Steve Jobs Not Quite So Enthusiastic About DRM-Free Video

from the halfway dept

While the world continues to digest yesterday’s announcement that Apple will sell DRM-music from EMI, it’s worth taking a look at Steve Jobs’ comments from the event regarding copy-protected video. Jobs is nowhere near as enthusiastic about ditching DRM from videos, using the rather bizarre argument that it’s completely different to music because most music is already distributed without copy protection (in the form of CDs), while DVDs do have copy protection (albeit the easily circumvented CSS). Understand? Neither do we. He’s right, though, in some sense: the real difference in the DRM situation when it comes to music and video is that, arguably, it hurts movie studios and video providers much, much more than it does record labels. Movie studios’ efforts to sell digital downloads have failed miserably because they make copy-protection a bigger priority than usability. Most of the services don’t allow DVD burning, and those that do implement it in ridiculously stupid ways. Hence, it’s difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to watch movies they download on their TV, making the download services completely unattractive. Why? Because the studios prioritize pointless attempts to stop piracy above creating services people will want to use and pay for. It’s the completely wrong way to look at your business: focusing on trying to prevent shrinkage, rather than trying to create growth. This push for DRM-free media is being portrayed as some sort of consumer rights struggle, but perhaps Jobs realizes that won’t work with the movie industry. For movie studios to drop DRM, they have to be convinced it’s in their best interest commercially, and given their obsession with DRM, it’s possible that Jobs’ comment isn’t a defense of the movie industry, but rather just a comment on how entrenched their backwards mindset is.


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Comments on “Steve Jobs Not Quite So Enthusiastic About DRM-Free Video”

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26 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

CSS what?

Jobs is the effective owner of Disney now, so he can distribute DVDs with no encryption just as well as he can sell Disney/Pixar videos on iTunes media store.

If he doesn’t… then his “thoughts on music” was just a ruse to avoid EU’s actions against Apple. And then the rumors that it was EMI that put Jobs to task on the DRM-Free thing will be further justified.

bailey (profile) says:

There is a difference between music and movies. With music the primary source of an artists income is from live performances, radio, cds, etc are a way for the artist to promote themselves so that a person will come to the live show. The recording industry was just a means to the end that somehow ended up trying to be more important then the artists themselves and with the coming of the internet not nearly as needed.

However with movies it doesn’t seem so clear cut. The artist makes their money directly from the proceeds of the film and currently there is no model where they would get the majority of their money from some ancillary function. I mean its not like we have a cast of a movie touring in a live production.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There is a difference between music and movies. With music the primary source of an artists income is from live performances, radio, cds, etc are a way for the artist to promote themselves so that a person will come to the live show.

Actually, this pushes things even more in favor of the movie industry over the music industry. A lot more people go to theaters ever year then go to live music concerts. Downloading video just isn’t a serious substitute for the social experience of going out to the theater to see a movie on the big screen with a great sound system. When the last Star Wars movie came out, it was leaked online and was one of the most downloaded movies ever — yet, it also had one of the biggest (if not the biggest, at the time) openings. Why? Because people wanted the experience of seeing it in the theater.

If the movie industry focused on improving that experience, then they would have nothing to worry about on the piracy front.

Don’t worry about piracy — make it so that it doesn’t even matter if piracy is rampant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

” A lot more people go to theaters ever year then go to live music concerts. Downloading video just isn’t a serious substitute for the social experience of going out to the theater to see a movie on the big screen with a great sound system. When the last Star Wars movie came out, it was leaked online and was one of the most downloaded movies ever — yet, it also had one of the biggest (if not the biggest, at the time) openings. Why? Because people wanted the experience of seeing it in the theater.”

No, what that shows is how easily the populace is manipulated into going to watch absolute shit and paying out their arse for the privilige.

Jerslan says:

Devil's Advocate

I’ll play Devil’s Advocate here and post from the POV of the Movie Industry.

I could easily be posited that trueeffective growth is impossible when there is a serious threat of shrinkage. The Motion Picture Corporations (the one’s who really profit from people buying movies; the cast & crew have all been payed flat fees though some Directors and Cast in starring Roles may get a small percentage of the profits in addition to already high salaries) cannot fund new quality movies if their previous movies are not turning enough profit for them to do so. If Movie A cost $1 Billion (these numbers are arbitrary) and turned a profit of $30 Million (ie: it earned $1.3 Billion) then they would not have enough money to fund another $1 Billion dollar sequel titled Movie B. The $30 Million might be enough to make the jump to DVD where overtime it will begin to profit again, but not enough to make the sequel.

Making profit simply isn’t enough. They need to make enough profit to keep making high budget and/or quality movies (this is not to say that quality is determined by budget).

That is the logic the MPAA should be using. Not those stupid “Anti-Piracy” ads that you see in theaters saying that you are stealing money from hard working crew members. This is simply not true. Not directly anyways. Indirectly… If the Motion Picture Corporations can’t afford to make movies than they can’t hire these people, but blaming that on piracy is just as stupid as Rockstar Games saying that the Hot Coffee portions of GTA:San Andreas were put there by the hackers who simply unlocked the scenes.

zcat says:

mpaa maths?

How did you end up with ‘not enough to make another movie’ in the example above? You started with a billion, which was enough to make the first movie. You got a billion back plus a bit of profit. Can’t you take the original billion that you got back and use that to make the next big budget movie?

hd says:

DRM DRM who cares?

This topic has been beaten to death. The people making the decisions are not in sync with whats going because if they were they would realize anyone who buys their media does so anyways, and those who steal it will continue to steal it.

They are simply throwing money and effort into systems that will never work ultimately passing on additional costs to the consumer.

The solution? Just don’t buy anything at all. If everyone stopped buying their movies I guarantee they would rethink their business models.

Afterall, how many times are you really going to watch that movie. I can only justify a handful of movies worth having a copy of personally, and I have bought those.

Dont get me wrong, I’m not an advocate for anarchy and chaos, but when companies make it difficult for a paying user by telling you what you can and cant do I get offended. I haven’t bought a movie in the last 3 years, i just rent what i want to see.

Tashi says:

eztakes

I found a site called eztakes.com. They have some great movies, a lot of crap movies, but they have the right idea. You download the dvd for a fee. Then you can do whatever you want with that dvd file: burn it as many times as you want, leave it on your pc, port it to a portable device. That’s the business model that best serves consumers and so far the guys at eztakes are the only ones to realize it.

Gary LaPointe (user link) says:

“With music the primary source of an artists income is from live performances”

I find that hard to believe. Some artists make albums and rarely tour. I’d actually be interested to know how many dollars from my concert ticket is actually making it into the artists hands. Plus there is a limited number of fans per concert but an unlimited number of potential music buyers.

Larger artists get higher venues and more $$ but probably sell more music.
Smaller artists sell less but also play at smaller venues for less money.

Derek Kerton (profile) says:

Music And Movies Very Different

Not making any argument here, Mike, but simply pointing out that music and movies are very different.

Movies tend to be seen approximately once/person, while a song is listened to over and over. Thus, if I hear a pirated version of a song, I’m still a potential buyer of a legitimate copy, but if I see a pirated version of a movie, I’m probably never going to pay for that movie.

Also, as another commenter mentioned, you don’t take a movie “on tour”. This means that you can’t simply apply the “give a way the MP3, and make money on ancillary services” argument to movies.

There are differences. Whether Jobs is right or not is a different question.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Music And Movies Very Different

Movies tend to be seen approximately once/person, while a song is listened to over and over. Thus, if I hear a pirated version of a song, I’m still a potential buyer of a legitimate copy, but if I see a pirated version of a movie, I’m probably never going to pay for that movie.

Yet the last Star Wars movie was one of the most downloaded… and also one of the biggest box office successes. People enjoy going out to the movies.


Also, as another commenter mentioned, you don’t take a movie “on tour”. This means that you can’t simply apply the “give a way the MP3, and make money on ancillary services” argument to movies.

Huh? It ALREADY applies to movies. The ancillary services are the experience of going out to the movies, or the convenience of a nice DVD package with extras. The industry is already selling ancillary services… they just don’t seem to realize it.

David Wakefield says:

DRM options

Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term that refers to access control technologies used by hardware manufacturers, publishers and copyright holders to limit usage of digital media or devices. DRM is controversial and rightfully so, as consumers avoid it wherever and whenever it crops up.

Ez-takes and its constant insistance on DRM, is more of a hindrance for any filmmaker and producer. The people who would use download features are realistically not there: they download from p2p sites anyways. DRM does not actually exist, because any content can be downgraded to analog and then digitzed again; thus ez-takes’ claims of DRM are misleading, if mot false.

For independent producers other and better options such as filmbay ,brosmedia and xing are available. Their networking and distribution features are well beyond the standard fare, suggesting a web 3.0 notion. Indy producers need useful tools. Time will tell how things will pan out, but at least there are some good choices out there.

Dave Wakefield

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