Music piracy vs DRM: Time we gave Digital Rights Management another chance?

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Music PiracyDuring this Easter season, like with all holidays, people like to party and celebrate. Music is an invariable part of partying. Odds are that the music in your car, home theatre, PC, laptop, phone, portable player and of course that party was illegally copied onto that device or disk.

Since the last article on the subject a year ago things have taken a turn for the worst: with the rise in the use of cellphones there has been an unprecedented increase in piracy as people use microSD cards and Bluetooth enabled phones to share music. Gulf Complex has replaced Ximex mall as the hub for music piracy as people get bargains of 30 songs for one $1. It is hard for genuine producers to meet such deals and so I was forced to ask myself: is it time we gave Digital Rights Management another chance? Or do we need our own version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act? Here we look at the case and feasibility of Digital Rights Management.

Digital Rights management entails the use of a set of access controls by hardware manufacturers, music publishers, copyright owners and individuals to restrict the use of said content after sale and in our case to prevent piracy. For example Apple used to have  DRM music only that prevented you from playing the music on say your DVD player or putting it on a memory card for your GTide phone.The question at hand is DRM effective and is it justified in the Zimbabwean case.

Arguments for.

  • Zimbabwean musicians are some of the poorest on the planet a possible factor for this pauperism is zero to poor sales.
  • The reduced lucrativity of the industry might have or might lead to a decline in interest in the industry resulting in loss of talent as people look for alternative careers as people give credence to the old saying kuridza magitare ndezvehurombe.
  • Non existent and corrupt police officers who do not care about piracy or simply use it as a way to get more bribes are doing nothing at the moment.
  • Ubiquitous illegal file sharing by individuals through bluetooth.

Arguments against

  • It would be difficult and hard to envisage let alone implement an acceptable/effective DRM scheme.
  • Musicians are “greedy”  and do overcharge for their music.
  • The poverty of these musicians is due to reduced spending income on the part of consumers and DRM is not going to change that

Much as I feel for the music and content industries I fear now as ever that Digital Rights Management is a lot like the death sentence it sounds good in theory but is pretty much ineffective as a deterrent and preventive measure in reality. I wonder if those sentiments are shared by anyone else.

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  • Blessingd136

    The game done changed. If DRM is by some miracle implemented fully, the very same clients that the musicians want to reach will see it as a barrier not work too hard to listen to them. As you rightly point out its not only the musicians that are poor but in real terms their target market is finding the going just as tough. Live shows may be the only way left for artists to really get value for their talent. The tougher things are the more likely that the truly talented will be able to last the distance.
    The flip side of the coin is that every Tom, Dick and Harry with Fruity Loops and an Autotuner wants to pretend to be a singer. If the end product is worth paying for then listeners will part with something to enjoy it.

  • http://twitter.com/jonathanhopley jonathan hopley

    is it really piracy or quality of music.DRM has proved more costly than anything. you either get DRM that makes the product useless or can be bypassed by anyone. Laws have to be supported by both people and artist to be affective.

  • macdchip

    I wouldnt worry about drm being championed in Zim as companies with endless very deep pockets in USA and Europe have lost interest about it after learning the hard way tha drm does not work especially if used for selfish greedy reasons.

  • Loyd Kambuzuma

    The music industry dropped DRM years ago. We need to fight budget cuts that is leading to the loss of many jobs and create many decent paying jobs because for the people who make their living creating and selling movies, songs, video games, and software programs, the effort to stop them has proven difficult.

  • lurker133

    DRM just short-changes those people who are otherwise happy to pay. The piracy doesn’t go away, only the people who pay suffer from the restrictions.

    Musicians should get real and start making low quality samples (say 96kbps encoding) of
    their work easily available and use this to promote the sale of enhanced experiences of their work, i.e. concerts, CD/DVD/high quality MP3s, merchandise and also solicit fan
    donations! If I really like an artist I don’t have a problem with shelling out for the concert or lossless CD/MP3 audio.

    A very interesting TED talk about this from a musician called Amanda Palmer:
    http://video.ted.com/talk/podcast/2013/None/AmandaPalmer_2013.mp4

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000368648426 Farai ‘Dabu’ Marimbi

    Musicians just have to have more shows and go on tour more. Vinyl had virtually zero illegal copies.

  • http://twitter.com/ihatehandles Sam Takunda

    LOL! Locally it seems the artists have wept enough over piracy. Now artists are putting new productions themselves up on Soundcloud & YouTube, “shows” are where they look to for the money. Maybe Spotify-like streaming services are the future (when mobile data pricing models approve of course)? Because even with piracy as it is, it’s a pain to have to download every song first and store it somewhere.

  • PIRATE

    they overcharge , think about it $ 10 vs a $ 1

  • MARINE

    Shameless thief, it’s easy to complain about the cost when all you have to do do is download or rip and burn. But consider the costs (in time, money and education) involved in creating something of a quality you value, don’t talk as though it’s your “right” to have it at all. If you want it, pay. If you don’t like the price, find something whose price you do like. Other sing, act and write for your damn self. Nxa