Rewarding artists for their efforts is important, but in my own experiences, DRM-free content has been a great tool for making me aware of new content and getting me to part with my hard-earned dollars. On the other hand, content locked down has driven me away from some purchases. Some examples:
- MP3.com first introduced me to a huge variety of independent music. Through that site, I developed a taste for Celtic music and ordered albums from a dozen artists that I would never have come across otherwise. In one particular case, I discovered a band that was playing at a bar three blocks from my apartment. I went to their show and bought all three of their albums at the show. (I wept when MP3.com was destroyed).
- On another front, I have stopped buying videos from iTunes due to issues with DRM. My previous apartment complex provided pathetically slow download speeds, so streaming videos were not a realistic option. But when I purchased an HD version of "Downton Abbey" through iTunes, I discovered that I was unable to play it on my screen. Emailing support, they nicely informed me that I would have to buy an Apple monitor. In the meantime, I could watch the content I had purchased on my iPhone...
- While I have paid for locked-down content on my Kindle, my purchase of tech books has skyrocketed since I discovered several sites that sell their content DRM-free. The Kindle works great, but for technical books I like to read them and mark them up using iAnnotate on my iPad.
Of course, lack of DRM on a product can lead to an increase in casual piracy. I came across a PDF of Programming in Lua by Roberto Ierusalimschy. After reading through it for a bit, I noticed "Prepared for [name redacted]" written across the bottom of each page. With a pang of conscience, I deleted the PDF.