What is DRM? DRM stands for Digital Rights Management.
When a company releases a product, whether it’s downloadable software, movies or music or when it is a physical item (like a CD or DVD), they feel that there should be some way to prevent thieves from copying it and reselling it or just giving it away.
Everyone agrees that stealing is wrong. However, when companies punish their customers, those customers start to think things like “if the company is going to treat me like a criminal, I may as well go the whole way and not have to worry about the restrictions imposed on my legal purchase of the companies product.”
If you think that is a bit of a wordy way of saying some people just want to be thieves anyway, I will give you an example of how companies are turning there own customers into thieves (the common term for someone who steals software, or digital copies of music and movies is ‘pirate’).
Recently, the video game company EA (Electronic Arts) released a game that had been enthusiastically anticpated for several months. This game, Spore, had people lining up at stores just to buy it on the first day it was released.
When these enthusiastic customers got home and opened the game, they were told that they would have to allow their computers to be monitored through the Internet and that they would not be allowed to install the game more than 3 times.
If you have ever bought a video game, you know that they tend to last for 10 years or more, provided nothing happens to the disc the game came on. If you have a game that you enjoy playing, and you have a Windows-based computer, chances are that over time you have had to re-install your video games more than 3 times.
The Digital Rights Managements included in the Spore video game was considered to be so onerous and draconian that thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of normally law-abiding people turned to the Internet in order to illegally download a version of the game that could be installed and re-played repeatedly.
Incidents like this are what is turning paying customers in ‘pirates’. And, sometimes, when a person sees no ill effects from this kind of downloading (no viruses, no police kicking in the door at midnight) they continue to pirate material, thus leaving less money in the marketplace for the Next Big Thing.
After all, if people arent going to get paid for their work, they’re not going to do the work.
People deserve to get paid for their work.
But, when DRM is so ridiculously bad, it turns honest people into criminals.
And that is bad for society.