Tuesday, June 6, 2006

APIG Finally Says What It Thinks Of DRM

We're not talking about a barnyard animal, here, we're talking about the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group in the UK. Beatnik Turtle is a US band, but the internet is international. On top of that, according to our sales figures, we sell a fair number of songs in iTunes-UK. So if the question is why a Chicago indie band cares what happens in another country, the answer is that we have the financial interest to prove it. We're not just covering things like this to rant.

Their recommendations are surprisingly cogent and show a deep understanding of the issues. Evidently, this committe has people with a clear conception of the subtle interaction between technology and law. Many committees like these are overrun with monied interests. Instead, we are impressed by the scope of what they recommend. You can find their report on their website.

Perhaps the most important recommendation that they make is that the government should NOT legislate to make DRM systems mandatory.

Increasingly, we are seeing signs of legislation in the US to do that very thing. It seems that the UK is similarly affected. These efforts are misguided, and usually end up hurting technology. It also especially hurts indie bands, because it raises the costs that we have to pay to get our music to people. All of the popular DRM schemes in the world are proprietary, and thus gives a middleman a potential cut of sales depending on how much they charge.

Even worse, many indie bands like ourselves don't like DRM and don't want to restrict what our fans want to do with our own music. Making legislation to force us to punish our paying fans while leaving the ones that pirate with the freedom to do what they wish is especially egregious.

If you have an interest in what is going on in the US along these lines, we recommend keeping up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation at eff.org, especially at their DRM page. There are glimmerings of this legislation on the horizon in the US, and we will cover them here in the blog because we find that it directly affects us.