Shortly after the CD was first introduced to the marketplace in 1983, the music industry decided that the “jewel case” in which the CD was packaged was too hard to merchandise and too easy to steal. So, they invented the ‘long box’, a cardboard sleeve that housed the jewel case and disc. Two of the long boxes fit neatly side-by-side in the existing LP racks. They figured it would also be a good deterrent for shoplifting, since it was too long to shove into a pocket to steal. However, the impact that this abundantly wasteful idea had on the industry, and the backlash felt by insulted consumers and ecologically minded artists, has been well documented. Suffice to say that the long box was eventually abandoned.
There has never been any DRM that has not been cracked by diligent hackers one way or another, whether commercially exploited or not. This is true for DRM used in computer software, video games, cable television, cellular phone transmissions, DVDs, and for many other forms of encryption. Leading computer software makers like Microsoft and Intuit pulled the plug on overly restrictive copyprotection schemes long ago, after consumers became increasingly disgruntled with legally purchased programs that still would not install or run properly. If the software business can live with 57 percent piracy, how can the music industry claim that less than 20 percent is killing them?
Today the industry blames the pirates and the evil file-sharers for its woes, but it can certainly be argued that the industry brought this upon itself by releasing the Red Book–audio CD format, not realizing that in just a few years, advances in home computer technology would make it possible for people to replicate an infinite number of perfect digital copies of every song ever released on CD. The billions of files that are traded on Kazaa, Morpheus, Grokster, iMesh, Limewire, and other P2P networks are the direct result of the record companies’ decision to go with the CD format.
For all the music that has already been released on CD, the genie is already out of the bottle. There is no turning back to a time when the music could have been “mechanically” protected. Therefore, for all the music available on existing CDs, there is no possibility for DRM to ever be effective, retroactively. This is also true for the thousands of new CD releases being introduced into the marketplace every month by the record industry. All attempts at post-natal abortion will prove to be fruitless. The simple fact is that if you can see or hear it on your computer, then you can copy it, one way or the other.
Read what the EFF has to say about the current ‘authorized’ digital music services and their use of DRM. The Customer is Always Wrong.