I have been thinking about the future of publishing. It seems to me that above all else DRM represents the old, traditional mindset of publishing. In this mindset it is all about the content. And if content is the asset, it makes perfect sense to protect it with DRM. Let's turn this around, if content is not the asset but something else is instead, then it makes no sense to protect the content with DRM right? By DRM here I mean everything from a simple license enforcing copyright to multi-layered encryption. Rights protection in its broadest sense.
The new mindset is that it is all about what the content does or what it allows you to do. It is about delivering the content in multiple ways, at different times to all sorts of people. It is about embedding content in devices that do something. In other words, the asset is in the use of the content. No DRM needed here.
My theory would indicate that as publishers move from the old to the new mindset, DRM should disappear. At the very least we should see a struggle around DRM as the old guard and the new wave fight it out.
Does anyone have more evidence? Examples of publishers moving away from DRM, easing the rights protection, choosing creative commons over copyright? Please let me know.
So what is holding back publishers you might ask? Well I suspect most of them have simply been unable to build products that would allow them to release control over their content. Workflow solutions is the buzzword I hear most often and everyone claims to be doing it. I have seen very few examples from any publisher though.
My gut feeling is that Apple are showing us the way. They have shown us how important the device is. As Chris Arkenberg noted today: "Apple has fundamentally rewritten this paradigm by dematerializing the content - music & movies - and connected it directly with the player".
My top tip for today is to watch any publisher that is partnering with device providers or any publisher that is experimenting with i-apps. I think this is the future.