Hollywood Still Thinks That The Industry Needs DRM

from the history-lessons-missed dept

A bunch of folks have sent in various versions of how the entertainment industry is trying to convince the Copyright Office not to grant a special DMCA exemption for breaking DRM in the very limited -- but quite real -- scenario where a DRM server goes dark, taking away access to content people thought they had legally purchased. This seems like a perfect example of a reasonable DMCA exemption (people legally bought something, and they can no longer access it without getting around the DRM). On top of that, the music industry especially has finally come to terms with the fact that DRM not only doesn't work, but decreases the value of the music and makes people less willing to buy. So you might think that they wouldn't put up much of a fight. But, you'd be wrong.

Nate Anderson's coverage does the best job highlighting the absurdity of the response representing the RIAA and MPAA:
"To recognize the proposed exemption would surely discourage any content provider from entering the marketplace for online distribution... unless it was committed to do so... forever. This would not be good for consumers, who would find a marketplace with less innovation and fewer choices and options."

The mind boggles. This reads like copy from a Bizarro World manifesto on DRM, since the reality of the market for downloaded music (which was the issue behind the proposed exemption) has shown quite clearly that people don't want DRM on their tunes and providers are happy to comply once the labels allowed it. The current situation, with several major stores and little or no DRM on downloads, is manifestly better for buyers.
Just an ordinary day for the established entertainment industry's lawyers, where they love to insist that, theoretically, what's happening in reality is impossible.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    anymouse (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 2:07pm

    Translation...

    "To recognize the proposed exemption would surely discourage any content provider from entering the marketplace for online distribution... unless it was committed to do so... forever."

    This would mean that we can't continue to sell the same product over and over in different 'formats' simply by changing the current DRM system being used. We would have to actually WORK instead of just collecting for selling the the same product over and over FOREVER.

    "This would not be good for consumers, who would find a marketplace with less innovation and fewer choices and options."

    Consumers would be able to actually USE the things we already sold them, even after we intentionally disabled them via closing DRM Servers, this would mean that the consumer wouldn't need to repurchase the same product in a new DRM wrapper, thus eliminating their need for our innovative new DRM models. We're still working on perfecting the DRM that charges the user every time they THINK about our products, LOOK at our products, or even TOUCH one of our products, and until then we need to continue to roll out and then close new DRM Schemes so that we can continue to charge customers for the products they already own.

     

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  2.  
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    hegemon13, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 2:16pm

    Good

    "To recognize the proposed exemption would surely discourage any content provider from entering the marketplace for online distribution... unless it was committed to do so... forever."

    How is this not a good thing? If you are going to lock down the content you sell so as to make users reliant on you to use that content, you should be in it for the long haul. If you aren't, you're just defrauding your customers.

     

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  3.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    I'll say it again

    The day companies got so damn big that their owners, be they ridiculously wealthy CEO's or the ubiquitous and faceless "board", no longer actually SAW their customers was the day that commerce went into the shitter in this country.

    When did it change from "The customer is my boss" to "The customer is my enemy"?

     

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  4.  
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    Philip (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 2:30pm

    An example I used, from that article

    Here's the quote from the article that caught my attention:
    ----
    "We reject the view," he writes in a letter to the top legal advisor at the Copyright Office, "that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so."
    ----

    That quote immediately made me think of paintings; another form of creative works.

    Clearly, paintings don't last forever, so neither should songs. (right?)

     

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  5.  
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    Jim, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 2:50pm

    DRM is all about control, not preventing piracy

    I've had lots of meetings with both executives (the "suits") and techies at major Hollywood studios. Almost all the suits, and even many techies, really think that DRM prevents piracy. The techies that know better always keep their mouths shut because they want to keep their jobs. Some studios employ large teams to techies to "evaluate" security technology. So, techies speaking the truth could result in their departments being eliminated. Most likely, honest techies would just be replaced with someone willing to tell the suits what they want to hear: "DRM is magic pixie dust."

    Once in a while, you meet someone in Hollywood that really understands. These rate individuals know that the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA will enable them to litigate the be-Jesus out of almost anyone that creates a new business model. For example, you can't *legally* create a media manager application (like iTunes) that can rip a purchased DVD to a hard drive since that would require that they circumvent the CSS copy protection on most retail DVDs (RealNetworks asside). That fact that you can train a spider monkey to use a decrypter is irrelevant - it's still illegal. At a minimum, the studios can demand a cut. There tendency, however, would be to kill any innovation to make it go away.

    That's why the XXAAs are paying lawyers in DC to say such outlandish things in order to fight any weakening of the DMCA's anti-circumvention provision. DRM is ineffective at stopping piracy, but with anti-circumvention codified in the law, DRM can still be pretty effective at killing innovation, or at least giving big media control over that innovation.

     

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  6.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 2:51pm

    Re: An example I used, from that article

    I actually think that is a stunning quote, and here's why:

    "No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards"

    What a silly statement. Products, both virtual (software) and physical (hardware) are held to that standard all the time. Some of the additionals you get with them might not continue, like customer support on old versions of MS Office, for instance, but I don't remember anyone saying that your time to use the software you had purchased RAN OUT. As for a hardware example:

    "No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity"

    ...what? I expect my computer to continue to function properly and in perpetuity so long as it is physically capable of function by virtue of it's product health. Some products with moving parts, like hard drives for instance, will inherently have an undetermined use-life. We don't expect it to last forever, but we expect to be able to use it as long as it LASTS. Physically. The chassis, for instance, ought to be in use forever. Are you going to come and take my chassis away, shithead?

    What this fucko is talking about is intentionally creating a product that degrades itself. It's as if the car you bought was DESIGNED to fall apart after a certain number of years (hmmmmmm).

    Who does he think he is....Sony?

     

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  7.  
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    Ryan, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 3:22pm

    Re: I'll say it again

    Just because some companies throw out completely bullshit reasons to get the government to fuck over consumers or tell everybody that they're a "sue first, ask questions later" company does not mean that all of them are. It changed to "the customer is my enemy" when we allowed laws to be passed that increasingly remove choice at the expense of both the consumers and innovative businesses. For instance, remove this stupid DMCA/file sharing shit from the legal books and the RIAA/MPAA would be groveling at our feet for business.

     

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  8.  
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    Chris-Mouse (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 3:35pm

    I reject your reality, and substitute my own

    "We reject the view," he writes in a letter to the top legal advisor at the Copyright Office, "that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so."
    As a consumer, I reject the view that copyright owners and their licensees should be permitted to reach out and break my legally purchased media simply because they no longer feel like supporting it.

     

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  9.  
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    Paul Brinker, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    ok, if you turn your DRM server off, DO YOU SUE customers who then attempt to use your product after that date? I can see a situation where someone puts up a server to record IP addresses after the DRM server goes down to in order to send court settlement letters to everyone who uses the old product.

    Good way to make money, rent product with out calling it a rental, then charge people after the current rental cycle ends.

     

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  10.  
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    CleverName, Jul 30th, 2009 @ 5:24pm

    Re: An example I used, from that article

    Certainly you are not serious. There is a very large difference between the two, one is intentional and the other is not. If this were the only way to purchase said item, then it would have to spelled out in plain sight prior to purchase. Something like "This product will self destruct in x months". How many people would buy that?

     

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  11.  
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    Andrew Moffat (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    Ugh...

    With Musicslu, since the content released is free to share forever, this would never happen. Release and forget it. Future generations can download and share it. Musician is still supported. Why does the industry insist on doing things the hard way.

     

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  12.  
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    Philip (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Re: An example I used, from that article

    (registered an account now)
    They are both intentional. DRM was *added* to music audio files with the *intent* of selling. Oh, maybe you meant paintings weren't done with the intent of selling? :D

    Maybe you didn't get what I was implying (was subtle). If you did, you can ignore the reset below.

    My quote was making fun of his statement that copyright works don't last forever. He's implying they /should/ expire after some time. He clearly doesn't understand "copyright works" - stories? poems? Shakespeare's works are "copyright works" and it's been around for centuries. Greek mythology? Bible? Thousands of years. Just because they aren't currently covered by copyright, does not mean they aren't "copyright works."
    Nor does he understand software life cycles. MP3 won't be around forever, just like 8track, LPs, CDs, DVDs. Things evolve. Software and hardware alike.

    Paintings are just what popped in my head (Mona Lisa). Paintings have been around far longer than anybody is willing to keep up a DRM authentication server for. Paintings were not created with the intent to expire after a period of time. That was my point.
    (hell, everything I mentioned above was created, without the umbrella of copyright)

     

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  13.  
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    Philip (profile), Jul 30th, 2009 @ 7:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: An example I used, from that article

    Guess I should add that the length a product lasts is never nor has ever been a factor in content creation -- so it wasn't a factor in my assessments.
    (nothing lasts forever; not even software -- although its life is far longer than any physical good to date)

     

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  14.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:16am

    My favorite comments on that story ....

    After reading the story and the comments here are my favorite comments on the story......


    "Ok, so data I have copyright protected material that I have legally purchased, such as my vintage copy of Tie Fighter on 3.5 disks, is currently unusable - Because I've chosen not to keep a 3.5 drive. My choice. If I had cared that much, I would have copied the data to another storage device.

    The same is true with anything I have on cassette tape, VHS, etc. The only thing preventing me from using them is the necessary technology, which while not in production anymore, is still available in the secondary market legally. I'm sure its only a matter of time before CDs suffer the same fate (albiet much longer as most DVD & BluRay will be around for the forseable future)

    This is different, because there's only "one" source for the equipment, and its not as if a user can buy their own authentication server. This represents a continuing expense for companies w/o a revenue stream to support it. This leaves no options for the customer, who legally purchased the information.

    In the past, Big Content relied on technical limitations (ex: degredation per use) and technical growth (new & better formats) to re-sell content multiple times. With CDs & MP3, technology has reached a plateau - There are better options for quality, but diminishing marginal returns have taken hold. Given that CDs don't "wear out," digital data even less so, there is no reason someone should ever have to re-purchase music bought today.

    Of course, because CDs have a permanance to them, they led to a massive increase in music sales as people rebought old collections. This is dying down now - and online piracy gets a huge chunk of the blame. Fewer people are buying "old" content - thus sales decrease.

    The VHS to DVD conversion has done the same thing. Eventually, HD formats will force another turn-over, but unlike VHS -> DVD, DVDs don't degrade per use, and for many films, the quality difference is negligable. Still, as DVD sales fall - people complete the back-fill of their collection, only buy "new" content - I'm sure piracy will get blamed.

    This just reaks of an industry trying to maintain a business model that is fading away as technology removes their ability to sell you something multiple times."




    and


    "Well thanks, RIAA, for clearing that up. I'll take my money back now, please.

    What? You didn't think that I was giving you perpetual access to my money, did you?"


    and also


    "It looks like they are fearful that their successful business model of planned obsolescence is becoming obsolete."



    and finally


    "When I buy a book from a publisher I do assume that the book will continue to provide me the knowledge it contains perpetually irregardless of if the publisher would permanently close or if the book went out of print. Why should copyright terms be applied to digital formats differently than "traditional" outlets?"

     

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  15.  
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    Mike, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:33am

    DRM

    The lawyers for the entertainment industry continue to insist that infringement is theft. It is about time someone insists that shutting down a DRM server is theft as well. I suppose it would be overall bad for someone to actually win that argument, but it would be interesting to hear what the entertainment industry has to say about that. It seems to me closer to theft since they have actually deprived someone of something that they owned.

    If wal-mart came to my house and took back my lawn chairs, I think I would have a pretty good argument against them.

     

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  16.  
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    JB, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 8:56am

    Re: An example I used, from that article

    (Note: The next two paragraphs are a slight rant, skip to the last paragraph for the true message. Thank you.)

    I don't know about that guy, but I have a Tandy color up in the attic at my parent's house that I know will still boot up. Granted it will be slow and painful, but I could even play Prince of Persia on the 5.25 floppy disks that are packed away with it. I also have an original Atari with about 12 games that still works.

    Does that guy just throw things out when he gets tired of them and claims they no longer work? Anything, with proper care and maintenance, can last for at least your lifetime if not longer. Case in point, classic cars, priceless paintings, centuries old books, ancient architecture, ancient tools, preserved sheet music and even wax recordings.

    Don't tell me that a 'creative work' should not be expected to last in perpetuity, that is not your decision to make. You should focus on providing a quality product to your customers and THEY will decide the longevity of your 'creative work'.

     

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