I took a cheap shot at the RIAA in my last post, and have often wondered whether DRM was really the solve (or perhaps I should say "fate") for content distribution issues.
I think the jury's still out in a big way on this topic.
Either DRM technologies will become THE way that all digital content is licensed (even if that license is simply "unrestricted"), or it'll go the way of the Dodo. The middle ground will get squeezed out on this in the next 4 years.
Obviously, publishers (distribution middle men) and to a lesser (at least less vocal), but very real extent, creators want to ensure they're properly credited for their work, both financially and artistically. On the converse side, users want access to stuff as broadly and cheaply as possible - but most importantly, as conveniently as possible, with as high fidelity as available. This last has been a HUGE boon to the movie, music, and publishing industries, generally, as technology advances have meant people are re-purchasing essentially the same content in a variety of formats (e.g. LP, Tape, CD, AAC /VHS, Laser-Disc, DVD, HD-DVD).
But that trend has delivered broadly available commercial-grade content creation tools to (essentially) consumer cost points, in combination with federated broad digital communication (read: syndication) and personal publishing channels.
Case in point: MySpace's MP3 Store and this recent article about iTunes and iPod music consumption in the real world fly directly in the face of Microsoft's Zune, iTunes, etc, with things like YouTube skirting a narrow middle. The RIAA hopes you like Apple and Microsoft.
That iTunes/iPod usage article is the most interesting - and the big question is whether the trend it reveals is of the moment, or of the future.
You know this is something the software industry has been dealing with since its inception - its done OK. I realize its easy for me to say (because I have nothing at stake in this particular debate), but sometimes sweating the threat means you squander the opportunity.