In a previous post on Digital Rights Management (DRM) I said:
DRM is an evil, market restricting, anti-consumer device (why shouldnâ€™t I be able to play DVDs bought in the US on my DVD player in Ireland?)
It seems I have an unlikely ally – Bill Gates!
At a meeting in Microsoft with bloggers yesterday Bill Gates made several extraordinary statements about DRM.
Here is how Mike Arrington reported what Bill said:
Gates didnâ€™t get into what could replace DRM, but he did give some reasonably candid insights suggesting that he thinks DRM is as lame as the rest of us.
Gates said that no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which â€œcauses too much pain for legitmate buyersâ€? while trying to distinguish between legal and illegal uses. He says no one has done it right, yet. There are â€œhuge problemsâ€? with DRM, he says, and â€œwe need more flexible models, such as the ability to â€œbuy an artist out for lifeâ€? (not sure what he means). He also criticized DRM schemes that try to install intelligence in each copy so that it is device specific.
His short term advice: â€œPeople should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then.â€?
He ended by saying â€œDRM is not where it should be, but you wonâ€™t get me to say that there should be usage models and different payment models for usage. At the end of the day, incentive systems do make a difference, but we donâ€™t have it right with incentives or interoperability.â€?
These quotes are rough – I was typing fast but it was not an exact transcript. Still, it is interesting insight from a man who is in a position to shape the future of digital music models.
As an aside, Mike also said that one of the highlights of the day for him was:
Seeing the look on Gatesâ€™ face when he walked into the room and every single one of us had a Mac open on the desk in front of us