Follow up to Apple and Universal

Generally lots of positive follow up to the article I wrote Friday about Apple’s possible purchase of Universal. A few of the comments, and some of the other articles on the subject, touched on the one question I didn’t hit: digital rights management, or DRM.

DRM is technology intended to restrict access to digital content so that the rights of copyright holders are enforced. Unfortunately, most current implementations of DRM support the rights of the copyright owners to the detriment of the rights of the purchasers of the content. Apple, mercifully, has so far avoided the issue by implicitly encouraging the use of MP3 (a DRM-free music format) through products like iTunes and the iPod, rather than pushing a proprietary format which could be extended to restrict use of the content (e.g. Quicktime).

Emphasis on so far. If Apple purchases a major content provider, the temptation to go over to DRM may become too great to avoid. After all, it will have the bottom line of Universal to think about. Or will this be Apple’s opportunity to prove that a content business model without DRM can actually work?

God, I hope so.