Freeing Your Digital Content Pays

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According to a recent study by Rice and Duke Universities, the best way to combat music piracy is to give up combating it in any formal manner, such as via digital rights management systems. Steve Jobs said of iTunes,

“Why would the big four music companies agree to let Apple and others distribute their music without using DRM systems to protect it? The simplest answer is because DRMs haven’t worked, and may never work, to halt music piracy.”

Researchers Dinah Vernik, Devavrat Purohit, and Preyas Desai used,

“…analytical modeling to examine how piracy is influenced by the presence or absence of DRM restrictions.

They found that while these restrictions make piracy more costly and difficult, the restrictions also have a negative impact on legal users who have no intention of doing anything illegal.

Because a DRM-restricted product will only be purchased by a legal user, …”only the legal users pay the price and suffer from the restrictions,” the study said. “Illegal users are not affected because the pirated product does not have DRM restrictions.”

“In many cases, DRM restrictions prevent legal users from doing something as normal as making backup copies of their music,” said Vernik, assistant professor of marketing at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. “Because of these inconveniences, some consumers choose to pirate.”

The research challenges conventional wisdom that removal of DRM restrictions increases piracy levels; the study shows that piracy can actually decrease when a company allows restriction-free downloads.”

This makes intuitive sense to me, but many musicians and artists balk at the idea of not protecting their property as well as how they will ever make money as artists. Of course, that was my next question, so how does anyone make The Money?”

“Removal of these restrictions makes the product more convenient to use and intensifies competition with the traditional format (CDs), which has no DRM restrictions,” Vernik said. “This increased competition results in decreased prices for both downloadable and CD music and makes it more likely that consumers will move from stealing music to buying legal downloads.”

2 Responses to “Freeing Your Digital Content Pays”

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