Nobody likes DRM, including attorneys for Microsoft, Real

At this week's Digital Music Forum, lawyers managing digital rights for Microsoft's Zune music download site and RealNetworks' Rhapsody said that they too believe digital rights management to be more of a headache than an asset. Few would argue that consumers truly like dealing with digital rights management. But attorneys for big music download sites […]

At this week's Digital Music Forum, lawyers managing digital rights for Microsoft's Zune music download site and RealNetworks' Rhapsody said that they too believe digital rights management to be more of a headache than an asset.

Few would argue that consumers truly like dealing with digital rights management. But attorneys for big music download sites like Microsoft's Zunes and RealNetworks' Rhapsody aren't all that thrilled with managing digital rights, either.

While that might have come as a surprise, this sentiment turned out to be the main theme emerging from a panel session called "Digital Rights and Clearances for Music" at this week's Digital Music Forum. Musicians, after all, want to make money from their work -- and a lot of other people are interested in some of the action, too, including record labels, music publishing companies, and Web sites.

But at this point, the legal underpinnings behind DRM are a mass of complexities raising many still unanswered questions, according to attorney Robert Driscoll, a partner in Davis Wright Tremaine, LLP.

Driscoll, who moderated the session, explained that attorneys in the digital rights space deal with contracts that "clear [content] for use both online and for other purposes."

But many of the existing documents are characterized by "a lack of adaptability," he added. Beyond that, labels and artists come up with contract "deals that don't work," demanding "advances that are too big."

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Microsoft, RealNetworks, Rhapsody, Zune, Zune Music, Music Download, DRM, Digital Music, Digital Rights