The world's largest DVD manufacturer is bragging that a new RFID-based solution for DVDs will stop piracy and copying -- ignoring the fact that the list of DRM technologies people haven't been able to break or circumvent is pretty short. The company says that new Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players will check the tags, and refuse to play discs that don't match the players' geographic region setting. Sound familiar? That's because current DVD players have a similar sort of region encoding, which -- surprise surprise -- is pretty easily circumvented by a number of means. What's a little more striking is that the company isn't concerned about the impact this will have on its sales, as consumers won't particularly enjoy being asked to pay more for new products with which they can do less than existing ones. Why should they shell out for products that offer content providers more ways to restrict what they can do? Compare this to companies that do good business in selling DVD players based on their region-free status, or because they can be easily modified to play discs from anywhere in the world: people buy their products because they allow them to do more than similar, but locked down, ones. All this effort at coming up with new DRM isn't just a bad business decision, it's also an exercise in futility, as a single hacker is proving to Microsoft by continuing to break its PlaysForSure DRM as the company tries to patch it. It should also be noted that region-restricting DVDs doesn't have a whole lot to do with piracy (what pirate would bother to include such DRM on their product, thereby limiting their potential market?), it's about stifling the export of DVDs from one area to another. This lets movie studios better control prices around the world, by making it slightly more difficult -- but not impossible -- for consumers to play out-of-region DVDs. But movie studios and other content providers don't want to face up to the fact that it's consumers' dissatisfaction with their business models that leads them to try to find products at lower prices. After all, why confront the truth when it's so much easier to paint it as a technology problem, and just order up yet another form of DRM?
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