Apple is under attack after the Electronic Frontier Foundation slammed them over their DRM practises which they claim is being used soely to lock in customers to the iPod platform claims Cory Doctorow, a fellow with the EFF.

Makers of portable devices have different reasons to embrace DRM, Doctorow said in a keynote presentation at the Red Hat Summit in the USA.

He claims that Apple is looking to prevent users switching from iPods to competing devices by making sure that music from the iTunes music store plays only on the iPod.

“Apple [turns] every iTune you buy into a 99 cent price tag on switching from Apple to a competitor’s product,” Doctorow told delegates.

“If you start with an iPod and you want to move to a Creative product and you have spent $50 on music, that’s a $50 investment that you abandon.”Using content to lock in consumers is even more important because such devices have an average life span of 18 months.

In a commodity market for portable media players, Apple has no guarantee that after such a time it will still have the best and/or most popular products, Doctorow added. Apple’s competitors meanwhile are pushing for even more restrictive DRM in an effort to entice content owners such as movie studios and record labels to sign exclusive content licensing deals.

By offering to further tighten DRM restrictions, such companies are playing to the content industry’s fears of new technologies and piracy.

They also bank on the content owners’ troublesome relationship with Apple which has shown little willingness to raise download prices.A similar trend is showing in the battle between the rival HD-DVD and Blu-ray high definition DVD formats, Doctorow claimed. Blu-ray has even gone so far as to bring back region coding that will prevent a US DVD from playing in a European player.

“There you have two warring consortia seeing who can get the worst product and can get the best content licence terms,” Doctorow quipped.

He claimed that DRM only punishes legitimate users and does not prevent piracy. When a new DRM-protected file is made available, it takes on average three minutes before crackers strip it of its protection and post the content on file-sharing networks.

And with faster processors, smaller and cheaper storage and increased network capacity, content owners will have more trouble restricting what consumers can do with digital content.

“There is no future in which bits are harder to copy than they already are today. This moment in time has the most copy-proof bits that we will see until the end of time,” Doctorow argued.

Companies that base their business on limiting user rights are doomed, he warned, and should be fought as they lobby the government for legal protection.

“We need to show that we should not keep on struggling to save these industries that have pitched their tents on the side of the volcano,” said Doctorow. “We need to move on.”



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