A quiet victory of music consumers has occurred now that Sony BMG Music Entertainment has become the final major recording company to drop digital rights management protection on its digital downloads.
Major recording companies starting placing protection software on downloadable files in 2005 and 2006 to protect the music files from being passed on to other listeners. The digital rights management software, however, often blocked consumers who had purchased downloads from moving files to portable music players or even to new computers and from making compilations discs of their favorite music.
The software incensed many consumers because it forced consumers to purchase multiple copies or forced them to illicitly bypass the software if they wished to use music they had purchased on more than on platform. Many felt it was unfair that one did not “own” the download in the same way as a CD, a book, or a DVD and voiced their frustration in blogs, music forums, and to the record companies.
Opposition grew so strong among consumers that consumer rights and competition authorities in both the U.S. and Europe soon began to investigate and question the practice.
In 2007 EMI and Universal Music Group dropped the DRM measures and Warner Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment have now followed suit in 2008.
Although the recording companies would still have preferred that consumers only be able to "rent" music and never own it--giving them the possibility to limit the number of times a download could be played before an additonal payment would be required, they ultimately gave in to consumer oppostition and are recognizing that consumers view music purchased in whatever form as substitutable.