I have seen several discussions of Digital Rights Management again recently. Having blogged on this folly at enormous length in the past, I thought instead I'd apply my targetted frame technique. Here are some anti-DRM arguments framed for 5 different groups:
Computer Users: DRM turns your computer against you
I know sometimes it seems like your computer has its own agenda, when it refuses to print or copy or find your documents. DRM does this on purpose. It is designed to stop you copying and pasting, printing and sharing things. I don't think you want this.
Computer Scientists: DRM will fail through emulation
One of the basic precepts of Computer Science is the Church-Turing thesis, which shows that any computer can emulate any other one. This is not theory, but something we all use every day, whether it is Java virtual machines, or CPU's emulating older ones for software compatibility.
The corollary of this is that code can never really know where it is running. For a rock solid example, look at MAME, the Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator, that runs almost any video game from the last 30 years. The games think you have paid a quarter when you press the '5' key.
Corporations: DRM has to be undone to be used
Microsoft has been touting DRM features in the next version of Office that will only allow approved people to copy or forward or print documents that they can read. But if they can read them, they can describe, paraphrase, retype or photograph them. If you can't trust your employees, but think you can trust your computers more, you have deeper problems than document leakage.
Lawyers: DRM makes machines judge, jury and executioner
Law is complex and subtle, with elaborate and oft-satirised processes and procedures for making, enforcing, fighting and settling contentious issues. Due process is there for good reasons which I don't need to rehearse to you.
DRM undoes all this with the simplistic, hard-edged certainty of a machine. It will refuse to let you copy video you have shot yourself, or prevent citation by copying and pasting. It will make presumptions of guilt rather than innocence. Some tasks we can delegate to machines; law and jurisprudence should not be one.
Media Companies: DRM destroys value
By adding DRM to your products, you make them less attractive to your potential customers. This will reduce the amount they are willing to pay for them, significantly.
Companies that bet on DRM die off. Apple's iTunes store (often cited as a DRM success) will burn Audio CDs, so it preserves the customer value.