The way in which group fitness instructors obtain music for classes has changed immensely over the past 5–10 years. The online music marketplace offers diversity and ease of use, but digital-rights management (DRM) software prevents copying of music sold online. If Steve Jobs, chief executive of Apple Computers, has any say in it, the era of such restrictions could soon be over. In February, Jobs issued a challenge to the four largest music companies to stop using DRM software—a challenge that Michele Boldrin, an economist who studies the hidden costs of intellectual-property-right protections, considers “the latest brick to fall in the inevitable collapse of a legal wall that . . . has been obstructing technological progress and preventing people from enjoying more and better music at a lower price,” according to Newswise.
Along with other economists, Boldrin views Jobs’s plea for the abolition of the DRM system as validation of the need for a vanguard approach to intellectual property—bolstered by the Internet’s power to make digital files instantly available. Boldrin argues that money is a nonissue; in fact, he says there is probably more money than ever in distributing and selling digital content online without DRM, which he considers an obstacle. “Digital content can now be sold very efficiently and in very large quantities via the Web,” he said. “Copies of that same digital content can easily be made and distributed via the Web. Hence they should be allowed to be made—without the obstructions that current ‘antipiracy’ regulations impose upon this economic activity.”