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RIAA Spokesman Says DRM Is Dead 154

TorrentFreak is reporting an on-the-record remark by the main RIAA spokesman acknowledging what has been obvious to the rest of the world for some time now. Let's see whether their actions going forward align with the words. "Jonathan Lamy, chief spokesperson for the RIAA[,] declared DRM dead, when he was asked about the RIAA's view on DRM for an upcoming SCMagazine article. "DRM is dead, isn't it?" Lamy said, referring to the DRM-less iTunes store and other online outfits that now offer music without restrictions." Update: 07/21 01:16 GMT by KD : InformationWeek is now reporting that Jonathan Lamy says he never said "dead." TorrentFreak, which originally reported Lamy's remark, has also backtracked.
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RIAA Spokesman Says DRM Is Dead

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  • DRM is dead? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ethorad ( 840881 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:05AM (#28754781)

    Perhaps he means it as in:

    DRM is dead!

    Long live DRM!

  • by seeker_1us ( 1203072 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:05AM (#28754785)
    RIAA has been pushing for DRM up the ass. Asked for their view on DRM, they answer the question with another question that really had nothing to do with the original.
  • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:12AM (#28754825)

    When his paymasters hear about that remark.

    Unless they are all suddenly going to start shipping DVDs with no region codes and encryption removed, and tell M$ and others to remove the DRM crap that cripples most PC OSs and head-end audio/video gear...
    Dream on little Johnny, wherever you are, (or will shortly be)...

  • by MRe_nl ( 306212 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:15AM (#28754843)

    The RIAA is known for their shameless actions, there's really no way to escape a lawsuit. Take the Warner Bros. v. Scantlebury case for example. The defendant in this case passed away before the court made a ruling.
    However, according to the RIAA this was not enough to "close the case".
    Instead, the RIAA gives the family of the deceased defendant 60 days to grieve, before they start taking depositions of the late Mr. Scantlebury's children.
    In the "motion to stay case and extend all deadlines" we read:
    Plaintiffs do not believe it appropriate to discuss a resolution of the case with the family so close to Mr. Scantlebury's passing. Plaintiffs therefore request a stay of 60 days to allow the family additional time to grieve.

  • Re:DRM is dead? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sinrakin ( 782827 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:19AM (#28754865)
    That's exactly how I interpreted it too. DRM: "the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:28AM (#28754933)
    Unless they are all suddenly going to start shipping DVDs with no region codes and encryption removed

    Why would the RIAA have anything at all to do with DVD production? Oh, I see. You're one of those people that can't distinguish between different organizations. I can be like that too. See! "I heard that people make open source software available for free on the internet. So why does Microsoft want me to pay? I thought you guys said software was free!" Your argument is really no different than that.
  • by castironpigeon ( 1056188 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:30AM (#28754949)
    ...I'm sure they'll open a couple of windows. I guess this news means their buyout of Congress and the ISP monopolies is going quite well?
  • Can't trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wrmrxxx ( 696969 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:38AM (#28755015)

    Aren't these the people who told us that the law suits were over? Call me paranoid, but I can't trust them.

    I suspect the only reason the RIAA are presenting a softer image on things like the lawsuit threats and DRM is because they believe (or know) that they're going to get their way with the ACTA treaty and we'll all end up being subject to outrageous three-strikes laws.

  • by al3 ( 1285708 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:49AM (#28755081)
    Trouble is they spent all this money lobbying politicians to make DRM stick, and tampering with it a federal offense, so they'll keep going down that road while abandoning it in their business models
  • Re:blu-ray (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:50AM (#28755087)

    yes if the RIAA had anything to do with region free movies.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:00AM (#28755183)

    They need DRM because a lot of their potential customers **won't** pay for the music, but then, if they do put it in there, a lot of their other customers will be pissed off at being restricted when they are willing to pay up for a fair claim to the music. If anything, this proves the basic libertarian point about most morality and the state: society relies on voluntary compliance by the vast majority of people. Any law, even murder, would not be able to work without draconian penalties if a large percentage won't obey it.

  • by holmstar ( 1388267 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:18AM (#28755323)
    Except that they really don't need DRM. Sure in their perfect world, no one can listen to copyrighted music without paying something. But that is a fantasy land. They have to work in the real world, where their loyal customers want to pay for music, but not have to deal with any crap when they do. The other people who are getting it for free most likely wouldn't have bought the music anyway.

    I agree with you on voluntary compliance. Look at speed limits. They are mostly ignored and people drive at a speed that seems reasonable instead.
  • Why would the RIAA have anything at all to do with DVD production?

    The RIAA and MPAA are inextricably linked:

    • Concert DVDs.
    • Music video DVDs.
    • RIAA music is used in films' soundtracks.
    • Sony is in both the MPAA and the big four labels of the RIAA.
    • Disney is in the MPAA, and Disney's Hollywood Records (e.g. Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Queen) is in the RIAA.
    • Vivendi, parent company of UMG, still holds a 20 percent stake in NBC Universal, an MPAA member.
  • Oh come on now (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:33AM (#28755439)
    DRM can't be dead! Everyone knows that the BEST way to counter shoplifting is to harass, insult and severely beat up your paying consumers before they ever think of commiting the crime!
  • by cowscows ( 103644 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @09:43AM (#28755537) Journal

    Somebody who won't pay for the music is not a potential customer. That's really the giant disconnect in this whole issue. College kids who've downloaded 40,000 songs off of the internet wouldn't have paid for those 40,000 songs if the music wasn't available online. But the naive belief/dishonest claim that every downloaded song is lost sale is what the RIAA has used to justify all this DRM nonsense to themselves, consumers, government, their investors, etc.

    It doesn't come down to anything as broad as libertarian views on society. All of the music industry turmoil can be summed up with just a few basic points:

    The record labels as a business model provided three things that most musicians couldn't feasibly do on their own. A proper recording studio, distribution, and decent advertising. Modern hardware and software has drastically lowered the costs to build a recording studio. The internet allows for almost free digital distribution, and physical distribution is become less important every day. The internet has also made advertising much more accessible. What this all means is that record labels are becoming irrelevant, technology is allowing us to cut out the middle man position that they fill. DRM is just a symptom of the huge hissy fit that the music execs are throwing as they've slowly started to understand that they're going to have to find new jobs.

  • Re:DRM is dead? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday July 20, 2009 @11:55AM (#28756991) Homepage

    These are all very interesting examples, but I don't think it's unique to media. The dirty little truth that a lot of people don't like to admit because it sounds ant-capitalist is, we often don't really do our work for the money. Watch your boss and your coworkers and anyone else you can, and you'll find lots of examples where people essentially make decisions that are against their own economic best-interest in order to give themselves ego-boosts. Or inversely, you'll see people refuse to do things that will obviously benefit them if it means eating crow.

    You can see it even more strongly in cases where the decision-maker doesn't directly benefit from the decisions. A salaried worker, for example, might often do things which will hurt the company's profits in order to boost his ego. What does he care, if he doesn't see the profits? On the other hand, I've seen salaried workers do a lot of work to boost company profits without economic benefit to themselves, essentially because it gave them bragging rights and pride in their work.

    Now someone might very well argue that these examples don't show what I'm saying. You might argue that having prestige in the industry can give you more clout within the industry, allowing you to sign bigger actors, directors, musicians, etc. Making a prestige picture can be justified as an investment, allowing you to make more money down the line by attracting better people.

    Still, in my professional experienced, the generally assumed idea that "companies always do what's most profitable" hasn't seemed to be reliable at all. An executive on an ego trip can make all sorts of unprofitable policies just to throw his own weight around.

  • Re:DRM is dead? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Monday July 20, 2009 @03:52PM (#28760799) Journal

    believing the snake-oil programmers who HAVE to know that there's no way DRM can work

    It's not so easy to avoid useless work. Lot of places want their workers to work, not think. Which is peculiar, as engineering is all about thinking. It's only after you're hired on to work on a product that you learn that among all the other things they want, they really wanted you to add DRM to it. They often call it something else, and think that makes it different. One place I was at referred to this feature as "branding". They gloss over details about exactly what their hires will be doing. To them, it's all work on the product. Such distinctions as adding DRM or adding another feature are too fine to be worth mentioning. I've had little to no luck persuading management that DRM isn't worth the effort. They have their ideas and beliefs, and won't easily change them. Too often it's the loudest who get to be managers, not the most correct. They want you to stop competing with them on the noise level and get to work thinking how to make it, and then making it, and they don't want you thinking about other things such as that if it doesn't work, they'll try to blame it all on you.

    It doesn't help that there are some programmers who aren't sure DRM doesn't work. And some who are sure but stay out of management's business out of principle, as well as those who keep quiet out of not wanting to go to the trouble of hunting for another job any sooner than necessary. There are many ways to end up doing such work without being a snake oil peddler.

  • by HermMunster ( 972336 ) on Monday July 20, 2009 @08:19PM (#28764091)

    Microsoft put into Vista (and even added more in Vista 7) an incredible amount of DRM. Gates spoke to the press a few years ago stating that computers were no longer used primarily to produce content. He stated they are used primarily to consume it.

    Like .doc and .xls formats DRM is used to lock you into a certain company's product. For example, if the courts tell a lawyer that he must submit his pleadings in .doc format then the lawyer has to go back to the office and buy Word for every person providing legal assistance on the case. If he wants to create .doc files he must use word and word runs on Windows. That means the lawyer, his help, and most likely the lawfirm is locked in. This is a very important element to note here.

    DRM had Microsoft foaming at the mouth due primarily to the fact that they controlled the mechanism and they had the influence to push even the hardware manufacturers to implement special on-card circuitry to support their DRM. In return it is clear that they would then benefit from some amount from each piece of content sold, not just in the fact that the DRM was not going to be licensed and used on competing platforms, but in the actual sale of the content.

    Microsoft saw what Apple had done with iTunes and the iPod with DRM and they were all set to push into that market with a DRM strategy of their own with the Zune until Apple decided to pull the rug out from under them by removing DRM from their store. This in part left people with a platform that had no need for the performance hogging DRM which Microsoft could have claimed was a necessary evil and consumers would have had to accept it, as Microsoft is a monopoly. Microsoft was planning on grabbing monopoly share in DRM content creation by using their monopoly in the OS market.

    DRM'd content isn't made to allow you to benefit from it. It is made to ensure that you play that content on only the devices and platforms upon which it is made (DRM on Windows by Microsoft is only usable on Windows). Content creators are not going to license and recreate their content for multiple platforms as it currently is too expensive. Even if the costs did come down they would simply bail on the idea of multiplatforms with the excuse that Windows should be enough because it is the defacto standard. Who cares how Microsoft got there.

    Microsoft invested heavily in DRM for the PC and made manufacturers of hardware and content creators all comply. In Vista 7 they put in even more DRM control. It is not likely that Microsoft will give up this position since it knows that formats are lock in technologies which force consumers onto and to stay with their platform.

    Sad as that is, it is true. The RIAA guy is either a fool or his superiors haven't clued him in on the future.

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