Dear MPAA: DRM Is Not A Requirement For Releasing Movies

from the nice-try,-but...-no. dept

We've written about the request from the MPAA to the FCC to grant a waiver that would allow the MPAA to use "selectable output control" (SOC) in order to block DVRs from recording their movies. As we noted, the movie studios basically would like to add in another movie release window, letting movies appear on television before they're released on DVD. Of course, there's absolutely nothing stopping them from doing so today. However, they claim that it's impossible for them to do so unless they get to implement DRM via SOC to stop people from recording these movies. The MPAA's own defense of this plan was exceptionally weak, but now some others are actually coming forward to defend the MPAA's position.

Ryan Radia, over at the Tech Liberation Front, has a long and thoughtful article where he tries to paint the MPAA's position as being pro-market and anti-regulation: "Consumers are willing to pay to watch new movies at home, and content producers are willing to transmit them, but government is standing in the way." It's a neat twist, but it's 100% wrong. The government is not standing in the way. If consumers are willing to pay, the movie industry can absolutely offer up the movies and let them pay.

Radia's claim is based on the entirely false premise that the MPAA needs this special kind of gov't approved DRM in order to release its movies. Radia plays a neat trick in spinning this the other way, claiming: "But content owners aren't required to ensure that all movies can be easily timeshifted and archived." Yes, indeed, nor are movie studies required to use DRM.

There is absolutely nothing stopping the movie industry from making use of this "new business model" other than its own unsubstantiated fear of non-DRM'd content. It's not a government regulation. It's not some weird FCC rule. It's the MPAA itself.

Mark Cuban gets it right when he points out what a huge mistake the MPAA is making in even bringing this issue up in the first place:
For all the money the RIAA wasted on trying to stop digital piracy, about all they accomplished was explaining to everyone exactly where and how to steal music. Please do not make the same mistake. Right now its a hassle to unitlize the analog hole to copy movies. Most people have no idea how to do it, particularly for HD delivered movies. Please do not go through a big process of teaching people exactly what the analog hole is in hopes of getting companies to prevent its use. All you are going to do is turn on the lightbulb for many who would otherwise not have a clue.

The theatrical exhibition industry just experienced a phenomenal several weeks with The Dark Knight setting record after record. People by the 10s of millions went to the theater, many multiple time to enjoy the unique experience of going to a movie. Could you please, please, please use the money you are going to spend fighting the unfightable and instead spend it on promoting the fun of going to the movies ? More people going to the movies is more people getting excited about movies. More people getting excited about movies means more people watching movies on TV, which is good for revenues, and more people buying DVDs or legal downloads of the movies. Again, good for revenues.
Piracy is not, and has never been, a real threat to the movie industry. The movie industry is doing incredibly well by releasing good movies that people want to see. Even if they're available for unauthorized download, movie watching is a social experience, and the better the industry makes that social experience, the better it will do. Wasting time demanding unnecessary DRM isn't necessary. It's not blocking any business model. Wasting money fighting for this "analog hole" to be patched won't stop piracy at all. If anything, it will attract more attention to that analog hole, while pissing off more viewers and making it that much harder to get movie fans to want to pay money to see movies. Even if the MPAA prevails, it won't put a dent into unauthorized file sharing. People will figure out how to get around the SOC protection, and once a single copy is out there, it's everywhere. Focusing on stopping file sharing is a lose-lose proposition.

So, please, movie industry, stop pretending you need DRM for your business models. You don't. You never have. And the more you pretend you do, the more trouble you're causing.

Filed Under: business models, drm, movies, mpaa, selectable output control, soc

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    SomeGuy, 7 Aug 2008 @ 10:00am

    Re: Re: Re: All part of the same business model...

    One: I never disputed value. You said there was no difference, I proved you wrong. If you woiuld like to QUALIFY what "no difference" means that's another story.

    Two: I don't see how anything you said contradicts the point I made. I think it should cost more, but it doesn't because of various factors. It COULD cost more, and people would still see it; you admitted that yourself. So what's your point?

    Three: You'd have to explain what you mean by "reasonable." I think I have every right to demand quality, and thus far have had no trouble making such demands or being satisfied. Where I eat doesn't matter, the same rules apply; I'm as willing to send back a Whopper as I am a meal at a 4-star restraunt if my standards aren't met.

    Regardless... I may have only eaten one steak, but I 'cost' them two. Or does that not count? The trouble with waiting until you finish a meal to complain about it, though, has more to do with the increased difficulty of arguing that you weren't satisfied. One typically doesn't finish a meal one is dissatisfied with.

    The same with movies, and as a point of fact I have left movies early and demanded my money back and gotten it. And I'm not so crass as to throw myself into an expletive-laden rage about it. You can be stern without stooping to that level. I don't see how demanding quality product is unreasonable.

    Four: My day job also doesn't involve trolling for studies on consumer behavior which may or may not exist, so I'll pass on your challenge, thanks. Perhaps Mike Masnick can satisfy you there? Anyways, it doesn't matter if consumers know what DRM is, they'll notice when they can't play your product on their TV. They'll notice when your product isn't compatible with their new toy. They'll notice whenever they try to do something they feel is reasonable with your product andf DRM stops them. You're right, though, they will still want Spider-Man 3 (Really? You chose that garbage as your horse in this race?). The problem is, yours isn't the only game in town, and they can get DRM-free stuff from the pirates. That hurts you. But the product that they get from the pirates is better for the consumer because it will work on their TV, it will work with their toys, and it won't ever try to stop them from enjoying the content.

    Quote: Warner Brothers managed to put on the theaters even people who hated the film and would never go see it in theaters

    So... your big win in all of this is the ability to sell customers a product they don't want? That's what makes DRM and the entertainment industry so great?

    Quote: But no one will give you a free car. And if someone does... well... good for you!

    You make no sense.

    And why is it that a digital movie is so much different from digital music that the two can't be compared? They're both entertainment, right? They both have value, right? Someone's trying to sell each of them, right? Why is it that the successes of digital music have no impact on digital movies?

    Five: Again, I don't see your point. I argue that the industry ignores ripple effects, and you respond by saying that the industry loves people who see the same movie repeatedly. What's your point?

    Six: I'm no great believer in the natural goodness of human beings, but I do believe there are things that DVDs can and do offer that a DVR recording can't capture. You can't record commentaries if they aren't broadcast. You don't need to trust in human goodness to sell people things.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.