Small note at the end of the news on TV: EMI sells its music unprotected via iTunes!
End of last century I’d been working in the DRM business and we sold actually some music - well not much actually. The content holder provided little interesting content and the DRM software you had to install was secure, but an overkill. I still think that most buys came from within the company (BMG) or its competitors. You had been tied to a media-player which was even worse than the Windows one - you get the idea: Very unsatisfying user experience.
Fast-forward 8 years. DRM is facing even more resistance. As the open-source movement gained much more momentum and virtually all DRM relies on closed source portions with sometimes hefty certification procedures for the final product - DRM is closing out Linux user and also developers which use open languages like Java where such software will never have a good chance to be integrated.
As it seems now that the idiotic notion that all people who buy electronic media are actually assisting in theft/piracy has been overcome; open platforms will prosper even more. Let’s face it. 90% of the computer user do nothing else than surfing and consuming media with their computer. The half of remaining 10% do this at least half of the time. Freely usable media open this large reservoir of users for free software. And as these user don’t want anything more than just what bthey are doing now, they don’t need Vista Premium Home Media Standard edition (Which version of Vista do YOU need?). Some light-weight OS on whatever sufficiently recent CPU will do. Some cross-platform software (written in Java or etleast running on the JVM) gives all what Joe Homeuser needs. And that software will be there when playing media with non-proprietary software is not only a challenging game for free-software evangelists.
Finally this could give Java on the Desktop the thrust it needs to (finally) take off. The improvements of Swing layed ground to compete with other UIs. I am curious what we will see in the next year or two.
BTW: I actually can see some good uses of DRM. Perhaps I’d been a bit indoctrinated back than (we used to make the brain-washed Intertrust-zombie in the office). What about have a documentation expire when the new version of a software is deployed and been redirected to the new documentation? Sending a message in a secured envelope where you can control where it gets forwarded to? None of these needs an unbreakable system, as it should simply help the user of media to use it correctly. When you don’t need certified hardware and software you can never secure the use perfectly, but some open DRM solution could provide the benefits without the hassle.