Can we do without digital rights management?

Steve Jobs claims to think so, and EMI might abolish it.  It could be said that the music companies never adopted the idea in full, recall the compact disc?  Burning compact discs is remarkably easy, and that practice remains the biggest copyright problem, not illegal downloads.  Someone who burns a whole disc is more likely to otherwise have bought it, compared to someone snatching songs off the web.  Of course, for all the complaints, the era of compact discs has been entirely acceptable for music companies.

DRM is a tax on digital consumers, compared to the low de facto restrictions put on CD buyers.  So why not equalize that margin, especially since digital sales have lower overhead?  Admittedly piracy is easier over the web, although for teenagers the difference is smaller than you might think.  I believe that at this point a person is either an illegal downloader or not.

The deeper question is whether the move away from DRM might cause the dominant position of iTunes to unravel.


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