You Don’t Own Anything With DRM

One problem with DRM in general is that it is an industry concept that takes-as-read the consumerist fallacy that you don’t actually own things you buy, you just license them. Perhaps this is the natural evolution of consumerism now that products like media are, if not less tangible, at least a bit more ethereal. Still, DRM gives all the power to the companies… and companies prove time and time again that they can’t be trusted.

As an example: we like Apple. We like iTunes. We think, overall, Apple is just the sort of shot-in-the-arm that the music industry needs. And Apple is a pretty trustworthy company. But that didn’t stop them from silently degrading the rights iTunes customers have over their ability to copy the songs they purchased to other machines or hard copies (we remember this very clearly, but we’re having a hard time Googling it up, not really quite certain of the germane search terms. Anyone got a reference citation for this?).

Anyway, Reuters has an interesting look up at the murky concept of ownership in the digital age, highlighting the dangers of letting a company licensing you thousands of dollars worth of media but not allowing you to directly control it as property. What happens when you want to switch away from iTunes? You have to buy all your songs somewhere else, on a different DRM format. What if you want to backup your iPod? It’s not easy… they are designed to make the process as difficult as possible. There’s nothing here that anti-DRM folks don’t already know, but it’s an interesting primer on the issues surrounding what companies are trying to tell you what your rights are compared to the rights consumers have enjoyed when making purchases for centuries.

Although we really do believe music, like soylent green, is “the peoples,” please rest assured the image is posted with our pointed tongues gorily transfixed through our cheeks.

Do you own songs bought online? Well, sort of [Reuters]