Get Ready For The Next Entertainment Industry 'Solution' To Content Distribution: Kinder, Gentler DRM

from the this-is-a-problem-that-doesn't-exist dept

Earlier this year, we wrote about how many in the entertainment industry were betting on DECE — or Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem. Basically, it’s yet another type of DRM that is so kind as to give you back certain fair use rights, to let you play the same content on multiple devices. While Disney and Apple are holdouts (Disney has its own version called “Keychest” — and Apple is, well, Apple), much of the rest of the entertainment and tech industries are lining up behind this solution, which is supposed to finally start hitting the market this fall, under the ridiculous new name: UltraViolet.

While I think it’s great that the industry is finally realizing that locking content to a single device is something of a non-starter, I’m still trying to figure out what consumer problem this solves. Allowing content on multiples devices could already be done — just without DRM. So this isn’t adding any value to consumers. Just to the industry that, falsely, still thinks it needs some kind of DRM.

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Comments on “Get Ready For The Next Entertainment Industry 'Solution' To Content Distribution: Kinder, Gentler DRM”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Lets start a contest to see how long

“cracked”, “silly”, “not going to work”. My problem with it is it is not an open standard. With device – format shifting it will have serious insecurities. In the end it will fail like every other DRM solution. 60 companies getting together and attempting to create a monopoly version of DRM will only accelerate the rate at which it is cracked.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Training Wheels!

So this isn’t adding any value to consumers. Just to the industry that, falsely, still thinks it needs some kind of DRM.

This is a good thing! It’s like training wheels, once the entertainment industry is comfortable riding their bike with these new training wheels, then perhaps they’ll take a shot at riding without them.

; P

Simon says:

If the legacy business models didn’t exist, and we were handed current digital technology, anyone suggesting these convoluted attempts to engineer scarcity into a naturally infinite resource would be laughed at. Why can’t governments accept that technology and society evolve instead of trying to hold back progress at the behest of corporations?

Bruce Ediger (profile) says:

Re: hold back progress at the behest of corporations?

I heartily endorse this viewpoint and line of reasoning.

Why indeed do governments try to hold back change at the behest of corporations? Maybe a more interesting research question would be why sometimes we allow massive changes (land lines -> cell phones) and others we don’t. What factors cause these differences?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: hold back progress at the behest of corporations?

land lines > cell phones.
cell phones allowed corporations to charge people more. each person requires their own so they sell more phones, everyone has their own plan instead of one monthly fee per family there is a monthly fee per user. calls cost more and are billed per minute even for local calls.
of course this change would not be blocked ๐Ÿ™‚

Guillermo Llosa says:

There actually is a consumer problem that is solved here.

Let me try to give an example.

I go to Wal-Mart. I buy Generic Action Movie 3: The Revengence Day, on DVD. They add to my “UltraViolet” account the fact that I have that movie in my “collection”. I take it home, I watch it. Its cool.

The next day I go on a road trip with my buddies. I mention that the movie is cool, and later, at the hotel, I whip out my laptop. I sign into the “UltraViolet” “WebLocker”, and begin streaming the movie down to the laptop to watch. This is the added value; if they are willing to basically format-shift and move the movie from device-to-device FOR me, that might be worth something. Of course, I could do it myself, but the effort spent on it represents money. Storing all of the ripped movies takes space. Copying the movies around from device to to device takes time. Automate this process for me, make it fast, make it convenient, and don’t charge me too much extra for it? That sounds like something I might pay for.

This assumes, of course, that the example I described above is at all how this is going to work.


Re: Artificial Scarcity -> Artificial Difficulty.

Once you don’t have Big Content trying to get in your way at every turn, it’s not terribly burdensome to handle your own content. It would be just like Audio CDs. iTunes and 20 other apps like it would completely automate the ripping and management process for you. You would be able to choose which one you liked based on the degree of control you want over the process.

Of course capacity of most devices isn’t up to the task of handling video but that’s bound to change. That’s bound to fix itself before any sort of suitably pervasive networking infastructure is in place.

Cowering Behind Anonymity says:


“I sign into the “UltraViolet” “WebLocker”, and begin streaming the movie down to the laptop to watch.” did this with music a number of years ago before they got sued out of existence.

“Hey, let me borrow your Generic Action Movie 3: The Revengence Day so i can put it on my ‘WebLocker'”.

Fails all over your face.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Thankfully, producing and even adhering to technical standards isn’t considered illegal collusion.”

Funny thing, and historically speaking, the most common locks are picked first. Standard like these are nothing more than locks.

If this ends up being like microsofts failed attempt at authorization servers at MSN Entertainment and Video Services, it will fail like Rupert Murdochs creating paywalls around his news sites.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dystopian musings

How this could go wrong:

*An ultraviolet account could require in-depth personal information. They track all devices that you use to connect to the service. Your personal information and IP addresses are shared freely with consortium members (including the RIAA). If your wife and kids all access movies on your account from different addresses, you are accused of piracy.

* It either will not work on a standard PC, or if it does it will only work with software that allows the ultraviolet consortium a back-door (complete with a EULA to make it legal) to allow them to audit your hard drive contents (like what the old INDUCE act proposed).

* Any attempts to access your account from a non-approved device will result in a visit from the FBI.

* You must subscribe to an approved, cooperative ISP to be allowed access to the ultraviolet servers.

* Region encoding will still be enforced. Your British DVD will not be accessible in the United States.

* These extra fair use rights can not be transferred, sold, lent, or inherited. You must retain ownership of all dvds, cds, etc. By signing up for the ultraviolet system, you waive all 4th amendment rights and grant the consortium full rights to audit your licenses to ensure that you have not sold any.

* Oh, and there will be a $25/month fee to be able to enjoy this service. Don’t worry, it’ll be tacked on to your ISP bill. You’ll forget the fee is even there.

Anonymous Coward says:

The thing about consumers is that we are never ever really satisfied, and in a normal market, products have to adapt to our needs and cravings.

As pointed out many times here, government “given” monopolies don’t adapt, but rather dictate what we, the consumer, can have and how. Hence the DRM, restrictions, windows, etc. etc. and, in my opinion, one of the causes of “piracy”; i.e., consumers looking for alternate forms of viewing content.

Consumers have already begun to demand content as they want it, and maybe, with some luck, the industries are starting to wake up and, as pointed out above

This is a good thing! It’s like training wheels, once the entertainment industry is comfortable riding their bike with these new training wheels, then perhaps they’ll take a shot at riding without them.
“Lobo Santo”

Lets just hope they continue to evolve and don’t shoot themselves in the foot.

Jim (user link) says:

The Problem

Major studios won’t license content for download without DRM. So, if you want to download the latest blockbusters, you can’t get it from a legal service unless it’s crippled with DRM. That’s the “problem” DECE “solves.” It does nothing for the customer or the content provider, but it makes it possible for a major studio executive, who’s #1 priority is usually keeping his/her well-paid job, to sign a distribution agreement without the fear of getting fired.

I think it’s unlikely that Apple will come on board any time soon. Apple knows that DRM will never stop piracy, and they don’t give a hoot anyway. For them, it’s just another proprietary standard that they can use to lock in customers and lock out competition. If you’re the dominant vendor of the proprietary standard (as Apple probably sees itself) then you have every incentive not to promote any other standard that you don’t own and control. I believe that Jobs is also a big (if not the largest) shareholder in Disney, which will tend to keep them out too, at least until someone coughs up a big enough bribe.

Just about all of the issues that DECE takes on can already be addressed with Flash streaming. That’s how Hulu “protects” content, which means it’s good enough for some premium TV shows and at least catalog movies from major studios. The only difference is that DECE may allow you to watch content off-line (like on a plane with no Wi-Fi). But as Wi-Fi proliferates (even on planes), that’s a shrinking market.

In my opinion, it won’t work anyway. It might sound OK in theory (like the proverbial refrigerator that automatically orders milk when you’re low), but I expect that it will be hideously complex in practice. Consumers don’t care about, don’t typically understand, and will likely be infuriated by, “use” rules, geo-restrictions, device registrations, “upgrades” that aren’t always backward compatible and so on. Seems to me that the infrastructure and tech support costs for this pipe dream will be very high. Who will you call, for example, when the movie you buy from Amazon on your Samsung TV won’t “register” on your Zune? I think it’s a Potemkin Village that will never work.

I don’t think it matters much that the industry appears to be “lining up” behind DECE. You pay a couple of hundred thousand dollars in dues, send someone to fly around to meetings, and if nothing else, it’s a write off and reason to network. If it goes nowhere, so what?

BBT says:

Re: The Problem

‘Major studios won’t license content for download without DRM. So, if you want to download the latest blockbusters, you can’t get it from a legal service unless it’s crippled with DRM. That’s the “problem” DECE “solves.”‘

Ah yes, the problem of not being able to buy content legally unless it’s crippled with [non-DECE] DRM is solved by selling content legally that’s crippled with [DECE] DRM.

Wait, what?

Anonymous Coward says:

Ultraviolet LoL

Who wants to “BUY” something that is not theirs ever?
Who wants to “BUY” something that will track them everywhere?
Who wants to “BUY” something that will tell them what to do?
Who wants to “BUY” something that will phone home for instructions and probably deliver statistics to others that you cannot trust?

If you move can they charge you more for the privilege to watch what you paid for?

Wolfy (profile) says:


Reminds me of the industry’s disastrous attempt at going for Digital Copy. I only ever got one, Hancock, on Blu-ray. Bought it legit and new through Amazon, once it arrived, it said the Digital Copy (on the back of the case), had expired about three months beforehand. Granted, I never cared about D.C., but the product was advertised as being sold with D.C., just they never mentioned how the window of opportunity had now closed.

beaten down consumer says:


Mike, another spot commentary. What consumer problem does UltraViolet solve, indeed!

I’m still mad at Apple. Starting some years ago, I purchased hundreds of iTunes files (in the old DRM’d format) back when I used a another email account and password for my mac ID and purchased many more after that with my current credentials. I later purchased the upgrade to unlock my iTunes purchases when that became available. They took my money for all of them. Unfortuantely, I cannot “authorize” the majority of my older itunes files, it says it authorizes them but it still stays in its wrapper and the authorization box will not accept any entry on my windows iTunes computer. I used the Apple migration tool to move my library to my main windows machine after I purchased the supposed unlock for every locked tune it found. The music that I paid for (2x) is now forever locked and i can only listen to it on my 2003 Titanium PowerBook but they still took my money. I must use a dedicated iPod to sync with this Mac to listen to this music. I want to retire this old Mac but I lose my music if I do. Nice job Apple. I now get my music elsewhere from other sources. DRM has driven me away from wanting to ever purchase DRM-wrapped music again. UltraViolet will amount to nothing more than an UltraPain. “Kindler, gentler DRM…” my ass. OK. rant over. Back to your regularly scheduled program.

Matt Polmanteer (profile) says:

Lessons Learned

Good to see they have learned their lesson. They are going to waste millions to be in the exact some place we are now. If you can play the media it can be reverse engineered and cracked. The problem with DRM is it is taking away options that already exist. They need to come up with a subscription/ad service thats easy and efficient for streaming movies, while allowing you to actually buy the video for a reasonable price. If I’m paying a subscription I shouldn’t have to watch the damn ads during the actual movie. No $10-15 for a digital copy is not reasonable. Also the downloads need to be DRM free and let you do what you wish with it for personal use. Will this prevent all piracy absolutely not but neither will their new DRM system. At least this way you can develop a revenue stream from people who like the convenience. I guess on the bright side they are making it easier for the pirates because now they only have to crack one thing.

Also what happens when their “token (authentication)” server isn’t up? What happens if I want to watch the movie at some place that doesn’t have the internet? What happens when some one develops an easier more efficient system for watching and searching for content? What happens when I want a smaller video format so I can load more files on my media player? What happens if I want to some of the video for fair use to make a mash-up or spoof?

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