So I've been thinking about why there's this big push for DRM. The line sold to the public is that the media companies need this to prevent copyright infringement of their works. The story goes that without _effective_ copyright protection, the incentive to produce good artistic works is diminished, and therefore, good art won't get made.
There are several pertinent objections to this line of reasoning; I could cover the fact that most artists produce good art because it is a passion of theirs, or because it is the only thing for which they are sufficiently talented to receive a paycheck, etc... But instead, I will focus on the DRM aspect of copyright.
A few hundred years ago, copyright for musical performances was wholly unnecessary. In order to enjoy a performance or see a particular painting, one had to be physically present at the performance or exhibition. The artist and performer were paid for each painting or work performed, a process which generally rewarded the effort and talent enjoyed. But technology changed all of that - the printing press made it possible for someone to sell books for which he had no personally labored to write. The vinyl record made it possible for someone with no musical talent whatsoever to make a living selling music. And the cinema made it possible for those without any acting talent to make money from the performance of others.
Of course, there were upsides. An artist could receive royalties well beyond their performing years for works performed during their prime.
And then technology changed again. Formerly, the cost of reproduction was substantial - it required physical resources, and was generally limited to those with a substantial outlay of capital. But, with the advent of the internet and high speed computers, reproduction of copyrighted works became feasible for fractions of a penny per copy. There was no longer any need of a publishing company or printing presses, or recording studios or movie theaters.
Naturally, those in the industry felt challenged. It seemed their entire investment in exploiting the works of others was about to be challenged. Enter DRM. This is touted as the solution to the problem of rampant copying and unauthorized distribution. The only problem is that it doesn't work.
Technical folks like you and I know it doesn't work. The movie and recording studios know it doesn't work - DVDs and CDs are copied bit by bit, copy protection and all, by pirates and sold on the black market in developing countries. DRM schemes are cracked, in some cases by nothing more than a microphone or a camcorder, and unauthorized copies are then distributed, free of DRM restrictions, on the internet. So why is yet being pushed?
It is, as I call it, the Problem With The Public Domain. The reason why DRM is being embraced by the media conglomerates is because it effectively restricts works from ever entering the public domain, thanks to the DMCA. Even after a work's copyright has expired, it is still illegal to build and traffic in tools which would remove the DRM restrictions from said work. It isn't illegal to bypass said restrictions, but without a legal means of acquiring the tools to do so, it won't happen for most users. And this is exactly what the studios want. They do not want us to watch those older movies or listen to the older recordings because it cuts into the money that would be spent on their new works. A rich public domain is a real problem for someone trying to sell music or movies, because it represents a free, competing alternative to spending money for entertainment.
And that is what DRM is all about. The content cartels understand well that unauthorized copying and distribution will always be with us - but what they fear is a world in which people can watch movies or listen to music without paying them for doing so.
Whether someone should be paid multiple times for a work they performed only once is left as a philosophical exercise for the reader.