Digital rights management is dying, but Ken Fisher writes in Ars Technica that the music industry is “barking up the wrong tree” if it turns to watermarks instead. The technology—which encodes owners' info into tunes—isn’t a practical copyright infringement fix or good from a privacy standpoint. Watermarking isn’t an “access control,” so the law doesn’t speak to it—dulling the prosecution threat.
It only takes one leaked, non-watermarked copy to proliferate infringement, so the strategy’s no better than DRM on its logistical points. And consumers would be rightfully upset about the privacy violations it would take to monitor the fate of private music collections. Fisher is concerned that a move to watermarking will be like the DRM failure all over again.