GOG Looking To Extend It's DRM-Free Message To Movies/TV

from the about-time dept

If you like PC games, chances are you already know all about GOG, or Good Old Games. The GOG website has done more to extend the life of gently-aged games by building a platform for old games that will work on new machines while having one singular principal dominate their products: there shall be no DRM. Digital Rights Managment seems like it's always existed and has equally never worked, what with cracks, hacks and other methods for getting around games that employ DRM being available almost immediately after games get released. It's a losing strategy. GOG, on the other hand, has made their insistence on DRM-free games a winning strategy for themselves, for customers, and even for once-apprehensive publishers. DRM certainly hasn't disappeared from the gaming industry, but GOG's working experiment has gone a long way to reduce its use.

And now, GOG wants to bring that same principal to television shows and movies.

They're starting small, launching with a handful of independent documentaries for $5.99 a piece in hopes of eventually branching out to studio films and television shows. The folks at GOG are pushing hard on the "DRM-free" angle here too, promising that nothing they sell will be saddled with the copyright restrictions you might get while buying a TV show on iTunes or Amazon.

"Most of [the studios we spoke to] admit that DRM does not protect anything, all protections are cracked on the day of the release of the movie or even before and that there is no DRM that can protect a movie against piracy," said a GOG representative in an e-mail to Kotaku. "The whole industry knows DRM is just smoke and mirrors and it does not work, so why not abandon it?"
Why not indeed? Though streaming is becoming a dominant method for viewing content, there still must be a market for the ownership of movies and television shows. DRM from the likes of the current marketplaces serves no end except to annoy actual customers, while pirated versions of pretty much everything already exist for those not willing to do right by content producers. What GOG did for games certainly seems like it should work for movies and TV shows: remove the annoyance and provide a clean and slick market for DRM-free show/movie content. As they said, they're starting small, but if this is successful we might finally start to see a landslide of a perception-change when it comes to DRM.

Interestingly, it seems that talks for a wider catalog are proceeding more successfully than I might have expected.
"These are very smart people and they see that the anti-piracy measure does not work at all," said a GOG rep in an e-mail. "We realize that the movie industry is much older than the gaming industry and it moves slower, with caution. As such, we'll get started with some real examples to show that it works–hence our first batch of 20 documentaries."
What also interests me is how the documentaries for this pilot program are all focused on gaming and internet culture, arguably attractive to a demographic that might be most knowledgeable about piracy and perhaps more willing than the general population to pirate content. If they can be successful there, I'd argue the rest of the general public ought to be a cinch. Get on board with this, studios. Someone is trying to save you from yourselves.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    "copyright restrictions"

    nothing they sell will be saddled with the copyright restrictions you might get while buying a TV show...


    I some how doubt these are sold without "copyright restrictions". I doubt that even more when it comes to Hollywood-made content.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    Re: "copyright restrictions"

    I think they are talking about the type of restrictions that will do things like...

    Add DRM Schemes for you to deal with.

    Force you to watch Commercials or Trailers before "allowing" you to get to your paid product.

    NOT let you copy item you already own to another device to enjoy during travel.

    Or no matter how neat it sounds, dick with you if the DRM engine decides your totally legit shit is anything BUT!!!

    Get it now? It's not about removing copyright protections meant to allow content distributors from monetizing their efforts!

     

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  3.  
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    Jason, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 1:56pm

    Re: "copyright restrictions"

    Most likely the intended meaning was simply "without DRM", so that one could transcode, device-shift, keep a playable local copy without needing permission for every play from a remote server, etc.

    Granted, though, it would be nice to have that point clarified.

    If it works out, and if their content library is appealing, it will be great. I've bought hundreds of gigabytes of games from GOG and the prospect of adding TV shows to the mix is exciting.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 2:09pm

    "What also interests me is how the documentaries for this pilot program are all focused on gaming and internet culture, arguably attractive to a demographic that might be most knowledgeable about piracy and perhaps more willing than the general population to pirate content."

    I'm actually a bit concerned about this. Documentaries aren't exactly big revenue generators at the best of times, it seems very possible that these titles won't make any appreciable amount of money and the studios can point to this and say "see? Removing DRM didn't work!"

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 2:10pm

    Whenever debates come up about the use of copyright, and whether it benefits anyone, rarely do I see any mention of licensing costs.

    Large scale publishers must be forking out money by the barrel for these DRM measures that don't work, and yet they assess the wildly speculative amount of money lost to pirates as being greater than the hard number in front of them for the cost of DRM.

    It makes sense to me that if you even had the slightest doubt about the effectiveness of your anti-piracy measures, you would abandon them in a hart beat to cut the very real and tangible licensing costs.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    "... it's DRM-Free Message..."

    Really? Aren't we all big-pants people here, who know how to use the possessive?

     

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  7.  
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    jameshogg (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Digital Rights Management is assuming the customer is guilty until proven innocent. Never forget it.

    And I MUST stress this. Do not short-hand it to DRM. We need people to understand how ridiculous the three words are. "Management" being the biggest euphemism of all for hacking and malware.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 2:34pm

    'Someone is trying to save you from yourselves'

    what an excellent sentence and oh, how so true! the really annoying thing is that there have been some total disasters recently with released games. they have been full to the brim with DRM and have done absolutely nothing to help the game releasers because the damn things just didn't work! the true fans had to sort out the games themselves using whatever was needed to bypass/remove the DRM and everything else that just got in the way.
    the real kicker is, as stated in the piece, the games industries, the movie and music industries know full well that DRM doesn't work at all other than to piss customers off! they then go to the alternative sites the industries try so hard, but completely the wrong way, to prevent customers from going to.

    there can only be one reason that DRM and whatever else protection is flavor of the week is being used and that must be pride! the industries refuse to back off! they refuse to admit it's crap! they refuse to admit it's a waste of time, effort and money and want to keep using it so as to not have to admit what they know and have been told (and shown), complete defeat! the sad thing though is, just think of the advances in technology that have come about in the last decade and more but have been kicked out of the park, not just into touch, simply because these ridiculous old farts cant accept that there are much better solutions for use than when they were in total charge. had they have recognised the advantages they could have had and used, they could have made a hell of a lot of money instead of throwing it down the open pit called 'LAWYERS'!!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 4:32pm

    hahaha lolwhat 6 bucks a movie

    nice scam try

     

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  10.  
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    Shmerl, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 5:04pm

    About streaming and DRM

    > Though streaming is becoming a dominant method for viewing content, there still must be a market for the ownership of movies and television shows.
    It's wrong to equate streaming with renting (and DRM). Streaming is simply a convenience. I.e. a service which offers one to view the video on demand from the cloud without the need to download the whole file first. It doesn't mean that such service should also always prevent such downloading (that's equal to enforcing renting).

    GOG does it the right way - they offer both downloading for your personal backup and device shifting and the convenience of streaming those videos from their servers in standard compliant and DRM-free HTML5 fashion. No renting / DRM nonsense.

     

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  11.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 5:24pm

    Pirates aren't the target

    Pirates have never been the target when talking about DRM. As has been demonstrated time, and time, and time again, any DRM can, and will, be cracked, sometimes within days, so if it's that useless at stopping, or even providing more than a minor speed-bump to pirates, then why bother with it?

    The answer: Because pirates aren't the reason, they're only the excuse.

    DRM does squat at stopping pirates, but what it does do, very well, is give companies a whole slew of 'rights' that they otherwise wouldn't have.

    'You can't read that ebook on any device but ours, and if you try and remove the DRM so you can, you're breaking the law'.

    'You can't watch that show/movie you 'purchased' on any device but ours, using our software, and if you try and remove the DRM so you can, you're breaking the law.'

    'You cannot transfer your music to another device, back it up, or listen to it with any software but ours. If you want to do that, buy it again in the desired format(assuming it's available). if you try and remove the DRM to get around these restrictions, you're breaking the law.'

    DRM is not, and never has been, about stopping piracy, but has always been about control. Control over the product, control over the customer, and control over what they can do with the product.

    Looked at that way, it's hardly surprising that so many companies spend so much on DRM, even though it's utterly useless against it's 'intended' targets, pirates, because pirates aren't the real targets, paying customers are.

     

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  12.  
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    Shmerl, Aug 27th, 2014 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Pirates aren't the target

    What GOG also try to show, that paying customers are more willing to pay for DRM-free options. And if there is money in it, those companies must be dumb no to want it. Paying customers hate DRM because it cripples their user experience.

     

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  13.  
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    Jon Jones (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 6:53pm

    Re:

    Why does everything have to be about making "any appreciable amount of money"?

     

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  14.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 9:03pm

    Re:

    Really? Aren't we all big-pants people here, who know how to use the possessive?

    Uhm..."it's" is a contraction of "it is", not a possessive. "It" is one of the few words out there where an apostrophe doesn't mean a possessive.

     

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  15.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 27th, 2014 @ 9:08pm

    Re: Re:

    Oops...that is what you meant...never mind.

     

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  16.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 28th, 2014 @ 12:27am

    Re: Re: Pirates aren't the target

    GoG have proven to have a lucrative business by offering not only DRM-free gaming, but successful in markets that others traditionally rejected out of hand (games 5+ years old, gaming on Mac/Linux, etc). They succeeded by offering something that should be a no-brainer but that people often seem to forget - a quality product at a reasonable price with no post-purchase restrictions.

    It *should* also be a no-brainer that people want the same options in their movie buying, but since iTunes and Amazon seem unwilling to make the same move against video DRM as they did for their music sales, I'm glad that GoG are going to be the ones to offer that service and prove it works. Hopefully their catalogue will expand past the current selection rather quickly (I've already seen and/or own a lot of them, which have appeared in bundles elsewhere in the past, so while I support the idea I'm unlikely to buy anything from this batch), but it's a good start.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Aug 28th, 2014 @ 2:02am

    Re: Re: "copyright restrictions"

    I have a few games on GoG.

    It's like this:
    - Create an account
    - Buy games
    - Download said games from your online library (some pre-bundled with DOSBox)
    - Play - no drm, no product code, no online shit, no steam running in the background.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Aug 28th, 2014 @ 2:16am

    Re: Re:

    Because that's what shareholders only care about.
    Not that I agree with that. I think it's a very bad practice, one that put short term profits over overall, lifetime profits (not necessarily monetary). Short sighted, decadent.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 28th, 2014 @ 3:00am

    Re: About streaming and DRM

    That. I find it amusing that netflix has to go through that crappy siverlight thing to work. As if people would stop paying for netflix if they decided to grab a copy of some movie they really liked and the MAFIAA would be forever deprived of further income. I know it's not netflix at fault here.

    GOG is an awesome source for games without the DRM bullshit. I've bought stuff there even though 100% of their titles is available for download over the net. Because I have one convenient place to come back and re-download them whenever, wherever.

     

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  20.  
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    Niall (profile), Aug 28th, 2014 @ 6:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Pirates aren't the target

    Having looked at the collection, there is some interesting stuff there, but not necessarily anything I'd pay out so much for. It's one thing shelling out a few quid on a game that you can play for several hours and replay. It's another thing paying the cost of a DVD movie or Netflix subscription to 'acquire' a single documentary (niche subject or not).

    One of the major reasons I don't bother with things like Google Play Movies/TV, despite the phenomenal choice and the convenience of having on phone/tablet is the ridiculous prices. Like with too many e-books, there are simply no savings for it being digital (and possibly only effectively a licence). So there is no incentive to buy something that I can get a DVD of and watch on a decent-size screen. (To be fair, I don't have much time for watching on phone or tablet.) So if the prices for these offerings suck, they won't be likely to be that successful.

    If GOG can undercut their competitors with good programming while still providing a useful, DRM-free product, I'm happy to chuck pounds their way.

     

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  21.  
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    PaulT (profile), Aug 29th, 2014 @ 2:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Pirates aren't the target

    "It's one thing shelling out a few quid on a game that you can play for several hours and replay. It's another thing paying the cost of a DVD movie or Netflix subscription to 'acquire' a single documentary (niche subject or not)."

    Do you also buy Blu Rays, DVDs, etc., or are you opposed to shelling out a copy of a movie on principle? I can see what you're saying, but it's not extortionate to pay $5 for a single movie to "own" even if there's a subscription service available elsewhere for that price. How low do you want them to go?

    I agree that if the title is available on a Netflix subscription you already have, then you might not buy the digital copy - but then, are you also going to buy the Blu, DVD, etc., either?

    "One of the major reasons I don't bother with things like Google Play Movies/TV, despite the phenomenal choice and the convenience of having on phone/tablet is the ridiculous prices."

    I agree here, but I disagree that the GoG pricing is "ridiculous". For comparison, the purchase price of those movies are on par with the *rental* price of most movies on iTunes, and 1/3 to 1/4 of their usual purchase prices.

    (Sadly, due to regional idiocy, I can't check Google pricing in my current location, but I'm assuming it's on par with iTunes and I'll correct myself if I find different when I get home later)

    "So there is no incentive to buy something that I can get a DVD of and watch on a decent-size screen."

    Well, first of all, there's plenty of incentive if you'rr in the market for the download. If you're in the market for a DVD and not a digital copy, then fine. But that means nothing about GoG's service, just as your desire to buy CDs doesn't undermine Amazon's MP3 service and what it offers.

    Then, why can't you watch the digital copy on a decent sized screen? The lack of DRM means you're free to play on any supported device, including your console/Blu Ray player/set top box if not a USB port in the TV itself. if you have any modern equipment, there's no reason you can't play the file, with only a possible step of having to convert the file stopping you.

    Then, of course, this is actually cheaper - GoG are actually passing on saving to you as a consumer. If you, for example, bought Indie Game: The Movie (the one title I've personally seen), the DVD will set you back $14.99 from their official site, $20 from Amazon but only $5.99 from GoG. Unless you really need a physical copy, why is this not an incentive?

    On top of that, the GoG offerings do have free extras where possible. Indie Game has 3 commentary tracks and numerous other extra features, so you're already getting more than your Netflix stream of that title would give you.

    "If GOG can undercut their competitors with good programming while still providing a useful, DRM-free product, I'm happy to chuck pounds their way"

    Except they're doing that, but you've also indicated that you won't support them if they charge $5-10 for doing so. It's early days, and things will undoubtedly become clearer as their catalogue increases, but I'm not seeing any reasonable counter-argument here to be honest.

     

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  22.  
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    Shmerl, Sep 1st, 2014 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Re: About streaming and DRM

    Netflix uses DRM because they want to enforce renting. Or rather because their terms of service allow you to watch anything in any amount by simply paying a monthly fee. So their argument is, that if they allow DRM-free access, what would stop anyone from downloading the whole catalog right away?

    The answer to that is that there is no need to use stupid access terms. Don't set the rules of "watch how many titles you want for the monthly fee". One can set a rule of "watch / download up to N videos per month for a monthly fee. If you want more - pay some more". That can prevent any such potential abuse while at the same time doesn't require any stupid DRM to prevent downloading within the allowed quota. It also can keep Netflix approach of selling generic access to the catalog rather selling separate titles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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