DRM are marketed to users (and the society, including politicians) and to artists as a way to prevent copies. Most engineers implementing DRMs think so too. And all the discussions we've seen on HTML5 are around this. People have little arguments against this because it "sounds morally good" to help artist "live of their creations".
I am the de facto maintainer of libdvdcss, and have been involved on libbluray (and related projects) and a few other libraries of the same style; I've done several conferences on this precise subject and I've fought the French High-Authority-on-DRM in legal questioning about an unclear piece of law... Therefore, I've studied DRM quite closely...
The truth is that if you consider the main goal of DRM to prevent copies, no DRM actually work. ALL of them got defeated in a way or another. Indeed, GoT-broadcast-to-top-of-TPB time is counted in a couple of hours; so why do they try to push those technologies still?
The answer is probably because the main goal of DRM is to control distribution channels, not copy-prevention. Copy-prevention is a side goal.
This post of Ian is excellent to explain this.
PS: You can see me speaking of the same point, in French, in June 2013 here: http://www.acuraz.net/team-videolan-lors-de-pas-sage-en-sein...
NB: I'm not discussing here whether DRM are good or bad.
How is this, in principle, inconsistent with "helping artists live off their creations"? How IP products are sold, though what sort of channels at what prices, has to inherently be a part of that, if for no other reason than that these companies won't be sending rich royalties to artists for unsuccessful properties, they're not charities.
Which is very different than reality, of course. Don't know about the French scene besides the movies I like, but as you've probably heard, Hollywood has its own very special kind of accounting, although I suppose its stars tend to get less screwed than US recording artists.
To reify this, back in the '70s, thanks to a loophole in US law, my family (and many others) made a lot of money making unauthorized by record labels 8-track tapes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/8-track_tape).
This was legal as long as you sent the artists their royalties. BUT, the biggest relevant entity to do that through, ASCAP, absolutely refused to accept payments from my father, who on advice of his lawyer put the money in an escrow account....
The distribution of media content is controlled through very complex business agreements where the content rights owners assign licenses and limited copy rights to other organizations based on a number of factors, including time windows, geographic restrictions, device restrictions, etc. The content owners generally do not trust the distributors to enforce these restrictions; nor should they (why have 500 implementations of something when you can support 2 or 3?)
Enter DRM. When digital copies of content are given to a distributor for distribution, that content is encrypted. Usually this content must be played through a special player that contacts a DRM license server to get a decryption key. One of the things this player does is verify you have an account with rights to play the content. The company you have an account with has certain distribution rights (like the content is only licensed for playback in the UK before December 1, 2014), so the player then checks your location through some mechanism (GPS, geolocation, etc) and the date before decrypting and playing the content. If it's after December 1 or you're outside the UK, it won't play back.
Because the player has to be trusted to enforce these restrictions, that rules out any sort of open source player. Even if the default distribution of the player enforced the rules, it would be trivial to modify it and remove this enforcement mechanism. Hence why DRM is so despised by the open source crowd.
For better or for worse, these types of distribution agreements are fundamental to how the media industry works. Sometimes rights will get passed along two or three times before they actually make it into the hands of the consumer (e.g. a studio licenses their US movie distribution to Disney, who then licenses a subset of films to Epix, who then licenses a subset of those to Amazon, but only in a certain window). It's likely not changing any time soon because as you said, it makes the owners of this IP a lot of money.
DRM can be broken relatively easily if piracy is your goal; but the real goal of DRM is to provide content owners control over legal distribution channels.
They are not fundamental at all. They are PRed as such. Yet, counter examples of DRM-free distribution disprove any need for them.
> It's likely not changing any time soon because as you said, it makes the owners of this IP a lot of money.
It can change depending on competition. Advance of crowdfunding helps artists and independent studios to release their works without involvement of thick-skulled publishers who drag this DRM insanity into the distribution. Most indie releases are DRM-free. One can ponder why that is. They also need to make money, so one can't claim they have less business sense than legacy publishers.
For example, in computer games there are more and more DRM-free releases coming out each year. And this already includes funded by publishers, and not just indie games. With more competition releasing something DRM-free, there would be more reasons for publishers to change their attitude. With movie industry that doesn't happen yet because competition is still weak. Most publishers are a tight conglomerate of related companies which follow the same policies and agree on common terms. It can be enough for one strong disruptor to break that situation.
I find the hysterical arguments against DRM hard to grasp. Accessing various types of IP content is not a human right. There is an abundance of content available in the US which is not DRM'd. It just happens to usually of low quality.
FWIW, the contribution of the artist is only a small cost of the "product" that we consume. There are many other people who work on the teams that create content, and without them it won't reach a mass market (publishers, finance, legal, marketing, logistics).
I find the arguments that somehow DRM is detrimental to the production and distribution of high quality content to be obtuse.
To take another example I am familiar with: software for audio production. Many of the best creators of such software have moved to a very annoying and powerful form of DRM: the use of a physical dongle. Most of them say that without this, they could not be in business, as the pirating of such software is rampant. The DRM doesn't stop it, it merely throws enough roadblocks in the to get a significant percentage of users to pay who otherwise wouldn't.
> Accessing various types of IP content is not a human right.
DRM interferes with various legal usage of content (fair use), especially because of anti circumvention provisions which are derivatives of DRM (like DMCA 1201). Plus DRM is always a violation of privacy and security. You need to analyze it deeper, beyond PR labels put on it by the DRM proponents.
There is no acceptable reason for DRM proponents to institute a police state approach to "protect their IP".
> I find the arguments that somehow DRM is detrimental to the production and distribution of high quality content to be obtuse.
I fully agree with that. High quality products can be and are produced and sold successfully without any DRM. And on the contrary, DRM always degrades the quality of any product because it cripples its usability.
> I am familiar with: software for audio production. Many of the best creators of such software have moved to a very annoying and powerful form of DRM: the use of a physical dongle. Most of them say that without this, they could not be in business, as the pirating of such software is rampant. The DRM doesn't stop it, it merely throws enough roadblocks in the to get a significant percentage of users to pay who otherwise wouldn't.
The pirating of such software is rampant despite any DRM they put in it (as you said yourself it doesn't stop it, and once DRM is broken - that's it, piracy ensues). So they can stop wasting their time and resources on putting that DRM there, and instead of crippling the product for paying customers reallocate efforts to making their product more attractive for them.
I'm simply discussing this because I know the market, but it's a clear case of developers using DRM to minimize piracy, not to control the distribution channel.
The product is attractive to them already, they are illegally downloading it for use already. By making it more attractive do you mean lower their price to compete with piracy? Hard to stay in business when you compete with illegal free copies of your software.
In this sense, nothing is a "human right" per se, not even not being murdered.
Human rights are what we define them to be.
Now you might change your argument to "it's not a serious enough right".
But in that case, I'd argue that the issue of open access to cultural artifacts, even if it's Ben Stiller and not Plato or the Principia Mathematica, is quite serious matter.
if Plato were DRM-ed, the license servers would probably be not available today, and thus the Plato itself. In that regard DRM to today's cultural artifacts is like Alexandria library fire to the artifacts of ancients.
there is significant difference - knowing the format (or even just basic principles of the format like in case of compression) one can restore the content ( http://www.cs.huji.ac.il/~springer/DigitalNeedle/ ), while in DRM case knowing format isn't enough. Another illustration - one can apply some analysis and probably read lost ancient language texts while it is fundamentally different from reading cyphertext even in known language. I.e. DRM is intentionally and explicitly converts "information" into highest entropy content, i.e. "erases" the "information". Basically what flame does to human artifacts.
Plus, there are formats that would be able to be read a trillion years for now. Plain utf-8 or ascii text for one.
I obviously fail to grasp why DRM is so bad, or its importance. I just can't fathom why everyone thinks it's so sinister. I mean, don't get me wrong, it coukd be annoying as fuck, but just don't visit that website? I don't do things that make me unhappy.
Also, the point some people are making about distribution channels, I would like to point out that we, people who frequent HN, are sometimes too idealistic, which is good, but can be a fallacy sometimes (at least I belive so).
Imagine you're Paramount, you spent years working on a movie, and you want the product of your hard labour (and that of thousands of your employees, probably) to be distributed the way you want and how you want it. I think that's fair. Yes, there's still gonna be piracy (and I thank God for that), but DRM gives them that option to protect themselves against it, if only at least legally. If someone is so horrendously against DRM, then they don't have to watch your movie? I find the whole affair as simple as that.
And like this:
But that's the result, not the reason why it's sinister. It's sinister because it shifts from presumption of innocence to police state method of "all guilty by default". Like the Sony exec quoted in the first link above expressed it:
>>> The industry will take whatever steps it needs to protect itself and protect its revenue streams... It will not lose that revenue stream, no matter what... Sony is going to take aggressive steps to stop this. We will develop technology that transcends the individual user. We will firewall Napster at source - we will block it at your cable company. We will block it at your phone company. We will block it at your ISP. We will firewall it at your PC... These strategies are being aggressively pursued because there is simply too much at stake.
And in practice it's always bad because it's not a theoretical "protection of content", but something actual running in your private digital space (your computer, your OS, your program), with the sole purpose of not trusting you and doing whatever (you usually have no clue what - DRM is a black box). Something not trusting you should be not trusted in return - i.e. always treated as potential malware.
Indies don't make nearly as much money as studio titles, nor do they have such a huge investment on the line. Consider that for something like a new superhero movie, the production costs are easily >$100 million and marketing costs are about the same (a 50:50 ratio of production to marketing investment turns out to produce the optimal return, based on empirical measurements). $200 million and up is a lot of money, so films like this are largely financed by presale agreements with distributors. Yes, this can be offset by stars taking a profit share instead of up-front payment and by wealthy investors with deep pockets - but there are limits to both approaches, and neither is sufficient for really expensive projects of the kind the public has come to expect.
Of course things like Kickstarter and so on are great and will continue to gain in importance. However, they are much ,much better for established media properties (eg cancelled cult TV shows with an existing fan base, or projects by existing celebrities in other media, like if Justin Bieber decided to start making movies) than they are for innovative products (with new actors/ directors/ writers/ characters).
No doubt it will continue to grow and before the end of the decade a crowdfunded project by a bunch of unknowns will turn into a monster runaway cinema hit. But then it will revert to the mean. Anyone who is a filmmaker is familiar with the 'first time director X made a hit movie with a tiny budget of $Y' story. Blair Witch Project! El Mariachi! Primer! We love stories like this but there are a few things to bear in mind. First, the low-budget figure is not what it cost for you, the consumer, to see it, but what it cost to get it in front of a studio executive who OKed spending the money on making it market-ready. Second, it's untrue because there was a list of free stuff as long as your arm in the way of donations from friends of favors owed or suchlike, that most people don't have access to. Third, there were hidden costs in time or lost production quality. And fourth, and by far the most important, only one film every few years out of many thousands made every year hits a sweet spot and recoups some very large multiple of its original budget. It's like getting a royal flush in poker, or successfully splitting your blackjack hand multiple times: it's always a possibility, you could hit an enormous jackpot if you succeed, but odds are that you won't.
To paraphrase the famous Dov Simens, that's why they call it 'show business' and not 'show luck.' The business model is that you make an entertaining movie that people want to watch, movie theater owners rent it from you in order to rent out seats and sell expensive snacks, and then later streamers rent it from you and a you make some additional money on hard copies. (There's whole additional business model built around merchandise/franchise income like toys and theme park rides, but those are generally limited to family-friendly sci-fi and fantasy films with vast marketing budgets.) You can't run a business around the idea of producing surprise movie hits on a shoestring. You build one around the idea of being able to reliably pick projects with commercial potential and reliably match your investment with the profit potential. Essentially it's fund management in a market where many of the producers and consumers behave irrationally and unpredictably. If you want to do big deals, then you need to be able to sell the film before it gets made. Publishers are hard-headed about these things not because they are stupid, but because the alternative is losing a ton of other people's money and having to exit the industry in fairly short order.
So there's more DRM-free content every year, yippee. That's wonderful. It's wonderful in the same way that you can get better digital cameras for less every year and so on. But tell me what fraction of industry revenues this content accounts for, and what the economic inputs and outputs are. It's great to see Louis CK put out DRM-free editions of his stand-up performance, but his downside risk on that was maybe $10,000, $25,000 at most. Plus he was already famous. It's great that Veronica Mars raised $5.7 million on Kickstarter, but it only made 2/3 of that back at the box office although I anticipate it will break even by the end of its second financial year. And again, that was from a base of a multi-awarded hit cable show that ran for 3 years and had already had several million invested in it. Kickstarter works extremely well if you already have a franchise to leverage, because the marginal cost to the fan-investors of backing the project is pretty low relative to the opportunity-cost value of the time they have already invested in the franchise. But if you don't already have a brand, it's a very different situation.
I've brought this up again and again on DRM-related threads here. Publishers don't want to make consumers' lives difficult or prevent you from enjoying yourself - that's a juvenile and inaccurate picture. They're businesses that compete intensively against each other and launch a large number of extremely high-risk products each year, many of which never break even. The portion of the public that goes out and expends effort to discover artistic quality is tiny. Most people want to be entertained - and given that the #1 whine about DRM is the 'inconvenience' it imposes on consumers (eg the original article's complaint that having to stop the movie so one family member can let the cat out is an unacceptable loss of enjoyment), I'm pretty sure that the anti-DRM lobby is not champing at the collective bit to free starving artists held hostage by studios, but rather to watch more or less the same expensively-produced and marketed blockbuster entertainment as everyone else in their demographic cohort.
> Publishers don't want to make consumers' lives difficult or prevent you from enjoying yourself
They obviously want that. Since they use DRM which doesn't affect pirates but affects those who buy stuff. So the obvious conclusion is that either publishers are morons, or they want to insult all their users, or they use DRM for completely unrelated sinister purposes.
What I meant above about competition is simple - the more successful DRM free projects there are, the easier it is to disprove that DRM is needed. The size of the budget is completely irrelevant to the fact that DRM is ineffective against piracy. It equally applies to a low budget or big budget project which spends millions on marketing.
Of course we are talking about publishers which are just clueless. Those who use DRM for side purposes won't care since they have other goals. Those will be forced by hard competition only. I.e. imagine a big publisher coming which doesn't want to be a part of their cartel and makes DRM-free releases. Many would prefer that, and it can force other publishers to drop their crooked reasons when they'll start losing profit.
> It's great that Veronica Mars raised $5.7 million on Kickstarter
That's a bad example. WB didn't allow it to come out DRM-free despite it being crowdfunded. It should be a lesson not to trust these backwards thinking publishers ever.
You keep looking at it as consumers v producers in a zero sum game. This is a wholly inaccurate model. distribution is a business fundamental for reasons that I've explained above. In fact, it's a legal fundamental as well, because thanks to antitrust laws in the US film studios are prohibited from owning distribution channels like chains of cinemas
It's a great example of the reality of film industry economics, even though it doesn't support your point. So what if they didn't let it come out DRM-free? Are you saying it would have been a runaway hit otherwise? No chance. At that, they gave refunds to annoyed customers who had problems with the Flixster purchase. If you think that the mediocre sales are the result of DRM you're looking at it from inside a bubble.
First, backers of the movie were entitled to a digital download as part of the Kickstarter reward. they didn't like Flixter, so WB issued refunds to people who had filed a support ticket, allowing them to download it via more popular outlets like iTunes or Amazon. This had zero effect on buyers who downloaded through those two main platforms. It may have deterred some potential online purchasers, but not many, I don't think.
As a rule of thumb, about 30-35% of respondents in surveys cite DRM policy as a major influence on buying decisions, in fields from e-books to videogames. As a second rule of thumb, home viewing revenue is about 50% of theatrical box office. (I'd have to write a few thousand words to fully describe sales channels and common deal structures in the industry. studios are very tight-lipped about the terms of individual deals, because that's very valuable commercial information, but we can also rely on the aggregate sums shown on tax returns and compare them with known box-office revenue, historical models, and so on. I'll skip the in-depth explanation and a raft of citations if you're OK with that; I have no reason to mislead you about this). So we can figure that potential lost sales from WB's DRM policy - which they are likely contractually obliged to stick to anyway - is about 1/6th of box office. Let's be generous and say it's 20% due to the extra publicity. It would actually be a lot less since core fans who were Kickstarter backers got digital copies and would not have had any incentive to purchase them separately absent DRM, but let's leave that aside.
Now, VM had production (including marketing) costs of ~$5.7 million. Box office revenue after 6 weeks in about 300 theaters is $3.3m, plus a few hundred thousand $ for worldwide (unsurprisingly low, given the limited international audience for the TV show). That's pretty bad from the studio's point of view. The studio (qua publisher) gets ~50% of the box office, so to break even the film needed to make $12m. Of course, the upside is that Kickstarter backers wanted a Veronica Mars movie more than they wanted financial profit, so Warner Brothers hasn't actually lost any money, but that's beside the point here. If we take our guess above that 20% of potential home viewer revenue was lost due to anti-DRM sentiment, that's about $700,000 at the very most.
Those will be forced by hard competition only. I.e. imagine a big publisher coming which doesn't want to be a part of their cartel and makes DRM-free releases. Many would prefer that, and it can force other publishers to drop their crooked reasons when they'll start losing profit.
Jeepers, biased much? Look, that's not going to make any difference because audiences don't go out saying things like 'let's go watch a Paramount film tonight' or '20th century Fox is my preferred studio.' Marvel, Disney and Pixar are unusual because they have such strong brands, but they operate within pretty narrow market/genre parameters. Film products are not easily substitutable, so your basic supply-and-demand model isn't applicable here because we're not talking about commodities.
Here's an alternative scenario: a big studio decides to do DRM-free releases, and its domestic and overseas distribution network cuts presale revenue offers by half. The upside potential is maybe 11-12%. The downside potential is not being able to take large projects into production because you either can't raise sufficient funding or you can't get a financial institution to provide bridge financing or issue a completion bond (which is essentially production insurance).
I'm sorry, but you seem to view studios like cartoon villains twirling their mustachios as they sit on top of piles of ill-gotten loot. The reality of film financing is that it involves large numbers of stakeholders in a very high-risk market requiring extremely conservative contractual arrangements. From the distributor's point of view, they have little incentive to pay large sums of money to a studio or production company that won't guarantee them exclusive rights within a particular territory. After all, the distributor isn't likely to capture any of the extra revenue from DRM-free digital copies.
So, it means they lie when they insist that DRM is about piracy. And if they lie about this, they can lie about whatever else it is for. So it's logical to assume it's something bad. The unethical nature of DRM and its derivatives like DMCA-1201 which are forced on people through undemocratic means only prove the point that intentions behind it are never good.
> It's a great example of the reality of film industry economics
I meant it's a bad example of competition that can be used as a case study. Because it didn't turn out to be DRM-free despite being crowdfunded. My point above was not to debate the benefits or downsides of crowdfunding vs. publisher funded production but to say that successful DRM-free examples provide practical ways to demonstrate that DRM is not needed. So Veronica Mars is not relevant to the subject at hand.
> First, backers of the movie were entitled to a digital download as part of the Kickstarter reward.
They made a mistake of assuming it means what any normal person would expect - a DRM-free video file. Not some DRM Flixter garbage. Their second mistake was trusting WB to act decently like many other authors of the crowdfunded projects who release their works DRM-free. But WB is WB. They had to know better that if the pledge never said "DRM-free" explicitly, they were risking never to get it.
> As a rule of thumb, about 30-35% of respondents in surveys cite DRM policy as a major influence on buying decisions, in fields from e-books to videogames.
Very interesting, good to know. Do you have any links to such surveys?
> Here's an alternative scenario: a big studio decides to do DRM-free releases, and its domestic and overseas distribution network cuts presale revenue offers by half.
What does the network care? Network is the middleman, not the owner of the IP. According to Netflix for example, they don't care about DRM and wouldn't use it if not for publishers' demands (I don't believe them though, since they have some content which they own, and it's not available DRM-free either). So why would distributors care about DRM? Usually they blame all that on the publishers, not the other way around.
And if some distributors want exclusivity - they can get it. They can agree that the publisher will sell that content only through their channel. What does it have to do with requiring DRM? Same thing can happen with a DRM free release.
Here are some papers examining the issue through surveys: http://www.mtm.uni-koeln.de/team-loebbecke-publications-conf... http://people.cs.uct.ac.za/~aarnab/drm/papers/survey.pdf http://www.nclnet.org/images/PDF/ncl_dvdsurvey_report_040620... http://www.mirlabs.org/iasl/volume_1/IASL_Vol_1_Paper_12.pdf http://beta.orionshoulders.com/Resources/articles/26_22273_I... (last one only for statistical masochists)
No it can't, what are you smoking? Are you going to put up money to buy territorial rights for content which the publisher is going to give away DRM-free? Of course not, there's a high risk that you'd never recoup your investment. Territorial markets matter a lot, because those block sales represent the production's best hope of breaking even. All those markets are different, which is why distributors exist in the first place; they know their local markets better than any individual studio or producer can, and they have the cash flow to write a check based on the budget and the quality of the cast attached to the project.
This is how most commercial movies get financed: a large chunk of the budget is ponied up in advance by the international distributors. In turn, they have some control over the release window (which varies by country for all but the most giant projects, because every country is different with different holiday weekends etc. which are more important to consumers than all but the very biggest movie releases), and they impose touch contractual requirements on the studios. This is a completely different market from Netflix. When Netflix licenses something, they (in most cases) already know how it performed and can negotiate the cost of the license based on that date. International distributors are taking much larger financial risks at a much earlier stage of the business cycle. They're like VCs, not simple retailers.
I don't mean to be rude, but you're making these breezy and uninformed statements about a ~$35 billion industry that's been running for over a century and is one of the most competitive and meritocratic sectors of the economy. You keep saying how stupid the people at the studios are, and yet you obviously don't know the first thing about how the industry functions.
Some mention the same idea I brought above:
> DRM systems were widely resisted by many other
interviewees. They were quite openly considered rather as a cause to piracy than a tool to inhibit it.
DRM, on the other hand, causes the most inconvenience for customers, and little to none for pirates.
Digital content is easily duplicatable. When DRM is broken, pirates redistribute it to all others without limit. In the bank analogy (to make it comparable), it's like becoming an infinite fake bank, so all subsequent criminals don't need to rob the original bank anymore, but can take from that secondary source as much as they want to. That's exactly what makes DRM completely irrelevant in reducing piracy.
You said it's economics, yet your comparison doesn't make any sense economically. Banks analogy is not similar at all. The fact that DRM can be broken makes it completely irrelevant because of the nature of the digital space. Once it's broken, duplicates of DRM-free pirated material are shared ever since. Purpose defeated. As Cory Doctorow often points out, one of the core mistakes of DRM proponents is trying to measure the realities of the digital world applying the physical world logic.
Anyway, I thought we already agreed above that DRM is not used for the purposes of preventing piracy. So why are you going back to it?
> Are you going to put up money to buy territorial rights for content which the publisher is going to give away DRM-free? Of course not
You still didn't explain why. DRM has no effect on piracy. Content with DRM which the publisher A agreed to sell through distributor B will be pirated the moment it will appear from B. So, why can't that agreement involve DRM-free content? The result (piracy wise) won't be worse.
> there's a high risk that you'd never recoup your investment.
How is that risk high when there is no DRM, and low when there is one? I don't see any connection between DRM and risk. It's like saying that sailing on a ship with broken lifeboat which is beyond repair has less risk than sailing on a ship without one. Risks are the same because the lifeboat is irrelevant (in our case that's DRM).
> All those markets are different, which is why distributors exist in the first place; they know their local markets better than any individual studio or producer can, and they have the cash flow to write a check based on the budget and the quality of the cast attached to the project.
That's fine, but again, what does it have to do with requiring DRM? With all your attempts to explain why publishers or distributors might require DRM, you still didn't provide any sensible reason for the root cause of requiring it so far. I get the reason of "We need DRM because the other side requires it", even though it's a bad justification. But I'm asking about the root. I.e. who requires it first. Publisher? Distributor? We already agreed that it's not because of piracy. So why can't they drop DRM from all this then?
It's very similar, because of the abstract nature of money. Think about it.
You keep offering your premise 'DRM has no effect on piracy because it be broken' - as an argument, but it's only your opinion, not a fact. You don't put up with DRM because it's technically easy for your to circumvent, but a lot of people do and are even willing to forego consuming something until it becomes affordable or accessible. By your logic, DVD sales and streaming revenue should already be zero because pirated versions are available. Since people are clearly still willing to pay for these products and services, how do you explain that?
We already agreed that it's not because of piracy. So why can't they drop DRM from all this then?
You keep saying this, but I don't agree with it. DRM makes piracy more difficult, which imposes a delay on the time between release and the availability of pirated versions; it limits piracy to those who know how to break the DRM, making it easier to identify vectors of piracy; it distinguishes pirated from non-pirated content and so has an evidentiary function in copyright infringement cases.
It also provides a way of tracking distributors' activity and preserving publishers' options to serve media to new channels on a timescale of their choosing, allowing them to figure out how to market it, package it, and charge for it, which are reasonable sorrt of things for businesses to want to do.
I'm not going to keep up with his conversation if you just keep repeating your own opinion over and over and trating it as fact. It isn't.
Sorry, but you are wrong. It's not an opinion, but fact which can be demonstrated by observing how fast pirated materials with DRM stripped off appear after DRM-ed releases come out. Q.E.D. DRM never deters piracy. And as you said, dropping DRM can gain as much as 1/3 of sales which are otherwise lost due to users opposing it. So not dropping DRM is simply insane from any business standpoint.
> You don't put up with DRM because it's technically easy for your to circumvent, but a lot of people do and are even willing to forego consuming something until it becomes affordable or accessible.
No, you didn't get what I was saying. That's not how it works. It works like this:
1. DRM-ed release comes out.
2. A few pirates who know how to break DRM break it and make the content available DRM-free to other pirates.
3. Any subsequent pirate who is interested in that content takes it from that DRM-free pirate source never dealing with any DRM.
4. Legitimate users on the other hand are left to deal with DRM junk.
That's it. I'm perplexed that so many people don't get this.
> By your logic, DVD sales and streaming revenue should already be zero because pirated versions are available.
No, not all people are pirates. However dropping DRM will turn part of the current pirates into paying customers increasing current sales of the same content. Plus it will gain sales from those who aren't pirates but simply oppose DRM. Total gain overall.
History tells another story, look at what Sony did last decade. Unless, of course, you consider installing a rootkit on Windows w/o users' consent that actually benefits the customers.
The main problem with DRM is that aside propaganda it serves no purpose as it can be worked around.
DRM for PC games has always been an iffy proposition anyway. It's just too hard to enforce and too easy to crack since you can just access the program on the stack and remove the DRM checks. This is harder to do on more secure platforms like mobile or consoles; which is where much of the media consumption has headed.
I didn't understand that. What does "protect the media" mean if it's not about piracy?
It's less about people using VPNs or downloading torrents -- you can't stop that as easily. But the legal distribution methods have to make an honest attempt at ensuring the contractual restrictions are honored or else they become meaningless.
I'm not arguing that these geographic or windowing restrictions are a good thing -- just that they're a thing and they have value in a contract that companies want to protect. The pirates aren't the issue here -- the competition is.
Does it make it back to artists? Stronger control of distribution channels would increase power of the distributors. Which I think would make it easier for them to minimize artist payouts. The monopsony equivalent of an oligopoly, whatever that's called.
An example that springs to mind is music. In 1994, Steve Albini wrote a legendary breakdown of how much it sucked for artists . He recently said that the Internet's open distribution has greatly reduced their power. 
In principle, it's not.
The point was that I prefer when things are correctly labeled and explained to people, for them to choose.
Eh? What loophole was that? The Wikipedia article doesn't mention it.
This was big enough to be covered in US News and World Report, the general weekly news magazine my parents subscribed to back then (competitor with Time and Newsweek). Time period would be in the early to mid-'70, or at least that's when my family started doing this for a few years.
And to that end- that is the legitimate, marketable feature of DRM. As far as consumers are concerned, thats what it buys them- it allows the producers of the content to retain some control, live off of their art, and continue producing.
How would content producers possibly deter copying without exerting control on the consumption hardware and software? The only answer there is standardized DRM.
So HTML5 DRM seems to be the only solution which meets the consumer need (artists getting paid), and avoids the commercial control over your hardware and software.
Except that it's not legitimate. First of all as the post above implied, DRM simply doesn't advance the goal of "living off one's art" in any way. Or to put it in business terms, DRM doesn't increase sales (because it doesn't reduce piracy). I'd even say it decreases sales because some users avoid DRMed products and it as well increases piracy (because some pirates see breaking DRM as sport - i.e. they are more likely to direct their attention to a DRMed product to pirate it, rather than to a DRM-free one).
Plus, it's not legitimate to employ overreaching preemptive policing justified by "need to live off one's art". Same way it's not legitimate to violate everyone's privacy by installing police cameras in people's houses as a preemptive measure against crime.
> How would content producers possibly deter copying without exerting control on the consumption hardware and software?
They can't deter it. They can reduce it (i.e. turn part of the pirates into paying customers). The way to do it is old and well known, yet many fail to remember it - treat customers with respect (and not as criminals by default). Establish more direct relation with your users, don't be a jerk, be user friendly and so on. People appreciate services which are explicitly DRM-free. On the other hand, paranoid attempts to "deter all copying" result in treating all customers as criminals by default, which turns many of them into pirates (i.e. serves exactly the opposite purpose).
For some reason not being a jerk and being user friendly is a novel idea for many legacy publishers which they find hard to digest. Independent studios get it way better.
I can't tell you how much I agree with you.
I'm puzzled that so many people find this idea surprising. It's already proven to work. Of course, it doesn't work if your goal is to get rich, and it doesn't work for faceless corporations.
And I wouldn't consider standardized DRM "overreaching preemptive policing". Compare that to the existing legal consumption options and you'll realize that this "policing" has been happening all along.
Look, its great to say that everybody should be nice, but you've got to realize that this existing control is the backbone of the big media industry. Without DRM and the control it ensures, there is no way to ensure advertisments get watched. The ability to track the success of an ad would be lost. As it stands, media consumption is very easy for the industry to monitor and control. This is a huge industry with enormous power- why would they give that up over some upset rights activists?
I'm all with you when it comes to indie studios. If the non-DRM party is going to win, its going to be with our wallets. I'd love to see more indie video and music. Maybe new non-DRM offerings will win out, as we are starting to see in the game industry.
tldr: At the end of the day, if you want to consume mainstream media, you've got to put up with the mainstream consumption hardware/software.
I don't put up with it, and hence have chosen to avoid devices which would impose DRM on me.
I'm a voracious reader. Several of my friends have asked why I don't have a kindle, and the answer is simple. Kindle may be the best reader right now, but unless I can freely move any books bought for it to another device down the road, I will REFUSE to pay the prices of e-books.
If I can not move it the same way I can move a physical book, I haven't bought it. Therefore, I will not pay even close to the amount of a paperback copy. Something like 30-40% of the physical copy price, at most, would be the correct range. And since I don't own it, I should expect to pay for it about the same amount I would get for it when taking it to a used book shop.
So, in reality the correct DRM'd e-book price for me would be something like 10-15% of the physical book's price. Anything more and I simply won't bother unless the book is supposedly really good. All in all, I'll rather leave the book unread for now and eventually get it for ~25% of the price second-hand.
That's a market the publishers don't make a penny on. Their loss.
I get the feeling it's the opposite. They didn't do any math and do it out of inertia or because "everyone does it", or because of the completely other and crooked reasons (like the article linked in the thread explains). DRM doesn't affect casual or non causal piracy - this was already discussed at length in the past here. Because once DRM is broken, piracy occurs using those DRM-stripped copies. I.e. it takes one pirate to break it in order for others to never deal with it. Therefore it doesn't lower piracy rate.
And I already explained how not using DRM can actually increase sales. And about DRM increasing piracy, there was an example from CD Projekt Red about their own game which they originally released with DRM (on disks) in parallel with DRM-free version (on GOG). And it was immediately pirated. But not the DRM-free version like you'd assume. It was the DRM-ed one! They said it was an interesting case study for them, which demonstrated that some pirates apparently break DRM for sport (i.e. who beats others to break DRM and pirate it). So it demonstrated for them that DRM boosted piracy. They never released games with DRM since, and advance the DRM-free distribution cause through their GOG service.
By the way, music is largely available DRM-free for quite a while already. You can buy DRM-free files on Cdbaby, Amazon or tons of other music sites. Which again demonstrates the point that DRM-free distribution works just fine.
> This is a huge industry with enormous power- why would they give that up over some upset rights activists?
That's exactly the point. DRM is all about certain control (over the market for example), but not about piracy. Surely those who have that control want to retain it. But they lie to the public claiming that DRM is used for preventing piracy, while really it's used for control. It just adds to the reasons to always oppose it.
Many who would casually pirate (or who would pirate without even realizing they were pirating) do not know about those DRM-stripped copies.
They could use the legal mechanisms that have existed in copyright law for a long time: they could find, and sue, infringers.
Part of the problem with DRM is precisely that it shifts the power to decide what infringement vs. fair use is away from the legal system, which has checks and balances and has to keep the interests of the public in mind, and toward those who control the technology. That is not an appropriate shift: copyright is a legal right to certain forms of control over work, given to creators as a compromise. It provides an incentive for them to produce that work, which is in the public interest. But how far that control extends should be a matter for the law, not media companies, to decide.
2) DRM is commercial control over hardware and software, as it's only available with "blessed" software.
That's not the only possible answer. In fact, there are already content providers (music, games) selling non-DRM'ed content. Another way of deterring copying is for the author to connect with his/her audience, participate in the community and make it morally hard for all of them to copy his work. This works and I've seen it happen. Some guys will be jerks and pirate stuff anyway (they will do this even with DRM), others will think "hey, the author is a nice person, and he/she makes something I enjoy. I'll pay for it and support him/her". This happens all the time with small-scale communities.
Of course, this requires work from the author beyond merely creating something, and it mostly works in the small scale, and he/she will probably not get insanely rich this way. But I doubt -- philosophically speaking -- that there is any inherent right to sell something in the large scale, without direct author-audience interaction, and expect police-state measures to work. I reject the assumption that everyone in the audience is a passive consumer and a thief who must be watched for their own good, and that there is no other way to handle the situation.
Imagine this fictional scenario. Copyright owners sell audio and audio/video files for download. These are without ads, trailers, DRM or other restrictions; they're high quality, complete, available right away, and in popular codecs and formats. In other words, just like Pirate Bay, but legal, and prices are very low.
What would happen if this were real? In the mad minds of the cartel, one person would buy each file, and copy for everyone else, and everyone would get the files from torrents, p2p etc..
In reality, if I'm paying Netflix rates for my files (divide say $15 over a month), and others can do the same, why would I copy it for them? They can just get their own. Moreover almost everyone would be willing to pay for their own, because they'd be getting a bargain, and on these terms they would be pleased to support the creators (who sometimes get some pennies from the middle-man companies).
If the content industry doesn't take this path, I see piracy becoming more and more mainstream. My mother (65 years old, not very geeky) pirates TV shows so she can watch them on her tablet on a plane because her Netflix subscription doesn't provide a good solution for that. How long do you think it will be before she drops Netflix because The Pirate Bay has a better user experience?
That's netowrk TV. Many of the most popular shows on paid cable TV channels. Also, those ads only generate revenue because people can't bypass them at broadcast times. Also, you're completely ignoring syndication revenues, which are often where the real money is.
My mother (65 years old, not very geeky) pirates TV shows so she can watch them on her tablet on a plane because her Netflix subscription doesn't provide a good solution for that.
I never cease to be amazed at the creativity of piracy apologists in coming up with new scenarios where piracy is the only solution. Seriously, what percentage of Netflix users are in transit without internet access so often that they're horribly underserved by the inability to pre-cache multiple TV show episodes?
It doesn't need to be the only solution. It simply needs to be the most economically viable solution to the consumer.
Joe Bloggs is an Englishman. He likes high-quality US television imports - Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, True Detective. He wants to obtain them for his viewing pleasure.
1. Go old school. pay £100-£150 for all the box-sets.
2. Go new school. Pay £7/month for Netflix (BB, HoC). Pay £30+ a month for Sky TV subscription with Sky Atlantic for the others. Plus £x, plus £y for everything else he needs - not even to mention movies, which are very inconsistent across streaming services. (I fear that we Limeys get less out of our Netflix subscriptions than you.)
3. Go illegal. Spend an upfront cost of time, electricity, bandwidth and risk of malware apocalypse/getting caught to get all this stuff on his hard drive.
Forget the morality of the issue. Never mind the legality: if Joe is a driver, it's a statistical near certainty that he speeds; if he doesn't take drugs, it's not because they're illegal. It's simple economics. If three is cheaper - in terms of time plus risk plus money - he will do number three.
As long as The Pirate Bay offers real advantages over legal services - principally, beyond the monetary price, everything you could possibly want is there in one place - then people will choose it. And just as it's unrealistic to expect media conglomerates to share the EFF's view of DRM, so it's unrealistic to expect media consumers to put up with the enormous inconveniences for the sake of some mythical starving artist grubbing away at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain.
When I am asked why I do not shop lift I say a bunch of stuff, but "it is illegal" is very far down the list.
Hypothetical-Bob does shop lift. When asked why he says a bunch of stuff, but will include some rationalisations for why this bit of illegality is okay. "At least I only rob big shops and it's all covered by insurance and huge profits" for example. His rationalisations might not be true nor even make any sense, but he believes them.
Hypothetical-Chris is a different style of thief. He burgles houses. Again, he'll justify it. "At least I'm not mugging old grannies".
Hypothetical-Dave does mug old grannies. "But I am a drug addict and I need the money And there is not treatment. At least I'm not like those scumbag paedophiles."
The illegality of an action doesn't appear to immediately affect whether someone does something or not. It does affect how sneakily they do it.
So that's the kind of attitude that many people have about piracy. But laws have longer lasting effects. They social engineer people into "acceptable" modes of behaviour. We combine advertising campaigns against drunk driving with stiff legal penalties. We back up outrage against racism with laws mandating equal pay and no workforce discrimination.
So, while DRM and anti-circumvention laws are hateful and stupid it is daft to think that they have no effect on rates of piracy.
There is very little piracy on Nintendo3DS games. This is not because people love Nintendo and want competition for Sony and Microsoft and mobile gaming. It's because the encryption has held and people who could work on breaking it don't want to risk the consequences. See the amount of piracy on regular DA or Sony PSP for examples of how rapidly people adopt piracy when it's available.
And people will pirate 99c games that have no drm.
That's also a matter of social censure though. I mean, every thread I've seen on this EME fiasco has included people looking forward to the Adobe CDM, in anticipation of its being cracked. Which is illegal.
See also people talking openly and frankly online about their usage of narcotics.
Which brings me to:
> So that's the kind of attitude that many people have about piracy. But laws have longer lasting effects. They social engineer people into "acceptable" modes of behaviour.
Again: drugs. Is taking marijuana less socially acceptable now after x decades of prohibition? No. It's completely bloody normal. And laws are slowly adjusting to the facts on the ground.
Will piracy become a big old taboo, like using child prostitutes? Will it continue to be 'normal', until anti-piracy people just give up? I don't have the faintest idea. This is going to run and run.
> So, while DRM and anti-circumvention laws are hateful and stupid it is daft to think that they have no effect on rates of piracy.
Daft indeed - everything has an effect. I'd want to see some numbers either which way.
Again: DRM has the effect, at the moment, of making it easier and cheaper to access content legally (by convincing Hollywood etc to license things to Netflix and co); but harder to use such content generally rather than under certain predefined conditions. Which one of these conditions is prevailing at the moment is a matter for statisticians and the like.
I would be surprised if Firefox's decision to implement EME mattered a hoot one way or another; DRM and non-DRM content will remain available through more or less the same channels as they were beforehand.
EDIT: on nintendo's encryption, this is (finally) some kind of concern. I notice that copy-protection is getting 'better' on certain popular music software (as well as more intrusive and annoying).
You missed the point he was making; it's still not acceptable to mug old ladies (or anyone else) to get money for drugs. Indeed, I predict that over time we'll see more and more drug use legalized, but any crimes committed under the influence of or in connection with drugs will involve substantially increased penalties, because the larger number of responsible drug consumers don't want to carry the can for people who can't or won't control their drug use and behavior.
some mythical starving artist grubbing away at the bottom of the Hollywood food chain
There are quite a lot of people, including myself, who make their living around the bottom of the Hollywood food chain. Attitudes like yours have made it incresingly difficult to launch small-budget projects of the sort that were designed to go direct to video, because ubiquitous low-cost piracy means that high-budget movies tend to crowd out low budget ones. Many world class directors, eg Martin Scorsese and James Cameron, got their start by doing low-budget exploitation pics that could be produced cheaply and sold cheaply. That market has been shrinking almost to nothing because piracy undermines not just cost structures but release windows, so in many ways it has become more difficult to bootstrap a film career than it used to be. Technology has made the process of shooting and editing a film a lot cheaper, but not across the board. Many economic inputs (like the cost of hiring locations or of feeding the cast and crew during production) cost as much or more as they always have, but it's a lot harder to raise a budget if you can't identify a predictable revenue stream.
Networks already do this on their broadcasts. Why couldn't they do it on free downloads as well? How many people are going to actively avoid the high quality, well-seeded, official download just because it has a few lower third ads?
From practical experience as an advertising buyer, I'd expect the CPM for those ads to be considerably higher than for the in-stream ads. Indeed, you'll see that most of the in-stream ads shown on network broadcasts are internal for other network shows, rather than being sold, strongly implying that the potential revenue is massively less.
As a result, just giving away free downloads with baked-in lower third ads would likely reduce the revenue from the shows being downloaded by a factor of 10 or more. That's gonna be a problem.
(Don't get me wrong - I'm not a fan of DRM at all and would love to find an equitable distribution solution to this problem. But as a professional in both the media and advertising industries, this sort of revenue generation is something I struggle with myself, and I know it's a non-trivial problem to solve.)
Of course, a Ferrari is a physical thing. But every Ferrar sitting in a showroom is one that nobody has been willing to pay for yet. Does that mean you should be able to take it for a ride when the dealership closes at night as long as you have it back there by opening time the following day (ignoring depreciation)?
Copyright law was, until quite recently about granting a monopoly on the large-scale or commercial use of a work. At-home copying for personal use was generally legal - even explicitly protected by law in some cases. Same with multiplexing video on different screens, creating backups and skipping commercials.
DRM and legal provisions forbidding its circumvention change the rules quite a bit, stripping away significant rights from consumers. Losing rights one once had might well be grounds for a feeling of entitlement.
If you speak about DRM-for-copy-prevention to people in the street, a lot of them consider it as a 'necessary evil' because 'the artists need to live of their work'.
When you know more about DRM, you usually have stronger arguments against, of course.
I'm willing to believe that DRM doesn't further the interest of society, but evil? I don't think you can say that considering the real evil that exists in the world.
How would you call something like this for example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony_rootkit
I know it's wishful thinking however ironically I predict that content creators would experience an increase in sales since giving up control means that companies are given freedom to integrate all entertainment devices together and make them work more elegantly possibly offering something piracy might not be able to offer or has offered for a long time and legitimate sources just couldn't match it.
It's a interesting idea that companies are very uncomfortable in exploring even though a very similar idea lead to the creation of the internet.
While I personally support many copyright reforms, chief among them is that any work that is DRMed should be exempt from copyright protection.
They should be forced to choose which they want, and not be allowed both. When they DRM a work, they're stealing from the future public domain... this has already happened, and the problem will only grow bigger.
Right now, there exists media that cannot be recovered because of DRM. It's the Divx optical disc format from about 1999. Everything released on that format was released on others as well, so thankfully all of it is recoverable. But if there were works that could only be found on that (which is very plausible, considering that many older works exist only on some surviving piece of a single format)... then the crypto keys to recover them are already gone.
Since the entire point of copyright is that you only get this protection so that the work may eventually enter the public domain, and since DRM will someday serve to make that impossible, no work that employs it should enjoy copyright protection.
I've never heard that described as the purpose of copyright law. Why would it be? In the absence of copyright law, all works would effectively be in the public domain.
I believe you're thinking of patent law. To get a patent, you have to release the details of your invention, which you could keep private otherwise. There's nothing equivalent with copyright law.
It's funny, when they passed the Copyright Term Extension Act the opponents of the bill literally argued to congress that it was killing the American philosophy that the purpose of copyright is to encourage the creation of works that eventually fall into the public domain.
In the United States, Copyright and Patent law derive from the "Copyright Clause" of the Constitution:
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,
by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors
the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and
If it wasn't already, the CTEA turned the length of copyright protection into a function of the American movie and music industries ability to lobby congress with sob stories. I'm not even trying to be snide towards congress with that remark, ask anyone in IP law what they think will happen next time Steamboat Willy is set to drop into the public domain.
That's because those who benefit from it don't want you to know the original purpose.
If that's not the purpose, why even have copyright at all? It's strictly a rent-seeking behavior.
> I believe you're thinking of patent law.
Copyrights were originally for a term of 14 years... the same as patents. I'm not confused about them.
> There's nothing equivalent with copyright law.
These are referenced in the US Constitution itself. And yet you're apparently ignorant of the purpose behind them. Why do you think copyright exists? So that random assholes can stake out some arbitrary permutation of ideaspace and collect tolls til the end of eternity?
They included it so that creative people would be encouraged to create works that would eventually enter the public domain.
To encourage creative works. This may or may not lead to expanding the public domain, but those are not equivalent.
>These are referenced in the US Constitution itself.
The constitution references encouraging creativity. It does not reference expanding the public domain.
Then you shut down the servers. Where does the crypto key end up? Who the hell knows. The servers get traded around by whatever company takes possession of the assets, and servers have a short useful life. Probably sent for recycling.
The people who used to work for the company go on to other jobs. Whatever backups they made while working there get put in storage somewhere, to be forgotten, or to be thrown out and buried in a landfill.
And boom! DivX discs (not to be confused with the codec of the same name) are unplayable.
It's probably some half-ass design, and if anyone clever wanted to break it they probably could. But that is of course illegal according to the DMCA, and doesn't really rebut the argument that DRM locks up works that would eventually fall into the public domain otherwise.
A perfect uncrackBle DRM would still serve the same purpose.
Moreover, the iPod most likely would have never been invented. How about that for killing innovation?
I don't think it's DRM itself killing innovation but the overuse of the actual "control over software and hardware providers".
What makes products like the iPod or Netflix successful, despite their use of DRMs, is their simplicity and accessibility among other things. Netflix is trying hard to negotiate for more content, but I think content providers are killing innovation mainly by not allowing initiatives like Netflix to have all the content in one place. We need a Spotify (i.e. most of the content available) for movies...
If you don't recall PalmOS, the major user interface was a resistive touch screen (160x160 mono ranging up to 320x320 16K color) and a stylus, with no keyboard on most models. The keyboard lack was countered by a handwriting recognition system that took a very low-CPU power approach: Graffiti has its own gesture alphabet, which takes an hour or two to learn. By specifying the way every letter had to be drawn, and specifying where on the screen it would be recognized, a Motorola 68K was acceptable, and a 300MHz low-end ARM felt snappy.
PalmOS had a database format which lives on to this day as part of the Mobi ebook file spec.
It may have taken a bit longer, but I think the mainstream popularity of smartphones was inevitable.
I don't. I'm not a fan of Apple, but they really transformed our conception of a smartphone and made them a desirable device for the mass market. As I'm sure you know, early versions of Android looked nothing like it did once the iPhone was revealed. Even relatively modern smartphone platforms like WebOS completely failed to resonate with the public.
Sure, none of them are made by the mainstream brands that the entertainment industry has a hold over, but that was the same for MP3 players before Apple made its move. (And a bold move it was, because everybody knew the only thin iPods were being used for is to play "illegally" obtained content.)
Also, DRM is merely a weapon. Copyright is the killer.
DRM allows rights holders to create and "monetize" new "rights" outside the legislative process. Copyright law (in the United States, at least) allows for "fair use", but the DMCA criminalization of "circumvention devices" creates a method to eliminate fair use rights via technology. Once DRM is legally protected rights holders can go wild using DRM to, effectively, make up new laws.
A work with DRM attached can't be Copyrighted. Copyright is a bargain between the demos and the creators of artistic works. In that bargain the creators get protection from the state for their monopolistic exploitation of a work on the proviso that the work then enters the public domain after a "limited" time.
Now distribution companies and purchasers of copyrights and employers of copyright creators have managed to erode the limitation of that period to a great extent but the limitation still holds. Ergo, works must enter the Public Domain when the term expires.
Works with DRM can not [properly] do this. Not in any way as might analogise that imagined by those creating copyright laws initially. The work must be free to be used in any way the public sees fit (except perhaps those that contravene moral rights, I'd personally extend some moral rights in perpetuity - eg right to be acknowledged as creator of a work).
Copyright law should punish those that forcibly rest fair use (or fair dealing as we get in the UK) from the public and no protection should be offered by the state for works that can't be guaranteed to enter the public domain (eg by deposition of non-DRM in an archive to which the rights holder that chooses DRM pays a fee for maintenance).
Copyright law is a deal that has been broken. Too much power has been ceded by politicians to the media conglomerates on the public's behalf and without proper warrant.
My iPhone can play any video encoded in the right formats using the Videos app. It can also run VLC. A wide variety of main stream BluRay players support DLNA and media via usb.
Copyright being a killer kind of overlooks why we have copyright to begin with. I make movie, I get some limited powers to determine who can and can not distribute my work and how it's used. If I make a movie, you don't have the right to make a buck off my work with out my say so. Do you have ANY idea why that's kind of inherently unfair?
Also, if I don't want my work used to sell cigarettes or used to stump for some political candidate, then that should be my right.
That's not to say copyright reform isn't needed, or that copyright holders don't have disproportional bipartisan political influence or any number of things. However, as a leading issue of our time, it's somewhere near, "Are there too many Buicks on the road?" Fixing or repealing the DMCA is relatively easy. There are many issues that I can think of that just aren't.
Panasonic Viera E5 can play .MKV files used very commonly by pirates.
Anyway, I recall that Sony had a brief attempt at CD DRM and it turned into a fiasco for them.
Somehow people are more okay with paying an ongoing fee for software or some perceived notion of services, but that same does't yet apply to content in a larger way. The closest equivalent is probably the cable companies and they are taking their huge sums of money and are buying the media companies, so maybe eventually there will be just a flat $100/month fee for experiencing a company's content on whatever device/experience it's available on. Maybe even movie theaters.
In the next 10-20 years, as physical media grows less and less common, we will surely see legislation and/or judicial rulings that treat digital property as actual property. There's room for actual services like Spotify or Netflix, but being able to have your own copy of something is so important.
"Surely"? Maybe if congress and judges held consumers' best interest at heart instead of the content holders..
I think it's pretty simple to see why this is: Once created (digital) content is inert and doesn't really require any ongoing maintenance as such. Software always requires some sort of ongoing maintenance.
And none of that would be possible with DRM.
Conclusion: >90% of the value fot audiences lies in the original source material rather than his enjoyable remixes of same.
Indeed, these costs are artificially imposed by the streaming model which is used, despite its inefficiency, to control consumption.
Well, that's a strange statement. The computers and internet connections (and time) used for piracy are not free. And the costs of pirating/torrenting/peering this content are offset by the savings of the pirates/peers not paying for the content itself....
Yes, but you still have to pay for those if you stream the content. It seems rather dubious to suggest the streaming infrastructure is "necessary", when apparently pirates can distribute fine without it.
Time used to be a factor, but with things like Popcorn Time starting to appear, piracy is approaching the usability of legal streaming services.
However, IMO it's still not good enough: Netflix is simple and very accessible, but not enough (recent) content. Because content providers are abusing DRM and it's purpose.
Which I'm sure is not the intention.
Say I can't copy-and-paste a section from an eBook or run it through a speech reader? Tell me I can't skip the trailers before watching the DVD I have paid for? No. Fuck you. Bullshit like that is a red rag to a bull - you just created an army of people who'll bust off your "rights management" just to show you how wrong you are, and that YOU DO NOT GET TO DECIDE how people consume the things they own.
Sorry and all. But that's how it is.
Of course there are counter examples, like you mention, but what scares me about DRM is how if it's done right, nobody will mind DRM at first because it's better than the old way of doing things. Then one day, we all wake up and realize that we've been tricked because we are locked in and can't change.
Today, we all love Netflix, but I wonder what the experience will be once disks have vanished and their growth slows. At that point will we experience FBI warnings, forced ads & trailers?
Most people there own a BluRay of the movie, but we're still using the torrents or video streams for all kind of remixing or for watching them together because we don't have to care about the DRM this way.
Most people only buy the BluRay to give Disney further reason to produce a second movie – so more like you'd donate to an OpenSource project.
The last e-reader I bought four years ago was cheap, with atrocious touch screen response, but it would display my PDFs. After it broke, I just went back to my laptop. If someone would like to recommend something, I'd appreciate it. Something with the physical traits of an e-ink Kindle without the 1984 ecosystem.
Although the tool he uses isn't the most usable thing.
Is there some new restriction on the newer models?
The real question is what we can do to fight DRM. The only real option is to push back against the companies that promote it. For EME, the current DRM in the news, the relevant companies are Google, Microsoft and Netflix.
It's all well and good to talk about how DRM is pointless. Of course it is pointless. But unless we actually push back against those companies, DRM will continue to win.
The best way to hit them is to hit them in the wallet, which means pirating on principle. Don't buy DVDs or BluRays, cancel cable, Netflix etc., learn about alternatives like TPB and PopcornTime and teach others about them. Every cent you spend for Hollywood's products is used to sponsor DRM, and things like the DMCA on a political level, so make sure they don't get a single cent from you.
While this may sound like a David-against-Goliath effort, keep in mind that pirating content has an intrinsic value proposition (maximum usability, zero cost, no censorship) which can never be exceeded by DRM offerings. So it isn't difficult to convince anyone to pirate instead of buying, you just have to show them how ;)
What we must get rid of is the (content-industry sponsored) notion that piracy is somehow immoral. It isn't. Trying to take away the rights of users just because they don't go along well with a specific business model is.
(note: of course all this only applies to DRM content, and companies advocating it. Non-DRM offerings like gog.com, independent artists etc. are fine and should be paid for if used).
> Of course all this only applies to DRM content, and companies advocating it. Non-DRM offerings like gog.com, independent artists etc. are fine and should be paid for if used
What else? The root of the problem seems to be that major media companies are demanding DRM. For most of media that most people want to consume, there are no DRM-free alternatives, except pirating, which does carry some risks. It's hard to recommend pirating as a solution to the average media consumer, since the legal consequences can be bankrupting, and avoiding those risks ("just set up an anonymous VPN for your torrents!") requires technical know-how that most don't have.
I think we need more thought about the following:
1. How can we convince the producers of popular media to release it without DRM? Many will say it can't happen without a serious change in the structure of the media business; but there might be some room for solutions here, like Mozilla's "watermarking" idea, that give these companies most of what they're looking for (more control over distribution and remedies for infringement) without making the copies of this media basically unusable from a consumer's perspective. Legal remedies were enough for these companies before the rise of digital media and the Internet; could publishers be convinced to abandon DRM if a better legal framework for distribution and infringement was available?
2. How can we get people to like, and pay for, media that is produced and released without DRM by independent publishers? As others have pointed out, these publishers generally already know that DRM is not in their interest. But they have two problems: it's hard for people to find their stuff, and they don't have the capital to compete with large media companies on production value. What can be done to lower the barriers here? New tools that make indexing and searching for DRM-free media easy for consumers? New tools that make producing and marketing high-quality media easy for publishers? What should those look like?
That, combined with the fact that users have not actually opposed DRM. On places like HN there is a strong anti-DRM sentiment, but the average person just doesn't care or isn't willing to make any sacrifices to fight it.
So the problem is a combination of the media companies requiring DRM, and consumers buying DRM'ed content and using DRM-enabled browsers. We can't directly influence the former, but we could certainly affect the latter.
I have worked with MS PlayReady DRM (which is the "latest" one from Microsoft, the one used by Netflix) for some time and never stumbled upon any cracks. Not because it's impossible or even difficult but probably just because nobody cares about cracking Netflix (which brings PlayReady it's main source of "users")... Once you pay, you can watch as much as you like, why bother. Netflix made it extremely simple and accessible. (Yes some features like multicasting might be missing but it's still way better than Plesk or PopcornTime. For now at least... The main problem is clearly that the Film industry make it too difficult to have all content in one place). There is plenty of other "easier" sources (alternative VOD offerings with already cracked/worse protections, Blu-rays) to get the copyrighted material from for underground channels.
I am sure other DRM systems have a clear log for the same reason: No major incentive to crack them.
1. Monopolistic lock-in. DRM is more than often used to control the market. It happened with Apple in the past, and was one of the key reasons that music publishers realized that being DRM-free is actually better for them.
This reason also includes DRM derivatives like DMCA-1201 and the like. It's all about control (over the markets, over users and etc.).
2. Covering one's incompetence. DRM is used to justify failing sales (i.e. when execs are questioned about why the product performs poorly, they say "Pirates! But worry not - we put more DRM in place").
3. Ignorance and / or stupidity (many execs have no clue and might believe that DRM actually provides some benefit). This type can be called DRM Lysenkoism.
And the end result? We caved for the shiny Freeview HD sticker.
What really gets my gears grinding is when I see an open source browser like Firefox is forced against their wishes to implement it because DRM has somehow reached a standard.
The job of W3C standards is to protect the interests of ordinary web users and not content providers.
But if this is the case, why is there such a push to put DRM in HTML? Browsers aren't DVD players. Users are free to use software like ABP to circumvent any features like "unskippable ads" mentioned in the post. Pressure on browser makers seems much less valuable than pressure on device makers.
(To be clear: I think the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions are terrible policy.)
DRM is, in fact, to prevent unauthorized usage and copies. In fact, even some of the examples in this article are exactly that.
What is more important is that DRM doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to make unauthorized usage very inconvenient - enough that a few dollars is worth the cost for most people.
What it makes inconvenient is the usage of that service / product for users who actually pay for it. It's a brain dead idea.
So the purpose of DRM is to make maximum revenue from those who won't pirate, for example by charging more for group viewings of the movie or viewing on multiple devices.
If it takes me 30 minutes round trip to get to a store, 15 minutes in a store. Let's say an hour total. Blockbuster went bankrupt because that expense was too excessive for people. You could rent from Netflix for a monthly fee and the DVDs got delivered to you, then the movies got streamed to you instantly. When I can sit on my arse and take 30 seconds to put on a movie, there's a massive 'cost' difference between a $1 DVD rental and a $8 monthly subscription, and the monthly subscription is extremely cheap.
Our world has entire industries worth billions of dollars around convenience and it's getting bigger every day. DRM is purposefully inconvenient, which means it's constantly on a losing battle.
However the question we have to ask is, is this losing battle a necessary evil to ensure the production of content?
I'm a writer in my free time. I do it for fun, and I might make money from it. A $100mil budget movie isn't going to be made for fun and the chance of making some money from it.
It was a genuine surprise to find that wasn't possible. What was more of a surprise was that I couldn't find anywhere to buy it, not Amazon, not the supermarket websites, it was almost impossible to find referenced on a Disney site.
That movie was of course available online - just not somewhere that I could directly pay for it.
It's definitely not about serving the content creators when you get to this situation.
They're also the content creator, so....
Putting on my screenwriter hat (which is maybe 10% of my activity in this field), I very much want the option of selling my work to a producer for cash money. Money up front pays the bills. I have ownership interests in a few films too, but it isn't worth anything. since most films don't make any money this is sadly unexceptional. It's a brutal market, but also extremely egalitarian.
Take a potter. His visual style, assuming it is distinct, bears copyright protection. Rightly so, then an upstart can't legally come in and reproduce his work and steal away his customers without having put in the work needed to create the design initially. But the copyright in that work doesn't, and shouldn't, bear any sense of protection towards the jobs of those that quarry the clay, or the steel-workers that make the steal used in the potter's tools.
An entire network rests on the potters creative work, but the copyright is there to protect only the creative portion. If the potter is producing work without a distinct style then there will be no effective copyright in it's visual appearance and still all the others will get paid if there is demand for the product.
Your pottery analogy is broken because it doesn't reflect how a film is put together. Imagine, rather, a giant sculpture that requires the collective efforts of 100 potters.
The endgame for DRM could well be that it becomes totally transparent, you consume whatever media you want on whatever device you want whenever you want and you get a bill every month based on some complicated price matrix and people will just pay it the same way they do their phone bill.
No DRM system will allow me to do that, because that fundamentally challenges their control over the product. I'm happy to pay more for a product without DRM, but they're usually not available.
The idea of DRM would be to allow you to do these things, but have a mechanism to bill you for them. The problem at the moment is that the ecosystem for this is incomplete.
that's how steam won.
content providers are not competing against the pirate bay, they're competing against the clients that facilitate their consumption: popcorn tv, etc.
I think the real change will happen when the old guard of advertising finally dies off -- the only thing keeping these old fashioned advertisement distribution networks (TV networks) afloat.
The Nail in the Coffin will be when TV stops being a cost effective form of advertisement, and the decision makers behind those dollars realize that fact.
One thing that's always seemed odd to me is that the DRM use case is presented as a battle with "content providers" on one side and everyone else on the other, but aren't these content providers also users? Do they also consume DRM'd content, and if so, are they perfectly fine with the restrictions? Do those who devise DRM schemes not realise that they may also be the ones who will have these schemes imposed on them?
If you're talking about in relation to the article, how would screen capture software let you skip ads? I could see it used for multiplexing, but playback on multiple devices would be tricky unless you ripped the content first.
Open Boardcaster is free and does this well.
>With DRM, there is no licensed player that can do this
So, enforcing some rules (via DRM) to the player manufacturing, content provider makes my experience worse as a consumer.
Again, I am a consumer, what is the advantages of DRM for me? So manufacturer must enforce me watching ads?
The first part is what's being argued about, I don't think anyone is arguing it has a direct benefit to consumers.
Yes, DRM is always broken - eventually, but yes it does work - sort of. It is a technology and legal arms race in a constantly changing landscape.
> DRM's purpose is to give content providers control over software and hardware providers, and it is satisfying that purpose well.
No not really. DRM's purpose is to give content providers a return on their investment, everything else is just a consequence of trying to achieve this.
DRM isn't going to go away as along as people want to be paid for creating content, and other people want to get that content without paying for it.
Sadly it is probably true that it is always the biggest players that get the biggest slice of the pie. Irritatingly the open source community refuse to engage in this battle and support the small player. As a consequence the smaller content providers have no choice but to hook up with the big commercial channels who decide how big a cut they want.
The content creators still get the same leverage over the legal distribution channels because they can still be forced to follow the rules outlined in the examples. That and it lowers your R&D costs on making complicated DRM. If the article is true, what have I missed?
I refuse to purchase anything with DRM, but I don't give a shit if it's a rental or subscription service.
My perception is that few people understand or care -- and the US political elite mostly acquiesces because it has been (or wants to be) bought by those aspiring monopolists.
People pay for things that are good, easy to pay for, are appropriately priced, and not a burden or expense more than they see it worth (has to deal with pricing and roadblocks). DRM, and poor delivery services are usually those roadblocks.
What? Why? Nothing would have prevented people from recording the playback of an encrypted CD and putting that on their iPod.
Copying music CD's was a grey area, but it's a grey area that you can do in a semi-legal capacity. There was no reason legally that Apple couldn't create a CD ripping process in iTunes. It's the user's responsibility to not use it illegally.
However, if CDs were encrypted, Apple would get in trouble if they broke that encryption to let you copy CDs to your iPad. You could find some more shady 3rd party tools that would work around it, but Apple's whole model is that it's easy to use and that it just works. Having to download an illegal 3rd party tool to rip your CDs and put them on your iPod isn't something they would do.
Similarly, iPods have had video playback for ages now, but there is no method to copy DVD video to your iPod through Apple's tools. You can pop in a CD and it asks you if you want to import it into your library. You pop in a DVD and it just asks if you want to play, no option to import. If they let you import it, they would be breaking laws. The brand is established, and was established by the simple copying of music, so it's not important that it can't copy video as easily. But if it couldn't copy music easily, would it have even been a thing?
The reason for this is that under US law (DMCA I believe) it is illegal to circumvent DRM, a DVD has a very basic DRM scheme. So, commercial companies avoided this area. While any programmers that saw a market opportunity and built something soon wound up removing the key DVD ripping feature of their software, likely a result from receiving a kind letter from a MPAA lawyer.
Control of how a person consumes content that they legally own is incidental. If a company can force you to buy content rather than pirating, they will make a lot more money. Controlling the exact manner in which you consume that content is the icing on the cake.
I'd rather put that as "attempting to control the exact manner in which you consume that content is how you lose valuable business".
But that's just me.
"DRM's purpose is to give content providers control over software and hardware providers, and it is satisfying that purpose well."
Being able to create drm-free copies weakens the power content producers hope to achieve. If I can create a drm-free copy of a movie, I can stream it to any device I want, at no extra charge. I'll be able to watch the movie on my tv, phone, tablet, whatever, and they won't make a dime from it.