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The DRM-free debate continues

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a very active topic of interest to DailyTech readers.  Some feel that the technology is necessary to protect users against piracy.  Others feel that the technology does little to stop piracy, and feel that DRM efforts only hurt the consumer who pays legally for content.

DailyTech recently covered the launch of two music download services, which represent how this dichotomy of opinion is shared by the online industry.  SpiralFrog, which provides advertising subsidized content, feels it can win customers by offering DRM content for free.  Amazon MP3, however, believes that customers will pay for DRM-free tracks.

Jumping into the debate is Simply Audiobooks Digital, the world's second largest online audiobooks retailer.  Despite its inventory of DRM and DRM-free publications, Simply Audiobooks Digital urges publishers to do away with DRM.  The company feels that DRM is simply a burden on the paying customer, which causes inconvenience to the customer and the retailer, at no benefit.

Simply Audiobooks Digital's main rival in the online audiobooks market, Amazon.com, still uses DRM exclusively for its audiobooks.  Simply Audiobooks magnanimously encourages its competitors, including Amazon.com, to join it in the push to do away with DRM.

Simply Audiobooks Digital director Vitaly Petritchkovitch graciously provided exclusive interview with DailyTech about why his company chose to go DRM free and about their efforts to push the online media industry to turn away from DRM.

Petritchkovitch offers an intriguing online retail industry perspective on the state of DRM.  While some publishers still feel that DRM is the only way to protect their content and are willing to place the burden of it on their paying customers, many retailers seem to be turning away from the technology. 

The pinnacle reasons for embracing DRM-free titles, according to Petritchkovitch,  is the lack of ubiquitous DRM services.  Rather than support separate rights management for AAC, Audible, PlaysForSure and Real, a single DRM-free MP3 track can provide interoperability between virtually every player.

"Our member services Department handles all of our technical support andthey are constantly flooded with calls from customers having DRMrelated issues," claims Petritchkovitch.

He closes with the following advice for other audio outlets, "DRM only hurts the people who pay for content. Pirates will still pirate. You will never stop piracy."




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