Posts Tagged ‘Digital Content’

What Is DRM?

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009
John Roberts asked:

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, or as some people call it, Digital Restrictions Management. Put simply, DRM consists of various restrictions applied in music or video files, so their use (such as playback) can be controlled by a third party, usually the company holding the copyright for a song or movie. DRM is not just a copyright protection technique but a whole set of technologies that aim to implement the DRM strategy each distributor of digital content specifies. As an example, DRM can verify that the user that bought an audio file is actually the same user playing the file. DRM technology can also be used to limit the number of PCs a file can be played on. The major disadvantage of DRM is that these restrictions are not always clear when a user buys a digital product.

Which Multimedia Formats Support DRM?

If you’re expecting to see MP3 in this list, guess again. Due to it’s open nature, the MP3 standard is unable to support DRM. Furthermore, there is no centralized coordination in the development and evolution of the MP3 format so don’t expect digital music stores to offer songs in the MP3 format.

Advanced Audio Coding: The AAC format, used by iTunes and iPod, is based on Apple’s QuickTime. It was originally designed as a replacement of the MP3, and can actually compress files better than the MP3 format can.

Windows Media Audio: WMA is a closed-source standard of digital music. It was designed to compete with the MP3 but in reality, it’s actually AAC’s main competitor, especially with regards to DRM support and buying music online. The latest version of WMA offers similar quality to that of AAC and better than that of MP3 files. This means that much smaller files can have CD quality. WMA is based on the ADvanced System Format (ASF) which can integrate different streams of audio and video as long as they belong to the Windows Media family.

RealNetworks & Sony: Both of these companies offer music download services. Real mostly uses the AAC format with the Helix DRM system, while Sony uses the OpenMG DRM system on ATRAC3 files. It is expected that Sony will support other music formats in the future.

Limitations of iTunes and iPod

Finally, here are certain things that you should know about iTunes DRM:

1. Music you buy from iTunes can only be played on an iPod.

2. Files from iTunes can be played on an unlimited number of iPods.

3. iTunes allows you to download each song you buy only once and of course, you’re not allowed to re-sell that song.

4. An iPod can also store and play non-DRM music files.

5. Any certified .m4p files can only be copied/played on 5 authorized computers.

6. Music you buy from iTunes can be copied to a CD without any DRM limitations.

7. A playlist consisting of songs you bought from iTunes can only be turned into a CD 7 times (you can make 7 CD copies of the list).

8. You are not allowed to convert a song to a different music format.

Sell Downloads: Why it Works

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
Lisa Cremer asked:

There has been a lot of buzz about the freeconomy. As a results, you might wonder whether it still makes sense to sell downloads or other kinds of digital content. I feel it does, here are some arguments.

Why online content can be sold

The free philosophy is based on the idea that somewhere at the end of the line, you are going to sell something. This can be premium content just as well.

Micropayments are becoming more popular.

Today, people more often buy digital goods. Such as iTunes music, H&M clothing in the Sims game, or Radiohead’s latest album In Rainbows.

Google Adwords doesn’t work so well for smaller, specialized sites. However, it’s harder to get a free version of specialized content than of popular music, so buying this kind of content makes more sense.

Many people are starting to **** advertising more than paying a small fee.

People who like your work won’t mind supporting you a little.

Selling content does not mean a subscription based model

Maybe you’re thinking: selling content, is that not something The Wall Street Journal once tried (and failed)?

Well, yes and no. They used a subscription based model. I feel this probably isn’t the easiest way to sell content.

A subscription model creates quite a high barrier for a consumer to give buying content a try (lets say $30 a month).

That is why I feel that it is very important to try and make this barrier considerably lower. A consumer pays per post, I suggest a model where a blog posts about eigth articles for free and sells two special articles for a small amount, such as $0.50.

The barriers to buy content then are:

Do I get value for my money?

Since there are eight free articles available, a consumer can alreay see if he values the blog’s expertise.

Do I waste my money?

Since the purchase price is low (in our example $0.50 instead of $30) this risk is not so great.

Is buying content easy?

Credit card purchases are often experienced as quite difficult. However, buying content is quite easy with PayPal and Checkout, and it’s very easy with the Oronjo wallet.

How easy is it to find a new alternative?

This greatly depends of the (specialized) expertise of the blog and is correlated with the costs of content / ease of transaction (meaning: the lower the fee and the easier the transaction, the less likely a customer is to start searching for a free alternative).


In short

It is not a question whether  it makes sense to sell downloads or other kinds of digital content. It is a question of how. Experiments in the future we either too soon or did not use the right approach.

Fortunately, new services are arriving, which will prove that selling downloads makes a lot of sense, even in the freeconomy.


Lisa Cremer is marketing manager at, a free service to sell downloads.