DRM Going Away? Don't Hold Your Breath

Amazon’s announcement of a digital rights management-free music store is another step in the demise of DRM. Still, the crumbling of content protection is looking more like the long, slow decline of the roman empire than the abrupt collapse of communism.

Since EMI and Apple announced in early April that the iTunes music store would give customers the option of downloading EMI’s digital catalog without DRM, none of the other three major studios has given any indication that it would go along. No major movie studio—including Disney, where Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder—has indicated any inclination to ease up on DRM. And the Justice Dept. has teamed up with the Recording Industry Assn. of America in support of legislation that would impose drastic new penalties on efforts to defeat DRM.

Should sales of DRM-free music prove wildly popular at iTunes and Amazon, the pressure would mount on other record companies and studios to follow EMI’s lead. But I’m not betting on it. Don’t look for DRM to go gently.

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