Note To Entertainment Industry Execs: You Need To Give Up Control

from the it'll-make-your-market-much-bigger dept

Two separate articles today, one about the movie industry and another about the recording industry, show that the traditional entertainment industry is still going down the wrong path blindly. It’s a path that’s going to cost them a lot of money and hurt their business. For all the talk of how file sharing and “piracy” are hurting their business, the truth is increasingly clear: the companies that make up Big Content, and their inability to recognize what consumers want is causing them to lose a lot more money than any file sharing system ever will. On the movie side, we have a Washington Post story about how the big studios ridiculous requirements are guaranteeing that the various movie download stores fail. This was clear as soon as Amazon launched their terrible attempt in the space, and quietly admitted that a large part of the blame had to be placed on the studios for the restrictions they set up. Meanwhile, on the side of the recording industry, record label execs are talking up the importance of “flexibility” and “interoperability,” while ignoring MP3s and talking up the importance of copy protection. MP3s give them the flexibility and interoperability they crave at much lower costs while making consumers much happier. The success of sites like eMusic and show that people have no problem paying for MP3s — and, in fact, they value the flexibility the format (and the lack of copy protection) gives them.

What’s getting silly is that the execs don’t even seem to realize their arguments in favor of copy protection don’t make any logical sense. Copy protection has never stopped a single piece of content from reaching a file sharing network in unauthorized form. Not one. And once that content is there, it’s available all over the world, and the entire point of having the copy protection system in the first place goes away. Instead, the only thing the copy protection does is get in the way of people who want more flexibility (such as buying the songs they bought in one place on a different machine or on a different device). Giving customers what they want, at a reasonable price, would get a lot more people comfortable with buying the content and not worrying about compatibility or limitations. It increases the value of the content and greatly increases the market. Instead, the company wastes its time with expensive technology solutions that hurt their own customers, makes their content less usable and makes it all less valuable. It’s a huge strategic disaster that is killing their business more than any file sharing system.

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Comments on “Note To Entertainment Industry Execs: You Need To Give Up Control”

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ScytheNoire says:

I agree

100% true

I stopped buying music years ago after buying a CD that wouldn’t work in my computer, it just kept trying to install some unknown program. After that, I was done. After Sony’s rootkit attack on users computers, I don’t trust the music labels at all and will not risk my data just to use there’s. So I’m forced to find other ways to get my music.

I still buy DVD’s, but then I don’t desire to put them onto a portable device like I do with music. So I’ve never put a DVD into my computer drive, which is maybe a good thing, because it probably wouldn’t work right.

But I would never buy any online files with the current DRM systems. They are just unfair to the end-user and you can lose what you paid for too easily. Why pay for something that with a corrupted certificate or crash you can lose and no longer have access to.

I guess we’ll all be lucky the day the RIAA and MPAA go out of business. That’s the day creativity for artists will once again be allowed. I just hope more artists shove the finger at the RIAA and MPAA and go the independent route and launch their products on their own online. Those are the ones that should be supported, the artists directly, not the middle-man corporations trying to restrict and destroy the things we love.

Doug Karr (profile) says:

What you hear, you can record

Doesn’t it really just come down to plain ‘ol science? If the product is something that I must listen to, there is NO viable means of stopping the distribution of it through alternate or illegal means. What I hear, I can record. What I see, I can record.

Until we can’t actually watch the movie or hear the music, there’s no way to stop the recording of it. [sarc]

will says:

Well there has to be a happy medium w/ copy protection somewhere.. enough to prevent the casual copying of the non-saavy crowd, while giving the technically inclined the flexibility they want.

Store bought cassette tapes could be copied easily just by putting tape over the little square holes in the top.. yet a suprising number of people never knew this. Essentailly in prevented them from being ripped off, probably in a very signifigant way. But those who still wanted the flexibility, or wanted to record over their tape after becoming bored with it could do so.

MartinE (user link) says:

Look at the Apple iTunes movie download story: Jobs is majority shareholder in Disney which has four major film companies. Apple announces downloads at $12.99, far lower in price and less restricted than Amazon and other that must play the ‘big content’ (love that phrase!) game. Watch how Apple does with this- if it flys the movie business will be forced to follow just as the music biz did.

Sanguine Dream says:

Let the do it...

I say let the MPAA and RIAA continue these self-destructive methods of “protecting” their business models. As long as they don’t get government support even they will eventually run out of money and out of business. And all this nonsense about copy protection is the reason I don’t own an mp3 player yet. In all my research I have yet to find a site that gives a listing of what devices take what formats. I’d be very pissed if I bought a Creative Zen player and found out I couldn’t put any of my mp3s on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

not to be rude but..

this is like the 1000th article pointing out how retarded the recording industries are..

they are completely retarded. they will never learn, they will never change, they will never listen, they will never give their customers what they want
they will try to use their size to force things to be how they want, and tons of people will just have to keep pirating music cause its the only way to be able to listen to music in the ways that are convenient

Lay Person says:

Re: not to be rude but..

Yeah, I agree it’s a way over-exposed subject matter…but is it really?

I was just about to bitch about the same thing. I changed my mind though because the more we post and bitch, the higher the chance that someone in a position somewhere may just read these posts. It may plant the seed in that persons mind and he may just be able to do something about it. It’s a long shot but hey, if we’re complacent we have a zero chance of being heard.

Anyway, I agree with someone above. Let the “Big Content” companies hang themselves. The more they force their way the more rope they make to hang themsleves with. These companies are made up of people, these very people get old and leave these companies. Their old ideas leave with them. New blood brings new ideas and new approaches. Over time, the companies WILL CHANGE or die, guaranteed.

Big Huge Dave says:

This type of thing will continue because...

…there are people that work for those companies that need to justify their jobs. They probably make a very good salary and will never admit that their work should be eliminated.

Also you have to understand the dynamics of departments at corporations. They are into self-preservation. All departments operate this way in some manner. Telling the department that is responsible or copy protection that they’re no longer needed would not be taken lightly. So this issue is much deeper than just “common sense”.

Dont’ get me wrong, I’m not slamming corporations, I’m a believer in capitalism. But nothing’s perfect, and many companies show that they don’t necessarily operate with effeciency in mind. There are human factors at play here that you can’t ignore, and we can’t change…ever. The corporations have to change those things themselves, come up with a different way of seeing things.

Franssu says:

You forget the protection software companies

DRM is security software, and security software sells at huge prices, no matter how bad it is. There is a lobby of the protection software industry pushing the RIAA in their direction, and convincing them that copy protection is absolutely necessary to sell music.

Can you imagine how many evil programmers (a man who writes things such as the sony rootkit and the kind of protection schemes used on videogames must be evil) would lose their jobs if the RIAA wnt the consumer’s way ?

chris (profile) says:

re: will

i hate to be that guy, but…

the little holes on a cassette were write protection, not copy protection. they stopped you from being able to record over something, there were no measures to prevent copying. i had a thousand maxell tapes of rare stuff my friends had.

all you need to copy a cassette is anther cassette slot. dual deck players were ubiqutous.

infact, i had a circle jerks tape called “group sex” which had all of the tracks on one side, and the other side was blank with a message that read something like:

“home taping is destroying record industry profits so this side was left blank so you can do your part”

James says:

The easy fix...

STOP BUYING RECORDED CONTENT……period. Yes, its sounds over-simplified, sure. But my guess is if everyone refused to buy anymore dvds or cds (or drm bs protected content) they might change their tune very quickly. Either that, or the price would come down enough where you wouldn’t care about the drm.

These people absolutely are so stuiid that they think you will buy multiple copies of their content if you want to use it in multiple places.

Hmmm… I wonder how long ’til some enterprising recording artist or producer starts selling unprotected versions of their media through their own company that you can buy directly from them?

chris (profile) says:

re: the easy fix

I wonder how long ’til some enterprising recording artist or producer starts selling unprotected versions of their media through their own company that you can buy directly from them?

dudes like optimus rhyme, MC chris, MC frotnalot and jon coulton.

sorry it’s all nerdcore, that’s my current phase. be thankful it’s not all casiotone.

Jonathan Craig (user link) says:

I don’t know about you people but screw not buying albums, I want the best freaking audio quality possible. I can’t stand 192 kbps or lower; I can deal with 320 but I’d much rather have full first generation audio quality, ESPECIALLY when I’ve got it playing on a high quality sound system.

I’m sorry, but I’m an elitist so I don’t bother with low quality crap. How can you know which generation audio you’re getting when you’re simply downloading? Someone rips an album to their computer in 192 kbps and then burns it to a CD for a friend from those mp3s. The friend gets stretched out audio and their missing a lot of data. They in turn rip the CD and burn a copy from the mp3s for a friend of theirs and they allow someone to download it from them after they rip it at 128. That last person is getting really crappy quality audio, that last person could be you if you’re only downloading albums. Ever listen to 3rd or 4th Gen music on a good sound system vs. the original CD? It sounds horrid and as if it was recorded underwater. Screw that, I’ll stick to buying full albums in which I get a booklet with art, lyrics, and a professionally printed CD from bands with actually talent (as opposed to American corporate rock and pop). I like my bits just where they’re supposed to be, uncompressed!

Now, before I get blasted here, I’d like to point out that I completely disagree with the recording industry associations. I think that their going in the wrong direction just like everyone else here thinks of them. I do however say that I you really like a band, maybe your favorite; nothing should stop you from helping that band succeed. I know that not a lot of the money from CD sells goes to the band unless the band is selling the CDs themselves but you have to keep in mind that the CD sales turn into numbers which show how well consumers are taking to the band. In turn, this can help open up new opportunities for the bands in the long run. Granted, that statement only really matters when the band is still young and fairly underground.

You really do have to watch out for the kind of music that you’re buying and how you’re buying it. Just stop listening to corporate rock or pop, the music in which the big American corporations are worried about, gain some appreciation for real talent and skill, stop listening to the radio and MTV and move on from their oppressive regime. It’s really as simple as that. I don’t listen to anything they put out because I know it’s not as good as it could be if it were done by a band that actually care and take their art seriously.

Jonathan Craig (user link) says:

Re: Re: Jonathan Craig

Ah, was a party photographer; I’ve moved on though my site does not reflect the change (yet), hehe. You’re right thought, the majority of the music that I listen to, electronic or otherwise (mostly otherwise), is from more independent labels which is the way that I feel that it should be. The only good thing these huge labels are for is lazy people who would rather be trapped by the radio waves of mediocrity. There is far more talent to be found outside the norms of MTV and corporate media. It just takes a little searching and open-mindedness.

I do have a question though. How many people here actually buy a lot of music if they had unlimited funds and there was no DRM (or anything)?

StGrimblefig says:

The problem with waiting out the MPAA/RIAA

Actually, two problems:

1) They don’t make most of their money on us. The more mature, intelligent music consumer is less likely to buy their overproduced crap. No, they are marketing to the teen/preteen crowd, who are more influenced by their manipulation of the radio stations playlists, music “popularity” charts and movie releases. They want to be told what to like (as long as it is not what their parents like), and the industry is more than happy to oblige. Most of us have never bought a lot of music in the first place, so if we boycott, they will not even notice.

2) They have a lot of money. No, really. a LOT. More than you can probably imagine. Even if we were able to make a dent in their bottom line, they could absorb that kind of a loss for a long time. They have already shown that they are able to influence the government in their favor, to the detriment of common sense and consumer rights. And more is in the works. The legacy of this legislation will be felt long after the current evil empires have fallen. The RIAA and MPAA are not “businesses” in the traditional sense of the word — they are more like “clubs” or “mutual support associations”. They do not produce or sell anything themselves, their operating funds come from the dues paid by their members. So, to “run them out of business” you have to either run all of the member companies out of business, or convince them to quit the club. Good luck with that.

I would like to see a positive change in this issue before I die, but without actually educating the people running the so-called “big content” companies (and that is not going to happen as long as they refuse to listen), I just don’t see it happening.

Anonymous Coward says:


I jumped on the napster bandwagon YEARS ago… long before the whole Metallica thing happened. At the time I’d download music, see if I liked it, and then buy the album if I did. I didn’t know who/what the RIAA was, and I didn’t care. All I really cared about was the music. In those days if I didn’t buy the media, it was generally because I didn’t like it enough to purchase it (and thus I deleted it off my machine) or it was because I didn’t have the money at the time. (at which point, I deleted the material out of respect for the artists, and filed it away as something to buy later in my mental file cabnet)

Fast forward a couple years… Napster goes down the drain, 7 year old girls get sued, and all of a sudden, I become interested in the politics of this mess called the RIAA… Soon I come to the understanding that the artist gets essentially nothing when I buy their album (which is why concert ticket sales are so increadibly high) and I become increasingly unconcerned with what music does and doesn’t get deleted from my machines. Odd that…

Fast forward a few more years… The RIAA tries to piggy-back ontop of the 9/11 incident a bill that gives them the right to hack into anyones machine and basically do anything they please to it with no legal repercussions… ok you are officially a terrorist organization… no longer are you a business. In my mind anyone can cheat/steal from you as much as they want, and they’re all justified. Any artist who signs with you is in the unfortunate position of being actively targetted for piracy. People don’t respect you, they don’t like you, what makes you think they’d pay you? I certainly won’t… in any form. I will not buy from iTunes, I won’t support your company in any way. If I like music, I file it away as something to buy, the day your company dies. I’m a music monk… I just abstain now. No downloading, no sharing, no buying… I just won’t do it.

Anonymous Coward says:

considering the quality of most music nowadays (read: pure crap) you would think they would want to make it as easy as possible for consumers to acquire and listen to it.

instead of pointing to piracy and other lame notions, they should point the finger at themselves for the steadily declining sales because of the pure crap they try to pass off to us as music.

anonymous coward says:

early adopters have always been willing to make the effort to avoid DRM, just on principal or out of curiousity, but I think that as the ipod trojan horse brings more DRM into unwitting consumer households, you will start to see an unexpected backlash against it.

nobody cared about protection of DVDs because they watched them in a DVD player and rarely ripped them, but the same doesn’t hold true for music. It demands a much greater portability and flexibility and consumers will begin to realize that DRM = crippleware.

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