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Bill Gates admits flaws in DRM technology

December 18, 2006

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates told a group of technology bloggers that copy protection for digital music is too complex for consumers.

Although Gates is a defender os the idea behind Digital Rights Management (DRM), he admits that it’s not where it should be and that it’s becoming a controversial tool for people who feel it limits what they can do with legally purchased files.

Bill Gates was candid in admitting no one is satisfied with the current state of DRM, which causes pain to consumers in its effort to distinguish between legal and illegal uses of audio and video files.

These comments are all the more peculiar since DRM is a key technology on Microsoft’s Zune media player and come in the same week online music retailer eMusic announced its 100 millionth digital music download roughly three years after the service launched.

The sales total is well behind the one billion tracks sold by industry leader iTunes over the same time period.

But unlike iTunes, which sells its tracks with DRM technology, eMusic sells tracks in MP3 format without playback restrictions.

“Except for iTunes, the only store that is doing well online with downloads is eMusic, and the reason is because they do sell it without [playback restrictions],” said Phil Leigh, an analyst with Inside Digital Media.

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