music while maintaining price and quality.
Both changes seem to lean in the right direction for customers, although concerns still remain. In relation to iTunes DRMless music- the compromise came with one record label, therefore millions of songs remain restricted. This leaves songs that cannot be entirely owned by customers, and continues the monopolistic qualities iTunes uses DRM’s to maintain. Apple’s DRM system and software configuration makes it so music purchased on iTunes plays on and only on Apple products. On the surface their work with one record label looks great, but Apple isn’t stupid. They have used the DRM system to restrict competition by restricting customers- and I just don’t feel that is fair. But just wait- there is a silver lining to this cloud. As Amazon is creating a DRM free zone- iTunes will continue to feel the heat- and I believe inevitably resort to the same. This will open up the playing field on the hardware side of this issue- as more outlets will be allowed to be played on Apple systems, and give the customers what they deserve- the freedom to do what they choose with the music they buy.
It paints a pretty picture for us as customers- but only time will tell.
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right: Music Piracy and Pricing in a DRM-Free Environment
Authors: Rajiv K. Sinha, Fernando S. Machado, & Collin Sellman
Lastly is American Marketing Association’s article in the Journal of Marketing- Don’t Think Twice, its All Right: Music Piracy and Pricing in a DRM-Free Environment. In this particular article the authors discuss how DRM’s have affected producer revenues and profits. It points to two studies of more than 2000 college students that showed evidence stating if DRM’s were eliminated from online downloading produce revenues, and profit would rise along with consumer welfare. The reasons for this positive change lie in once illegal downloader’s turning into paying customers, and an increased participation by low-value consumers. It truly does make sense.
I believe this article draws the two articles explained above perfectly. It encompasses the last piece of this puzzle that states and justifies the reasons behind getting rid of DMR’s. Not only would the elimination be beneficial for consumers, it would be equally as beneficial for produces and the music industry as whole. I understand the rationale behind restricting those who do wrong (ie- music pirates) but I do not by any means see the validity in imposing sanctions against those who are in the right. There is no logical explanation as to why the music industry would hold onto a system that so negatively affects its customers and its prosperity- I think it’s about time for a change!
If you would be interested in even further explanation as to the positives of DRM free music- take a look at “DRM-Free Music Reduces Piracy, Marketing Study Claims” posted by Thom Holwerda on his blog: http://cogscanthink.blogsome.com/