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DRM — It's Not Really About Piracy 360

Posted by kdawson
from the squeezing-blood-from-silicon dept.
shadowmage13 writes "Hollywood privately admits that DRM is not really about piracy. From the article: 'In a nutshell: DRM's sole purpose is to maximize revenues by minimizing your rights so that they can sell them back to you... Like all lies, there comes a point when the gig is up; the ruse is busted. For the movie studios, it's the moment they have to admit that it's not the piracy that worries them, but business models which don't squeeze every last cent out of customers.' You can take action on Digital Restrictions Management at DefectiveByDesign of the Free Software Foundation, Digital Freedom, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation."
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DRM — It's Not Really About Piracy

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  • by packeteer (566398) <packeteer@noSpAm.subdimension.com> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:08AM (#17626412)
    It never was about piracy. It has always been about controling your customer. The industry knows that they dont lose nearly as much through piracy as they do by not controlling their consumers. Remember a consumer is a customer with no choice.
  • RTFA? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cheesey (70139) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:15AM (#17626444)
    "Hollywood privately admits that DRM is not really about piracy. From the article:

    I just read the article - there is no cited evidence that anyone from Hollywood has ever said this. It may be true, yes, and I agree with the conclusions of the article itself, but this isn't some sort of sensational scoop.

    MPAA executives have never admitted that piracy isn't the motivation for DRM. The current generation will never admit that: piracy is their excuse and they will stick to it. DRM is part of their business model and it won't go anywhere until it results in a shareholder-awakening loss of money.

    If people prefer to pirate stuff, that means the DRM is not restrictive enough to stop them. That is the only thing they'll ever tell you, and the only thing you'll hear from the media outlets that they own.
  • by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:15AM (#17626448) Homepage Journal
    It's no news that a bunch of 15yo with P2P clients and MySpace profiles are able to do a better job at promoting and distributing music than the publishing companies. The answer? Make the distribution of the digital content difficult again! That reminds me of that time when my countrymen tried to make rivers run uphill.
  • Bias (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kentrel (526003) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:18AM (#17626460) Journal
    This article forces you to believe the crap it's not telling you before it doesn't tell you it. The headline is entirely misleading. Hollywood hasn't admitted anything of the sort, and his source for this information is a reference to another journalist's unnamed source! What kind of journalism is that? From the following quote he extrapolated far too much:

    "His user rules just scare the heck out of us"

    Now, it's entirely possible that DRM is about exactly what they say it's about. What's not true however is that Hollywood is admitting this. The article is forcing you to accept the journalists bias hoping you don't exercise your critical thinking skills and question it. Whether it's true or not - the journalist needs to get his act together and get better sources than some other journalists dodgy source.

    Now somebody might argue: "well we know they're doing it, what does it matter if the journalist exaggerates a quote from an unnamed source". I think it matters a great deal. When you're right you should be able to prove it very easily. Otherwise you have to accept that no matter how you feel on the matter you may be wrong, or there's just not enough evidence to imply anything.

  • IRTFALITFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macthorpe (960048) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:28AM (#17626518) Journal
    I Read The F***ing Articles Linked In The F***ing Article, and there is still no such admission from anyone.

    I do, however, also agree with the articles conclusion that DRM isn't about piracy, if only because it's so ineffective to be laughable. It's always been, and obviously so, to make the people who do spend, spend more than they should.

    Why chase people who won't buy jack, when you can shaft the people who do for more? It's less effort.
  • mutiple sales (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:38AM (#17626564) Homepage
    They want to sell you the DVD version, the PSP version, the special edition, the remastered edition, the directors cut, the laser disc version, the VHS version. Next will be the HD-DVD, and Blueray versions. Followed by the hologram version, err, maybe. If anyone has been most successful at this, its George Lucas, how many of us own more than one version of the first Star Wars trilogy?
  • by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:43AM (#17626596)

    The real risks of DRM come into play when consumers lose control of the devices they legitimately assume will have traditional functionality. Why on earth should my cellphone, a digital communication device be unable to share MY data freely with other networks? So I have to PAY for a ringtone or PAY to upload a picture I just took? Why should my wifi-enabled Zune not be able to "squirt" MY data to any nearby Zune?

    That's bad enough, but the most dangerous outcome here is when I can no longer wipe and then reinstall a free operating system onto a general purpose computing device. The people might be forced to pay the microsoft tax, but we will not give up our free software.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:50AM (#17626630)
    Try reading the artcile a little more closely:

    According to him, an unnamed studio executive said that a major reason why studios weren't jumping on board with the iTunes Store and other similar services is that their DRM is too lax. "[Apple's] user rules just scare the heck out of us."



    Ars Technica's Ken Fisher adds: " It's not piracy that's the concern, it's their ability to control how you use the content you purchase."

    It seems to me that is a reasonable interpretation of the "unnamed executive's" comment that the DRM is "too lax", because if "piracy" were a major reason for Hollywood's wanting DRM then its relative stringency or laxity would not be such an important issue for Hollywood. However, if what they are really after is the maximum possible control over users then the relative laxity of a DRM standard *will* bother them - because, for example, they mightn't want a customer to enjoy the content on more than one device without purchasing more than one copy.

    Therefore, the summary by shaowmage13 -

    "Hollywood privately admits that DRM is not really about piracy."

    ... and is, moreover, merely the same as Ars Technica's headline with a slightly different word order:

    "Privately, Hollywood admits DRM isn't about piracy"



    The comment from the "unnamed executive" _is_ as good as an admission of that, as has been shown above. The headline Slashdot used "DRM - it's not really about piracy" doesn't directly comment on what anyone has said - privately or not - but states an opinion on what DRM is "about". It's an opinion that is reasonably substantiated by the Ars Technica article.

    As for the British gutter press you'd find far more offensive and dishonest articles there than at Slashdot. At least Slashdot sticks to technology and related matters and hasn't, so far as I know, been involved in concealing Stalin's purges from the reading public, as the British newspaper the Guardian was.
  • by locksmith101 (1017864) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:16AM (#17626762) Homepage
    DRM is a funny thing. It's like trying to make a Tsunami go away by yelling at it. I guess that both Hollywood and the music industry, suffer from their historical misbehaviour towards users. Take the questionable pricing as an example - regardless of manufacturing costs. I assume that it costs less to mass produce DVDs and CDs than the late VHS and vinyl records - still prices haven't dropped. DRM is all about piracy - but it's a lost battle, that ship has sailed long ago...
  • by Kaydet81 (806468) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:23AM (#17626800) Journal
    Why is this news? Microsoft's been using this strategy for years...
  • by Fred_A (10934) <fred.fredshome@org> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:32AM (#17626834) Homepage
    Once they loose this battle, they are gone for good; they are aware of that, and so they are squeezing every penny out of the established customer base.
    They won't necessarily disappear. However they will be forced to adapt and therefore to change. And nobody likes to change, especially for something that hasn't been tried before and might prove to be expensive for an unknown return.

    Something like the big studios are useful because they have the financial backing for large scale projects (in movies mostly, it's less necessary in music unless you have to heavily market something inherently worthless). If they were to die it would be problematic for that industry. The high budget films would be starved for funding. This could well translate into a decrease in quality and originality as only "safe" films would be produced.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:40AM (#17626864) Homepage
    When will the MAFFIAAA learn that if you offer people what they want, they will buy it.

    This same applies to region coding. The content is there, people want it, but they can't legally get it... guess what happens next.

    Offer them restricted media, and they'll just download and create their own unrestricted media. Offer them unrestricted media, and most people won't bother to download; they'd buy. If movie studios offered new movies for download for, say, US$ 5, who would wait for his friend to download and copy it and who would just buy it themself? I'd certainly spend more on movies in a year than I do now.
  • Specious logic. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:40AM (#17626866)
    "There is simply no evidence whatsoever that DRM slows piracy. In fact, all of the evidence suggests the opposite, and arguments that DRM "keeps honest people honest" are frankly insulting. If they're already honest, they don't need DRM."

    Arstechnic knows this is poor logic. If people are already honest, then there's no need for ANY laws of any kind. No speeding laws because people are already honest. No embezzlement, or fraud laws because people are honest.

    Also I would like to see "all of the evidence" for myself, instead of some "unamed source". This is not "Deep Throat", or "Watergate". Let's not let our standards slip because we really want the outcome to be a certain way.
  • by stretchsje (999497) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:53AM (#17626970)
    ...at least in this business. Who makes you buy HD-DVD or online music? If you buy it, you're doing so because- despite DRM- it's worth it to you. Now, on the other hand, if the music industry charged you more for DRM-less media, would you be happier in the long run? (Whether or not they'd need to is debatable, but that's not the question.)
  • Re:mutiple sales (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 1u3hr (530656) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:56AM (#17626988)
    Except, oh right, creating scarcity to allow creators to profit was the original constitutional purpose of copyright

    Insightful, up to that point.

    According to Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, 1787: "the Congress shall have power . . . 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 discoveries."

    You've swallowed Hollywood's line. Profit is supposed to be a carrot to "promote the progress of science and useful arts", not the purpose, though these days you'd never know that.

    As for TFA, yes, what a load of crap. When did musings in random blogs become newsworthy?

  • by KDan (90353) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:59AM (#17627004) Homepage
    No, that's a completely ridiculous suggestion, for several reasons.

    1) Artists build upon other artists. Some of the best pieces of art are composites of other pieces of art (Shakespeare being the classic example). This super-DRM'ed world would contradict that fact and make it much harder for artists to do their work. It would also make it impossible to create such art forms as satire, abbreviation, etc.

    2) This system would contradict one of the basic realities of this universe: ideas are infinitely duplicable at no cost other than the medium to store them. You can have all the DRM systems in the world - if your poem appears on my screen and I memorize it or write it down, I've made a copy. I can then repost it if I feel so inclined. Trying to control the technological gateways (enforcing DRM'ed hardware, etc) is ultimately a losing battle, like fighting the ocean with a broom.

    3) Such a system, to work perfectly, would by definition require real-time, detailed monitoring of everyone's activities that have anything to do with so-called "intellectual property". Apart from the huge technical challenge that this would represent (can you even imagine any IT company implementing this when they can't even create a centralised system of patient records without screwing up - see NHS PfIT), this would be a huge infringement on everyone's privacy. Or rather, it would be a complete eradication of the very concept of privacy.

    Daniel
  • by nschubach (922175) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:00AM (#17627012) Journal
    Then imagine that there be a system that allowed the publishing artist to exactly and precisely control how their content was used and or was available so that the publishing artist could revoke something they put out there but for whatever reason now regret. What would be wrong with that? It would be total control in the hand of an artist. Afterall, it is their work. Why not give them ultimate control?
    I always hated this argument. The reason being, no other industry works this way. When you buy your next car, does your dealer tell you that you can only drive it for three years and you cannot let more than 3 people drive it? (Leasing not included)

    Sure, I'll give you the argument that you can't copy [or clone] a car (yet) but to let the originator decide exactly how their product will be played or not played is exactly what I don't want.

    Don't buy the car analogy because they are in a different price bracket? Let's aim lower. Greeting Cards. You aren't given explicit instructions with your greeting card and told that you have to give the Happy Birthday card on your kid's birthday, and that day alone. You can buy the card and use it for any occasion if you want. It's always fun to give condolence cards for births, birthdays, or even weddings. :)
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:08AM (#17627068) Journal
    is partaking in this and pushing for DRM everywhere and lose of fair rights. It use to be the dems who pushed this. But anymore these days, the neo-cons (who are the majority of the republicans) are also behind it. It seems to be that rather than fight each and every one of these initiivies, we need to cut the beast off at the knees. The only way that I can think to do that is to prevent money flow from lobbyist to congress reps. And the only way to prevent all of the is to implement Joel Hefley's ideas on corruption prevention. All in all, if we want America to be the land of the people, and by the people, and for the people, we are going to have pony up the funding of the election process. Otherwise, this will remain the land of the high bidder, of the highest bidder, and for the highest bidder.
  • by suv4x4 (956391) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:20AM (#17627116)
    TFA - It's Not Really About What It Says In The Title
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:22AM (#17627124) Homepage Journal
    Each time a new technology pops up that threatens their stable position, they panic immediately and create a huge fuss in trying to maintain the staus quo.

    You hit the ol' nail, Arun. And the only reason they haven't yet fully succeeded is because of people like us who fight a constant running battle with them.
  • by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:26AM (#17627134) Homepage Journal
    Your argument falls flat when you take the print media into account. That is, unless you consider all technology and not just modern audio/video storage methods. Remember, copyright and publishing rights laws date back to the invention of the printing press.

    Artists have always been at the mercy of their patrons. Whether it was aristocrats contracting compositions or keeping musicians on retainer, or writers accepting a commission to write a penny dreadful. Artists were often paid in advance.

    There's also that dumb, dumb dream that you can take back what you said, or at least prevent it from being preserved for posterity. Much like how Tom Hanks tried to kill all reruns of Bosom Buddies, or how some composers like Richard Wagner tried to forbid others from playing their operas. Even your post here is now beyond your control.

    Today, musicians earn more by playing concerts than by cutting albums. Most of the budding stars only make an album as a way of improving their image. Groups are discovering that non-DRM'ed music on the internet is an excellent way to generate interest.

    No, the problem with studios is that they have grown accustomed to being the gatekeeper, and charging ruinous rates for using their distribution channels and production equipment. They are already losing control of production exclusivity. Now they are losing control of distribution. It's all about staving off the inevitable.
  • by Technician (215283) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:36AM (#17627172)
    It has always been about controling your customer.

    The only problem is they over did it. Customers are looking for MP3's to play on a variety of devices such as flash players, DVD players, car stereos, and such.

    I've been calling DRM incompatible by design. The over doing the DRM has about cratered. all formats in digital music except MP3 and iTunes.
  • by name*censored* (884880) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:38AM (#17627182)
    Ah, but therein lies the flaw in your statement. I *know* I would pay more for DRM'less media, but no-one offers me the option between cheaper/DRM/crippled/low-bitrate audio and the same song but more expensive/non-crippled/non-DRM'd/high bitrate IF THEY OFFERED IT, solely for the reason of telling the industry just how pissed off I am at DRM. But they don't offer it. And I know that I can help change their minds by voting with my chequebook - the entertainment industry DOES understand what consumers want through their purchases. Look at how many shows have been revived with DVD sales, or how musicians on tour always sing the songs that were popular as singles or popular online.

    And I buy online music because I may like one song off an album but don't want to fork over $20 for additional songs I don't care for, a-la CD Music. It's unfortunate that there's no LEGAL DRM free alternative (as far as I'm aware), but since the DRM'd folks have a cartel on the market, there's not a lot I can do about it.
  • Duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by John Pfeiffer (454131) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:40AM (#17627194) Homepage
    Of course it's not about preventing piracy. It's just that 'digital, economic enslavement of end users' isn't as sexy of a company line.
  • by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:42AM (#17627216) Homepage
    1) Artists build upon other artists. Some of the best pieces of art are composites of other pieces of art (Shakespeare being the classic example). This super-DRM'ed world would contradict that fact and make it much harder for artists to do their work. It would also make it impossible to create such art forms as satire, abbreviation, etc.

    DRM in now way stops artists from building upon the ideas of other artists (copyright may stop this with the extreme measures it has been extended to, but not DRM). Shakespeare did not need to be able to make an exact quality of copy of other artists' works to build off of them. Neither did any of the musicians in history need to be able to make an exact copy of something they heard to use it and build off of it. The idea of art building off of arts means that artists hear/see what other artists have done and use it for inspiration, not that they make an exact copy of it. Artists have never needed to be able to make exact duplicates of other's work to find inspiration from other's work in the past anymore than they do now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:48AM (#17627248)
    K heres the thing. Bias is a thing that alters perception of reality. Once your perception of reality has been altered, you can't decide what's unjust and what isn't.

    Saying you're biassed against what is unjust is basically saying that whatever bias made you choose wrongly the things that you will believe to be unjust, you will now double and then redouble your blind determination to re-inforce that wrong belief, so that you become a bigot and a talking head that spouts dogma.

  • Not only music (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DarkGreenNight (647707) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:15AM (#17627434)
    Thanks to "piracy" movies go to DVD much faster. Before it was between 1 or 2 years for a movie to appear in DVD, now it's like 6 months or less. And not only that, we can thank "piracy" again for the fast translations of shows.

    Not long ago good foreign (american) series came to Spain when they were 2 or 3 seasons old, at least. Part of that is that they had to be translated. But they are starting to translate them sooner. Heroes will start soon in Fox (satellite, in spanish), and it's still in half their first season. There are people waiting to see it instead of watching it in english. House is also on TV, and the third season has just started. Now I can decide to keep watching it in english or wait a little and do it in spanish (I probably won't wait, I prefer to practice my english). That's good for the comsumer.

    So I thank all those mighty pirates, that not only force the TV companies to react faster, but also combat global warming. Or so says the mighty FSM.
  • Where? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Warlock7 (531656) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:20AM (#17627456)
    Where in any of the articles does "Hollywood" "admit" anything?
  • by indifferent children (842621) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:20AM (#17627458)
    If there were a total artist control type of rights management this idiot could retrieve (forever extinghuish the existence) the now-regrettable work posted to the Internet.

    Unfortunately for DRM to really work, and based on industry attempts so far, the analogy of being able to 'revoke' a post from a webhost falls short. Rather, DRM requires that the content creator has a back-door into your desktop computer that will let them erase the text of their comment that you have cut-and-pasted and any screenshots of their post that you might have made.

    I don't object to an artist being able to remove a song from their own download service. But their right to control file access stops at the edge of my machine.

  • DRM is piracy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 0a100b (456593) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:37AM (#17627582)
    It seems to me that DRM is about piracy, about pirating users' rights to sell them back to the users.

    I'd say RMD is piracy, DRM is theft.
  • by Kelbear (870538) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:58AM (#17627756)
    It's not really a cartel, it's more of a highly differentiated product. The differentiation is such that it grants them monopoly powers. You want Britney spears? Well, if you don't like the DRM, then here, listen to some Jack Johnson. There's lots of different kinds of music out there, but there's not always in direct competition since you're not looking to buy a song, you're looking to buy a specific song, and they have monopoly power in that situation since others can't offer you what you want.

    The thing is there's lots of DRM-free music if you want to look for it.

    But the problem is, there's lots of DRM-free music /if you want to look for it/.

    The majority of people do not, and that's the service the RIAA provides. They don't want to hunt down good artists, they want it shown to them, so the RIAA picks out what they think will sell and show it to the masses who will buy what they're shown. It's advertising.

    Whether or not the independent artist is better or not becomes irrelevant if the market doesn't know about them. So it the DRM is just something you accept in order to buy the music that has been advertised to you.

    If at somepoint the DRM becomes too bothersome, or the music offered becomes too distasteful, people will look for alternatives. It's when they look for alternatives that they find them. People will choose what they find more favorable, RIAA-music without searching, or indie-music without DRM, but with searching. Hopefully in the future there will be labels who will provide the advertisement without the DRM and stay competitive. This problem will end up solving itself eventually.
  • Self-Defeating (Score:4, Insightful)

    by webrunner (108849) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:03AM (#17627826) Homepage Journal
    The main problem with DRM is how self-defeating the current model is. If they really want to do the whole thing right it needs to:
    • Be a universal standard. DRM now is used mostly to lock users down to one class of devices. But it really needs to work between companies and between devices. That video you download off of iTunes should work on your 360 and on your TiVO and on your PSP.
    • Allow users to do what they want with it, just prevent mass-sharing. But convenience sharing, like bringing it to a friends house, the companies don't realize how important that is.
    • Work on people's current systems, or at most, require a minor upgrade. This is where HDCP breaks apart entirely. You need to build a new PC from the ground up, including your MONITOR, to be able to play HDCP content. That's just crazy.
    • You can't put people in chains unless they've done something wrong


    Unless ALL of these things come to pass, DRM is an unworkable mess and will cause the companies involved in it to fail miserably.
  • by Odiumjunkie (926074) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:10AM (#17627872) Journal
    DRM is a necessity for sustaining artists wages, and the consumer has always had a choice, so don't blame others, if you're are not satisfied with a product or its price DON'T BUY IT, the industrie sets its prices by what people are prepared to pay, so it's your own fault at the end of the day.

    Something I don't understand about the pro-drm crowd... OK, even accepting logic that "getting something for free that others pay for" = "stealing", where the hell does DRM come into this equation?

    Accepting every argument that demonises file-sharing, p2p, Usenet binaries and other pirate goodness, DRM STILL

    * increases the price of the media for regular, law abiding consumers
    * restricts the ability of those same law abiding consumers from exercising legally protected fair use rights
    * forces law abiding customers into hardware lockins and restricts their ability to choose media platforms
    * makes data backup of legally purchased media more difficult/impossible
    * decreases massively the chance you can still use your legally purchased media in 5/10/15 years time

    and what does it do to thwart all the things that the pro-DRM camp complain about?

    * Stops pirates from stealing media? [torrentfreak.com]

    Seriously, this isn't too hard guys! It just doesn't work!. There are software companies that make high-end graphics and video editing suites that cost thousands of dollars to license, that protect their software with deeply complex and highly secure code, multiple layers of remote license validation and so forth, and you can still download cracked copies of the software from Usenet and bittorrent sites. If software companies, with [to use a little *IAA logic] thousands of dollars to lose per copy made can't protect their content, how do you think that music and movie companies that makes hundreds of thousands of copies of their products that have to be accessible/decodable on hundreds of different hardware platforms can possibly do it?

    It doesn't matter how you feel about pirates, DRM still doesn't make sense.
  • by hesiod (111176) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:28AM (#17628070)
    > Greeting Cards. You aren't given explicit instructions with your greeting card

    Even though they don't tell you this, most greeting card text is copyrighted by the person who wrote it or the company that paid for it to be written. You cannot, for instance, legally make your own greeting cards that use the text from existing cards, just with different pictures.
  • by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:36AM (#17628176)
    0) If I bloody pay for this piece of shite that this so-called artist created, *I* decide when, where and how I use it. It's sold, it's mine, my copy is no longer owned by the creator and he'd better keep his hands from it. The only thing I am not allowed to do is copy it in order to give it to someone else, that's the only right the artist retains.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:39AM (#17628218)
    No one else gets to rewind their life, why should artists?
  • by Ash Vince (602485) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:41AM (#17628244) Journal
    These problem all reall stemmed from the Compact Disk and it replacing vinyl.

    We all happily went out and rebought our existing music collection on CD as it was alot more convenient than LP's. And in the process we generated a constant revenue stream as stuff was gradually re-issued. The problem is that this is now coming to an end for the record companies as they have re-released almost everything. They have certainly run out of the stuff with serious mass appeal.

    So they now have to look for a new way of extracting similar revenues that they have grown used to over the last 15 years out of a back catalog which most of us already own, possibly in more than one format. The problem is that they have already made it about as convenient as it needs to be and the quality is mostly there as well (Vinyl have better infrasonic performance).

    So rather than try and go back to surviving off the revenues they get from new releases which would result in a huge drop in profits they need an alternative. Without an alternative the problems would be very far reaching. The stock market is used to constant revenue growth. If profits fall it is far worse for a company than if they had never risen in the first place, expecially if the fall is not likely to be temporary. This is frequently what drives companies under if they are unable to downsize quickly enough.

    So faced with this dilemma the media publishing companies must find a way to keep the boon of the CD years going, and being that they didnt reinvest those record profits very wisely in new content production this is going to difficult. So they are choosing to try and keep the boom of the CD going by constantly selling us a new copy of stuff we already own indefinately.

    If you contrast this with companies like BP (who sell Oil) you see that they have invested their profits much more wisely. BP are now the worlds largest producer of solar panels and have started describing themselves as an energy company rather than an oil company.

    In a single phrase, "Diversify to survive".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:59AM (#17628528)
    Apples DRM is not to protect the Record companies it's to protect Apple. Sure the record companies insist on any music being sold online to have DRM but Apple doesn't really care about that they just want to make sure that it is very hard and expensive for you to ditch your iPod and replace it with a SanDisk or (insert favorite non iPod MP3 Player). If they were primarily concerend about protecting the record labels you wouldn't have seen them put up such a fight against the French government when they were ordered to make FairPlay work on competitors devices. At one point I believe they even threated to just stop selling in France (that part may have been internet speculation) If that's true you can see that the importance of keeping iTunes a closed system is more important than keeping the 9th largest economy.
  • by compro01 (777531) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:00AM (#17628548)
    *sigh* and my mod points ran out yesterday. this guy definitely has the idea.
  • by walt-sjc (145127) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:40AM (#17629190)
    Yes, but the thing is the artist could let the art lapse into public domain if they desired it so. If they didn't let it then, well, it'd be forgotten like many other works of ancient times.

    I suggest you read up on the reason copyright laws have time limits. It is SPECIFICALLY so that works do NOT get lost forever.

    I din't mean to imply this would happen tomorrow but a decade or two from now when certainly things could be watermarked (and recognized) appropriately and furthermore most vehicles of media would be connected one way or another. Given IPv6 it's not impossible.

    So the only way to enjoy published works in your version of the modern world is to be connected 24x7x365 to the internet. No thanks.

    And what would be wrong with being able to revoke/retrive an embarassing video or soundbite?

    What would be wrong with rewriting history? Maybe we can pretend that Sadam was a kind and generous man that was good to his people. Maybe Paris Hilton wants to pretend that she is not a slut, or Mel Gibson wants to pretend that he didn't make anti-semitic remarks. There is nothing wrong with wanting to take back what you said, it's called an apology. There is nothing wrong with stupid teens posting embarrassing videos of themselves either, and later in life saying that we ALL do stupid stuff when we are kids. You learn from those mistakes. Your "system" attempts to eliminate consequences of doing bad / stupid stuff - sorry, that's just not a good thing for society.

    Artists would have to reimburse the prorated amount owed the consumer.

    So an artist that goes on a drug binge and goes crazy can take away my purchased right to listen to music he sold me back when he was sane? I don't want that, even if I DO get a partial refund. Considering how many artists are nuts to begin with, this is not a far-fetched scenario.

    DRM is bad, M'Kay? There are no redeeming values. You can attempt to create some bizzaro perfect-world scenarios where it could possibly work with a gazillion exceptions and conditions, but we do not live in a perfect world.

  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:02PM (#17629574) Homepage
    Why not give all authors almost complete control over their works?

    Why should we? How do we benefit from this? There are three types of public benefits with regard to creative works: 1) to have as many as possible original works created and published; 2) to have as many as possible derivative works created and published, and; 3) to have no or as few as possible (and for as short a time) restrictions on the public with regard to those works.

    If it causes more works to be created and published, then I am prepared to accept some limited, temporary restrictions, but only provided that the public benefit of the extra works outweighs the public harm of the restrictions. E.g. a million years more copyright that caused only one more work to be created and published would pretty certainly not be worth it; no matter how good that work was, we'd be better off without it.

    You are suggesting that we give artists the ability to un-create and un-publish works, which would largely try to erase whatever public benefit the creation and publication of the work had resulted in. It would also amount to a permanent restriction on the public, since the work would be irrevocably lost and could never enter the public domain. So I fail to see how there is any public benefit whatsoever. Because of that, I fail to see why I shouldn't deride this as an insane idea, and you as an idiot for having come up with it. You seem to be pretty selfish and short-sighted. The utilitarian model of copyright, which I've described above, and which is the foundation and constitutional justification for the whole thing, is interested in how we can better society generally, by spreading knowledge. You seem to not care about that, even though for any individual on the planet, they will always receive more knowledge from the amassed contributions of others, than they can ever possibly hope to generate themselves. They might generate something new, but never a greater quantity. We don't stand on the shoulders of giants; we stand on the shoulders of all the other people who came before us. You want to kick that over.

    Frankly, if your idea was so hot, why not use it in the patent field? Patents operate under the exact same utilitarian model as copyrights (save that it is concerned with the spread and use of inventions, rather than knowledge generally), so if your idea was good for one, then it would be good for the other, right? Well, some human being invented the wheel. Another invented walking upright. Another invented language. Another tamed fire. Why shouldn't we allow them, or their estates, to retract those inventions, turning us into crawling savage brutes, just to satisfy your moronic ideology? I wouldn't allow it, since I want to cultivate the greatest raw material (i.e. the most works, and the most inventions) to help society thrive. I don't give a crap about authors or inventors, save in how they can be exploited in furthering this cause. Since it seems the best way to exploit them is to give them rewards that are enough to encourage them to work, but not enough to outweigh the benefits of their work, that's what I do, and I do it happily, since society still gets the better part of the bargain.

    Have fun living in a cave, man.
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:24PM (#17629952) Homepage
    I'm choosing the system that maximises the amount of high quality content that is produced.

    But the value of the content is greatly diminished if you are limited as to what you can do with it. The ideal world would be one in which all artistic works that could be created, are created, and they're all in the public domain so that everyone can have gigantic free personal libraries, and anyone can create derivative works of anything. While that ideal might be unachievable, we ought to try to come as close to it as we can manage.

    This means that sometimes, accepting that fewer works will be created (or fewer works that require a large investment to make, since unauthorized derivatives can help make it up on quantity), is the best option, since the quantity of works that aren't made is small enough that the most important factor is how free people are to use those works, and how soon. DRM is an attempt to permanently keep works under control, to permanently limit freedom, and so it would take an infinite amount of works to even have a go at making it worthwhile, and even then it probably wouldn't be acceptable. And we sure aren't there.

    I would suggest the following solution to the DRM problem: Only allow copyrights for works that the author, his assigns, agents, and licensees, publish without DRM. If they use DRM, they don't get a copyright, or the copyright is revoked. Make it legal to break DRM, and have the government encourage it, assist in it, and help to publish non-DRMed copies of the by-definition public domain works.

    This allows copyright holders to choose DRM if it is really what is important to them, but I bet that they would not. And I bet that this would have very little effect on their revenues or how many works they create, and the production values of those works (which isn't synonymous with quality, BTW -- expensive things are not necessarily better things). There's nothing that stops us from tweaking the copyright bargain and keeping it in the advantage of the public. But we can't give up and accept things as a given; we have to make an effort.
  • by ^_^x (178540) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:43PM (#17630348)
    Saying they're selling our rights back to us or squeezing every cent they can out of customers evokes an emotional response, but it would be better if they actually explain how that happens.

    For example, incorporating regional lockouts into copy protection, so it is integral to the game/DVD disc, but still allows the company to charge inflated rates in certain regions and keep people from importing from a cheaper region even if the content is the same.
  • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:00PM (#17631804) Homepage

    Huh... that seems very obvious, but I've never thought of that before. When you first said the problem originated with CDs, I assumed you meant because it was the first digital medium available to consumers, and therefore the first to allow duplication without degradation of sound quality, which allowed better "piracy".

    But, if I can try to sum up your post, you're suggesting that CDs were the first new medium that offered significant improvement to cause consumers to re-buy the music they already owned. Therefore, the copyright owners grew dependant on the revenue stream of people re-buying their works, in spite of the fact that they already owned copies. Now that people are done replacing their records with CDs, record companies are trying to devise a new way to force consumers to continually re-buy a product in order to maintain that revenue stream.

    That sounds right to me. It seems like the intention is to get you to buy a new copy of each song for every new device you buy. One works with iPods, a different one with your Zune, yet another for your PlayForSure device, and a fourth for your cell phone. This also seems to be the intention with HD DVD media. People have finally replaced their VHS tapes with DVDs, and now they expect you to replace your DVDs with HD.

    To me, it seems worth noting the obvious: this is not what copyright law was meant for.

  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:20PM (#17632134) Homepage
    The problem with your solution is that piracy is allowed to run rampant. Piracy is growing, and if left unchecked it will eat seriously into the amount of revenue that content creators can expect to get for their work. There will come a 'tipping point' where piracy is *so* rampant (as it is in some 3rd world countries) that buying legal copies will become old-fashioned and will collapse entirely. This is not vaguely desirable, unless you think that you are happy to get by purely with hobbyist content.

    No, it's not. If authors opt to have copyrights without DRM, then they still have the full panoply of legal rights which they can enforce. If they opt to have DRM without copyrights, then they have no legal rights, and they're limited to whatever protection they can manage on their own; if that turns out to be more than what they can get with copyrights, then good for them. But I bet no, and so they'll probably want to go for the copyrights, which is what I would prefer them to do anyway. Frankly, your objection seems pretty wierd given that the article itself is about how DRM doesn't have anything to do with piracy.

    As for hobbyist content, it doesn't bother me. Copyright has nothing to do with promoting the quality of content, only quantity and freedom with regard to that content. It is entirely possible to have a better situation with less content and more freedom than more content and less freedom.

    DRM needs to be improved

    DRM is incapable of being improved. It's always going to be fatally flawed and hostile to copyright, and on the whole, I'd rather have copyright.

    A future where people try to make a living creating work that others can copy freely without any compensation paid to the content creator is just a pipe dream.

    That's why it's the ideal that we should aim for, even if it isn't something that's realistic. DRM certainly has no place in this; it isn't part of the ideal or even a way to get there.

    I've said it before, the people to blame for DRM are pirates.

    The article here seems to indicate otherwise.
  • by callmetheraven (711291) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:07PM (#17632964)

    I din't mean to imply this would happen tomorrow but a decade or two from now when certainly things could be watermarked (and recognized) appropriately and furthermore most vehicles of media would be connected one way or another. Given IPv6 it's not impossible. And what would be wrong with being able to revoke/retrive an embarassing video or soundbite? what about someone as a teen who does some misdeeds as a teen? In this system that trangression would not come back to bite him/her (except for those who have that knowledge in memory (what are friends for but to know our secrets anyway?)
    To answer someone's question posed before: Politicians and anyone working for the govermnet would be exempt from this "purging" aspect. That is, they would not be able to retrieve/revoke things said or performed as an agent of government as that would automatically be for public domain.


    Were you kidding? Politicians (and the hyper rich) would be the only ones who could have their comments revoked. Revising history and tightening the legal noose around the little guy are their favorite pastimes (we're doing it for the children) and are becoming crucial to getting elected and perpetuating (perpetrating?) their party's existence!

    The utopia you describe sounds wonderful, but unfortunately most of us are stuck here on sadly corrupt Earth.
  • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:05PM (#17634136) Homepage
    So enlighten me, how does one enforce copyright without DRM.

    You sue them. You know, it's the way that everyone has enforced copyrights since they were first invented around 300 years ago. It's still practiced today, in fact. Similarly, the only way to enforce DRM anticircumvention laws is also to sue people, so pro-DRM laws don't really change things much.

    have you ever tried?

    I am a copyright lawyer, you know.
  • If making it slightly difficult for you to create backups keeps people from easily doing massive copying and distribution without permission, isn't that a fair trade-off?

    DRM doesn't prevent people from easily doing massive copying and distribution at all.

    It makes it harder for the first person to "rip" that first copy, but once it's done preventing anyone else from "ripping" that copy is irrelevant.

    And DRM does much much more than "making it slightly difficult for you to create backups".

    It makes it impossible for you to keep a copy of a work indefinitely. Your copy is only usable as long as the company that made the DRMed document still exists. If you think this doesn't matter you need to talk to a historian.

    It makes it impossible for you to view the work except through a specific application. I have precisely one DRM-protected e-book now... I recently deleted the Microsoft Reader documents I owned, because they're worthless now I don't have a Pocket PC. Oh, that's right, you want me to buy another copy for that. Why should I?

    It makes it impossible for you to use a work in ways the application doesn't want you to. If I own a movie, why shouldn't I be able "enter" it by feeding captured scenes into a VR viewer? Because you want me to have to pay again for the VR version of the movie (if you ever bother making one)?

    How many times should I have to buy The White Album anyway?

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