Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Canadian copyright snake oil

Music publishers have attempted to smuggle a provision into Canada's copyright law which would make Digital Restrictions Management software compulsory for on-line music distributers, effectively banning DRM-free music and forcing musicians to pay good money for DRM software -- even if they don't want it.

eMusic is the second largest on-line seller of digital music, all legal, all free of Digital Restrictions Management software. If the music publishers provision became law, eMusic would have to either stop selling to Canadians, or add DRM software to the music they sell, against the express wishes of the copyright owners.

This is just insanity, but it clearly demonstrates that DRM cannot survive in a free market. It is snake-oil. Making bits uncopyable is like making water not wet. The only way DRM suppliers can stay in business selling software snake oil is to take advantage of the frightened (or greedy, or both) music producers. The producers themselves have realised that their business model is dead, made obsolete by technology. Rather than adapt to changing markets, they turn to the government to outlaw -- or at least hamstring -- competitors who have adapted to the new technology.

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