A small group of influential bloggers met Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters to discuss the upcoming Mix Conference in Las Vegas. The culmination of that day’s activities on December 13th, I think, was an hour with Bill Gates himself.
Among the questions asked, was one by TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington who said one of his questions was on Bill Gate’s opinion of the long term viability of DRM.
It was really good to see that Bill Gates has no illusions about DRM and apparently is very aware how bad it is for consumers. I also thought it was great that he agrees that buying the CDs and ripping them yourself is the safest legal manner of obtaining music. I totally agree and have said so for a long time. The only drawback is when the CD has ‘copy protection’ on it. Then I don’t bother with the CD either. As those who know me will attest, I have been boycotting this whole DRM thing and the cartels that back them for some time, the RIAA and Big 4 the longest. Unfortunately as much as I love movies, I see what the MPAA has been doing and has been doing for a very long time as well. And the studios often are not much better unfortunately, particularly Sony Pictures which makes it basically impossible to fluidly watch a movie (various types of problems depending upon the DVD) on a combo DVD drive that is capable of writing DVDs (at least not the one from Sony that my Jim has and the HP one that I have). Really ticking me off, by the way, because many of the films I want to rent or buy are released by Sony Pictures. Thankfully some others are not doing that and I am very quickly gravitating to those.
But back on topic, here. Michael Arrington reported (paraphased) Bill Gates as saying:
Gates said that no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which â€œcauses too much pain for legitmate buyersâ€ while trying to distinguish between legal and illegal uses. He says no one has done it right, yet. There are â€œhuge problemsâ€ with DRM, he says, and â€œwe need more flexible models, such as the ability to â€œbuy an artist out for lifeâ€ (not sure what he means). He also criticized DRM schemes that try to install intelligence in each copy so that it is device specific.
His short term advice: â€œPeople should just buy a cd and rip it. You are legal then.â€
At least for the short term anyway, until the government — that our tax dollars pay for — legally allows the entertainment cartels to fully take away our fair use rights. Which they are actively working hard to do.