Realizing what everyone else knew years ago, the RIAA appears to understand that digital rights management is fading away.
"DRM is dead, isn't it?" said Jonathan Lamy, the Recording Industry Association of America's chief spokesman, in an upcoming SC Magazine article. It's not clear whether his tone was meant to be rhetorical, but CrunchGear reports that Lamy goes on to mention iTunes' DRM-free tracks in the article.
The mere suggestion that building copy protection into music tracks is obsolete represents a change of course for the RIAA. As TorrentFreak points out, the music industry trade group has previously defended DRM as serving "all sorts of pro-consumer purposes," and last year insisted that the technology was due for a comeback.
But with iTunes abandoning DRM in its music downloads, and other companies advertising DRM-free downloads as a selling point, consumers have won out (or they're just oblivious to those aforementioned pro-consumer benefits). Perhaps the RIAA is coming around to this logic; it'll be interesting to see the full context of Lamy's remarks. Even if the RIAA is no longer keen on DRM, I don't expect the group to abandon its role as copyright enforcer.
If Lamy is being straightforward, it's pleasing news, but not surprising that the RIAA is so behind the times. The idea that Big Music can put the file sharing genie back in the bottle has been disputed countless times, and yet lawsuits continue. Instead of putting all its efforts into finding new ways for labels to monetize, the trade group remains fixed on sticking to old ones. The RIAA may be on pace to realizing its mistakes in a few years, but by then it will be too late, if it isn't already.