Steve Jobs may want to scrap digital rights management (DRM) for digital music – or so he says – but the British government doesn’t agree.
Blogger Neil Holmes created a petition at the government’s e-petitions website asking Tony Blair to ban the use of DRM technologies for digital content, and gathered 1,414 signatures (admittedly, not quite as good as the 1.8m people who’ve signed one on road traffic pricing).
However, the government has now responded to the DRM petition, and it’s not encouraging.
“DRM does not only act as a policeman through technical protection measures, it also enables content companies to offer the consumer unprecedented choice in terms of how they consume content, and the corresponding price they wish to pay,” says the government’s response.
In theory, it’s true, and a similar argument is used by Microsoft when questioned about its DRM technology. But it kinda avoids the main point, which is that while the theory is all well and good, the practice for many firms is that DRM is used to restrict what we can do with digital content once we’ve bought it – controlling what devices we can play it on, for example.
The government response continues: “It is clear though that the needs and rights of consumers must also be carefully safeguarded. It is reasonable for consumers to be informed what is actually being offered for sale, for example, and how and where the purchaser will be able to use the product, and any restrictions applied. While there is good reason to expect the market to reach a balance as these new markets develop, it is important that consumers’ interests are maintained in the meantime.”