Cory Doctorow on why DRM is a bad idea (for Sony and others)

In his Microsoft Research DRM Talk, Cory Doctorow explains why investing in the whole DRM thing was a bad move for Sony.

When Sony brought out the VCR, it made a record player that could
play Hollywood’s records, even if Hollywood didn’t like the idea.
The industries that grew up on the back of the VCR – movie
rentals, home taping, camcorders, even Bar Mitzvah videographers
– made billions for Sony and its cohort.

That was good business – even if Sony lost the Betamax-VHS
format wars, the money on the world-with-VCRs table was enough to
make up for it.

But then Sony acquired a relatively tiny entertainment company
and it started to massively screw up. When MP3 rolled around and
Sony’s walkman customers were clamoring for a solid-state MP3
player, Sony let its music business-unit run its show: instead of
making a high-capacity MP3 walkman, Sony shipped its Music Clips,
low-capacity devices that played brain-damaged DRM formats like
Real and OpenAG.


[…] Sony shipped a product that there was no market
demand for. No Sony customer woke up one morning and said, “Damn,
I wish Sony would devote some expensive engineering effort in
order that I may do less with my music.”

Although it seems there are some inaccuracies (via K. F. Lenz), the article is a fine read and approaches the whole DRM matter in a refreshing way.

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