DRM or no DRM, that is the question

Fan and future consumer alike called foul on the newest negative rumor to besiege Sony Computer Entertainments’ upcoming console, the PlayStation 3. News sources cited a patent filed by Sony on April 17th, 2000, co invested by none other than Ken Kutaragi himself. The content of the patent implied a use of a DRM like system specifically for games on the console, shaking up much of the gaming community on the fear of its implications.

DRM, or Digital Rights Management, is a system employed by many companies in order to better manage distributed media, such as music compact disks and DVD videos. While studios and corporations have cited DRM as an adequate step in stomping down on copyright violations, resulting product restrictions from the application of DRM have angered many customers. An example of the shortfalls of this security measure is an inability to transfer various songs to multiple computers or MP3 players, virtually locking the media to a single system.

Therefore, the implication of DRM on the PlayStation 3 console was devastating news. Fears heightened at the speculation of the potential abolition of the used game trade. The basic assumption was that Sony could use a DRM like algorithm to lock purchased games to a single console. Therefore, if the game were to be traded in or passed on to a friend to be borrowed, another system would recognize the game as being “used” and disallow the use of it.

While Sony lately has been known for keeping its dignified silence over many speculative rumors that surface at various message boards and media outlets, this particular rumor was hastily squashed. This is most likely due to the bad PR the console could potentially receive before its launch date, hurling potential customers back into the market to buy from one of their competitors instead, especially Microsoft’s recently launched Xbox 360. A SCEE spokesperson came out and said that game software for the PlayStation 3 would not be limited to a single console. Needless to say, many people were relieved.

The question of the future application of DRM looms as the latest generation of electronics come forward and new methods to transfer media develop. The use of DRM in other ways in the next generation lineup is still unknown. Only in time will the effect of DRM truly ramify itself.