Downfall of DRM?

There has been a lot of buzz this week in the anti-DRM (Digital Rights Management) camp. Engadget posted that Microsoft's PlayForSure had been removed by a program called FairUse4WM. While Microsoft almost immediately pushed a patch out that broke version 1.1 of this program, within the week version 1.2 was released, which according to its author should be much harder for Microsoft to break. Meanwhile, in the iTunes arena, a new version of QTFairUse6 has been released which removes the Apple's previously uncrackable DRM, FairPlay for iTunes v6.

It will be interesting in the next few weeks to see how this arms race turns out. Will Apple and Microsoft create new DRM models or just try to tweak a few settings to break the current anti-DRM programs, as Microsoft did this past week? Microsoft, and the sites that use its PlayForSure technology (Napster, Ruckus, etc.), seem to be in a much more dire situation, since they utilize a business model that allows users to download an unlimited number of files. So users of Napsters and such services will likely be able to download mass numbers of files and strip all DRM from those files. Apple has less to use because their pay per download model means that users of iTunes will still have to pay for every track that they remove FairPlay from.

Should Microsoft and Apple force the RIAA to accept DRM free downloads? With a business model such as Napster, DRM is somewhat more of a necessity, since having DRM free downloads would be nothing more than a legitimized Limewire or Kazaa. But with a model such as iTunes, wouldn't making the consumer happy by allowing that 99 cent track to play on any system with an MP3 codec be better? While its legitimacy is in question,, has made many people very happy by allowing downloads of DRM free tracks. Engadget has an interesting plea to Microsoft.