Last week at the Digital Home Developers Conference Brad Hunt, the MPAA’s executive vice president and chief technology officer said that piracy is the inevitable outcome of the music and movie industries’ inability to provide a simple, inter-compatible and non-intrusive DRM solution.
In a Q & A session he said, “I understand that if we frustrate the consumer, they will simply pirate the content.” He also acknowledged the fact that many consumers are already frustrated because they’re having to buy multiple copies of an album or movie to play on different devices. For example, a song you buy on the iTunes Store won’t play on your Nokia cellphone. And a song you buy on MSN Music or the Zune Marketplace won’t play on your iPod.
There is clearly a need for inter-compatible DRM and Hunt seems to see it. He went on to say, “content protection is going to be critical to enabling the full potential of the digital home network. If devices don’t support content protection, the limits placed on users will undoubtedly frustrate them.” Notice how he still stands firm behind DRM. However, be agreed that “the consumer, if he or she has already purchased licensed material, should certainly be able to transfer that content to any other new or old device.”
Hunt also mentioned that the MPAA is currently working with 3 content protection standard bodies DLNA, DVB and the Coral Consortium to solve these interoperability problems. They are also trying to develop standardised logos and certificates that will help the consumer identify interoperable products. It is worth noting that all three of the bodies are working independently of each other, so we don’t really know what the outcome’s going to be.
It’s nice to see a slight change in the MPAA’s stance. DRM is a necessary evil. You have to agree that it’s not going anywhere, especially in relation to “mainstream” content. The mere fact that they are trying to build an inter-operable standard is a step forward in the right direction. Apple’s FairPlay is possibly the best example of DRM that doesn’t get in the way. Let’s hope the MPAA follow in Apple’s footsteps and come up with an even better solution, however unlikely it may be.