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Hollywood's DRM Agenda Moving Forward 288

risingphoenix writes "The New York Times has a story about the progress Hollywood has made putting Digtal Rights Management in the marketplace. The story focuses on what technology is currently in place; what the next moves, technically and legally, are for the industry and how consumers are being affected by Hollywoods power grab."
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Hollywood's DRM Agenda Moving Forward

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  • Speed bumps (Score:5, Funny)

    by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:05AM (#5019535)
    "We need to put in speed bumps to keep people honest," said Jack Valenti

    Personally, I think Jack Valenti needs a few speed bumps on his head to knock some sense into him.
    • Re:Speed bumps (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:33AM (#5019639) Homepage
      The problem with the MPAA is that they can't understand that maximizing revenue is not consistent with making your customers the enemy.

      The biggest problem with all these DRM schemes is that the restrictions are pointlessly complex so the consumer can't understand them. The other closely connected problem is not telling the customer about them.

      It will be interesting to see whether stopping people from recording pay per view increases viewership or as I expect causes people not to pay the already exhorbitant fees.

    • Re:Speed bumps (Score:4, Insightful)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:36AM (#5019650)
      "If we don't, our future is bleak."

      They are so full of shit. I am too lazy on a Sunday morning to look for the article but they made tons more money this year than last. I download movies like fucking crazy (mostly DVD rips). But just last week (in a 7 day time span) I went to see three movies (Gangs of NY, LOTR, and Harry Potter 2). Two of those movies were w/another person (Gangs of NY would not be appreciated by my gf :) I have rented 3 DVDs in two weeks...

      Now. Sure. I have probably 100 DVD rips. But that doesn't mean that they have lost anymore money on me than they would have on anyone else.

      If I didn't download them, I wouldn't have watched it at all. No money lost here.

      They made a fortune on me in the past two weeks... Get over it Hollywood. When your fucking "stars" quit parading around in their jewels, fancy cars bought for each other, and see through dresses and start showing up to $1 theatres dressed in rags and dragging four children along that you had to pull from the nearest dumpster after they ate for the latest hollywood premiere, don't come crying to me.
      • Re:Speed bumps (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Lonath ( 249354 )
        WTF dude. Not only are you giving them money to use to take away from computers, you're parroting that tired old line that "I wouldn't have bought/seen them anyway" to justify stealing. If you want to stop this, then stop giving them money so they can't implement these things, and also don't copy things illegally since you're just giving them reasons to take away computers. This isn't really about piracy anyway. It's about control. They're no different than the scribes who got the government to restrict the printing press a few hundred years ago (look up "Stationers Guild" and "printing press") and was the reason why freedom of speech and of the press are in the Bill of Rights. You're doing exactly what they want: giving them money and an excuse to fuck you and everyone else.
        • Re:Speed bumps (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          WTF dude. Not only are you giving them money to use to take away from computers, you're parroting that tired old line that "I wouldn't have bought/seen them anyway" to justify stealing. If you want to stop this, then stop giving them money so they can't implement these things, and also don't copy things illegally since you're just giving them reasons to take away computers.

          Nah. Carry on paying for movies to the same extent you would anyway. Carry on copying movies to the same extent you would anyway. They don't stand a chance at actually succeeding in their machinations, but it's amusing to watch.

          What's the best they've managed so far?

          "Hmmm it's illegal for people to copy these big files that we create and have initial control of, but people copy them anyway! How can we stop them?"

          "I know, let's make it illegal for them to copy and distribute the files that let them crack the incription, you know, the ones we don't create and have no control over. There's no way they'll be able to share files like that when it's illegal!"

          Now that's entertainment worth paying them for.
    • by giel ( 554962 )

      When going to the movies or renting a movie I always create a copy using a very sofisticated on a biological base containing very obscure and obfuscated encoding mechanisms, which I can and do use to provide friends with information on subjects such as if the movie was good or whether it was crap and what it was all about.

      All of it does sound so illegal, they might even be able to drag me into court for doing so...

      It's just a matter of a few years and they will force you to forget what you've seen when leaving a theatre...

    • Remember those play once, then throw away DVDs called DivX? We all stayed away from them in droves. We will buy what we want, not what Jack Valenti wants to cram down our throats. Jack Valenti is one stupid son of a bitch.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:13AM (#5019571)
    #!/usr/bin/perl -w
    # 531-byte qrpff-fast, Keith Winstein and Marc Horowitz
    # MPEG 2 PS VOB file on stdin -> descrambled output on stdout
    # arguments: title key bytes in least to most-significant order
    $_='while(read+STDIN,$_,2048){$a=29;$b=73;$ c=142;$ t=255;@t=map{$_%16or$t^=$c^=(
    $m=(11,10,116,100,1 1,122,20,100)[$_/16%8])$t^=(72, @z=(64,72,$a^=12*($_%16
    -2?0:$m&17)),$b^=$_%64?12 :0,@z)[$_%8]}(16..271);if ((@a=unx"C*",$_)[20]&48){$h
    =5;$_=unxb24,join"",@ b=map{xB8,unxb8,chr($_^$a[--$ h+84])}@ARGV;s/...$/1$&/;$
    d=unxV,xb25,$_;$e=256| (ord$b[4])>8^($f=$t&($d>>12^ $d>>4^
    $d^$d/8))>8^($t&($g=($q=$e>>14&7^$e)^$q*8^ $q>=8)+= $f+(~$g&$t))for@a[128..$#a]}print+x"C*",@a}';s/x/p ack+/g;eval

    From A Cave Somewhere In Amerika,

    • Now you've done it, they are going to hunt you down with some new flashy, expensive, and dubiously constitutional surveillance system, and attack you for distributing circumvention devices.
      (I wish this was completely joking...)
  • Stop watching TV.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by netsharc ( 195805 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:14AM (#5019578)
    So what, Hollywood makes shit anyway. Turn off your TV, stop the flow of bullshit that will only numb your brain and not entertain you. Learn something new, build something, tell someone you love them, evolve from the dumb mass-market consumer that we are.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      and start reading /. that'll stop the flow... oh wait a minute, never mind
    • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @12:37PM (#5019873) Homepage Journal
      You and the New York Times are missing the bigger picture. You say that we should stop watching TV and movies if we don't like what we see. Great, I doubt anyone would object to that. I don't pay for cable TV and I rarely watch broadcast. I'll miss broadcast TV when the feds turn it into some kind of ecrypted nightmare, but not much more than I miss it now. Right now I miss it a whole lot. What I'm talking about is the fact that there are millions of people making content that I will never be aware of. The larger problem is that DRM is being used to conqure the digital world and perpetuate the artificial scarcity of recorded music and films that 100 year old technology created.

      That evil box sitting on your TV and "media consolidation" are the keys to making every place as unserved by culture as North West Alaska in 1910. Media consolidation assures the current broadcasters that no on else will be able to provide content. will die sooner or later under it's lawsuit loads, and all the others that would do likewise know better than to throw good money after bad. That evil box on your TV will makes sure no one else can create content that your TV will play. An equivalent box in the local movie theater already prescribes what content will apear on the screen and when - without a physical copy ever entering the building. Wanna try to get your movie distributed in a theater like that? Good luck trying to own the satilite, and escaping the FBI if you try. The theater owner can't help you even if they wanted to.

      The only solution is to create a peer maintained independent wireless network. All the wires are owned by people who think they can screw you all day long.

      • twitter wrote:

        > An equivalent box in the local movie theater
        > already prescribes what content will apear on the
        > screen and when - without a physical copy ever
        > entering the building. Wanna try to get your movie
        > distributed in a theater like that? Good luck
        > trying to own the satilite, and escaping the FBI
        > if you try. The theater owner can't help you even
        > if they wanted to.

        "Shanghai Ghetto" recently appeared in theatres in New York and LA. It wasn't made by Hollywood, but by two people and their Mac on a shoestring budget.

        You are right that the **AA want to keep the market to themselves and crush competition. They are, after all, thinly disguised cartels. But that competition is only growing. "Shanghai Ghetto" is not the first movie that two person studio produced. Indie labels and basement music studios are becoming more widespread. Slashdot even had an article recently about a fan produced StarTrek episode.

        This isn't a 100 years ago. The technology exists now for the people to create their own movies and music, and the prices are coming down. Heck, I saw a magazine the other day that had instructions on how to build your own video and audio editing computers. Internet radio is here, and will not be here long if they have to rely only on the RIAA and their price gouging to get music to play. P2P, as most indies will admit, is a great way to promote your works. The companies that provide ecommerce services to shareware authors probably wouldn't mind doing the same for individual artists with basement studios.

        An indie artist could (and some already do) record in their, or a friend's, basement studio, use internet radio and P2P for promotion, and when there is demand, sell CDs on Kagi and the like. For music, the big labels are unneccessary unless you want big fame (big financial headaches, depression, etc.). Indie movies are a bit harder, but as "Shanghai Ghetto" shows us, they are already possible.

        As for machines to play them in, the ones you have work fine for now. When the consumer and computer industries have noticed that we have stopped buying, they will chuck DRM in favor of their own survival (at least they will have that option if the Hollings bill never passes). Without the Hollings bill, some (Apple and certaily the Asian manufacturers who don't give a fig about DRM) will keep making DRM free machines all along.

        As for the media sharks, they have had far too long to exploit their exclusive technology. It isn't exclusive anymore. If they can't make good music and movies, if they can't treat their artists and customers right, dump them. It is high time for the people to wake up, stop being dumb consumers, and start singing their own songs and telling their own stories! To do so is a human right, a right that has been denied far too long.

        "They bind our hearts: 'Let's sell them again and again!'
        Our plan understands the sea; we can wait for her coming."
        From the song "Infanto no Musume" in the Japanese version of "Mothra" (1961).
        In "The Daughters of Infant Island", the fairies sing of their slavery and hope of rescue.
        The people on the ship "Orion" laugh and carouse as they hear the song in their own language.
        That is why Baby Mothra destroys the ship, the only time she kills in the Japanese version.
  • Sorta OT... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by handsomepete ( 561396 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:17AM (#5019595) Journal
    Is it possible that the MPAA is intentionally pushing the home theater as the Theater of the Future(tm)? Just like the extinction of arcades has begun due to home entertainment catching up, will the movie theaters also start to thin because the experience will be just as good at home? The line in the article (un: payyourauthors pw: abouttime):

    "The digital future, hailed as more convenient and of higher quality than the scratchy, fuzzy analog past, is coming with multiple strings attached"
    made me wonder what they're actually offering us in exchange for what's being taken away - that is basically, easy to tape television and easy to copy movies. Is the picture going to get much better on DVDs? Will large, widescreen/wall TVs get cheaper? Will there a be a point where first run movies are released simultaneously in theaters and Best Buy? Or submitted directly to our homes via a set top box for 7 bucks (for each person in the room, of course)? Will Jack Valenti live to be an unholy 300 years old? Just thinking.
    • Re:Sorta OT... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dunark ( 621237 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:43AM (#5019675)
      Is it possible that the MPAA is intentionally pushing the home theater as the Theater of the Future(tm)?

      I think so. The filmmakers get rid of an entire distribution system and it's costs, and replace it with equipment that the customer has to buy. The shifting of cost to the customer results in increased profits.

      If they get away with the first step, the next thing I'd expect is movie rental prices that vary depending on the playback equipment. IE, you pay one price for playback on plain TV's with up to 30 inch sceens, and higher prices for bigger screens, HTDV and/or better audio. They'll justify this by claiming that you use a bigger screen because you're playing back to a bigger audience. Eventually, they'll demand that the playback equipment be able to count the number of viewers and refuse to play if you didn't pay a suffucent rental fee.
      • Well I see it with DVD's already. I look at the prices for renting a DVD and then compare it to buy DVD's on the cheap. The DVD rental costs about a third of the price and hence I end up buying DVD's.

        HOWEVER, if the movie industry thinks they can control then people will not upgrade. That Plasma TV may look nice, but if I cannot tape then I WILL NOT BUY.

        And because the Plasma TV costs a fortune right now, the price will not drop. Even now the US administration is having problems turning off analog TV senders. People are not seeing this as an urge to upgrade.

        Case in point has been 16/9 TV in Europe. It has been around for 10 years now and the adoption rate is still about 1%. What has been the latest use of 16/9? I saw a TV that can show TV Text (Web for TV) and the TV program at the same time.
        • "Case in point has been 16/9 TV in Europe. It has been around for 10 years now and the adoption rate is still about 1%."

          16:9 is getting much more popular in the UK, because of 1. free digital broadcasts, which anyone can get with a 100 free-view decoder (which also gives you digital radio); 2. even the five terrestrial networks on the digital being routinely broadcast in 16:9.

          It made it worth the trouble for me to buy a 16:9 television when I went telly-shopping last month. And not at any enormous price, either.

  • by evilmonkey_666 ( 515504 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:19AM (#5019596)
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: If I can watch it, I can capture it and digitize it. After that I can encode it any way I want.

    They cannot escape from this undeniable truth. Real mass piracy will never go away for this reason. This DRM technology only serves to take away consumers fair use and increases corporations control.

    Either way, this won't ever become mainstream. People will demand the rights to use their media any way they want to. That means being able to make and burn mp3s for portable players in their car etc. As soon as people figure this out the hardware simply won't sell.

    Why else do you think macrovision disabled region free DVD players out sell normal players?
    • They DO know this you know.

      Do not underestimate them, this is why they do not want just DRM control but complete control of computers. What they are ultimatly after is control over what you can run on your computer. ie. They have to sign everything. Then you can not do what you want, and for the few capable of making there own computer and using it, they want that made ilegal.

      In any war it it first best to know what your enemy actually wants.

      • You see articles warning about the "strings attached" to digital media popping up everywhere now, also in mainstream media. This is relatively new. I think the public at large (including politicians who are in the end dependant on votes) is waking up.

        I do not expect a quick total end to DRM, but the ultimate goal to control all computers (apart from the fact that professional users and producers would be vehemently against it, such as IBM, and they too have some political influence) is a few bridges too far.

        So they will fail in the end.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      DRM is not about what can be cracked or not.

      It's about the industry wanting to earn as much money as possible, with as little investment as possible. By using DRM they intend to get us to pay more for less. Currently we're consuming media for the largest part of our time. The only way media can make more money is to let us have less media for the same money.
      We can only consume media 18/7 (we've got to sleep a bit too), and then it's a dead-end, and i think we're getting close that limit, except if we count the 2/3's of the world population who can't afford almost any media att all, but i imagine most media companies is quite uninterested in that group of people.

      A bike has a lock to prevent that it won't be stolen from me.
      A car has a lock to prevent that it's stolen from me.
      A house has a lock to prevent a burglar from entering.
      My DVD has a lock to prevent me from using it the way i want.

      I can let anyone i choose rent my bike.
      I can let anyone i choose rent my car.
      I can let anyone i choose rent my house
      I cant let anyone rent my DVD.

      The undeniable truth is that we've already let the media companies go to far. /mi-ke
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:24AM (#5019610)
    The article is completely written from the view of the hollywood studios, riaa, etc. There is no mention for half the article of any consumer opposition and only at the end of the article, which hardly anyone reads, is there an extended discussion of the infringement of fair use. Perhaps the author needs to hear from the /. community regarding their strong opposition to the hollywood policies that infringe fair use.

    The only address I could find is which will be directed to the letters editor (duh) but perhaps one could try or or some other variation.

    If anyone *does* find her direct address, pls post.

    • DVD's are already protected by a digital wrapper that prevents them from being copied

      AFAIK, CSS stops you decrypting the contents... you can still copy an encrypted file to your heart's content.

      If people are going to write technology stories, it would help their credability to get the facts/terminology right!

  • by jvmatthe ( 116058 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:27AM (#5019625) Homepage
    It's easy to see what they're trying. They're going to come up with a draconian, unworkable model that everyone hates. Then they back off to something that we (that being the technically savvy users) still find offensive but that the normal schmoe thinks is a good deal.

    After the media companies spin it into Hollywood backing off because they're good Americans and want people to have the right to watch TV (just like it says in the Constitution) the average guy is going to say "Hey, this is a reasonable tradeoff to get The Sopranos in high definition goodness! I sure am glad they didn't stick with that first plan. It would have been awful! Sure, I can't record it, but that would be piracy!"

    Time and again, the informed people screwed by the ignorant ones. Same story here.
    • I argee, this is indeed what they are trying to do. However it will only work if people are stupid.

      For instance. If I were to say "I am going to cut of all of you limbs" for a few weeks and then say "OK, OK, just your legs" does not mean that anyone with an iq over 7 will think I have given them a good proposition.

      More than likely what they'll do is heavily promote the fact they have dropped the nasty ideas, and try to push the nearly as nasty ideas though without people noticing.

      So what we really need to do is keep a very close eye on what they are doing, even when we think we have won.

    • Its called "Daddy I want a Pony"

      Its named after a ploy every child learns early. Here's how a kid gets a DOG from a parent who doesn't want to buy one:

      Kid: Daddy, I want a pony
      Dad: No, that's ridiculous where would we keep it, how would we...
      Dad: We can't because we can't afford to...
      Dad; OK OK. How about a Dog instead?
      Kid: Well, I guess that'll have to do.

      Politicians use it all the time to get new taxes. They'll typically threaten to raise taxes on 20 things. They finally "compromise" on 10. You lose again.

      Hollywood has finally awaked to their inner child.
  • by gadlaw ( 562280 ) <> on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:28AM (#5019629) Homepage Journal
    I wish the evil ones would just hurry up and bring all of this out. Put the DRM tech in whatever they want. Then try to sell it. The sooner they just do it the sooner I can go on and not buy a damn bit of it. They can stack all of that crap right there with all those copy protected CD's I'm not buying any longer. Or as Clint Eastwood might say, "Go ahead, make my Millenium."
  • Alternatives? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MacAndrew ( 463832 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:30AM (#5019635) Homepage
    Hollywood and the music labels DO have a piracy problem and it IS growing. Napster, CD burners, and the like simply didn't exist a few years ago. Moreover, we're going in circles, this same essential battle has been fought before, over cassette tapes andf DAT (remember that? :) and the VCR. It's just a question of degree.

    My question is that if you object to DRM because of the way its is done, what should be done? Please don't say "lower prices" because that's just a rationalization that they're somehow forcing pirates to do it. A boycott is a well-proven means of protext.

    If you're against intellectual property in general, just skip this, because the industry is never going to work for free, nor accept your suggestion, nor IMHO should they. Folks who create intangibles are as entitled to compensation as people who build bridges.

    In an age when it is orders of magnitude easier to copy, what should the rights holders do to protect their work? Think positive! Frankly, I don't know.
    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:51AM (#5019703)
      It's not *my* problem that their business model is destined to fail.

      How could we have saved the buggy whip manufacturers? There was only one way: outlaw the horseless carriage. How could the Monks have kept a monopoly on books? Outlaw the printing press.

      How can Hollywood continue to maintain their current rate of return? Abolish the personal computer.
      • Re:Alternatives? (Score:4, Informative)

        by ( 410908 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @12:28PM (#5019841) Journal
        "outlaw the horseless carriage" : happened 8)

        "They had found a 1902 Quebec law, actually an amendment to much older horse-thief law, which stated that if any neighborhood in which there were horses complained that their horses were being disturbed by horseless carriages, the residents had the right to ban horseless carriages from their neighborhood. The penalty for a violator, because a comma had been dropped in the printing of the law, was 20 years without appeal, the same as for a horse-thief. " (

        "Outlaw the printing press" Happened...

        "Mr. Gutenberg: I intend to print copies of the Bible and so spread the word of God.

        Sir Royale: Why is this a judicial matter?

        Mr. Gutenberg: The Scribes Guild, the Educators Guild, the Religious Guild, and the Civil Service Guild seek to outlaw the use of my printing press and have filed petitions to that end.

        Sir Royale: What do you believe will be the effects of your invention on scribes who are employed to hand copy manuscripts?

        Mr. Gutenberg: There will always be a market for hand-made manuscripts. A machine-made manuscript can not compete with a beautiful illuminated manuscript created by a talented scribe."
        (The Gutenberg Deposition : .htm )

        Now, back to something I read only yesterday :
        "First they Ignore you, then they Laugh at you, then they Fight you, then you Win" Ghandi... Once again, GhandiCon 3 Level attained, the victory is nigh.

    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by iiioxx ( 610652 ) <> on Sunday January 05, 2003 @12:02PM (#5019740)
      Please don't say "lower prices" because that's just a rationalization that they're somehow forcing pirates to do it.

      It's not the price, it's the VALUE. People buy the good stuff, and pirate the crap. Why? Because it's all priced the same.

      Despite the ready availability of pirated media content, people are STILL buying CDs and DVDs (and sales are continuing to grow). I think the difference is in what they are buying. People buy movies like Lord of the Rings and CDs by talented artists. People pirate copies of movies like Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever and songs by the latest bubblegum fad boy band.

      The reason is simple: they might get some short-lived enjoyment out of watching or listening to the crap a few times, but they know they will quickly get tired of it, because it really isn't all that good.

      DVDs and CDs present value when they have good re-play ability. After all, they are an INVESTMENT. Add up the cost of your music and movie collection at $10 a videotape, $15 a CD, and $20 a DVD. Even just ballparking it, mine's up around $8,000. I would bet there are real mediaphiles out there with collections in excess of $20,000.

      If the media industry wants to stamp out piracy, they do need to lower prices... on the CRAP. If $20 is the price for a premium quality movie on DVD, than they should be charging $10 for a crap movie on DVD (and trust me, they know which are good and which are just crap). A crap movie might not be worth $20, but it might present a value at $5 or $10, and people would rather simply drive down to Best Buy and pick it up, rather than spending two days on WinMX trying to download it.

    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reziac ( 43301 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @12:17PM (#5019805) Homepage Journal
      I don't really give a damn what they do with THEIR material. If they want to encrypt and timebomb and copy-prevent and whatever else, fine, I don't care -- *so long as it only affects their own product as sold*, and nothing else. If they want to reduce their value to where it's not worth buying, that's their problem.

      But they are *trying* to make it MY problem.

      What pisses me off is that they want to stick *their* claws into MY computer in the process -- that they want DRM to be in the hardware, in the OS, in the applications I might use to create or distribute my own original content.

      What if your word processor didn't allow you to paste citations or quotes unless you had purchased a key for the original work? What if the quote then deleted itself from your article after 24 hours? What if you needed to buy a DRM key for each original article you write and claim copyright for? Oh, you don't think that can happen? Tell me, what is the difference between original music and original writing?? As I see it, it's just a matter of degree, so I present this example to point out the absurdity that's being pushed on us in the name of big-media DRM.

      • Whoa, don't get all thoughtful on me. :)

        Yes, there are excellent reasons to resent DRM. And the alternatives are...?

        This isn't a rhetorical question meant to say "DRM is the only answer." It's a good old-fashioned real Q. (I'm sentimental.)

        Take the artist's perspective. They don't like piracy, they want a non-fascist solution, so they....

        The thing is that it has gotten so easy to copy stuff that a lot of people don't even think it could be illegal.
    • A boycott is a well-proven means of protext.

      Not when the boycott victim can run to Congress with their diminished (due to the boycott) sales figures and say, "See? Look what the thievery is doing to our sales! We need a bigger, badder sequel to the DMCA, and legislated DRM!"

    • In an age when it is orders of magnitude easier to copy, what should the rights holders do to protect their work? Think positive! Frankly, I don't know

      The rights holders should come out with compelling product which is worth buying. Evian makes a profit! Selling plain old water! How'd that happen? So studios can certainly come up with ways to sell their movies. E.g. consumer friendly (sell-thru) pricing on DVDs has been a huge success.

      Two more myths cleared up:

      1) The studios are bluffing when they say they'll withhold product unless a Digital Restrictions Regime is put into place. Are they just going to stop showing movies on cable? I don't think so.

      2) Music companies are still tremendously profitable, and aren't seriously threatened by .mp3. Sure, sales have declined a bit, but notice that in the same timeframe, DVD and videogame sales have gone way up. Could it be that people just have more choices about what to spend their leisure dollars on? In any event, the RIAA still has a very big piece of a very big pie, and should stop complaining. I feel more sorry for Mom-and-Pop video stores being put out of business by Circuit City's huge DVD section. But things change. Nobody's line of work is guaranteed to stay profitable forever. Except morticians, of course.
    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @01:16PM (#5020042) Homepage Journal

      In an age when it is orders of magnitude easier to copy, what should the rights holders do to protect their work? Think positive! Frankly, I don't know.

      Congratulations. Unlike the greedy little so-and-sos in Hollywood, you are thinking clearly, and have identified the core problem. However, to get to the beginnings of a solution, you need to throw out a few more assumptions.

      Consider the reality of computers and digital media. Computers are machines that, among other things, make perfect copies of digital information. Indeed, computers as we understand them would not be able to function without this ability. Because of this, every computer is like a completely independent factory, fully capable of churning out artifacts identical in quality and characteristics to that of a "manufacturer." Thus, everyone who owns a computer possesses their very own fully-operational factory, which may be turned to whatever purpose its owner wishes. The distinction between a "user" and a "manufacturer", therefore, ceases to exist; all users are likewise manufacturers.

      These characteristics have always been true of computers, nor have they ever been secret. Now, given this cold, hard reality, what kind of cretin would create a business model fundamentally based on their company being the sole source of manufactured artifacts, given that all their "customers" are also manufacturers?

      It's a mug's game from the word, "Go," and anyone who tells you different has designs on your wallet.

      The "solutions" proposed by Hollywood attempt, from a technological point of view, to establish themselves as a sole source -- the only operating factory. To do so, they would need to eliminate all the other factories that aren't theirs, and they propose to do this through Digital Restrictions Mechanisms, eliminating their customers manufacturing capabilities. But to eliminate that capability would be to destroy computers as we know them today. This is why computer scientists and professionals have been laughing in Hollywood's face every time they've raised this issue:

      Computers and digital media -- by definition -- come with manufacturing (copying) abilities. You can't eliminate copying without destroying the very computer you're trying to harness.

      (Hollywood seems to think that Silicon Valley's inastringency on this issue is born out of politics or petty personality conflicts (since that's the sort of game Hollywood plays all the time). It's not. What they want was proved impossible by Turing decades ago, but they don't get that. It's difficult to explain to someone illiterate in math that 2 + 2 does not and never can equal 5. "Just change the value of 2," they say. Well, then it wouldn't be 2 anymore, would it? ...I digress)

      So. If we accept that eliminating all the competing factories out there is Just Not Going To Happen -- that you can never realistically be the sole source of any artifact -- what can you control? What scarce resources do you still control that can't (easily) be taken from you or diluted?

      I don't have a complete answer yet. ("WHAT!? I read that whole rant for nothing!?") However, I am firmly convinced that a lasting, workable solution will be founded on giving you control of your time and your reputation. The core idea is that you will build a reputation for yourself -- say, by releasing little code trinkets on the net -- that will draw people to you seeking your expertise. Once done, you charge them for your time, which is still a scarce resource that can't be copied by computers.

      The reason I feel this will be important is because I foresee that, one day, physical objects will become as easy to duplicate as digital objects. When that day comes, if we haven't worked out a new socio-economic model that acknowledges and permits free copying to exist, we are fscked. Think Global Civil War-level fscked. You think BMW's just going to let you make copies of their cars? Dream on, loser. It's not gonna happen -- unless they've been slowly weaned into the idea through the socio-economic model built around computers and digital media.

      I do not have the Jeffersonian measure of wisdom required to design this new framework entirely on my own, which is why I encourage further discussion on the issue. But the bottom line is, computers have changed the rules. There is now a factory in every home, and scarcity is now a completely artificial construct. Every day we refuse to acknowledge this is another day that we've needlessly screwed ourselves.


      • The "problem" that is expanding now has always been there: ideas aren't scarce. On one hand, this is a terrible problem for content providers because their business are based on creating artifical scarcities where they do not exist. On the other, at the societal level, this is a great problem to have: no longer is information able to be controlled by a select few.

        The question now is, should we allow content providers to try to stop the natural evolution of information exchange?
    • Re:Alternatives? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dr. Awktagon ( 233360 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @02:09PM (#5020351) Homepage

      Please don't say "lower prices" because that's just a rationalization that they're somehow forcing pirates to do it.

      Making a moral argument that "Folks who create intangibles are as entitled to compensation as people who build bridges." doesn't remove the problem. I think it creates problems because people will try and hammer reality to fit their beliefs.

      Information costs almost ZERO to duplicate. This will always be the case. It costs something to create, but not to duplicate. To me, that suggests that the price of copies should very low, and the price of originals (concerts, let's say) should be higher.

      Now, you don't want anyone to say "lower prices", how about "higher value"? I have no idea what that would be, but maybe they should just stop selling "CDs" and start selling something collectible that happens to have music in it, I have no idea. I buy all my CDs out of principle (NO major labels though) so I personally don't need this incentive.

      Which brings me to another point, will people stop buying music completely if both legit and non-legit copies are available? I don't think so. I think there will always be people who PAY for their copies, for various reasons. But the music corps have to lower their expectations.

      Another point: Why do we even HAVE a global music industry? Why isn't music a local thing: you go to a concert, you talk to the band, you buy their CD out of loyalty and excitement. Why are there superstars at all?

      If you're against intellectual property in general, just skip this, because the industry is never going to work for free, nor accept your suggestion, nor IMHO should they.

      Well, I'm not against trademarks or (most) patents, but I definitely think the concept of copyright is completely broken. It should last 20-30 years, and it should not be a crime to copy without profit. To my mind, this is an capitalistic puzzle: why do you punish people who create a more efficient market? (Yes I understand the argument about giving incentive but there's a balance between giving incentives and forcing people to find their own incentives).

      Maybe we should just let things alone, and let people who grew up in this environment figure out a way to benefit from it. Let the principles of capitalism find a way. I believe that forcing people to TRY to make money will be much better than creating a market through government regulation. And we shouldn't be afraid to say "what if it's NOT POSSIBLE to have a music industry any more? what if the music industry has to come back down to earth? what if people can only reliably be paid for creating, not for copying (commissioning a song for a TV commercial, for instance)? What if there IS NO BUSINESS MODEL for albums?".

      But, ranting aside, you and I both know that the music industry will regulate and legislate. And their legislation will not strike any balances, and it won't create any new opportunities, and it won't give incentives to anyone unless they use the old business models. Too bad.

      • Sorry to disagree with the previous poster, but "lowering the prices" is exactly what they need to do.

        It all stems from the fact that people are basically lazy.

        At some point the price will be low enough that joe consumer will just plunk down $$$ and buy the damn thing rather than having to bother with downloading/extracting/burning, whatever.

        What's that price point? Who knows. When DVDs are $15 or less, I consider them an impulse buy - I'll throw a few into my cart/basket while shopping just to have something to watch.

        At $25, they're more of a "considered buy".

        I look at something like boxsets from Fox vs. Paramount. (simpsons vs. trek).

        Simpsons Season 2 box set - $35ish
        Trek Season (something) box - $100+ish

        Guess which one is the better value and won't be pirated? Who's going to spend hours and hours re-encoding and re-burning simpsons DVDs that they could just pick up for $35 and be done with?

        Heck, there are 4-6 DVDs in EACH set - why the pricing difference? Because one company wants to make their money milking their fans, and one wants to make it affordable for their fans to collect everything.

        The only reason there's not more outcry right now over the whole HDTV thing as mentioned in the NYT article is because not many people have HD-ready (??) sets, and even fewer have actual HD receivers.

        If the corporate money-men try something like macrovisioning regular TV channels, even on PPV, they're going to see a fairly large consumer backlash.

        And I can't wait.


    • Despite the recession, Hollywood's revenue has increased very substantially over the past year. If copyright infringement is hurting Hollywood in a way that makes DRM necessary, let the MPAA execs explain just how it is that they can both be simultaneously hurting from rampant copying, and have a banner year at the same time.
    • I think it would be reasonable to built in some copy protection that slightly reduces the quality of copies (basicly the way VCRs work). It is not a good idea to attempt to put limits on how where and when something is watched or to spy on a person that watches a movie.

      Another alternative is to give up on copyrights, and use another system for paying artists. As professor Moglen (the counsel for the FSF) noted the ancient Egyptian legal and political system resulted in the building of pyramids. Now we do not have slavery and our system is really bad at building pyramids. So what, are we really missing that much? Maybe the $100 movies are the pyramids of the 20th century.
  • This year, several of the major music companies have said they plan to begin embedding copy-protection technologies on a sizable percentage of their CD's. DVD's are already protected by a digital wrapper that prevents them from being copied.

    From laymen, this is expected. From a journalist, who is supposed to understand basic grammar rules as part of the job, this is just sad. And in the New York Times, no less.

    They make you *register* for this?!
    • Blockquoth the poster:

      From a journalist, who is supposed to understand basic grammar rules as part of the job, this is just sad. And in the New York Times, no less.

      I happen to agree with your point on this particular style issue, but I want to offer up this thought: The New York Times has a well-known Style Guide and, while I have no idea what it says about pluralizing acronyms, I am sure it says something. The writer and his/her editor are surely going to go by that, not a Web-based self-appointed guardian of grammar. Just because a lot of people contribute to a discussion, doesn't mean the discussion is authoritative (slashdot, anyone?).

      Much more importantly, one of the great strengths of the English language is its similarity to Perl: There's More Than One Way to Do It. Thankfully, we have no great temple of English usage, where Zen oracles tell we little people what the correct form is. Many competent authorities compete on issues of style. Considering the reach and clout of the New York Times, I think it's fair to say that their Style Guide can be taken as an authority ... certainly at least as much as an Internet mailing list can.

      • Re:plural acronyms (Score:2, Informative)

        by quikgrit ( 638508 )
        So said gilroy:

        I happen to agree with your point on this particular style issue, but I want to offer up this thought: The New York Times has a well-known Style Guide and, while I have no idea what it says about pluralizing acronyms, I am sure it says something. The writer and his/her editor are surely going to go by that, not a Web-based self-appointed guardian of grammar. Just because a lot of people contribute to a discussion, doesn't mean the discussion is authoritative (slashdot, anyone?).

        My fellow Slashfriend, I am more than familiar with the concept of a Style Guide, having been employed at multiple professional publications.
        While I must agree with you that I also have no idea what the NYT Style Guide happens to say in this instance, I *can* say that as an owner of Strunk & White's _Elements of Style_, the _Chicago Manual of Style_, and having written many times under Chicago, MLA, and APA guidelines, that I *seriously* doubt that the NYTSG differs on this issue from pretty much every Style Guide out there.

        I agree with you that the NYTSG says something regarding this. I happen to think it probably agrees with every other style guide I've ever seen. This does not mean that the author or her editor followed it.

        Much more importantly, one of the great strengths of the English language is its similarity to Perl: There's More Than One Way to Do It. Thankfully, we have no great temple of English usage, where Zen oracles tell we little people what the correct form is.

        Indeed, I suppose that there is more than one way to do it. []

        Considering the reach and clout of the New York Times, I think it's fair to say that their Style Guide can be taken as an authority ... certainly at least as much as an Internet mailing list can.

        Agreed. I just doubt seriously that she followed her Style Guide.

        • I saw an essay [] by Arianna Huffington on Salon regarding this very subject just a few weeks ago (December 17.)

          From the essay:

          "Things only got worse the next morning when, while reading the New York Times, I came across not one, but two examples of apostrophes being put in the wrong place -- including one in a column by my hero, Paul Krugman."

          "Flummoxed, I got ahold of the New York Times' manual of style and, to my horror, discovered that the paper's rash of apostrophe errors had not been the result of sloppy copy-editing but a conscious executive decision to ignore the rules of proper punctuation."

          So, if Ms. Huffington is correct, the NYTSG does indeed allow it's authors to debase the language. While the New York Times may be a respected publication, and might even be considered some form of authority, I'd be inclined to stay with the established rules of grammar and punctuation that have served us well for a very long time (e.g. Strunk & White.)

          She also covers the pluralization of acronyms, and lays out the (proper and generally accepted) rules quite clearly. And this comes from a person for whom english is not her first language.

          From her bio []:

          Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was sixteen and graduated from Cambridge University with a M.A. in Economics. At twenty-one she became President of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union.

          I would say her credentials are quite respectable.

          The placement of an apostrophe has been a pet peeve of mine for quite a while with the most egregious offense lately being the title of the movie "Bridget Jones's Diary". Or maybe that just the british way of doing things...

          We've got to keep people on their toes, or Mr Twain's vision may indeed come to pass. Of course, it might just be easier to switch to Esperanto [].
      You're citing a web site that doesn't even know what an acronym is (I find it amusing that, technically, they do know that an acronym has to be a pronounceable word, but they have a blurb on their web site to claim that isn't the case in order to make themselves look less least to the ignorant masses), to "prove" that a journalist supposedly doesn't know how to pluralize an abbreviation? Simply amazing.
      From laymen, this is expected. From a journalist, who is supposed to understand basic grammar rules as part of the job, this is just sad. And in the New York Times, no less.
      I hate to shoot you down here (there's nothing I like more than to point out the shortcomings of a journalist), but there's nothing wrong with the way the writer pluralized CD's and DVD's. The apostrophe takes the place of missing letters. In this case, the missing letters are "isc" (as in "Compact Discs" and "Digital Versatile Discs").

      In other words, it's 100% correct.
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:34AM (#5019643) Journal
    Business Week also has this article entitled Will Your TV Become a Spy?" [] this is very much anti the antics of the Hollywood crowd.

    While the economy and stock markets struggled, 2002 was a golden year for the silver screen. Thanks to blockbuster hits such as Spider-Man, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings, ticket sales hit $9.3 billion worldwide, a remarkable 13% rise over 2001's then-record receipts. So much for claims that piracy threatens Hollywood's livelihood.

    decently done article, not toooooo long

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:35AM (#5019647)
    I see a grim future with more and more industries moving to a pay-for-use model; for example you could end up having to keep paying a subscription to be able to access your own software, DVDs and CDs, as the article suggests you'd have to pay extra to be able to record off of TV (and you can bet those recordings will be timebombed unless, you guessed it, you pay small monthly fee to keep it on your system).

    Entertainment could end up being another utility like water or power. Screw that - between income tax and sales tax I'm already losing over half my income a year, if everything we do requires constant usage fees, we end up as a kind of vassal caste for these people.

    • Erm... Yes?

      Remember, that in the eyes of any business, you're nothing but $$$ signs.

      And their primary purpose for being in business is to seperate the $$$ from you as fast as possible to put the money in their own accounts.

      Pretty much the same way the government views you.

      On the topic of subscriptions, pay-per-view, DRM, etc, it's worth noting that companies are at their happiest when they don't have to actually do ANYTHING for you, but can still collect your money. License fees, repeat viewing fees, etc.

      Doesn't cost them a cent in terms of extra product, but generates revenue...

    • There is a distopian possiblity that the majority of cultural product created in the years 1960 to 2030 could disappear from the long term historical record. This could result from having the creations of this period be considered corporate 'property' and having their availability subjected to restriction by powerfull encryption. Should the ability to decode this encryption be lost, then the cultural artifacts created in this period be unavailable hundreds of years in the future.
      This the the real long term danger from corporate DRM. Think if all the paintings in the Louvre or Uffizi (Florence) Museum were to have been lost because their 'owners' at the time had chosen to destroy them (the same thing as applying an unbreakable DRM to an art work) hundreds of years ago in order to keep them from being seen by people who hadn't 'paid'.
  • Too mutch (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Jeedo ( 624414 )
    is it too mutch to ask that people actually link to urls displaying The text not some NYtimes registration page?

    Anyway i dont even have to read this, i'll always disagree with DRM because if i buy a CD i expect to be able to do anything i like with it, listen to it in my car sterio, on my computer not just in my CD player.

    I firmly belive it is my right to do so and so is it my right to be able to watch a movie i've paid for anytime i want in any format.

    The industry cries about losing money, but do you actually see any of that? It would be nice to see if some of you have information on that, has the movie industry been loosing money since the whole DVD- ripping phenomenon started?
    I think not...

    • Re:Too mutch (Score:2, Informative)

      They don't link to the NYT registration page. If you aren't registered then the NYT site forwards you to the "Login" page. Once you do that, it takes you to the article.
  • by azazeal386 ( 635041 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:50AM (#5019701)
    While the MPAA has a "piracy" problem, I would like to know how much of that is due to commercial efforts especially in the developing areas of the world. Personally, I think that the "solution" is to aggressively pursue those making profits off their efforts and ignore the people who trade the grainy previews. Instead of DRM, why not commit to a common digital signature format. Player software would detect the signature, and _WARN_ if it is not present. Have a bounty for reporting illegally applied signatures, and a clearing house which allows the measuring of actual profits for any signature. The presumption is that in general, people do recognize that they should pay for entertainment, as long as they can do WHAT they want with their copies. The existence of unlabelled, hard to transfer content should be a competitor to the otherwise monopolistic scenario. Is the price and terms so onerous that your customers spend the time to get it elsewhere? And the ones that will copy, will copy. But maybe when they grow up, they'll want the "platinum memorial edition" of the titles they used to watch.
    • Just one SMALL problem with what otherwise sounds like a good solution.

      If the ditigal content has a valid digital signature, then the digital copy of the digital media will contain the digital content with a valid digital signature.... oops

      Remember, digital signatures protect the content against MODIFICATION - not against COPYING
    • "Player software would detect the signature, and _WARN_ if it is not present. "

      This will not work.
      P2P users know they are pirating movies, its just too easy compared to the legal means to get the movie that way.

      The effort cost and delay is P2P is outweight by the effort cost and delay in buying a DVD through the post.

      These schemes are called 'fingerprinting' these days.

      The alternative for fingerprinting is to individually fingerprint the digital copy when its delivered. So the movie you just bought & downloaded on the internet would say "I was sold as transaction 294747592". That number would point back to you if pirated.

      But it doesn't work if you give people a way of detecting the fingerprint.
      They will attempt to remove it, but will only know if they are successful if you also give them a tool to detect the fingerprint.

      If you keep the tool in the hands of law enforcement, then even if they successfully break the fingerprint, you can just change the fingerprinting method and catch them next time.

      The pirate can never really be sure if the copy he's pirating doesn't point to him.
  • Its the slow progression into a world where *all* information is controlled, and every citizen is monitored for what content they consume.

    This is just one more small step towards that ultimate goal.

  • by bl968 ( 190792 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:56AM (#5019722) Journal
    It's simple really the content industries will take as much of your rights as you are willing to allow them. If we the consumers do not fight for the right to do with what we purchase what we want to then I will be the first to welcome you to a world where pay per view is your only option. We must smack the hand of the congress people and the bank accounts of the movie and recording companies as they grab for more of the few rights we have left to us. Let them scream it is online file sharing reducing their profits we must simply scream louder that it's their attempted theft of our rights causing us not to buy the products they produce. Boycott for your rights, boycott for a future where you can legally own content instead of renting it, Boycott for your children's future.
    • I bought a Canopus ADVC-100, just in case these nightmares do become true: It is an analog DV video converter (2 way), with built in macrovision protection that can be disabled by a simple trick.

      I haven't used it much yet, but it is good to have this escape route just in case.
  • by zubernerd ( 518077 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @12:03PM (#5019745)
    (if they're still around)
    becuase they are licensing a product, to quote the story: "Instead of a product, consumers will essentially purchase licenses to use digital movies or music under certain circumstances"

    A man brings up a copy of Ghostbusters VII (remember Hollywood hates taking risk, so they began to just make sequals to ancient hits) and begins to check it out.
    The guy at the checkout counter asks "How many people will be viewing this?"
    The man answers "None of you business"
    "Well, sir, we need to know that so we can charge you a per person viewing license"
    "What the fu**?
    "Well, sir, remember, everytime a unlicensed viewer views a copy, they are viewing it with bin laden."

    --if you don't find it funny, don't waste your points modding me down. Use your mod points to promote world peace, or something...
    • On the topic of sequels, let's look at what our Hollywood buddies are currently working on (this is by no means a comprehensive list - took 4 minutes at a few popular movie sites to dig up):

      Fast and Furious 2
      xXx 2
      Wargames 2
      Child's Play 5
      Die Hard 4
      Oceans's Twelve
      Se7en 2
      Mission Impossible 3
      Starship Troopers 2
      Terminator 3
      Mad Max 4
      Legally Blonde 2
      Gladiator 2
      Indiana Jones 4
      Scary Movie 3
      Total Recall 2
      Jungle Book 2
      Tomb Raider 2
      Final Destination 2
      Highlander 5

      You get the picture (some of those are only in pre-production right now, and still have the possibility of being dumped, but...)

      Maybe they should just do series on TV instead...

  • I hope it works (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 05, 2003 @12:09PM (#5019768)
    I hope Hollywood locks down everything it produces, tight. Uncopyable, pay-per-view, the whole bit.

    Why? Because digital video production is getting pretty cheap these days. Music production is even cheaper. The more Hollywood cracks down, the more opportunities there will be for grassroots art produced for love instead of money, or for tipping and Street Performer systems.

    If Hollywood wants to abandon the most effective marketing system ever invented, I say let them!

  • by Lumpish Scholar ( 17107 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @12:20PM (#5019817) Homepage Journal
    "We're not locked into these rules ... We're just testing them out."
    Translation: "We're just seeing how we can push consumers before they start pushing back ... and whether we have enough power so they can't really push back."
  • EPIC has a good site with information on DRM here [].

    Personally, I feel that "Hollywood" should be allowed to create and release whatever they want with DRM, but they should be required to call all such media something other than the common name for the medium. For example, they can release a DRM protected CD, but would not be permitted to call it a CD. Nor should they be allowed to use 'CD' in the name, as that would imply some sort of compatibility with existing CD players. This would probably dissuade the average person from adopting the technology without at least understanding the implications.

    Further, they ("Hollywood") should be required to support legacy devices such as DVDs and CDs. When I purchased a DVD player last year, it was with the understanding that current and future media would be released in this format. When the industry adopts a standard and implements it, they should be required to support it for 'x' number of years. Otherwise the consumer pays the cost of their R&D for newer technologies.

  • " People who have become accustomed to recording pay-per-view and video-on-demand shows will probably still be able to, the studios say -- so long as they pay an extra fee."

    As in the price of a VCR?
  • by waltc ( 546961 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @12:46PM (#5019906)
    ...two of them, so you can record what you want). The Supreme Court settled that issue long ago and there's not a thing these guys can do about that.

    Instead, they are actively trying to move people to DVD and "digital" because they think it's a different medium and they can do to digital what they'd loved to have done to the VCR. Don't fall into their trap. You want a DVD machine? Fine, buy it. But also buy at least one VCR while you're at it (I have two that perform very well.) They figure if everyone moves to digital and they are successful in their bids they'll wind up where they wanted to wind up when they sued to have the recording VCR made illegal.

    I'm guessing this issue will eventually move back to the Supremos again, and that these guys will lose again--but it's not a sure thing. They've already lost with the VCR, however. Just something to think about.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    What really kills me are these ads on TV for new release DVDs that say "own it today!" They want your money, but their idea of own is much different than mine.With DRM, the ads really mean license under their restrictive terms.

    Could they be sued for truth in advertising?
  • by budGibson ( 18631 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @01:02PM (#5019966)
    Pay per use is untenable in a competitive market. Just look at cell phone minutes which are rapidly moving toward an (almost) unlimited use model.

    Why is pay-per-use untenable in a competitive market? People do not like it, so it suppresses demand for the pay-per-use service. In a competitive market where suppliers are trying to meet and create demand, this generates an opportunity to undercut the pay-per-use provider. Suppliers almost always emerge who will take that competitive opportunity.

    Pay-per-use does however frequently does make sense in a non-competitive or ologopolistic environment where consumers must purchase the service. This situation existed for some time with hub-and-spoke in the airline industry. The commodity being metered was seat miles purchased at particular times. Here the supplier was able to charge to the hilt for demand that was inelastic (i.e., people have to pay because they have no other option).

    Well, does inelastic demand like this exist for entertainment? Likely not. As we have seen with the rise of minor league baseball, web journalism, independent films, cd sales, and even blogs, people can find quick substitutes for the over-charged items.

    I don't think regulatory relief will be quick (look at microsoft). We'll have to rely on the hacker community and all of the competitors who are seeking to create demand.
    • Suppliers almost always emerge who will take that competitive opportunity.

      I think there's a problem with this statement: Movies are not truly a competitive market.

      If I want a copy of one of the Lord of the Rings films, there's just one company that controls the ways it will be available. I don't really have any choices except those offered by that company.
      • You're exactly right. However, a few things to note. The studio does not own LOTR, only the screen rights as long as it has not entered the public domain. You can enjoy LOTR in many other formats without having to pay the movie studio.

        Further, you are not obliged to go to movies. This is the idea behind minor league baseball beginning to make inroads to major league baseball. People are looking for entertainment, major league is too expensive, minor league is almost the same but much lower priced.

        The question facing the studio is this: How restrictive can we be before people switch? My argument is simply, "not very in the general case." Look at CD and DVD sales. My cut is that studios need to focus on making the packaging of their products truly value-added and probably lower prices. The are effectively complaining about not being able to charge monopoly rates.
    • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @03:29PM (#5020772)
      Unfortunately the entertainment industry's DRM drive is as much about driving out competitors as it is about protecting their ip.

      One will expect that the next DRM enabled devices will be made in a way that would allow fewer and fewer companies to create content for them. And if those devices become popular, than independant producers will have to beg one of the big companies to release their movies/music for them.

      Not a good prospect.

      • The question is to what extent hardware manufacturers will actually allow this level of intrusion to be mandatory. Note, they have opposite interests to content producers. They want their equipment to be usable by the most people possible with the least headache.

        Hardware manufacturers are fighting back per recent stories in slashdot.
  • You have to wonder about an industry that for the first thirty years of its existence destroyed the masters after exhibition for the silver that they contained. It was only when television came that the library had any value but it took them ten years before it dawn on them the TV was a gold mine not a threat.

    Before Enron existed the phrase was Hollywood accounting. One of the favorate subplots in Shakesphere in Love is the greedy money lender plotting to screw the actors out of their pay. The entertainment industry has always screwed the producers of the product. Now the middle men are plotting to screw their customers.
  • Still not ready (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jaymzter ( 452402 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @01:09PM (#5020005) Homepage
    May be OT:
    From the article

    Already, people are finding unfamiliar constraints on how they can consume familiar media: listen to music on your PC, but do not try to copy it to your MP3 player; watch a movie in your home as often as you want for 24 hours -- because after that it will evaporate into the ether; marvel at your plasma-screen TV, but be prepared for your picture quality to be diminished if you do not have the latest model with anti-piracy equipment.

    With crap like this I am glad GNU/Linux distros are still considered not ready for the desktop. Mr. Valenti might try to upgrade us (or outlaw us)!
  • by DumbSwede ( 521261 ) <> on Sunday January 05, 2003 @02:44PM (#5020562) Homepage Journal
    "That's what digital rights management does: it enables business models."
    Of course these business models can be as irritating, restrictive, and coercive as all get out.

    I can't help but notice that the entertainment industry (including sports), is all about getting more and more money for giving you essentially the same thing. Commodities of all other types become cheaper to purchase, higher in quality, and packed with more functionality. The reason the entertainment industry gets away with this outrageous behavior (other than their huge lobbying efforts in congress) is that by definition entertainment is perceived of as a luxury. If manufacturers of the necessities of life treated consumers this way they would be hauled before congress, and made to explain themselves.

    Cable companies tend to be local monopolies and act accordingly. Our local cable is structured such that you can get a 10 dollar basic cable rate, but this only gives you the same channels you can get with a rabbit ear antenna, and at not much higher quality, the next "tier" is over 4 times more expensive. Throwing in a load of crap you probably don't want and making the next bump up to HBO and Showtime seem much more sensible (hell it's only 10 dollars more...). Do you know of any other products that go from entry level to more than 4x plus luxury model with no other steps between? Even with the full service, some ad-supported channels are scrambled. I have paid for "The Sci-Fi" channel, but I can't set my VCR to tape it directly, I have to be sure and leave the Sci-Fi channel on, and record it from my cable box (there is some user unfriendly way to program your cable box for a timed recording, so now you have two things to program, and multiple points of failure possible).

    Of course the more money the entertainment industry can make, the more money that can be collected in taxes. Thus the government has the same addiction to increasing entertainment revenues, the same way they are now addicted to increasing gambling and lotto revenues, whether their citizenry spending a disproportionate percentage their income on these things is a good thing or not.

    Worst of all is the disdain the industry has for its customers. We have all seen the FBI warning at the beginning of a VCR tape, and accordingly fast-forwarded through. Now comes DVD, and you must sit patently sit through this thing every time (which has been timed for slow readers), and if you try to skip forward, I think in some cases it resets the time out clock. Of late I also get to sit through this warning in two other languages as well. Some DVDs even force you sit through commercials for related projects. I bought this DVD, I own it, it shouldn't lock me out of controlling my DVD player. It also shouldn't surreptitiously put software on my computer if I choose to view it there, nor coerce me into installing special software to view. Guess what, that improved DVD viewer they offer you is likely to break your sound drivers, and if it's your mom or dad, being good citizens by following the DVD instructions, well then they are just screwed, since the DVD distributors really don't have any legitimate reason to be mucking around with your computer's settings, and now every thing is horribly broken (I still have trouble explaining to my dad why the play button on the DVD remote won't play the DVD, and he has to "select" play from the entry screen with the select button).

    So now we want to give the over the air broadcasters the power to be just as manipulative and coercive as cable and DVD? Ironic that I took my digital rights for granted until everyone suddenly wants to manage them for me.

  • by Edmund Blackadder ( 559735 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @03:24PM (#5020743)
    "That's what digital rights management does: it enables business models."

    so does slavery.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Because of the situation with DRM, and the custom players some DVDs try to install on your machine, I am much more inclined to download a DIVX rip of a DVD and keep it on my spare hard drive.

    If the industry made thier products easier to use, and didn't markup the prices at such an obscene amount, I'd actually buy something. AFAIK, tapes are about 8 bucks around here, CDs are 18. Why am I paying 10 dollars more for something that costs less to manufacture as compared to the tape?

    Oh wait, I'm not. =)

    So, after looking at this information, why does the recording industry insist on spending so much time and money on a protection scheme that will do little to stop pirates from getting the data, and will make it HARDER for people like me to listen to thier CDs?
    • So, after looking at this information, why does the recording industry insist on spending so much time and money on a protection scheme that will do little to stop pirates from getting the data, and will make it HARDER for people like me to listen to thier CDs?

      I actually had the opportunity to ask something like this to a sony executive back in June. He basically said that he didn't know why they were doing it. So, the answer to your question is, even they don't know why they are doing it. Most likely, someone thought it was a good idea, and they all just followed.


Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp