Adobe is making room for old business models in new technology; they recently announced Digital Rights Management (DRM) integration with their server software. This will allow publishers to dictate users’ every interaction with media and will be integrated across Adobe’s platforms. This is horrible news for consumers and free speech — in addition to creating false scarcity, it limits our ability to effectively comment on mainstream media.
Aside from being anti-free speech and bad for consumers, the added DRM is even more damaging to the open web than Flash video currently is. Right now, putting video inside Flash Player makes it difficult and sometimes impossible for search engines, aggregators, and feed services to index and parse. Adding DRM will exaggerate these difficulties and will also make each of these practices illegal, without explicit permission from the originating website.
Imagine a web where Google had to get permission from each website to add its contents to their search results. The legal issues are because of a US law, called the DMCA, which makes it illegal to tamper with encryption, even when you’re making fair use of the underlying media.
This story is particularly alarming because of our growing dependence on Adobe products for web video publishing and playback. However, there is a bright side to the story — just look at the history of DRM. Consumers have been rejecting it for as long as it has been produced, because it interferes with their ability to use media in ways they normally expect. As a result, major record labels have realized that DRM hurts their businesses and have mostly given up on it.