Tough Love: Identity-based DRM and iTunes

dog-bounty-hunter.jpgIt’s been a few days since the world “discovered” that Apple was embedding personal information in some of their digital files. The outcry was immediate — how DARE they — but what is the strategy behind this move? After all, the data is essentially in the clear, available to anyone with a text editor.

Randy Picker at the University of Chicago Law School has been thinking about “mistrust-based” DRM methods for quite a while now and, interestingly enough, proposes that the clear data is in place to add a wedge to the typical pirating behavior. After all, if it’s trivial to grab your private information from a pirated piece of software — and strip that same information before pirating — what does anyone have to gain in embedding this information?

It seems what may be going on is that Apple is “outsourcing” their DRM policing activities. By embedding the data, they discourage the casual pirate, give the labels a little something to chew on, and maintain the “Don’t Steal Music” stance they’ve thus far followed. Obviously this is all conjecture, but it’s fun conjecture. Maybe there will be a Dog the DRM Hunter soon. Cool…

iTunes and Identity-Based Digital Rights Management [Uchicagolaw]