Anti-Piracy Outfit MUSO Comes Out Against The Use Of DRM

from the huh dept

When it comes to the record of anti-piracy outfit MUSO, based in the UK, you get a mixed-bag. On the one hand, the organization was caught patting itself on the back for the number of takedowns of infringing content it had achieved, when the number it was touting was made up in some sizable percentage of the number of takedown requests it had issued. The focus at all on takedowns as a method for combating piracy, rather than the development of better business models that take advantage of the internet, is itself a problem. On the other hand, MUSO has also been willing to tell content publishers that piracy is by and large their fault, with a lack of convenient legal alternatives being the biggest barrier to ending copyright infringement. So, a little bad, a little good.

Well, we can add another item to the good column, as MUSO recently came out on its own site with a piece that essentially argues that DRM should be abandoned completely. And, while the alternative on offer in the post is more takedown efforts, MUSO is at least trying to frame this as an argument for better treatment of consumers.

Regardless of the truth about performance, software bloat, and connectivity issues – the strength of feeling in the gaming community is huge. DRM is accused of being anti-consumer, and are perceived as being to the detriment of player experience. For game studios, it’s a very quick way to alienate your target market.

It’s also like a red flag to a bull and, once a game is released with DRM, hackers quickly get to work to crack it. Typically this takes a little while but, as Capcom recently discovered, the hackers are getting faster. Released on 8th March, the game was cracked and pirated within hours. With this precedent set, combined with the frustration it induces in players, is DRM really worth it?

Of course it isn’t. We’ve been saying this for years. When DRM’s biggest success story, Denuvo, has been completely neutered down to cracking timelines of days upon a game’s release, what the hell is the point?

And, again, while MUSO’s solution on offer is more takedown efforts that also haven’t proved to be adequately successful, the organization is at least trying to guide publishers down a path that doesn’t create a war with legitimate customers.

Games studios and distributors need to protect their content online, and take a stand against piracy, but the chosen strategy should not undermine the core product or hijack the conversation around a release. Gaming creates huge and passionate fan bases which need to be nurtured; fans should not be left feeling as though their gameplay is being hindered.

With immediate availability of cracks to work-around DRM, and hackers choosing to proactively target releases using DRM, it’s time to change the conversation. Content protection strategies should be non-invasive and data-driven. Rather than embedding mechanisms within the games themselves, studios can effectively remove illegal content as it appears by crawling for copies.

While it would surely be nice to see a group like MUSO progress this conversation beyond re-hashed takedown strategies and into one in which innovation of gaming business models is at the forefront, it must also be said that nothing in the above text is wholly unreasonable. With anti-piracy efforts typically only being framed in one direction — with more and more restrictions and technology used to hamper pirates, but which instead only seem to piss off customers — seeing a MUSO come out against DRM is a welcome sign of change.

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Companies: muso

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Comments on “Anti-Piracy Outfit MUSO Comes Out Against The Use Of DRM”

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Anonymous Coward says:

The "better business model" is the "more profitable" business model, to the business.

Using the self-help industry, that business model was this:

  1. Scoop up 800+ self-help books
  2. SELL them as a single download or DVD
  3. Include your own "pirated" books that are actually just marketing copy in disguise
  4. Pitch expensive "live" seminars at "whale" prices
  5. Use affiliate marketing to make special offers to those who browse the site or buy the stolen material.
  6. Don’t hold anyone accountable: the webhost that has the pirate site, the cloud server that hosts the files, the payment processor who takes the money, and not even the company who made the pirate DVDs.

Anyone remotely familiar with affiliate marketing (or Google’s CPC prices) knows how valuable traffic can be, in this case at the expense of legitimate businesses.

Amazon also has that "new business model":

  1. Let people launder money through gift cards
  2. People use the gift cards to buy merchandise on Amazon
  3. People then RESELL the merchandise on Poshmark or somewhere else
  4. The people get tax-free cash, Amazon gets sales on both ends, retailers get a flooded market of cheap goods.

Everyone wins if "everyone" is Amazon and the money-launderers.

Nullifying copyright (through piracy or other means) will switch us to a patronage model where people won’t bother marketing to the masses, since there won’t be much money in it unless they can immunize their distribution against piracy, the way YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, et al. have done. Supposedly people don’t want these companies entrenched by forcing people to compete with thieves locks them in even more than Article 13 supposedly will.

James Burkhardt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

A whole lot of [citation needed] there, and some deeper explanations of how any of this shit is supposed to work.

Amazon only gets paid once, for the gift card. They don’t get more money when you spend the gift card as well.

Poshmark tracks revenue, and reports it. The money made is not ‘tax free’. How is it that people still think that these large corporations don’t report that you made income?

Additionally, Amazon in no way controls who purchases gift cards using cash at retail operations, particularly given those retailers are not affiliated with Amazon. How Amazon is the guilty party in money laundering because a gift card purchased outside their control is being used is beyond me.

And none of this has anything to do with what Mike refers to when discussing better business models. Sorry the internet allowed people to realize how little of your self help information was unique to your own experience.

A lot of that first half seems to be a disjointed conflation of piracy and classic self help business models that you claim piracy ruined as the new business model. I don’t see what any of it has to do with the second half. And im not sure who is profiting from not holding anyone accountable that also could hold them accountable, or for what crimes they should be held responsible. Also, you continue to suggest this is being done by huge companies…but it really sounds like a couple of guys operating out of a basement.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Baby steps

Acknowledging that DRM not only doesn’t work(well, not at stopping infringement anyway…) but paints a huge target on the back of the game is a good start, now if they can just make those few steps further and realize that the best way to deal with infringement is to make your product good enough and easy enough that people can and do choose the legitimate route instead they’ll finally have caught up.

Still though, every little step forward helps, and compared to the $600 billion lost daily insanity/fearmongering that others are pushing even this little bit of sanity is welcome.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Baby steps

Of course, there are currently two other methods used in games that don’t want to go down the DRM path: loot boxes and streaming subscriptions.

Personally, I hope more games go down the streaming route, even though I abhor both loot boxes and subscriptions. But the way to prevent piracy without DRM is to run part of the game on systems you manage yourself. That way they’re behaving badly on YOUR systems and you have both the law and your own systems team at hand to crack down on them.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Baby steps

The problem with the streaming option is that when the game developers decide that they have enough income, or that ongoing income isn’t high enough, they shut down their servers and everyone loses, the subscribers all they have invested in a game they probably enjoy and would like to go on enjoying. If it is downloaded and installed on your system, without any DRM crap, you can continue to enjoy it even if the developers give up on the product.

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