Study Says DRM Pushes Users To Illegal Downloads

from the thought-we'd-been-over-this dept

A new study from a Cambridge law professor says that DRM doesn’t stop piracy, but rather prompts users to illegally download DRM-free pirated content (via Boing Boing). In short, the study found that users get frustrated by the restrictions put on legally purchased content by DRM and copy-protection technologies. Instead of rolling over and accepting this, they often change their behavior — choosing to download unrestricted, illegal content in the future. This goes along with what’s been pretty clear for a long time. DRM doesn’t work at stopping piracy, it makes products less valuable and less attractive to users, and in turn leads them to look elsewhere for unrestricted content and products they can use how they best see fit.

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Comments on “Study Says DRM Pushes Users To Illegal Downloads”

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Matt Tate (profile) says:

Re: I'll attest to that

With a truly unrestricted format like a .mov, .wmv, or .avi, wouldn’t they just click to skip the commercials? I think a better idea may be to set up their own tracker and offer commercial-free videos for a reasonable cost; alternatively (or in conjunction) they could have a subscription-based streaming service (which would undercut Netflix as they already own the rights and don’t need to buy them).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'll attest to that

A. wouldnt users skip the commercials with their dvr?
B. I wouldnt skip the commercials anyway as long as they were infrequent, because i watch downloaded stuff on my tv and its a hassle to use my ghetto setup to skip a little bit and i hate finding the exact right spot to skip to

JT says:

Not Sure...

This study was interesting. I would like to see it followed up with another study of typical users that download from BT sites or otherwise.

Lynn Holdsworth was a great example but at the same time, she did purchase the item. How many typical users actually still buy something they can obtain illegally? I can also see the legitimacy of the problem educators have.

I personally think that if someone knows how to use the technology, they’re more apt to do it if the product has DRM or doesn’t have it. It’s a lot easier for someone to justify they’re downloading it illegally when they have a scapegoat.

I’m not passing judgment and I despise DRM with the exception of something like Steam that requires me to register my cd-key as proof. There are a few trade-offs to that as well but once I’m done installing, it doesn’t bother me again about registering, having the DVD and I can use it on any system that I install Steam on as well as re-download it without hassle. I know others hate it for other reasons.

I also use BT and grab stuff I’ve never heard of or has poor reviews, it has contributed to me buying a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise.

I’m just trying to point out differences in this study and the typical user that’s saying “death to DRM” on every game on Amazon but still download 100s of other apps, movies, games, mp3s, etc. illegally without it.

Gary says:

DRM sucks

I watched my first DVD in 1998. It was a terrible movie called “The Siege.” But the picture and sound quality were way better than VHS. But here’s the thing: when I put the movie in the DVD player, it either showed me a menu or started the movie (I can’t remember which). The encryption didn’t matter because I was presented with pleasant user experience.

I had to learn how to crack and burn DVDs because the ones that I bought for my pre-K son were filled with forced ads and forced previews that were completely inappropriate for him. And I couldn’t return them. For example, some Dr. Seuss videos I bought contained forced previews of a movie called “Johnny English,” which I understand is rated “PG for comic nudity, some crude humor and language.”

Having to learn how to crack DVDs presented other opportunities to consume media without paying for it. Because I know or presume that all DVDs contain forced ads and forced previews, I don’t buy them anymore. And that’s really too bad for Hollywood, because I used to set aside money to buy DVDs. Instead, The Pirate Bay gets my business.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: DRM sucks

If you can’t get around it by simply pressing the menu button, I don’t know what to tell you. Either you didn’t make any attempt to figure it out or just see it as a reason to get it free. If you enjoy what they do but don’t want to pay for it, just be honest about. Stop acting like you’re a saint that’s been thrown into prostitution.

srs2000 (profile) says:


Just today I had to “fix” legit software my sister bought. The computer got formatted and the software refused to install again even though they allow 2 licenses. 3 calls to the company never got it resolved even though they claimed they were fixing it so she could install the software again.

I would like to see statistics for how many times that happens.

All it ends up doing is infuriating the consumer that bought the product. NONE of their DRM or copy protection stops the people who want to get around it.

Norm (profile) says:

Re: ...

I had a similar experience with the game Mass Effect. Its DRM (SecuROM I think, but not sure) completely failed on Vista with UAC enabled. After trying it a few times, I googled the problem and found out the steps involved to make it work were insane and that I had already surpassed its 3 install limit. Of course contacting the company did NOTHING. $40 for a day or two of frustation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Call again

“Just today I had to “fix” legit software my sister bought. The computer got formatted and the software refused to install again even though they allow 2 licenses. 3 calls to the company never got it resolved even though they claimed they were fixing it so she could install the software again.”

call them again and tell them you want your money back or they can explain why their software was designed to not work

wayne says:

ha ha

if you pay for cable and download shows at your leisure are you really even breaking the law to begin with. That goes with music too. I’ve already payed for all the music on much music and other shows in my cable. I don’t see me breaking any laws, seems more like big business just mad because they can’t double and triple dip on charges for the same piece of music. Can you imagine having to pay for the food when it comes out again?

Ed says:

DRM does promote some piracy.

One of the first things I do when I BUY a new game, is remove all copy protection. I pay them, but won’t use there DRM.

I don’t use audible for this reason either. I can remove the protection, but it is just not worth that extra effort. I buy only non-DRM audiobooks instead. Which is a shame, I would instantly join audible otherwise.

James says:

No DMR makes me buy stuff

True story. I am broke, today i wanted to try an older game, the Witcher 2 and a friend sent me an illegal link to a torrent. While i was downloading this I checked into the game and i found out The Witcher 2 doesn’t actually uses DRM. I stopped the download and immediately bought the game. I felt the product was more than worth my few dollars. I feel that company doesn’t assume I am a pirate so i FELT I WAS BETRAYING THEIR TRUST IF I STOLE THE GAME, so i DIDN’T. I hope more stories like this will take DRM away. It’s not really fair two brothers living in the same house can’t have BF3 accounts for the price tag that game costs, play Batman Arkham city without sharing an email address (MS games required), etc. I believe the way to stop piracy is acting reasonable and don’t look at your costumers like they are criminals or targets they can exploit for more money.

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