Wired News: The Year of Living DRMishly

Wired News: The Year of Living DRMishly

High-end audio companies are already running into difficulties with DRM.

Steve Vasquez, the founder of ReQuest, which makes ultra-high end streaming audio networks for homes, says his company struggles with the limitations of DRM-protected audio files.

“We have an open system that can stream off a server to another house, but the DRM mechanism doesn’t recognize that possibility,” Vasquez said. “We have clients who have multiple units in one house and multiple units in multiple houses who want to be able to use music in those devices as well as portable ones. DRM is a limitation that limits innovation.”

A similar system made by Sonos creates a mesh-wireless network that connects up to 32 remote amplifiers with music stored on a home computer, but the company hides music bought through Apple’s iTunes store, according to co-founder Thomas Cullen.

“We don’t want to taunt them,” Cullen said. “The best thing we can do is hide iTunes songs so they don’t get an expectation they can play them.”

Ninety percent of his customers own iPods, according to Cullen, and many call in after first buying the system, wondering where their iTunes songs are. But after the company explains it is Apple’s DRM that prevents the file from playing, users universally respond that they will go back to buying CDs that they can then rip into non-DRMed audio files, Cullen said.

“Today, if you are buying a device, you are buying into an ecosystem.”

“Consumers shouldn’t have to think about DRM,”

Those are good, but Cory Doctorow nails it:

Cory Doctorow, a science fiction writer and former spokesman for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, believes technology companies will eventually decide that entertainment companies’ demand for DRM is hurting their bottom line. That’s when truly innovative gadgets will become available, he said.

“No one can sell more gadgets by saying ‘do less with your gadget,'” said Doctorow.

The entire article is worth reading.