Software Company Asks Users For Input On DRM; Goes Ahead And Institutes It Anyway Over Their Objections

from the by-'listening,'-we-meant-nodding-thoughtfully-while-moving-forward-with dept

Nothing does more damage more quickly to your community than deciding to place your fear of piracy over the the concerns of those who’ve already paid for your product. DRM is rarely, if ever, the answer. And yet, it remains an inexplicably popular “solution.”

Daz 3D, which produces 3D art software as well as assets for use with third party software, has decided to do something about its perceived piracy problem. Last November, it had this to say:

[W]e feel the best way to fight piracy is make the convenience of doing something legally more so than the inconvenience of pirating. That is why we made finding, downloading, installing, and loading content in Studio as streamlined and easy as possible while making getting a pirate-able copy of the original product harder.

The solution to the problem, according to Daz 3D, was to have the software “phone home” at least once to obtain a key for content/software files, which would only arrive in encrypted form. Supposedly, this would be limited to once per computer but the new, encrypted files would pose problems for existing users.

Those on older versions of Daz’s software would be unable to access any new content. Transferring old data could also result in problems — something Daz acknowledged in a later post, noting that scripts and tools might not work with unencrypted content.

At the time of the announcement, no plan was in place to provide offline users with authentication keys, nor would it be possible to purchase new content without running through Daz’s “Connect” service, which not only authenticates users but “assembles” newly purchased content for use with Daz software.

Daz did the right thing and put its proposals up for discussion. This generated dozens of pages of comments, many of which were from users opposed to the addition of DRM. Some were concerned about the Daz Connect DRM breaking content they’d already paid for. Others simply didn’t like being treated like pirates when they’d actually paid for software and add-ons.

Daz’s representatives were active in forum discussions and very straightforward about their reasons for looking into instituting DRM. The company is hoping a few extra installation hoops and another layer of authentication would deter casual pirates, leaving them only the diehard crackers interested in “capturing” a niche “market.”

The willingness to listen and participate in the discussion separates Daz from many other companies who’ve added DRM to their products. Unfortunately, it appears the discussion had little effect on Daz’s final decision. The post may be titled “You’ve been heard,” but the content contained in it indicates the listening was little more than a formality. Daz will be moving ahead with its original plan, despite customers making it clear they’d rather have a product that doesn’t introduce compatibility problems. Nor do they want to be limited to a single distribution system. And they’re less than thrilled about the “phone home” requirement.

The new post, delivered four months after the original announcement, changes nothing about the DRM structure. While it does add some fail-safe measures (like third-party escrow that will prevent users from being locked out of their purchases if Daz goes out of business), the end result is still the same. DRM is coming to Daz and there’s nothing users can do about it.

Currently Daz Connect gives customers the ability to install (among other things) encrypted content. Daz Connect also lets customers retrieve a Key to decrypt their content. Customers have raised the concerns of:

What if Daz is not available to provide the keys anymore, chooses not to, or starts charging an additional fee to get a key for previously purchased content?

Solution: We have developed and fully tested a utility which will decrypt, and save in non-encrypted formats, Daz products on a customer’s computer. We are also working out details with a software escrow company who will provide this utility to the public free of charge in the event that Daz is no longer in a business position to, or is unwilling to continue offering this as a free service. This will also be added to the Daz EULA to ensure customers of our commitment to enable them to always be able to use content that they have purchased a license for.

Obviously this does not address other issues such as scripts and tools that work on un-encrypted content. But those are solved in other ways. We are working (and will continue to work) with developers who have this need, in order to show them how to do it with encrypted content.

Apparently, “hearing” actually means ignoring concerns people expressed, including portability from older versions of Daz’s software. And, as is nearly always the case when DRM to added to a previously DRM-free product, the company is presenting it as a win for paying customers.

Is the encryption associated with Daz Connect essentially Digital Rights Management (DRM)?

We strive to add great benefits to being connected while limiting the impact to the user experience. Although we have included file encryption to protect our artist community, the primary target is to provide a better experience for our users. Daz Connect delivers and updates products more efficiently but relies on the fact that files are in a location and format that is maintained by the application. In this sense, Daz Connect provides some measure of digital rights management.

So, Daz is thinking of its customers while simultaneously willing to ignore those customers to institute something it thinks will decrease piracy. While I can appreciate the fact Daz wants to protect its bottom line, it needs to be aware that instituting these new restrictions will result in actual lost sales — something that may ultimately prove more harmful than the theoretical lost sales Daz attributes to piracy.

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Companies: daz 3d

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Comments on “Software Company Asks Users For Input On DRM; Goes Ahead And Institutes It Anyway Over Their Objections”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

From theoretical to ensured

The best part of course is that their actions will almost certainly drive previously paying customers to piracy, as their paid for product is now inferior to the ‘free’ copy available from the pirates.

In attempting to ‘fight’ piracy they’ve instead made it even more likely to happen, and in an attempt to protect sales they’ve given potential customers a very good reason not to buy from or use their products at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: From theoretical to ensured

“in an attempt to protect sales”

Except not. That argument almost never holds in these cases. It would if your potential customer was saying “Jeez, I sure would buy your product if only it had DRM”, but after you’ve made the sale it’s done. The protection for that sale is that it concluded. You got your money, the client got their product. And, like you said, that’s painfully obvious when someone, as a potential customer, can add this bullshit to the top of their Cons list while evaluating their purchase.
It’s completely stupid in every way and I can’t see how these decisions keep getting made. I can see that it can be disheartening to see your product freely available for anyone to grab, but making it less convenient to buy WHILE you treat existing and potential customers like criminals is never a solution.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: From theoretical to ensured

They keep getting made because of all the money the mafiaa dudes have poured into anti-piracy propaganda. A significant amount of people have no real perspective on the issue of piracy, and instead there is a sort of believe system that starts with the axiom that piracy is a massive loss of money, and goes from there.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: From theoretical to ensured

They keep getting made because of all the money the mafiaa dudes have poured into anti-piracy propaganda.

Yet nobody believes any of that anti-piracy propaganda except clueless politicians and marketroids. Time after time after time it’s received as a joke by the masses with the money to spend, yet those two classes of nitwits swear by it and fall for the lie almost every single time, never learning from their past failure to recognize reality.

Boycott if you can, pirate if you can’t live without it, but don’t encourage this insanity by sending them money! That just encourages them to find something even worse to do to you next time.

PaulT (profile) says:

“Is the encryption…”

“…Daz Connect delivers and updates products more efficiently but relies on the fact that files are in a location and format that is maintained by the application. In this sense, Daz Connect provides some measure of digital rights management.”

Strange how the question is exclusively about the encryption, but the “answer” only rambles on about the file locations, etc., without addressing the encryption outside of an offhanded mention.

Well, not strange, just the typical attempt to redirect discussion away from the actual problem. No, needing the files in a known format & location is not DRM, the encryption and phone home requirements are, and you didn’t answer that question. Nice of them to pay lip service to concerns around the issue, but they can’t even be honest about them within their own FAQ article.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Caveat emptor.

No, needing the files in a known format & location is not DRM, the encryption and phone home requirements are, and you didn’t answer that question.

Once their pathetic encryption gets broken, “pirates” can keep their stuff in any format they please and in any location they please (including TPB or Megaupload).

You’d think these people would come up with something like generating 2048 bit long keys based on customer name + address + credit card no. (all at time of purchase) and possibly up to twenty MacIDs, all calculated within the app. Nope. Phone home successfully to the Mother Ship, or lock it up. Foot, meet bullet.

Allen Harkleroad (profile) says:

DAZ 3D and 3D Content DRM

I personally think they are shooting themselves right in the wallet, but in this case their using DRM is a boon for myself as I won and which sells Poser & DAZ Studio content. The more this anger their customers the better opportunity for me to gain customers.

One thing is for sure we will never use DRM or other piracy prevention measures in our digital products that would anger our customer base.

The sad thing is software pirates and those that user such wouldn’t pay for content to begin with. With any digital product their will be some piracy (some more than others). The best way to combat it is to keep creating great content and listen to your customers / fans / etc.

You can’t go wrong that way in my opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: DAZ 3D and 3D Content DRM

I’ll buy from you when you implement 3DRM. It’s DRM in THE THIRD DIMENSION!

Joking aside, like you said, going after pirates as potential customers is wrong headed. It’s like trying to make friends with the burglar you just caught inside your house when you came home. (To make a crude and poorly/not-at-all nuanced analogy)

Anonymous Coward says:

Just a quick look at the Daz 3D website makes me think this isn’t really their idea. From their site “accurate character tolerances made Daz a go-to solution on CAPTAIN AMERICA, THOR, and IRON MAN.โ€ – RON MENDELL

so who else smells the MPAA pushing software developers to use DRM as an anti piracy measure?

morganwick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m guessing it may have gone something like this:

MPAA: We need you to use this DRM scheme.

Daz: Hmm, this’ll break old versions and cause all sorts of other problems for our users. We need to reach out to our users to minimize the impacts this’ll have on them.

Users: DRM sucks and you shouldn’t do it, and you certainly shouldn’t do it like this.

Daz: Yeah, our users really don’t like this, maybe we shouldn’t do it.

MPAA: You’re going to use this DRM scheme and that’s final.

In other words, maybe they thought they were going to have some say in whether they instituted it, and thus that they could let their users have some say, only to find out the MPAA wasn’t actually going to give them any say in the matter..

Jared says:

Once upon a time, there's a company called DAZ...

Hmm, as a DAZ user, this really a let down. IMHO it will lead to it’s own demise faster.

DAZ is currently competing in at least two fronts, the sofware/renderer, and assets front.

In the software front, it compete directly with Poser, which is more mature, though changed hand very often. Last time I checked Poser is owned by SmithMicro. Here, although DAZ is more nimble in terms of development and tools, people is more accustomed with Poser, hence much larger market share. DAZ address this by making it’s software free as of v4, but still the market share budge a little.

In the asset front, DAZ fares better, with it’s Millenium models serves as standard on both DAZ and Poser. However, starting with generation 5 of it’s model, DAZ tries to strong arm the market, with basing it on Genesis line. Yes there are many improvements with the Genesis line, but Poser users are locked out. IINM it took a year before the Millenium 5 became available on Poser. Hence slower market adoption for Millenium 5 models.

Now DAZ do this DRM thingy on the assets. My view is not only it will impact DAZ Studio users, but Poser as well. Has DAZ not learn the lessons of it’s Genesis line? The current line is Millenium 6, which IINM is based on Genesis 2. Millenium 5 and 6 has much slower adoption rate, compared to the successful Millenium 4. With this stunt, it’s adoption rate will fall very rapidly, as Poser users already jumping through hoops to use the current Millenium series, and now have to jump yet another hoop as well.

As for me, I’m counting my blessing with my block-headedness refusing to update both DAZ Studio, Genesis 1, and Millenium 4.

Seems these days in the sw/IT world,

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Not quite...

DRM is coming to Daz and there’s nothing users can do about it.

Presumably there are, in fact, at least two things the users can do about it:
1/ Vote with their feet and use some other software
2/ Go find the inevitable crack for the software that makes the added DRM not such a problem…. i.e. pirate it.

Not sure either of those helps Daz out much though…. Gosh! Looks like the DRM might be counter-productive! Who knew?

any moose cow word says:

This doesn’t bode well for their overall business model. After alienating the majority of their customer base with a new model format that broke compatibility with 3rd-party apps, DAZ decided to profit primarily on content sales and make the full “pro” version of their software free in hopes of bolstering support for the format. The move was bold, but necessary to advance their software and content platform.

Since then, they’d restored model compatibility with some apps and added a somewhat Steam-like “content management” system for downloading and installing content purchased from their store. However, use of the management service was completely optional. Making the service mandatory or enforcing encryption adds nothing for the user, and takes a lot away by breaking app-compatibility again and possibility locking out unapproved mods as well. I never bothered with their content service myself, but I’ve actually avoided the new DRM poisoned update as I still require both!

According to the company, they’ve “updated” their management system to make it more user friendly. While that may be true, done of those usability improvements actually required DRM in anyway. Most of their stores customers still use 3rd-party apps. The major attraction for their content is (or at least was) the ability to easily extend it with 3rd-party addons. Their biggest sellers by far has always been the products with the most addons. I really fail to see how alienating huge blocks of their customer base is going to sell more content at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Just like programming, not everyone is up to use their software. To say the least it has a serious learning curve. It’s also like an onion, in the more you know about it, the more there is hidden to learn.

To do well with the software you have to have a better than average computer. While lower spec computers can produce images, they can’t produce really good images. You need to start out with something along the lines of a gaming computer for standards.

The time taken to convert an image from 3D to 2D so you can show it to someone else is considerable. It’s not a few minutes process but more on the lines of hours, depending on complexity and abilities of the computer.

To complicate the process with DRM will not win more people to their products.

Arthur Moore (profile) says:

Re: Re:

People don’t like steam because of the DRM. I was actually annoyed at how my physical copy of Skyrim is essentially just a steam code.

What people like about Steam is it’s convenience. Want to buy a game, or give one as a gift? Super easy via Steam. Downloading and installation are easy as well.

If you make buying something easier and more convenient than pirating then people will buy. The thing is companies think DRM does this, but most DRM actually makes it harder to buy then pirate.

Rekrul says:

Re: Re: Re:

People don’t like steam because of the DRM. I was actually annoyed at how my physical copy of Skyrim is essentially just a steam code.

What people like about Steam is it’s convenience. Want to buy a game, or give one as a gift? Super easy via Steam. Downloading and installation are easy as well.

If Steam was just a digital distribution system, I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with it, it’s the DRM part I can’t stomach.

I should be able to go on eBay and buy a used, boxed retail copy of Half-Life II if I want, but thanks to Steam and the need to register Steam-crippled games to a Steam account for life, that boxed copy is about as useful as a paperweight.

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

DRM - never a good idea!

I worked as principal software architect and engineer for a major manufacturing software company for about 20 years. In the mid 1990’s we considered DRM-based licensing for our software. We went as far as to test implement it. We were smart enough to realize that since our customers could not tolerate downtime at all (1 hour == $10 million in lost profits), that if the DRM caused a semiconductor fab to go down because of some stupid problem, we would be up shite creek without a paddle! We promptly dropped the idea. Never lost a dime to “pirated” software – and our software cost million$ to purchase, implement, and install! We ended up one of the 50 largest application software companies in the world…

Anonymous Coward says:

Never Again

I purchased a very expensive 3-D Package once and it did the phone home thing. That made it difficult to install and especially reinstall. I ended up keeping it on a separate computer without network/Internet because Windows had viruses and reinstalling was to the vendor an admission of piracy. Before they went out of business and reinstallation became impossible. I swore never again, FLOSS (Blender) all the way now. I would much rather donate to nice guys than pay for being treated badly again.

Allen Harkleroad (profile) says:


I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday when I made my initial comment on this story.

The more I think about the DAZ 3D DRM the more I think it isn’t really about piracy, it is more about control of their and their vendors digital products that anything else.

Perhaps they think DRM will help lock in users to their product, rather than say the new (and awesome I might add) Poser 11 software.

They already changed their format a while back that caused a big headache for users of the original Poser software, after which an importer was created so that the figures and content could be used outside of the DAZ 3D software product. Now this.

I may be wrong but I do think at least partially it is about control.

dcrosby says:


You’re not wrong Allen. You may be one of the few who gets it. Everybody’s busy cursing DRM but there is very little mention of the fact that Daz has integrated their store into Studio itself. Not only can you buy Daz items without leaving the program, their metadata scheme allows them to suggest/advertise items based on the content in the scene. Click Click purchase, download, it appears on the stage.

As a third party vendor I think encryption is the least of your problems.

StuartL (profile) says:

I vastly prefer the XKCD take on DRM

But if you buy DRM-locked media, and you ever switch operating systems or new technology comes along, your collection could be lost.
And if you try to keep it, you’ll be a criminal (DMCA 1201).
So remember: if you want a collection you can count on, PIRATE IT.
Hey, you’ll be a criminal either way.

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