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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 cyclomedia (882859) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:08AM (#17626414) Homepage Journal
    Because THAT worked wonders for release timing, content control and market restrictions, didn't it.*

    *Though having a decent TV that can handle PAL and NTSC helps, in the UK they're 6 bob a throw i can tell ye!
  • by arun_s (877518) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:21AM (#17626484) Homepage Journal
    When I look at the VHS examples of long back, and the more recent DVD-region-encoding failure, it just looks like one big, sad cycle repeating itself every generation or so.
    Even if we get over the current mess (Trusted Computing, RIAA etc), it looks like as if the big media dinosaurs will never really learn to adapt. 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.
    If only they weren't so powerful already, they'd probably have died off by now; replaced by smarter, quicker companies that didn't have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the new world.
  • by grimJester (890090) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:26AM (#17626508)
    DRM is meant to prevent interoperability, raise barriers for entry to markets and force "upgrades" of your media when playback devices are upgraded.

    Just look at iTunes; you can burn the music to CDs and rip to mp3. This is no copy protection - only a mild barrier to make it more likely that the average customer does _not_ buy another brand of mp3 player.

    As others have pointed out, the article headline is misleading. Hollywood won't admit any such thing.
  • by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:37AM (#17626556) Homepage Journal

    Even if we get over the current mess (Trusted Computing, RIAA etc), it looks like as if the big media dinosaurs will never really learn to adapt.

    True, since that's their last stand. We finally have the tools at our possession which enable us to promote and distribute digital content cheaper and more effectively than any corporation possibly could. 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.

  • Re:RTFA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:51AM (#17626634)
    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.
    I'm less concerned with piracy and more concerned with the death of the used movie and music market. With DRM, how am I supposed to resell music that I've purchased to the local place that used to buy my used CDs when I was sick of them? How do I sell my DVDs when I'm tired of watching that movie? I've paid either nearly full or even full price for the movie or music, yet I've lost the right to resell the content in the secondary market? Will the studio or record company unlock that content from its DRM chains so that I can resell it upon request?
  • by somersault (912633) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:06AM (#17626708) Homepage Journal
    Once the main distribution method is streaming off the net, then they hopefully will calm down, as the only things that will change are file formats..
  • Re:mutiple sales (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tbo (35008) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:09AM (#17626726) Journal
    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.

    [rant] Honestly, who wants to watch a movie more than once or twice? Get Netflix or Zip.ca or whatever, rent it once or twice, and you don't have to worry about buying it over and over again. It's also cheaper. I have a really hard time getting worked up about DRM for movies if that's all it's about. I'm not going to buy a movie more than once, period. If you own more than one copy of the Star Wars trilogy, get a life. Once you have a "life", you'll find it's useful for maintaining perspective on things like this. [/rant]

    If DRM means that the movie execs feel comfortable digitally "renting" content to me for one-time viewing, and it's cheaper than Blockbuster, great. Without DRM, there's no market for digital rentals, because now you "own" it and can give it away. Thus, for the vast majority of us who just want to rent a movie to watch once, prices for digital content would end up in the range of DVD sales rather than DVD rentals.

    Now, I'm aware of lots of DRM downsides. It's not interoperable, yada yada. Believe me, as a Mac user from long before the iTunes Music Store existed, I know how annoying it is when something isn't available for my OS of choice, and I feel for you Linux users who can't download the latest episodes of 24 from the iTMS. Of course, Season 6 was on bittorrent about a week before it even hit TV, and I don't think it's even on the iTMS yet, so it's not like the Linux users are really suffering. In short, DRM hasn't really hurt anyone too badly, because it's not too hard to circumvent. OTOH, it does keep Joe Consumer from committing copyright infringement, and it helps the studio execs feel good about releasing digital content. It's a compromise.

    Oh, and don't even get me started on the article. Why even RTFA if the quality is this awful? What happened, did Digg [digg.com] buy up Slashdot last weekend? I'm just waiting for the first "DRM FTW" post. I especially like the briliant flashes of insight in TFA:
    ...the studios have turned to DRM (and the law) to create the scarcity.
    Wow! What an awful new development! Except, oh right, creating scarcity to allow creators to profit was the original constitutional purpose of copyright. Ars may be up on the latest technology, but they seem to be a couple hundred years behind on the legal world.

    Hmm... Maybe I should have put that [/rant] tag towards the end of my post...
  • Re:Bias (Score:5, Interesting)

    by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:10AM (#17626728) Homepage Journal

    Hollywood hasn't admitted anything of the sort
    "DRMs' primary role is not about keeping copyrighted content off P2P networks. DRMs support an orderly market for facilitating efficient economic transactions between content producers and content consumers. "
    Dan Glickman, Motion Picture Association of America [bbc.co.uk]
  • Re:IRTFALITFA (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:15AM (#17626746)
    This is why I won't buying stuff that I can't fully control, be it software, games, music or movies.

    Windows XP/Vista activation/DRM is not good.

    Game protection root kits are not good. Also, steam is nice, until you realize that playing old games will be hard
    if they go out of business (or release forced "updates", which HAS happened).

    All DRM is bad.

  • by Sique (173459) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:24AM (#17626804) Homepage
    There is a second thing to that. With the inability of the device to spread your very own content it is no longer a device for you to promote your own content. So not only the usage and the distribution of content gets controlled, also the creation of new content gets controlled, because the only way to get out content with mandatory DRM is to sign up with a DRM provider (and if you can't pay the sign up fee in cash, you have to sign a contract surrendering rights for your own creation).
  • by Merkwurdigeliebe (1046824) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:32AM (#17626836)
    Well, let's take out the recording and movie making industries, and now let us imagine that everyone who produces or would produce media can do so and does do so by themselves (without industry intermediaries.) 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?

    Imagine an idiot posts something he or she later regrets to the web. It's foreseable that some of them would wish to recall/revoke/delete what they posted to the Internet. Today there is no way to put the "genie" back inthe bottle. 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.

    Let's say that the audience never had ownership but simply could make micropayments (in the case of for profit works --not the stuff posted to the internet for free --that would still be free but still bound by the total rights management system) to listen or see content. That could be say for a one-off experience of for a bulk experience. What would be wrong with such a scenario? (that is if controlled by each artist themselves?) No industry to deride and loathe. Only artists with infinite control over their works. If the artist were to die then it could be had that all their content die too.

    Would that be too much control in the artists' hands? It'd be like it was before technology, in the sense that the artist'd control all aspects of their fruits. Their fruits lived and died with them. the audience never had ownership of the artists' work. They only had the pleasure and priviledge to listen, see and enjoy in the moment.

    I could further imagine that an artist could forgo their rights if they so desired. Or the rights to work not recalled/revoked could pass into public domain, etc. There could be a great number of permutations

    an idea....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @07:37AM (#17626858)
    No, sorry, I still don't see any admission there, and certainly not one by 'Hollywood'. All this 'unnamed executive' said was that he thought the DRM in the iTMS was too lax.

    You can let your own agenda colour your thoughts as much as you like. I'll stick to seeing the argument from both sides, thanks.

    PS Your comment about it just being the word order that's different is just icing on the cake!
  • by geminidomino (614729) * on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:13AM (#17627088) Journal
    Would that be too much control in the artists' hands? It'd be like it was before technology, in the sense that the artist'd control all aspects of their fruits. Their fruits lived and died with them. the audience never had ownership of the artists' work. They only had the pleasure and priviledge to listen, see and enjoy in the moment.

    Art != Music (Whether or not music, especially contemporary music, is even a subset of art is a matter of opinion). Some of the greatest works of art in history were done 'for hire'.

    Unless you want to see an end to persistent recordings, you're advocating the same sort of BS "have thier cake and eat it too" setup we have now, except instead of some industry suits reaping the cash, it's the artist himself. If I buy a painting, I expect the right to put it on my bathroom wall, wipe my mouth on it, or have my picture taken in front of it. Same for a recording. If I want to listen to it in my cd-less car stereo, on my Neuros, or on my GP2X, I'm going to. I expect to control my own purchase.
  • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@gmail.TIGERcom minus cat> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @08:33AM (#17627160) Homepage
    Whether or not music, especially contemporary music, is even a subset of art is a matter of opinion

    While I fully acknowledge there is some shite music/art/performance work out there, I should note that EVERY single generation has hated the art that comes after them.

    My parents don't listen to Green Day/Pumpkins/Oasis/etc, and I don't usually appreciate the "make a star diva" crap that seems to be more rampant than normal today (e.g. Kelly Clarkson can kiss my ass, stupid no talent digitally enhanced ass clown).

    Doesn't mean it's not an art form, just means it's a departure from what you're used to and it's hard to identify with.

    Personally, I apply at least one standard

    1. If you're not purporting yourself as a DJ, learn to actually play/sing without digital filters and enhancements. That is, if you actually claim you can perform live, actually be able to do it.

    The stupid boy/girl bands and American Idol "stars" are nothing more than people with HALF an ounce of talent and the rest is in the mixing. Then they claim it's all their talent and hard work ...

    Tom
  • by Total_Wimp (564548) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @09:55AM (#17627732)
    This is insightful. In addition to the big funding, quality at the user level is also an issue. The 19 inch boxes in many home sjust wont cut it for a movie with a grand vision. Lots of people can't afford nice home theater setups, but they can spend 10 bucks to see a movie at the local cineplex. As soon as a viewing venue with limited supply comes into play(the movie theater) then distribution becomes an issue.

    Though it's true that wide distribution over the internet could theoretically drive movie theaters to show an idie film, the actual practice is that distribution is difficult, even if you assume theaters are open to talking with anyone (not likely). Even if an indie film made enough money in home distribution to give theaters reason to believe they'd have a good audience, proper negotiation channels just don't exist between an indie film maker and the massive number of theaters in the country, or world even. The indie film has to partner with someone big enough to ensure the film will get a wide release.

    The internet doesn't help in this environment. With such an important distribution channel locked up tight by the big guys, the movie maker who decides to avoid the big companies will miss out on about half of his revenue stream. Considering how hard it is for movies to make money (most films are not "Star Wars"), this kind of a loss is a real problem.

    Music is a little different because bands control performances and the internet is a perfect distribution channel that doesn't require a big label. But how will people know the band exists and that new music is available? How are people going to find out what this new band sounds like? Podcasts exist now, and internet radio over wireless is at least a possibility, but which ones are the big podcasts or internet radio stations that large numbers of people listen to?

    If you want to reach an audience larger than the neighborhood bars, you need your music to be heard by large numbers of people. Although that can happen virally, viral word of mouth only works for a small number of bands and songs at a time and only really works at all for people who have buddies who like to pester them about music. If you want to get the word out about your band, you have to go to an outlet that's popular enough that lots of people will listen to it. Whatever outlet becomes becomes most popular becomes a bottleneck. Whenever a bottleneck exists, large companies are going to try to, and will usually succeed in controlling it, just like they do with radio stations now.

    Once again, a band certainly could go it alone, and I applaud those that do, but not being able to get that large listening audience is going to keep most small bands small. It will mean that labels will be able to continue to offer a very compelling service, for a very steep price, if a band wants to hit it big.

    As long as you have scarcity and revenue, you'll have big companies trying, and largely succeeding, in controlling the two. I think indies can become much larger than they are now thanks to the internet, but it's highly unlikely they'll become the dominant source of entertainment.

    TW
  • It was about real piracy, by the media industry and government, to rape human rights and pillage bank accounts of the unrepresented pitiful defenseless public.

    OK more spin for US, EU, UN them; All megalomania persons in industry, government, and religion demand a semiliterate servile exploitable public or at least an oppressed fearful culture of hostages suffering with mass-hysteria Stockholm syndrome (identifying with the oppressors as good, fair, and reasonable).
  • by walt-sjc (145127) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:36AM (#17628168)

    Imagine an idiot posts something he or she later regrets to the web. It's foreseable that some of them would wish to recall/revoke/delete what they posted to the Internet. Today there is no way to put the "genie" back inthe bottle. 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.

    Imagine that you as a consumer PAID for a copy of that work, and then a week later found that you can no longer access the content you PAID for. I would bet that you would be a little miffed.

    Furthermore, you still haven't put the genie back in the bottle, it's still out, but you have deactivated private digital copies of the genie. For example: if you posted an anti-semitic video message on YouTube, the people who saw it will still remember it, and their comments talking about it will still exist. Don't forget that the analog hole still exists too - I can point a camera at my screen and record your video therefore bypassing your restrictions.

    IMHO, the lack of the ability for people to delete what they wrote (like on /.) should help train people to "think" before they stick their foot in their mouth. It's a good thing.

    Let's say that the audience never had ownership but simply could make micropayments

    Good luck finding the suckers willing to use such a system. Have you never dated a teen girl? They tend to listen to the same song 34,995,897 times. Your micropayments would have to be very Very VERY small to handle teen girls... You are better off selling your music on your own web site for $0.25 - $0.50 / song and keep 95% of sales instead of 2% like you do with the labels.

    It'd be like it was before technology, in the sense that the artist'd control all aspects of their fruits. Their fruits lived and died with them.

    Um, no. We still can read the writings of people who wrote books 1000 years ago, or painted pictures, etc. While we can't enjoy original performances of Shakespeare plays, we have the manuscripts to enable modern performances. Your "idea" is worse than no technology at all. If Shakespeare's works were in time-bombed e-book form only, they would be lost to the world.
  • by Gr8Apes (679165) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @10:42AM (#17628264)
    It does not have to be an absolute lossless copy, merely a good quality copy.

    Hint - there is no perfect photographic copy that can be made with film.... it's inherently lossy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @11:15AM (#17628790)
    I would like an answer to this question. Is a person purchasing a DVD or a license for to view and/or use the DVD (for that matter any other DRMed content)?

    Maybe some tax laws need to be explored to answer this. IANAL, but I question who owns the DVD or and DRMed content when purchased from a store. I've always thought that ownership changed hands when the taxes were paid. In the case of purchases from a store, or for that matter any purchase that included sales tax.

    If you are only purchasing a license and not ownership, why would you be paying taxes on the item. Do DVDs and/or other DRMed items tell you that you are only purchasing a license to view and/or use the material it contains?

    When I purchase an item and pay the taxes on said item, I consider myself the owner of that item unless I am told prior to the purchase that I'm only getting a license to view and/or use that item rather than gaining ownership of said item. When I buy a book or magazine, I own that book or magazine when I pay it and that includes the sales tax at which time the ownership of the physical item changes hands. I also understand copyright laws and fair rights. Why do electronic formats, which have the same copyright protections as written material, have the ability to take my fair use rights away from me? The only answer I can come up with is that when purchasing electronic formats that are DRMed, I'm purchasing a license to use and not ownership.

    But if I don't have ownership rights to the item, then someone else still retains ownership rights to that item. Since the item in question is only a copy, then that person that retains ownership of many copies of the item. Those items are an asset to the owner and taxes must be paid at sometime on those assets. If I'm only paying a sales tax on a license, then owner must be paying taxes on the ownership of all the copies he/she makes. Are the people that are selling licenses of DRMed material paying the taxes for ownership of those assets? Or did they pay the taxes on the materials needed to make the copies before the copies were made?

    The point is, if someone else retains ownership of items they sell you, and you pay the taxes on the items, that someone is retaining ownership of assets and getting others to pay their taxes for them.
  • by shaitand (626655) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:39PM (#17631400) Journal
    True. DRM simply stops the purchaser of content from excercising their fair use rights. Like using the content on different devices, making backup copies in case media gets scratched, etc.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @04:00PM (#17634036)
    At least Slashdot [...] hasn't, so far as I know, been involved in concealing Stalin's purges from the reading public,
    This has to be one of the most inane comments I've ever read on Slashdot. Hurray, this website is innocent of trying to cover up events that were public knowledge before its creators were even born! What virtue!

    as the British newspaper the Guardian was.
    Your source for this assertion, please? A brief check on Google doesn't bring up anything pertinent (except for Wikipedia, which singles out the Guardian as an example of one of the few left-wing sources that criticised Stalin.)

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