Monday, November 12, 2007

DRM is not the People's Choice

U.K. music download store, 7 Digital, reports that its DRM-free music downloads are outselling other formats by a factor of four to one. Given the choice, consumers prefer MP3 DRM-free formats. They claim that 78% of downloads are MP3 with no DRM. They also announced that over 60% of its 3 million strong catalogue is now available DRM free in MP3 format and is expecting this to increase to 100% in the next 18 months. 7 Digital do sell audiobooks and although the range is small they do have MP3 audiobooks.

The shift towards MP3 would appear to show the consumers prefer non proprietary formats that offer true interoperability. The shift towards DRM free clearly demonstrates the direction consumers which to follow and the increased size of the DRM free catalogue is given them the necessary choice.

Audiobooks may continue with a DRM proprietary format from Audible but if music continues to move it is hard to see this as sustainable. The question is whether Audible will move or entrench. What is becoming clear is that DRM as we know it today is transient technology and may well be replaced by an open ‘honesty box’ approach potentially supported by less restrictive technology such as watermarking.