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What would a DRMed world look like?

This blog is about open source and its philosophy and, from time to time, we cover the rants of fellow journalists who take on the proponents and opponents of open source. For example, The Inquirer's Charlie Demerjian is fuming over the whole DRM (Digital Rights Management) issue, which he calls "a complete lie".

While some may judge his views to be quite extreme in places, it might be worthwhile pausing for a few minutes and think what would happen if DRM schemes did not exist.

Well, in some respects, there would be no big difference. There would still be pirates and there would still be coppers to run after them. The music industry would still be amassing huge profits and the same kind of songs would be aired.

Now, let's just imagine a world 100% DRMed. There would still be pirates and coppers out there chasing them. The music industry would still be amassing huge profits and, of course, the same kind of songs would be aired.

The big difference would be the price paid for it. DRM and open source are compatible with each other - Authena software is the better known example - but I doubt that open source DRM will be a popular anytime soon.

This means that firms will have to buy DRM technology and, as Charlie rightly pointed out, there has been, and there will always be incompatibilities, and ultimately countless numbers of consumers cursing the media and hardware companies – Apple and Sony for example - for producing content and players which cannot even communicate with each other.

DRM is, therefore, not even a way of preventing piracy. It will, unfortunately, be used as a way of locking in users.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.