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DRM Causes Piracy 413

Posted by kdawson
from the obvious-when-you-think-about-it dept.
igorsk recommends an essay by Eric Flint, editor at Baen Publishing and an author himself, over at Baen's online SF magazine, Baen Universe. In it Flint argues that, far from curbing piracy of copyrighted materials, DRM actually causes it. Quoting: "Electronic copyright infringement is something that can only become an 'economic epidemic' under certain conditions. Any one of the following: 1) The products they want... are hard to find, and thus valuable. 2) The products they want are high-priced, so there's a fair amount of money to be saved by stealing them. 3) The legal products come with so many added-on nuisances that the illegal version is better to begin with. Those are the three conditions that will create widespread electronic copyright infringement, especially in combination. Why? Because they're the same three general conditions that create all large-scale smuggling enterprises. And... Guess what? It's precisely those three conditions that DRM creates in the first place. So far from being an impediment to so-called 'online piracy,' it's DRM itself that keeps fueling it and driving it forward."
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DRM Causes Piracy

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  • by Robotech_Master (14247) * on Saturday February 24, 2007 @03:48PM (#18135748) Homepage Journal
    Other editorials in the series include

    Column #1 [baens-universe.com]
    Column #2 [baens-universe.com]
    Column #3 [baens-universe.com]
    Column #4 [baens-universe.com]
    Column #5 [baens-universe.com]

    All of which are available in their entirety, despite the "1/3 to 1/2" thing.

    Good reading.
    • However (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:50PM (#18136120) Homepage
      I have bad news for the author: information still wants to be free

      "There are some people out there, possessed by the firm delusion that "information wants to be free"--as if bits of data had legs and went walking about on their own..."

      This is a strawman, and dumb. The contention that "information wants to be free" is a catchy way of saying "the properties of digital goods are such that their natural marginal cost is zero or practically indistinguishable from zero."

      Bad news for most people who would like to marginalize/otherwise dismiss the free culture argument: the economic basis for the contention that "information wants to be free" is rock solid. Scientific. To escape it you have to resort to name-calling etc., as here.
      • Re:However (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@xoxFREEBSDy.net minus bsd> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @05:03PM (#18136216) Homepage Journal
        Bad news for most people who would like to marginalize/otherwise dismiss the free culture argument: the economic basis for the contention that "information wants to be free" is rock solid. Scientific. To escape it you have to resort to name-calling etc., as here.

        Moreover, there is an information-theory perspective as well, involving the inherent nonconservative nature of information in its most basic forms. Digitization brings "information" closer to that basic form, by detaching it more thoroughly from physical media (books, tapes, etc.) and allows its basic attributes to come forward.

        There's nothing you can do to put that genie back in the bottle.
        • Re:However (Score:4, Insightful)

          by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Sunday February 25, 2007 @03:06PM (#18144780) Homepage

          I've also been thinking about all this recently from the standpoint of the expense of resources. The use of natural resources, the expense of pollution, the expense of the distribution chain, internet bandwidth, and even hard drive space. It's odd to think about in these terms, since it's usually painted as an issue of consumer rights vs. corporate profitability, or as the desires of the audience vs. the needs of the consumer.

          However, the pictures changes if, for a moment, we re-imagine it as a problem for society to solve: how do we efficiently manage the distribution of recorded arts? For the sake of argument, lets disregard the other concerns, such as managing who is authorized to view what, or financial reimbursements to artists. Just think of the problem of distribution of information, as though it's assumed that the information is free.

          Suddenly it becomes clear that physical distribution, in this day and age, is *stupid*. We have this huge network at our fingertips, and we're going to waste materials on manufacturing millions of CDs? Many of those CDs are going to ripped to MP3 and then sit on a shelf. For what purpose? We use land and materials to build physical record stores (and Best Buy), we use the materials for the actual media, we pay people to search/maintain the inventory, there's the trucks and the shipping, and all that crap. Think of all the man-time and materials wasted.

          Also, users needing to rely on the hard drives in their home computer to store a specific copy of a top-40 hit or a Hollywood movie is nonsense. Right now, the top movie on iTMS is "The Prestige". Consider for a moment if I had bought that movie from iTunes 20 minutes before my hard drive died. Now, why should I need to keep a copy on my local hard drive? The movie has already been ripped, and the data exists elsewhere on the Internet. In order for me to download the movie again would only cost in used bandwidth, but those costs can be mitigated, ironically, by the sheer number of people downloading it. I'm sure that it's obvious to everyone here that the solution is P2P (bittorrent).

          It's become clear to me that for a society concerned with using resources efficiently, sharing information via P2P networks is a solution that's almost too good to be true. I'm not just talking about hippy-talk "conservation" in the environmentalist sense. I'm talking about the human resources, the expense of intellectual thought, and the money spent. Overall, those resources, too, would be more efficiently managed through P2P distribution.

          Now, some people would complain that jobs would be lost, but that's inherent in using human resources efficiently. Some of the human resources currently spent on these distribution issues are being spent unnecessarily. That we don't break windows makes less work for the window-makers, but breaking windows does not generate wealth. (Yes, I guess I'm suggesting that the MPAA/RIAA have become an example of the broken-window fallacy, and therefore create a net-loss for society)

      • Re:However (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Have Blue (616) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @05:16PM (#18136368) Homepage
        There's one important fact that the free culture argument tends to neglect. Sure, a copy of a movie costs effectively zero. But the original has a cost that's decidedly nonzero. Information doesn't grow on trees, it takes energy to set it in a meaningful pattern that enables all those free copies.
        • Re:However (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bit01 (644603) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @06:13PM (#18136902)

          it takes energy to set it in a meaningful pattern that enables all those free copies.

          And that energy, when amortized over 6,578,462,507 [census.gov] people approaches zero, a fact that copyright fanatics like to ignore.

          With copyright law as it currently stands the cost of pretty much any mass market information is orders of magnitude higher than the cost of production. In other words, highly inefficient production with massive losses in marketing, controlling distribution and policing.

          I don't know what the complete answer is but I do know that the people who claim that copyright law as it is currently implemented is the only possible way information creators can benefit are fanatics, very likely entrenched interests and middlemen who know full well that they add no value. Parasites in other words.

          Intellectual property law is a pure product of the mind and can be anything that we want it to be. Even something as simple as discussing what the correct copyright period should be, right down to zero, should be discussed and scientifically justified rather than the hand waving like "nobody will create without copyright" (that's nonsense) or "copyright is the only option" (that's also nonsense).

          ---

          Like software, intellectual property law is a product of the mind, and can be anything we want it to be. Let's get it right.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I don't know what the complete answer is but I do know that the people who claim that copyright law as it is currently implemented is the only possible way information creators can benefit are fanatics, very likely entrenched interests and middlemen who know full well that they add no value. Parasites in other words.

            Your arbitrary generalisation is unwarranted.

            I'm sure there may be alternatives to copyright that have better results, but the favoured alternative of many -- piracy -- is not one of them.

            • Re:However (Score:5, Interesting)

              by Bert64 (520050) <bert&slashdot,firenzee,com> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @08:23PM (#18138030) Homepage
              I would differentiate between intellectual property and property, because when someone takes your property you are deprived of it.
              In the natural order of things, someone would need to physically take your property and deprive you of it, yet you can share intellectual property with as many people as you wish and still retain it yourself. Education is fundamental to society, and keeping information (which is all intellectual property really is) secret is detrimental to society as a whole... Imagine if the caveman who discovered fire hadn't told anyone else how to do it?
              Societies and the human race have prospered and advanced due to sharing information, but that continued advancement is slowed by the greedy few who want to keep information secret for their own benefit at the cost of society as a whole.

              As for scientifically justifying a copyright period, i would imagine by studying the relative pros and cons of each length of time, although it's very subjective depending on what information is being copyrighted.

              About profiting off the back of someone else's work... What do you call fair compensation? Many large companies generate huge profits from people's works, while giving those people a miniscule cut. Also, do you think someone should be able to continue making ridiculous profits indefinately? Surely there's a point where it's no longer fair compensation, and now they;re just ripping people off.

              Whatever system is used, it should be more consumer-friendly than the current copyright laws... The current laws allow copyright holders to charge anything they want, continue doing so for ridiculously long periods of time, and both restrict supply and discriminate as to who is allowed to buy copies and what they pay. (and yes, i consider media which costs far more in europe and comes out several months after the us to be racial discrimination)
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by mrchaotica (681592) *

              To give a specific example, the law of property ownership is a product of the mind. The natural state of things is that if I see something and it isn't tied down or guarded, it is mine if I want to take it. I always find it odd that people trot out the same tired arguments about how "intellectual property" and "real property" aren't at all the same thing, when in fact they are more similar than different. Both are artificial concepts created by the law. The consequences of taking someone else's property are

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by KDR_11k (778916)
                Imagine I'm holding a rock. The physical reality of the fact that I'm holding (i.e., owning) it prevents anyone else from holding (i.e., owning) it at the same time. Moreover, I can use that piece of property without having to give it to anyone else first (for example, I can tie it to the end of a stick and go kill an antelope with it). Moreover, I can only use it if I haven't given it to someone else.

                Yes but society as a whole would benefit if anyone could take that rock the moment you put it down and you
          • Re:However (Score:5, Insightful)

            by StrongAxe (713301) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @07:02PM (#18137338)
            And that energy, when amortized over 6,578,462,507 [census.gov] people approaches zero, a fact that copyright fanatics like to ignore.

            So, next time you want to make a $6 million dollar movie, you can distribute it for free as long as you can get everyone on the planet to mail you 1/10 of a cent up front to help you produce it. Good luck with that.
            • Re:However (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Digital Vomit (891734) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @09:07PM (#18138396) Homepage Journal
              I'd be willing to pay my share plus the shares of nine other people to fund a movie that sounds interesting.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by mrmeval (662166)
              Samuel Z. Arkov http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0035098/ [imdb.com]

              Whip up a poster and title and see who wanted some of that. :)

              And the Toxic Avenger also was made that way.
        • Re:However (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Yartrebo (690383) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @06:14PM (#18136912)
          And why is copyright automatically trotted out as the best way of getting it paid for?

          Copyright is extremely inefficient. It deters other innovation (generally by smaller and more creative people and firms) by making borrowing material very hard. Copyright sends many times (about 10x) more money to middlemen (CEOs, advertising, lawyers, trade groups, profits, retailers, etc) than to production. Copyright also leads to monopolies and censorship - both commercial and government. Copyright also leads to more advertising by restricting alternative distribution (compare TV via P2P and over the air), and advertising is a terrible way to raise money for anything.

          Just about any other system, including having a free-for-all, is going to work better than the current system.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      I have to strongly disagree with the premise of this article. DRM doesn't cause piracy; people do. I can't in good conscious begin to pretend that humans are mindless drones reacting to circumstances who have no personal responsibility in what they do. Blaming technology for people's actions is a road you don't want to take, or else someone could just as easily argue that the Internet "causes" child pornography or video games cause violence. Slashdotters often defend technologies against those in the pr
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        I have to strongly disagree with the premise of this article. DRM doesn't cause piracy; people do.
        Don't be daft. The basic presumption of any such article is "given the population as it is today". You and the media conglomerates could sit around all day wishing people had a greater sense of ethics, but they just fucking don't. This isn't a discussion of blame anyway; it's simply a discussion of cause and effect.
      • by loquacious d (635611) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @05:42PM (#18136610)

        But DRM radically reduces the value of legally-acquired media, while raising the value of pirated ones. Furthermore, I think there is a strong philosophical argument against the bare concept of DRM, as the rules it imposes restrict our actions to such a large degree as to remove our liberty as moral agents, preventing us from acting as moral agents at all.

        The first point is one of utility. Case in point: cleaning out my inbox today, I found a note from the iTunes store that the Good, the Bad and the Queen's album is only $8 for a limited time. I almost jumped at it, even clicked the "Buy this album..." button (I'm a big Albarn/Gorillaz fan), and then, filling in my password, I stopped to think. "This is only 128kbits," I thought to myself. "That sounds kinda chintzy on my headphones. I won't be able to send good tracks to my friends, or upload them to the poolhall jukebox at my school. I won't ever be able to play them on non-Apple DAPs without even more of a quality loss, or make them into ringtones for my friends' phones, or possibly be able to even listen to them at all once Apple gets over this DRM nonsense in 10 years. Shit, I don't even know if this album is any good, the free single was only so-so. I have food to buy. Huh."

        The problem with DRM'ed media, and this leads into my second point, is that you don't actually buy anything. If I buy a CD, or download an album off the internet, it is my property: I have the right to use it and abuse it, as far as my own system of morality allows. (For me this includes making mix CDs for my friends, emailing them hott traxx, dropping cool songs on my friends' iPods, playing on my radio shows, and all the uses I described above.) By restricting my use of the things I buy to a predefined set of "correct" actions, DRM removes my freedom to act as a moral agent.

        So I fired up Soulseek and—well, you know the rest of the story. I will happily agree that stealing the music is less moral than paying for it (though the profit split of $0.80 to Apple, $6.50 to the RIAA, and $0.70 to Damon Albarn seems a little off to me, as I would really like Damon Albarn to be as rich as he needs to be to keep making music—the people demand a new Gorillaz album!). But for the reasons above I think it's less immoral than what the RIAA and iTunes do to me when I buy into their DRM.

        That's my call, as a human being and a moral agent, and I should be free to make it. DRM restricts my freedom to a rigid set of rules, predetermined by a cartel of people completely removed from my life and reasons for action. We get the old saw: everything not compulsory is forbidden; everything not forbidden is compulsory. It destroys the possibility of agency, and in turn the possibility of any kind of moral action.

        I: just want to listen to music, where and how I want to. I'm happy to pay for it (and I do, more than I should), as long as my rights of property and agency are respected. They: want to destroy my personhood with an absolute and top-down system of "morality".

        Who's the bad guy?

  • indeed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 24, 2007 @03:52PM (#18135772)
    Couple of weeks ago I bought a movie online, which turned out to be DRM infected so I could not play it under Linux. I had to use Windows and FairPlay stripped the DRM from it to access the AVI inside.

    Do you think I care this movie is now being copied by my friends?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I have close to some 500 CD's, I don't have a CD player so I load them on my computer. Of the last 30 CD's I have bought about 10 of them have had some DRM so I cant load them on my computer (linux) if they don't work on my computer they are useless to me Because I cant listen to them so I have given up on buying CD's and now download them of the internet, why should I buy the CD's if I cant use them? (Most of the CD's with the DRM did no say they had DRM on them so I don't want to gamble my money on if I
      • I guess holding down the Shift key doesn't work for you.

        .

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        .

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        (for the lame ones among you who didn't get the joke, yes I know he's using Linux.)

    • Re:indeed (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Goaway (82658) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @08:38PM (#18138182) Homepage
      You "used Windows and FairPlay stripped the DRM from it to access the AVI inside"?

      There are no DRM'd formats with an "AVI inside". "FairPlay" is a DRM system used by Apple. It is certainly not a thing you can use to "strip the DRM from it and access the AVI inside" anything. There used to be a tool named "FairPlay", which worked on music files and not video files, and has long since been abandoned.

      So no, I do not think anybody cares that your imaginary friends are copying this imaginary file.
  • This article makes perfect sense on every aspect noted. This is exactly why MP3s are so heavily pirated. I must be honest though, I still purchase CDs when I find new music that I like, but I will never ever purchase MP3s with DRM protection.
  • by dmayle (200765) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @03:55PM (#18135782) Homepage Journal

    I bought XIII and had to pirate it to play it in my laptop (without the CD)

    I wanted to buy KT Tunstall's CD, but since I listen to my music on the computer, I had to pirate it (it's copy-protected)

    My wife and I have a collection of some 200 CD's, all of which are ripped to my computer, but we haven't bought a new CD in almost a year.

    There's a limit as to when we start pushing our customers too far, and they start to push back

    • THAT IS NOT PIRACY (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @06:29PM (#18137054) Journal

      I know what you are trying to say but you are playing right into the hands of the MPAA and RIAA and the like with these statements.

      Ripping a CD you bought to put the music on your mp3 player is NOT piracy. Yes the RIAA likes to call it that, wich is why they want to add a tax on mp3 players and want to force you to rebuy a track for each piece of equipment you buy it on.

      That CD you play on your stereo, a itunes track for your PC, the ring tone version for your phone and so on.

      HOWEVER that is NOT what you are legally required to do.

      As far as downloading a crack to run software that you bought, in free countries were politicians are not in the pocket of industry, this is 100% legal. Imagine it would be illegal for you to take the tape out of a cassette player and put it on a spindle player instead. For that matter, imagine the police tried to arrest you for breaking into your own car.

      The actions you claim to have done DO NOT fall under piracy (well unless you did them whole boarding a vessel with a cutlass between your teeth), they are fair use actions that your a perfectly entitled to do.

      To even call this piracy is to give the RIAA and MPAA exactly what they want, that consumers think that limits can be put on what can be done with products you own.

  • Sounds Familiar (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cfvgcfvg (942576) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @03:55PM (#18135786)
    It sure sounds alot like the reversed cause and effect of the "War on Drugs" or "War on Terrorism". Will the government ever learn to back off and let the free market guide itself? And yes, I know the *AA's are the ones pushing for more laws and arrests, but they wouldn't be succeeding without the blessing of the government.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      I'm puzzled, how would the market solve the war on terrorism?
      • by Winckle (870180)
        They open a halal McDonalds in Saudi Arabia, the Would Be Suicide Bombers love the cheap tasty food so much they decide they like America and won't attack it?
      • Re:Sounds Familiar (Score:4, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:59PM (#18136180)
        FlySafe airlines would have to compete with FlyCheap airlines. Individuals could make their own choices about how much security they thought they needed in the air. A bunch of people would die, and FlyCheap's assets would be bought out by FlySafeEnough airlines.

        (what percentage of people interact with 'the war on terror' anywhere else?)

        It all depends on what value you assign to the lives of the various other people on the planet; if you use the apparent acceptable rate of car accident deaths(~1/10000 a year in the US), we are spending way too much on anti terror measures(the death rate due to terrorism is way lower than that for US citizens, even if you include 9/11 and soldiers dying in Iraq and so forth). Basically, the free market would ignore it and move on, much to the chagrin of the dead, but to the profit of the living.
    • by El Cubano (631386)

      It sure sounds alot like the reversed cause and effect of the "War on Drugs" or "War on Terrorism". Will the government ever learn to back off and let the free market guide itself?

      The War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism are two completely different things. The drug cartels are motivated by money. The terrorists are motivated primarily by religion and hatred. If we get every single drug user in America clean, the demand will disappear and there will be no more monetary incentive for the cartels to br

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)
        The war on drugs is about ensuring that citizens are addicted to indigenous drugs, and that the profits are centrally controlled.

        That's why it's OK for Americans to be addicted to cigarettes and alcohol but not cocaine or crystal meth.

        Having everyone addicted to cocaine is a threat to national sovereignty.

        Having them addicted to meth is a threat to profits.

        The free market would have everyone buying cheap meth or homemade shine, or addicted to foreign produced coke.

        As it stands now, they're buying whiskey, c
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Planesdragon (210349)
          The war on drugs is about ensuring that citizens are addicted to indigenous drugs, and that the profits are centrally controlled.

          Only if you count the war on cannabis as "the war on drugs." If you exclude that miscatagorized weed, you get almost exactly the purposes they say the War on Drugs is for.

          If it weren't for use if illegal drugs, Richard Pryor would still be able to perform and Kurt Cobain would likely still be alive.
        • by arivanov (12034)
          Keep your military and your CIA at home, and there will be no terrorism.

          Err... Not entirely correct.

          The sole mistake Americans make is by automatically assuming that "The enemy of my enemy is my friend". All other mistakes including sending the military and the CIA are a mere consequence of this one.

          Bin Laden was made out of nothing through the enemy of my enemy principle. He is not the only one jinn to be unbottled in this manner. Plenty of others.

        • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @06:24PM (#18137016) Homepage Journal

          The war on drugs is about ensuring that citizens are addicted to indigenous drugs, and that the profits are centrally controlled.

          That doesn't explain why the US government has so aggressively gone after marijuana cultivation here in the US. It also doesn't explain why the extremely powerful tobacco lobby keeps losing in court battles, or how these profits are "centrally controlled."

          That's why it's OK for Americans to be addicted to cigarettes and alcohol but not cocaine or crystal meth.

          Umm... you do know that crystal meth [wikipedia.org] is produced in the United States, right? You seem to also imply that the only reason cocaine is illegal almost everywhere [wikipedia.org] stems from the fact that coca leaves don't come from the United States. Perhaps that's right, if you assume that cocaine is a benign substance, and there's a globe-spanning conspiracy to keep this beneficial substance from citizens everywhere.

          Having everyone addicted to cocaine is a threat to national sovereignty.

          By that logic, the fact that so many Americans can't do without coffee should be serious cause for alarm. Time to crank up the Blackhawks, bring the SEALs down to Columbia, and lets take control of those coffee fields!

          Having them addicted to meth is a threat to profits.

          Is that because meth-addicted people will buy less alcohol and cigarettes?

          The free market would have everyone buying cheap meth or homemade shine, or addicted to foreign produced coke.

          That would be swell. I like that idea. More addiction for everyone!

          As it stands now, they're buying whiskey, cigarettes and cough syrup, which is just the way those on top like it.

          Yes, because The Sinister Cabal that runs America has made it so. The tobacco lobby is totally unrelated to the fact that in many southern states, the biggest cash crop is tobacco. Voters there probably don't want to promote the interests of tobacco growers. They've been forced to do so by The Man. Likewise, the alchohol distributors have effectively maintained a monopoly by keeping foreign-supplied beer, wine, whiskey, and every other form of alchohol out of America. Oh, wait. They haven't.

          The war on terror, on the other hand, is easy to fix.

          Of course it is. Whenever the world is binary, the solution is obvious.

          Keep your military and your CIA at home, and there will be no terrorism.

          Absolutely right. It wasn't until the US pulled out of Northern Ireland that the terrorism there and in the UK stopped. The Red Brigades and the Red Army Faction were terrorizing Italy and Germany until the US military left Europe. The Basque ETA. The Pakistani groups operating in India. Abu Sayyaf. All of these groups obviously will disappear as soon as the CIA disappears and the US military ends all its foreign presence.

          The terrorists are after vengence because they have been and continue to be systematically wronged. By Americans.

          Again, you see through the nuance quite clearly. There are no opportunists in the world of terrorism. These are all idealogically committed individuals, ready to give their lives for higher principles. Certainly none of them are using terrorism as a vehicle to further profiteering or mere power grabs. I think we can all agree that any problems that occur anywhere in the world are the result of America's negative influence.

          Well, it might be too late now. I imagine there are a lot of orphaned children who aren't going to forget what was done to them.

          You're right. All of the Shia children whose parents were killed by Sunnis, and all the Sunni children whose parents

    • DRM was not invented by the government and would exist even without government involvement in the form of the DMCA which is a paper tiger anyways. DRM was created by the "free" market, which is largely a libertarian fantasy anyways. That being said the "War on (non-Tobacco-or-Alcohol) Drugs" and "War on (non-Israeli-or-Saudi) Terror" are total crocks of shit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by russotto (537200)
        DRM -- originally called copy protection -- was created by the market. And it mostly died in the market. It took the DMCA to make DRM look viable again.
    • by Hennell (1005107)
      Yes but governments don't exist without the blessings of groups like the *AA's. If lobby groups can't get the government to do what they want, they either stop 'donate' money until they do, or give money to the other side on the condition they'll do what their told.
    • Re:Sounds Familiar (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:41PM (#18136066)
      That was what I was thinking -- it's just the same as the War On Some Drugs. Although most recreational drugs theoretically should cost pennies per dose (poppies, cannabis, hallucinogenic mushrooms and cacti, coca and valerian all grow wild, and they're just the ones I can think off off the top of my head), the very fact that they are illegal introduces artificial scarcity and allows dealers to control prices. And such "legal" ways of getting high as there are, are a PITB. There are medicines you can buy from a pharmacy that will get you off your tits (e.g. Paramol {Paracetamol and Dihydrocodeine}; Benylin Chesty Coughs -- two drugs in one really, Original {Diphenhydramine} is a downer, Non-Drowsy {Guaifenesin} is a mild upper; Night Nurse {diphenhydramine, same ingredient as Benylin Original} and the perennial standby, Kaolin and Morphine mixture -- worth faking a tummy ache to be given a dose of) if you take enough of them, and of course there's booze ..... but getting p!$$&d really isn't quite the same thing. It's too dirty a "high". There are legal plant extracts but the reason that most of them haven't been banned is that they aren't really much cop (though Sida Cordifolia isn't bad ..... name's a bit off-putting if you speak French though).

      Most of the crime is created in response to the problem of illegality. Junkies steal to buy heroin because it's sold at vastly inflated prices by dealers, they daren't seek help for fear of dropping their mates in the s#!t, and anyway they're already criminals just for having a toot so what's a bit of thieving between friends? Tobacco is more addictive than heroin (to the extent you can compare an illegal drug with a legal one), yet smokers are generally law-abiding. Apart from the ones who are bleeding the National Health Service dry by buying tobacco abroad ..... we should send them to Belgium to get treated if they get cancer ..... but I digress.
  • by Xest (935314) * on Saturday February 24, 2007 @03:59PM (#18135816)
    Honestly, the response to the recent petition to the UK goverment to ban DRM almost sounded like it was produced for the goverment by the RIAA and Macrovision combined. The response in full:

    Digital rights issues have been gaining increasing prominence as innovation accelerates, more and more digital media products and services come onto the market and the consumer wants to get access to digital content over different platforms. Many content providers have been embedding access and management tools to protect their rights and, for example, prevent illegal copying. We believe that they should be able to continue to protect their content in this way. However, DRM does not only act as a policeman through technical protection measures, it also enables content companies to offer the consumer unprecedented choice in terms of how they consume content, and the corresponding price they wish to pay.

    It is clear though that the needs and rights of consumers must also be carefully safeguarded. It is reasonable for consumers to be informed what is actually being offered for sale, for example, and how and where the purchaser will be able to use the product, and any restrictions applied. While there is good reason to expect the market to reach a balance as these new markets develop, it is important that consumers' interests are maintained in the meantime.

    Apart from the APIG (All Party Internet Group) report on DRM referred to in your petition, Digital Rights issues are an important component in other major HMG review strands on Intellectual Property, New Media and the Creative Economy. In particular, the independent Gowers Review of Intellectual Property commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, published its report on 6th December 2006 as part of the Chancellor's Pre-Budget Report. Recommendations include introducing a limited private copying exception by 2008 for format shifting for works published after the date that the law comes into effect. There should be no accompanying levies for consumers. Also making it easier for users to file notice of complaints procedures relating to Digital Rights Management tools by providing an accessible web interface on the Patent Office website by 2008 and that DTI should investigate the possibility of providing consumer guidance on DRM systems through a labelling convention without imposing unnecessary regulatory burdens.
  • by ViX44 (893232) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:01PM (#18135832)
    Step 1: Complain about drop-in-the-ocean piracy for a decade.
    Step 2: Get DMCA on your side so you can make a criminal out of anyone at will.
    Step 3: Sell defective products. When people are compelled to pirate on a larger scale because the Disney DVD they rented for the kids keeps fading in and out visually and audiably, or skips and dies on a particular scene...
    Step 4: Point at all the new, higher piracy figures and dance around singing about how the piracy problem is getting worse and how you need more DRM power.
    Step 5: Wait for the sheep to get used to the new order.

    Fortunately, it's unlikely this will work. Look at DVD advertisements. I recently popped in Joe's Apartment (it was free and I like bad films) and there was not trailers, commercials, or even a stop at the menu screen. Straight to reel one. A short while back I was watching a new release (I forget the title) and it was telling me all about how the new HD-DVD (or Blueray, I wasn't paying much attention) is going to be worth buying new hardware at shocking prices because the disc will play the film immediately. ...apparently the ads and menu page were snuck into the DVD ISO standard when we were sleeping.

    Thus, the cycle is complete; the studios received just enough annoyed customer complaints about the previews, ads, and intro garbage that they started making them skipable, or at least fastforwardable, and now they're going to temporarily give us immediate play back. Aren't we loved?

    Frankly, I don't think it's really the ads that ticked people off -- we've been tolerating them since '46. It's the fact that no one who pushes a button on a remote control wants to see a red X or Ø appear. They want action.
    • Step 3: Sell defective products. When people are compelled to pirate on a larger scale because the Disney DVD they rented for the kids keeps fading in and out visually and audiably, or skips and dies on a particular scene...

      Skips and dies on a scene? Do you have a source for that? I've never seen that as a problem except for very abused DVDs, and that's the problem of with the business renting it, not the company that made the original disc. The renting company should provide a non-scratched DVD in repla
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ViX44 (893232)
        I've worked part-time in a video store, so I watch films, new disks and old, frequently. Trends I've noticed include:

        Fade-in/fade-out. Seems to be a decendant of the old Macrovision system. I've seen it happen a few times, notably when I popped The Fox and the Hound (not the most recent issue) in the store's DVD player. I've run other films, Disney and otherwise, that played properly. Amongst customers, I've received multiple independent complaints of the fading problem specifically on academy
    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:22PM (#18135954)
      Frankly, I don't think it's really the ads that ticked people off -

      Not so fast here. The ads may not have ticked you off the first time you played the disc. But what about the second time? After all, nobody buys a DVD to only play once.

    • by cptgrudge (177113) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {egdurgtpc}> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @05:54PM (#18136748) Journal

      It's the fact that no one who pushes a button on a remote control wants to see a red X or Ø appear. They want action.

      So true. So very true. Whenever I see that, I feel this icky, semi-irrational anger at the device that dares defy me, when I know that it is an artificial block to keep me watching a preview or whatever. My anger is partly directed at the device, partly at the manufacturer, and partly at the movie studio that made the movie.

      It's frustrating because I can't actually do anything about it to effect a change. If I stop buying movies made by that particular studio, they'll have no idea why. They may figure that people dislike their movies, they may figure that piracy is hurting sales, or they may come up with with some other reason except the real one, because my reason is beyond what they think will cause consumers grief enough to stop buying.

      Instead, they market the "removal" of the irritant as a "feature" of a new format and continue to keep me from convenient device shifting. This is BULLSHIT. I'm done with it, so take note, movie industry players, hardware and content alike. I will never buy one of the new format discs. I'll rent and rip, from Blockbuster or Netflix or whatever. My home media server is the end of the line for them. A post-DVD format disc will never be bought, let alone a dedicated player for the TV. They lose. I'll build a petabyte RAID array to dump ripped movies before I pay them another dime.

      They give me an non-DRM alternative that I can download, and I'll return to being a paying customer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dirtside (91468)

        they'll have no idea why

        Get off your ass and write them a letter. A real, honest-to-Godzilla ink-on-paper letter (feel free to write it on the computer and print it out, but whatever). Corporations pay orders of mangnitude more attention to paper letters than they do to email, for example.

        Your one letter isn't likely to change anything by itself, and short of orchestrating a boycott and associated letter-writing campaign, it's the most you can do individually. But if enough people stop buying DVDs becaus

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by StrongAxe (713301)
      You forgot the (totally appropriate in this case) cliche:

      Step 6: Profit!
  • Laws == Crime (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sinistre (59027) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:09PM (#18135870) Homepage
    The more laws you have - the more crime you'll see.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by GiovanniZero (1006365)
      If only we had no laws there could be no crime! Then wouldn't we be happy! Sure murders, assaults and rapes would go unpunished. But that's because there is nothing to punish because they're not crimes!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        No, but when you start having vast quantities of unnecessary or harmful laws on the books, you will see more "crime", although it's crime that is crime in name only.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dunbal (464142)
        Sure murders, assaults and rapes would go unpunished.

              I guarantee you that they would not go unpunished. The punishment in an anarchistic society could even be rather extreme. I'd kill you, and your entire family. Who would stop me?
  • dvds (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pompatus (642396) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:10PM (#18135872) Journal
    It's true for me that the quality of downloaded movies is better than the dvd I can rent at blockbuster. I couldn't beleive all the CRAP that goes on DVDs now. It was an inconvenience before that I had to click play a couple of times through menus to watch the movie, but now there are COMMERCIALS!!! WTF!!! Scroll through a list of movies, double click on a file and have the movie start, vs keeping track of disks (I wont even mention scratched disks), navigating through menu systems, watching 10 minutes of commercials and previews I dont care about. Hmmm. Tough choice.
  • Must agree here. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:18PM (#18135928) Homepage Journal
    I got some coupons for free mp3 that came with chips I buy on regular basis. Big campaing, "free, legal MP3".
    So I decided to "cash them in". So I login to the site described on the coupon. "Sorry, but this site requires Internet Explorer 6 or higher".
    Then registration process, asking me for granny's dog's name and so on. Then confirmation email. Then it tells me to download their player. Then the files which are not MP3 but some of their own DRM'd format. And of course unplayable in anything but their crappy player. No way to use them in a portable mp3 player, no easy way of burning them to a CD (outside of ripping audio mixer channel) and of course no way of playing them on another computer, even with said player installed (need login). Ah, and no playback without network connection.

    Thanks, no "Legal MP3", even for free, please.
  • Downloading happens because people like free stuff. Trying to analyze the marginal reasons for a few percent of them misses the earth-spanning forest for a few twigs.

    1) The products they want... are hard to find, and thus valuable.

    Most "rare" materials aren't available in DRM form. What causes the copyright infringement isn't the DRM but the fact that you can't get it at all. If they're available with DRM, then the supply is large: just go pay for it and download it.

    2) The products they want are high-pric
    • Re:Mostly rubbish (Score:4, Informative)

      by Robotech_Master (14247) * on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:43PM (#18136080) Homepage Journal

      Most "rare" materials aren't available in DRM form. What causes the copyright infringement isn't the DRM but the fact that you can't get it at all. If they're available with DRM, then the supply is large: just go pay for it and download it.
      That's part of Flint's point. If there's no ebook version of it at all, a for-sale DRM-free ebook version of it is so "rare" as to be unavailable. But if it's available with DRM, then a for-sale DRM-free ebook version of it--which is, again, what people want--is also so rare as to be unavailable.

      If I'm looking for an apple, and you offer me a cart full of oranges and say, "See, there's plenty of fruit," it's still not going to satisfy my desire for an apple.

      What is DRMed and also "high-priced"? Songs are a buck on iTunes. Movies are twenty bucks on DVD. It may be more than you want to pay but it's not a vast amount of money.
      Songs are the exception, and that's mainly because Steve Jobs bullied the music companies into going with the 99 cent price point. You can bet they'd raise the prices if they could. And even Steve Jobs doesn't like DRM any longer; neither does Bill Gates.

      But look at some of the books on eReader [ereader.com]. For instance, A March into Darkness by Robert Newcomb [ereader.com]. $17.95 for the DRM'd ebook at eReader, $17.79 for the unprotected hardcover at Amazon [amazon.com]. Granted, this probably isn't the best example because the list price for the hardcover is actually $26, and you can knock 10% off the eReader price by using their newsletter discount code, but it only took me two minutes of searching to find it. If I wanted to look longer, I could probably find a lot more egregious examples. And anyway, with Baen able to sell their ebooks profitably for $5 or less each without killing print book sales, even of their hardcovers, there's no earthly reason an ebook should cost $10, let alone $18, apart from the dual evils of pricey DRM (do you know how much eReader charges for their ebook services? People I know who've checked on it say it's quite a lot) and publishers not wanting ebooks to "cannibalize" print sales.
  • by seebs (15766) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @04:27PM (#18135984) Homepage
    http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/web/library/ us-cranky19.html [ibm.com]

    Jim Baen kindly responded to my email asking him why they'd selected open standards and formats: "Because not only are our readers, in the main, not thieves, but because there is nothing there that is stealable." His point is an interesting one: there's not much point in stealing paperback books -- they are pretty cheap -- and you couldn't print out the text for less than it would cost to buy the book. The only people who could possibly be "stealing" are the ones who, for whatever reason, end up not wanting the books and they wouldn't have bought the books anyway.


    Jim Baen died last summer, but Baen Books still gives away a huge number of books in completely unencrypted, un-DRM'd formats. I think I have bought well over $100 of their buyable e-books, because I can read them on anything I want, any time I want.
  • My local library lends DRM infested AV materials, which in it self is reasonable. However, I have a friend who rents material to use on his palm which from what I'm told doesn't support these files. The only viable solution, other than investing in another pocket device, is to copy the media, strip the DRM so he can actually use it. Whats funny is he's actually an honest joe who does delete the material after it's been used, so he's not actually pirating it, only violating the DMCA.

    Someone else would lik
  • I suspect that the record companies want more poiracy. Then they can get a blank CD/DVD/hard drive tax similar to the one in place on blank audio cassettes.

    That's where the steady income lies, for them.

  • [Guns don't kill people. I do.]
  • by russ1337 (938915) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @05:09PM (#18136290)
    Principle 2: "The products they want are high-priced, so there's a fair amount of money to be saved by stealing them"

    I can attest to this 100% - in a different, but similar area many are familiar with. My example is my experience with WindowsXP. When I lived in New Zealand, I could not afford the NZD$536 [dse.co.nz] (USD$377) for XP home to keep my CS:S habit alive, so I used a 'less than legitimate' copy of XP. Anyway, when I moved to the US I thought I'd go legit only because after a visit to Frys i saw i could pick up XP off the shelf at (USD$199 [outpost.com]) - almost half the price. Even better I managed to get an OEM XP home for just over a hundred bucks.

    Now there's no way I'm paying NZ$536 (USD$377) for an OS. No way. No way in hell. However, I was happy enough to part with a hundy for the OEM version. I didnt know of Linux at the time (now have 3 PC's on Ubuntu), but wanted XP to play CS:S and various other Windows games I'd paid for over the years (because they were well priced!!!)

    So yeah, hopefully big business will wake up and smell the coffee one of these days.
  • by OakLEE (91103) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @05:19PM (#18136402)
    But the article asserts that DRM causes more piracy. The summary of the article in the blurb does great injustice to the article by implying that but for the existence of DRM, there would be no piracy. That is frankly false. Piracy has been a problem since well before DRM (that's why they created it), and it would probably be one if DRM ceased to exist.

    Personally, I think the key issue with piracy is not DRM, but the fact that piracy and copyright infringement are becoming an acceptable to increasingly commit. The result of this is a situation where the laws of society are arguably out of sink with its values. Situations like this are hard to maintain because we depend as much on societal stigma as we do on criminal punishment to deter most crimes. When stigma is lacking or low, we often try to make up for this by adding criminal punishment to increase deterrence.

    The problem with this, of course, is that it creates a paradoxical situation where we punish people more for crimes we care less about (another example, non-violent drug offenses). Thus you end up with a situation where people are morally outraged, even fearful, at the threat of having the book thrown at them for a crime they do not consider "bad" at all.

    The biggest problem though for copyright infringement is that society normally deals with "lesser" crimes like these by imposing fines on the violator like with speeding for instance. People speed, and when they get caught they pay the fine, go to traffic school, and continue speeding. To most, the fine and traffic school are just the transactional cost of speeding to them.

    However, infringement is inherently tough to solve with fines, because it is an economic crime, not a behavioral one. A reasonable fine, the cost of purchasing the infringed material, would have at best a neutral effect on infringement society-wide. People would just infringe, take their chances, and worst case pay up if they get caught. However setting fines too high, as the current system arguably has them, has an even worse effect though, since your average infringer will tend to infringe more than otherwise, the logic being that "if getting caught for a little infringement is going to bankrupt me, I might as well get my money's worth by infringing a lot." Unreasonably high fines also create a situation where the infringed party inherently knows that the infringer is likely judgment proof (cannot pay the fines), further pissing them off. At this point, society tries criminal penalties as well as fines, which leads us to the current system we have.

    Obviously solving this problem is a toughy. We could kill copyright infringement as a crime, much as we repealed Prohibition, but that could create other problems, such as disincentivizing creativty, or encouraging tighter DRM, as creators deal with the ramifications. I offer no solutions, but this is the problem as I see it.
  • No (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kohath (38547) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @05:24PM (#18136444)
    People decide to do things. "Piracy", in this case, is something a person decides to do. Each individual has the choice to act or not. DRM doesn't cause piracy. It probably creates incentives for piracy, but the choice still exists.

    The whole [some factor] "causes" [some behavior] is simply an assault on free will and an invitation to elite social engineers to take away more freedom from people.

    People behave the way they want to.

    (Example: Did videogames "cause" the Columbine massacre, or did some kids decide to massacre some people?)
  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @05:49PM (#18136690)
    Whenever I read about piracy, I always remember this scene from Amazon Women on the Moon.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7I5dVBezF9k [youtube.com]

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